Natasha Crain earned her MBA in statistics from UCLA, so she knows how to read the numbers. But she is also pretty good at sorting out the meanings behind and beyond words and phrases, too.
“Critical Theory” is being heard regularly these days. It’s been a commonplace on American campuses for several decades, but it has exploded into the public consciousness in recent weeks as more than a few voices among and defending rioters have cited arguments derived from the phrase.
Repression against Christian churches throughout China is on the upswing generally as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to crush that nation’s fastest growing faith.
Bitter Winter, a religious freedom watchdog group, reports that regime officials are forcing churches to remove their crosses.
“One church member in Anhui told Bitter Winter that China fears Christians will ‘unite with foreigners against the state,’ according to the Christian Headlines (CH) digital news outlet.
“’As crosses are being removed throughout the country, those who refuse to cooperate will be accused of opposing the Communist Party,’ the church member said. ‘We are pressured to give up our faith, but we will persevere.’
“Churches in China must register with the government and join either the Three-Self Patriotic Movement or the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Because state-registered churches face severe restrictions, millions of Christians worship in illegal underground churches,” CH reported.
Thousands of churches and synagogues across the country have moved their regular services from meeting together in one facility to gathering “together” via Internet teleconferencing. It’s a suitable approach for coping with a temporary problem.
But what if the problem becomes more long-lasting, with official directives banning gatherings of 10 or more people continuing past the end of April and well into … well, who knows how long? That’s when things could get very complicated and when that happens, Congress almost always gets involved.
PJMedia Managing Editor Paula Bolyard has a thoughtful, accessible look at why the situation is a challenge for Bible-based congregations now and a warning of what could be coming down the road.
If you’ve seen the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy or the “Indiana Jones” series, you saw Hollywood actor John Rhys-Davies. He’s also starring in the forthcoming “I Am Patrick” about the Irish saint.
Rhys-Davies is not a Christian, but he is not bashful about expressing his admiration of and appreciation for the role of Christianity in the development of individual civil liberties we take for granted:
“Everything that we value — everything that I valued when I was a student 50, 60 years ago, which I cannot any longer count on an audience accepting — really comes from Christianity,” Rhys-Davies recently told podcaster Lucas Miles.
China is not ranked on top of the 50 worst nations for persecuting Christians compiled by Open Doors USA, as that dubious distinction belongs to North Korea, followed close behind by Afghanistan.
But China is building a pervasive system of digital surveillance-based oppression that is presently aimed at the estimated 125 million Christians there, but which could easily be duplicated in other nations and used to silence anybody who disagrees with the regime in power.
Massive majorities of Americans across the political spectrum support maximum toleration and accommodation of religious practices in the public and private realms, according to a newly launched annual survey.
The accompanying chart dramatically demonstrates that support for religious freedom is overwhelmingly bipartisan, cutting across the ideological and party spectrums. The yellow areas indicate opposition, while the blue areas represent support for religious freedom.
Hong Kong’s population includes an estimated 7.5 million people, approximately two million of whom participated at the height of the protests that have grabbed world-wide attention.
At one point earlier this week, something quite amazing happened: The sea of protesters parted to allow an ambulance to get to somebody in distress. As the ambulance passed by, the protesters reformed their ranks.
In a 7-2 decision with Justice Samuel Alito writing the opinion for the majority, the Supreme Court said Thursday that a Maryland memorial dedicated to the memories of 49 local residents who died in World War I does not violate the Constitution simply because a cross is its most prominent feature.
“For nearly a century, the Bladensburg Cross has expressed the community’s grief at the loss of the young men who perished, its thanks for their sacrifice, and its dedication to the ideals for which they fought,” said Alito, one of the High Court’s most conservative members.
“It has become a prominent community landmark, and its removal or radical alteration at this date would be seen by many, not as a neutral act but as the manifestation of ‘a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions,’” Alito said.
The latter statement quoted from a concurring decision written by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer.
Alito also wrote that “the Religion Clauses of the Constitution aim to foster a society in which people of all beliefs can live together harmoniously, and the presence of the Bladensburg Cross on the land where it has stood for so many years is fully consistent with that aim.”
In today’s hyper-charged environment, these type of statements are becoming more frequent. It’s understandable how one would react when hearing something like this. For me, a sense of indignation, fear, and anger are the emotions I typically feel.
Things get ugly when permission to speak depends upon whether the hearer agrees with what is said
A recent keynote speaker at the Harvard University Art & Science Faculty Conference on Diversity told his Twitter followers in 2015 that people who base their spiritual beliefs on the Hebrew scriptures should be “locked up.”
Author and speaker Tim Wise went on in that tweet, saying “people basing their beliefs on the fable of Noah and the Ark, or their interpretation of Sodom and Gomorrah … rather than science or logic … If you are basing your morality on a fairy tale written thousands of years ago, you deserve to be locked up … detained for your utter inability to deal with reality … NO, we are not obligated to indulge your irrationality in the name of your religious freedom …”
Wise undoubtedly thinks everybody else — including those who accept the Hebrew scriptures and all other “fairy tales” — absolutely are obligated to respect his spiritual beliefs or lack thereof.
Proponents of atheism like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Sam Harris have become prominent public figures, thanks to their intelligence and debating skills, science knowledge and formidable public presences.
They are helping prompt the renewal of a much-needed public debate in the U.S. and Europe on the Theory of Everything (TOE) questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, why does the universe exist, why are human beings in it, and what happens to us after we die?
It’s hard to imagine how any of us would react in the instant of a trial, but two Iranian followers of Jesus Christ know for themselves, as they reportedly refused two judges’ order to renounce their faith earlier this month.
“Iranian Christians Saheb Fadaie and Fatemeh Bakhteri were asked by presiding judges Hassan Babaee and Ahmad Zargar to renounce their faith, but refused to do so” during a January 15 trial, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
It’s a truism heard often these days that “all roads lead to God, whether you believe in Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Confucius, the Hindu pantheon, Bahai or …” on and on it goes.
As it happens, Jesus is the only one of this all-star lineup of claimants to deity who claimed absolute exclusivity, as He did at John 14:6, saying “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me.”
What if Jesus is right? Professor Sean McDowell has the answer to that question. (Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash)
Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China, is in jail, accused by the Communist government in Beijing of “inciting subversion of state power.”
The pastor absolutely denies the charges, which are based on the fact he preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including His claim to be “the King of Kings” and His injunction to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and the things that are God’s to God.”
Imagine for a moment that Jesus never entered history. There would be no Sermon on the Mount. No Crucifixion. No Resurrection. No New Testament. No Paul. Rome is the foundation of everything that comes after its fall.
And Rome, indeed virtually the entire ancient world, was based politically and economically on slavery, the rights and perogatives of elites, and raw, brute, unaccountable power.
Would there be an America if Christianity never happened?