CP World Report: Syria, Mormon Presidential Candidate, Christians in Iraq, Moscow Marriage

Syria's opposition says government forces continue to pound the city of Aleppo with artillery.
The U-N observer mission expired this weekend, despite growing concerns about the rising death toll.
And the humanitarian situation in Syria appears to be deteriorating at a rapid rate.

UN humanitarian chief –Valerie Amos—says the Syrian government agreed to allow existing aid operations in the country to expand...though it will not allow anybody new to be brought in:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended prayers in a Damascus mosque to mark the start of the Muslim holiday Eid Al Fitr yesterday. This was his first appearance in public since the bombing last month that killed four of his top security officials.

As violence against Christian minorities continues in Mosul, Iraq, Carl Moeller of Open Doors USA has called on Christians to pray and advocate for these persecuted Christians. Moeller called the violence "religicide" as Christians in Baghdad and Mosul are gripped by worsening terrorism, especially since US troops left the country. 50,000 Christians have now fled to nearby Middle East countries like Turkey, and Jordan. Moeller says it is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq now. Moeller added that the Syrian war is compounding the crisis as Christians once escaped into Syria, but now they're being massacred by the opposition.

The United Church of Canada has officially enshrined in its official Church policy…… the boycotting of all goods made in Israeli settlements. The controversial decision by the Church's General Council was made in response to a three member working group's findings. It is causing outrage in Canada's Jewish Community and divisions among United Church members who are not all in agreement. A group of nine Canadian Liberal and Conservative senators, all United Church members, have also spoken out against the boycott. Also this week, the church elected its first openly gay moderator: 63 year old Rev. Gary Paterson, of St. Andrew's Wellesley Church in Vancouver.

In a drastic move, Moscow has defended traditionalism. It has banned gay pride events for the next 100 years. Nikolay Alexeyev, the country's most famous gay rights campaigner vowed to continue his fight .He intends to petition before the European Court in Strasbourg to declare Moscow's ban to be unjust. Homosexuality has been legal in Russia for the last 20 years, but former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has referred to gay pride events as quote: "satanic."

Who would New York residents rather vote for? According to a survey by Quinnipiac University , they are more likely to vote for a Muslim or Mormon presidential candidate than either an atheist or a born-again Christian. The results are in response to a question asking whether the religion of a candidate would be an issue or not for voters. But on average, about 61 percent of voters said that the religious position of a presidential candidate would not sway their decision.

It came with pomp and ceremony….. and already seems long gone: the Olympics. Here's some after-the-fact good news: Churches are reportedly more confident after the Olympic games in London. They ran events across the UK, including festivals, fun days and kids clubs. It was a resounding success, and raised the profile of the churches in their communities. The expectation was that about 3-thousand churches would be involved, but it was double that. Further opportunities for church outreach in the context of sports events are in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup in England…the year after.


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