More than 200 teenagers and pre-teens living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota have planned, attempted, or died by suicide between December 2014 and March of this year, and now religious leaders are getting involved, claiming that there's a spiritual battle that needs to be fought and won in order to save their youth.
"This is beyond anything we've ever seen; it's almost like 'serial suicides.' This is not just a psychological issue: this is a spiritual battle with spiritual forces. The thief — speaking of the devil — 'comes to steal, kill, and destroy,' and this is the result," Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, told Mission Network News.
Hutchcraft is calling on Christians both in South Dakota and across the country to come together to help the at-risk teenagers as Christian leaders are gathering with leaders on the reservation to mobilize prayer warriors. more >>
ORLANDO, Fla. — Jimmy King, a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate who now serves as senior pastor of Proclamation Church in Orlando, accused the school said to be one of the top 20 seminaries in the U.S. of not providing him and other black graduates with enough support in finding employment, and further asserted that he was once told, "we've never placed a black graduate to a white church."
King, who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2006 with a master of theology in pastoral ministry and leadership degree, according to his church's website, revealed during The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Divide Summit at the Orange County Convention Center last Wednesday that when he went to get help from the school's placement office in his final year they gave him the surprising news.
"In the last year, I went to the placement office, I said 'I'm ready to be placed.' They said, 'we've never placed a black graduate to a white church,'" King recalled before a panel of church leaders, including reconciled church founders Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, and televangelist and pastor James Robison. more >>
Over the weekend, noted Harvard Law professor and criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz made headlines attacking Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby for allegedly overcharging the Baltimore police officers blamed for Freddie Gray's death and for placing "politics and crowd control" over the interests of justice. Here's the core of Dershowitz's argument:
"I understand why the mayor and state attorney want to prevent riots . . . but that's not the job of the justice system . . . You cannot allow police officers or any other defendants to become scapegoats for crowds demanding a continuation of rioting . . There's no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts that we now know them. You might say that conceivably there's a case for manslaughter. Nobody wanted this guy to die, nobody set out to kill him, and nobody intentionally murdered him."
"The worst-case scenario is a case for involuntary manslaughter or some kind of reckless disregard, but the idea of without further investigation coming down with murder indictments . . . This is a show trial. This is designed to please the crowd. It's designed to lower the temperature." more >>
Renowned neurosurgeon and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson, said Friday that the injury suffered by 25-year-old Freddie Gray who died on April 19 after being gravely injured while in the custody of Baltimore police officers "would be almost impossible to acquire…by simply rolling around in a van."
In an announcement highlighting criminal charges against six Baltimore police officers Friday, the city's newly elected State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Gray suffered a spinal injury while being transported in a police van and charged that the failure of the police to put a seatbelt on him was a crucial factor in how he was injured.
"Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the B.P.D. wagon," said Mosby. more >>
During the past few months, there have been numerous incidents— some tragic—where police officers were accused of brutality and abuse of power against African Americans, including Ferguson, South Carolina and New York being the most well known. Some of the incidents were caught on video. There are nearly 780,000 sworn officers in the United States protecting and serving 319 million Americans. Police officers have a very difficult and stressful job, but that is no excuse to use excessive force. However, we must take into account what these officers go through and understand that all police officers aren't bad.
I have been in situations where I could have easily gotten into confrontations with police officers. Years ago, I regularly worked with local and state police officers in major cities throughout the U.S. I can tell you first hand that there are some police officers that are prejudiced or egotistical, and some that have their own agendas. I remember arriving in Texas to meet and work with local police there. When I reached out to shake one of the officer's hands, he refused! Later during that same trip, I was almost arrested because the same police officer who wouldn't shake my hand, failed to tell a group of his fellow officers who I was as I approached them.
On another trip to California, a police officer stood two feet in front of me and stared me down while I waited to meet with the Deputy Police Chief. I had never met this officer before, nor did I do anything to him to warrant the stare he was giving me. In both Texas and California, I was the only African American in the group; my co-workers were not subjected to the same treatment. In both cases, I had no choice but to work through whatever issues those police officers had with me. I did not respond to their behavior towards me, and worked more closely with the officers who reached out to me than the ones who didn't. In the end, we successfully finished our work in both cities, and I made some new friends in law enforcement. more >>
As the rioting, looting and burning of homes and businesses that erupted earlier this week threatened to overshadow the weeks-long peaceful protests that have been ongoing in Baltimore, the word "thug" began rolling off of lips and popping up on social media accounts, including on those belonging to some Christians shocked by the violent scenes playing out on TV networks like CNN. However, one Baltimore pastor, recalling the Apostle Paul's transition from the persecutor Saul, warned against simply condemning "rioters as unsalvageable thugs."
"Resist the temptation to condemn rioters as unsalvageable thugs and instead pray that God would transform these Sauls into Pauls," Dan Hyun, lead pastor at The Village Church in Baltimore, tweeted just after midnight on Tuesday.
Hyun added the hashtag "#MyStory" at the end of his tweet, suggesting that his testimony bears semblance to the radical conversion of Paul, who, before changing his name, terrorized and imprisoned Christians in the Roman Empire. The devout Jew, who the Bible says was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," experienced a vision of Jesus and eventually became a believer himself. The Apostle Paul remains one of Christianity's most influential leaders and the New Testament's most prolific author. more >>