Justin Bieber’s tour being pegged megachurch service

November 29, 2015 by admin  
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Justin BieberU.S, November 26, 2015: Singer Justin Bieber stands on stage during a concert in Oslo October 29, 2015. Canadian pop singer Bieber, who made a triumphant return to the European stage at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Milan on Sunday, abruptly canceled his concert in Oslo on Thursday night after performing just one song.

Leading up to and since the release of his new album Purpose, Justin Bieber has become quite the unlikely evangelist. The A-List star has been sharing his spiritual journey with the world and exposing the mainstream media to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In a recent L.A. Times review, the headline of Bieber’s new tour read, “How Justin Bieber turned Staples Center into a megachurch.”

The reviewer described his experience at the Justin Bieber: Purpose World Tour as a pop concert – movie premiere – skateboarding demonstration and a church service. He said the multi-purpose arena in Downtown Los Angeles was transformed as the 21-year-old singer sung through some of his older and newer hits.

To some it was probably no surprise because God has been the center of Bieber’s conversations lately, but the journalist did not expect to hear about the singers deep love for Jesus at the sold-out venue. “Between the skateboarding and the singing, though, Bieber sat on a stool next to Judah Smith, the man described as his pastor, and more or less preached,” L.A. Times reporter Mikael Wood wrote.

“He talked about the importance of maintaining a positive spirit and surrounding himself with encouraging people. He credited his connection with God for helping him to get back on his feet after a string of widely publicised tabloid troubles. And when a fan in the audience — one of a dozen or so selected by the singer’s team for a question-and-answer session — asked if he had any advice on how to get through a romantic breakup, he demurred, flashing a bit of the humility that every religious leader knows is crucial in establishing a bond with one’s flock,” the reporter continued.

Bieber has often talked about his Seattle megachurch pastor-friend, Smith. According to Cosmopolitan the star’s Christian mother, Pattie Mallette, first introduced him to Smith. She has always made it a point to publicly state that she raised Bieber Christian.

During a recent interview with Billboard, the “What Do You Mean?” singer admitted that he did not always understand his faith and questioned his pastor a lot. “I’d come and listen to him and try to hear him out. I had all these questions and things were not adding up. ‘Well, why is this, then? How did all those animals fit on Noah’s Ark, then?’ That’s what it’s all about – not questioning it.”

Bieber and Smith have now built a rapport in which they send each other messages daily. “We text almost daily, and it’s not just me sending him Bible verses anymore,” Smith told Billboard, “He’ll send them to me, along with encouraging thoughts or an encouraging emoticon. I’m committed to helping him and protecting him, but it’s fair to say we’re there for each other.”

Along with the mainstream music magazine being exposed to Bieber’s religious experience, the Canadian also talked with Complex Magazine in another interview and declared that Jesus is the “greatest healer.”

Although the coverage on Bieber’s Christian faith is now making headlines news, the young pop star has often talked about God, even tattooing his body with religious symbols and writings since he was 16 years of age.

- christian post

Over 200 consecrated hosts stolen, desecrated in Spain art exhibit

November 26, 2015 by admin  
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stealing communion hostSpain, November 23, 2015: Critics of Pamplona’s city council say it deliberately attacked Catholics and broke Spanish law by using city property to display a sacrilegious art exhibit with more than 240 stolen consecrated Hosts.

The Spanish artist Abel Azcona stole more than 240 consecrated Hosts by pretending to receive Holy Communion at Mass. He then placed the hosts on the ground to form the word “Pederasty” in Spanish.

Photos of the theft of the Hosts and their placement on the ground are shown in a public art gallery in Pamplona. The city council there is governed by a Basque separatist coalition called Bildu.

The Christian Lawyers Association has filed a lawsuit against Azcona for violating Spanish law. It has said the city council must pull the display by Thursday or face legal action itself.

Maider Beloki, a councilwoman from the city’s Department for Culture, presented the exhibit, which is titled “Buried.” The Hosts were laid out on display until a private citizen removed them from the art exhibit.

Polonia Catellanos, spokesperson for the Christian Lawyers Association, told CNA that the association has filed a lawsuit against the author of the display for “an offense against religious sentiments and desecration.” The offenses are illegal under Articles 524 and 525 of the Spanish Penal Code.

“We’ve also given the Pamplona City Council until Thursday to close down the art exhibit. If they don’t do it, we’ll expand the lawsuit to include charges of complicity and necessary cooperation,” Castellanos stated.

The Christian lawyers’ group spokesman emphasized the group’s surprise that the city council would collaborate with this desecration.

“I don’t know why a city council, no matter of what political stripe, would allow something which is clearly a crime,” Castellanos said.

“In principle, public authorities such as the city council should be ensuring that crimes like these are not committed, not help commit them. The penal code is for everyone and if they don’t pull the exhibit before Thursday they’re going to have to answer for it,” he added.

If Abel Ascona has a criminal record, he could face a jail time in addition to a fine.

The Maslibres.org organization has planned a Nov. 23 demonstration at 7 p.m. in front of the Pamplona city council to protest the use of city property to host the exhibit.

“Making available space on city property that all the citizens of the provincial capital pay to maintain with their taxes makes the city government an accomplice in what can be considered the biggest attack on Catholics in recent years,” said Miguel Vidal, a Maslibres.org spokesman.

MasLibres.org called photographic exhibit “a flagrant attack against our freedoms and a spectacle reflecting the moral and creative poverty of the supposed artist.”

As of Monday evening, over 75,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking the city council to immediately and totally remove the exhibit.

- cna

Blacks & Gays lead with STD rates

November 25, 2015 by admin  
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STDU.S, November 24, 2015: Bill Donohue comments on a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2014″:

After decades of the most progressive sex education programs in our  nation’s history, and the most massive distribution of free condoms ever undertaken, never has the rate of sexually transmitted diseases been worse. The rates among blacks and homosexuals are astonishing.

There was an overall increase of 2.8% in chlamydia rates between 2013 and 2014; the rate among blacks is 6 times the rate of whites. After reaching a historic low in gonorrhea rates in 2009, the figures for 2014 grew quickly; the rate among blacks is 10.6 times that of whites. Syphilis rates jumped so much that they are now at their highest rate since 1994; the rate among blacks is 5.4 times the rate among whites.

Blacks comprise roughly 13% of the U.S. population, yet they account for 55.4% of all gonorrhea cases and 50.6% of all syphilis cases. Even more disturbing are the rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea among blacks in the 0-4 age group: no racial or ethnic group comes close to them.

Primary and secondary syphilis is now a mostly gay disease. Although gays make up a mere 1.6% of the population, they account for 83% of all male syphilis cases. Throat and rectal infections are particularly high.

How did we get to this point? We have no problem waging war on promiscuity when it comes to food, alcohol, or cigarettes, but we refuse to treat sexual promiscuity the same way. We speak endlessly about the horrors of obesity, cirrhosis of the liver, and lung cancer, but when it comes to STDs, we get clinical.

It’s time we put political correctness aside and started having an honest conversation with everyone about the dangers of sexual promiscuity. Condoms are not the answer—restraint is. And no groups need to hear this message more than blacks and gays.

- catholic league

Megachurch Pastor Kong Hee jailed for 8 years for $35-million fraud

November 24, 2015 by admin  
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City Harvest ChurchSingapore, November 21, 2015: Singapore’s City Harvest Church founding pastor Kong Hee was sentenced Friday to eight years in jail, and five other church leaders were also given prison terms between 21 months and six years, over a $35-million fraud case they were involved in to fund the music career of Kong’s wife.

Former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han received a six-year sentence, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng got five-and-a-half years, ex-finance manager Serina Wee got five years, and former finance committee member John Lam and former finance manager Sharon Tan received three years and 21 months respectively, according to Strait Times.

Kong and the other five were found guilty in October of using a management company, Xtron, as a conduit to financially support his wife, singer and fellow CHC pastor Sun Ho, and her planned U.S. album release.

The church leaders were found guilty of sham bond investing through the management company Xtron, which used the money to fund Ho’s career.

The judge chose not to impose the maximum sentences of up to 20 years as there was no evidence of “wrongful gain” by the defendants themselves.

The judge said Kong should be held most culpable as he was the overall spiritual leader and prime mover and driver of the church’s attempt to use his wife’s pop career to evangelize.

The public prosecutor had asked that 51-year-old Kong and other senior leaders be handed a prison sentence between 11 and 12 years.

Their sentences will begin in January.

The congregation supported their church leaders throughout the trial. The megachurch issued a statement after the sentencing and urged its members to pray for their leaders.

“We want to thank each and every one of you, our church members, for demonstrating such strength and unity throughout all these years, and particularly in these last few extremely difficult months. We ask you to remember and hold close to your heart the call of God upon City Harvest Church,” the statement, posted on the church’s website, said. “We have learned lately what it means to have faith, trust and rest in God — let us put what we have learned to practice. Let’s band together to fulfill the heavenly calling for us through CHC 2.0.”

“Each of them participated and functioned in their own way as crucial cogs in the machinery,” the judge said earlier while convicting the six. “They claim that they believed the Xtron bonds were genuine investments. They believed the Xtron bonds would bring CHC financial return. But on my evaluation of the evidence I consider that the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that they did not hold that belief.”

Kong had argued that the church supported Ho only through its “Crossover” project, which was started in 2012 to spread the Gospel to people around the world through his wife’s music.

The judge, however, insisted that the “perceived success of Crossover was inflated,” and that millions of church funds went into Xtron, operating under the “unrealistic projection” that Ho’s planned U.S. album could sell more than 200,000 copies.

“It may be arguable that all of them thought they were not acting dishonestly to cause wrongful loss since no permanent loss was intended, but this was premised on their unquestioning trust and belief in Kong Hee and their confidence that the Crossover would succeed,” the judge added of the accused at the time of their conviction.

“Thus they convinced themselves that it was both morally and legally permissible to temporarily use the money from CHC’s funds when they knew it was not.”

- christian post

NFL’s Benjamin Watson: Choose between praying for Paris or shunning public prayer

November 23, 2015 by admin  
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pray for parisU.S, November 18, 2015: NFL tight end Benjamin Watson has a problem with Americans who chastise individuals for praying publicly, but take to social media to encourage prayer amid international disasters — and he’s speaking up about it.

After at least 129 Parisians were killed in terrorist attacks on the French capital on Nov. 13, countless Americans took to various social media platforms to express their condolences with hashtags like “#prayforparis.” However Watson, the 34-year-old New Orleans Saints TE, saw irony in the well-meaning gestures.

“As a nation we have collectively prayed for Paris this week. Yet as a nation we suspend a football coach for praying after a game…,” Watson wrote on Facebook. “We must choose.”

The coach that Watson alluded to is Joe Kennedy of Bremerton High School in Washington state. The assistant football coach was suspended for continuing to conduct post-game prayers on the 50-yard line after the district had asked him to stop.

Although he first agreed to stop praying in the middle of the football field after games, Kennedy later came to believe that it was within his rights to do so. During his midfield prayer on Oct. 16, students joined their assistant coach.

While the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits the Seattle, Washington area school district from engaging students in prayer, Kennedy insisted he never asked students to join him. Now that his job is on the line, Liberty Institute attorneys are filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the assistant coach.

“He started to pray to just thank God for his players. Players began to join him, but it was totally voluntary,” Jeremy Dys, one of the attorneys representing Kennedy, told CNS News about the incident that put the coach’s job in jeopardy. “The players wanted to join him. They asked his permission, and he said, ‘It’s a free country.’ The school district is saying that any time a person of faith is approached by students they all have to run away screaming. This would mean that a Jewish person could not wear a yarmulke, and a Muslim could not wear a hijab.”

However, an official statement from the school district revealed that Kennedy may be too close to breaking federal law.

“While the district appreciates Kennedy’s many positive contributions to the BHS football program … Kennedy’s conduct poses a genuine risk that the district will be liable for violating the federal and state constitutional rights of students or others,” the statement reads.

Aaron Leavell, superintendent of the Bremerton school district, insisted that no one is attempting to take away Kennedy’s expression of faith.

“The district is in no way taking away an athletic coach’s freedom of expression,” Leavell said in a statement. “What we are doing is what every state-funded agency and school district must do: abide by the laws that govern us.”

Regardless of what happens, it seems Kennedy is prepared to do all he can to stand up for his beliefs.

“Whatever happens happens, you know,” Kennedy told Bremerton Patriot newspaper, according to CNN. “But I’m going to be bold in my faith and I’m going to fight the good fight, and I want to set that example for every one of the kids if you believe in something.”

Watson’s decision to highlight Kennedy’s story may not come as a surprise to many who have witnessed the NFL player constantly express his faith. He previously spoke to The Christian Post about the struggle of finding an identity in God.

“I would say that one of the hardest things for an athlete, and really anybody of any profession, is that we create our identity in what we do,” Watson said. “It’s been a constant struggle with my athletic career to identify myself as a child of God and understand that His love is unconditional for us; it’s not conditional like fans, or coaches, or even myself. Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly for the Lord and not for man because our true identity is in Him. “

- christian post

Buddhist nuns set to become first generation of doctorates

November 22, 2015 by admin  
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Buddhist nunsDharamsala, November 18, 2015: Nearly three years ago the globetrotting elderly Buddhist monk the Dalai Lama came out with a perfect prescription for the first time in history to empower the nuns. His decision encouraged them to take up doctorates in philosophy. The first batch of 20 Buddhist nuns is set to become the first generation of women professors in the Tibetan tradition.

Traditionally, the doctorate was awarded only to the monks after 12 or more years of rigorous study in Buddhist philosophy.

Officials say in 2012 a historic decision was taken by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) as advocated by the Dalai Lama that the doctorate programme for nuns be established.

“His Holiness was quite impressed at the level of knowledge the nuns showed at a prayer festival in Dharamsala in March 2012. He strongly recommended that the nuns should also be included in the Geshe process,” CTA’s department of religion and culture joint secretary Thubten Tsering told IANS.

Geshe is the equivalent of a philosophy doctorate.

Tsering said the decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of representatives from six nunneries, the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and the Tibetan Nuns Project held in Dharamsala on May 18-19, 2012.

According to him, a regulation on the conferment of degrees to the nuns studying at nunneries and Buddhist learning institutes was also formulated at the meeting.

A nun who passes the final examination after completing a total of 21 years of studies is conferred the doctorate degree.

For Delek Wangmo of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute here, who scored 72.08 percent marks in the first year examination, having the opportunity to receive a doctorate four-year degree is a dream come true for her and her sister nuns.

“Getting this degree after years of intense study of philosophical texts has given the nuns new energy to study even harder. It’s the path that will lead us to work independently,” said a post on Tibetan Nuns Project quoting Wangmo, who escaped from Tibet and arrived in 1990 in Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama resides.

To graduate with a doctorate degree, one studies five Buddhist texts – all based on the teachings of the Buddha – over a period of 20 years. The method of study involves logical analysis and debate, combined with regular sessions of prayer and recitation.

The doctorate degree is known as Geshe when awarded to the monks and Geshema when awarded to the nuns.

In 2011, Kelsang Wangmo, a German national who spent 21 years training in India, became the first woman to receive the Geshema degree and title.

At that time, the Dalai Lama, who has long been an advocate for the empowerment of women, advised the Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies in Dharamsala to confer the Geshema degree on the Western nun.

The Dalai Lama, who is revered by the Tibetans as a living god, has been advocating that if it is useful his successor could be a female.

The 80-year-old pontiff, the global face of the Tibetan exile movement, lives in exile in this northern Indian hill town along with some 140,000 Tibetans, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.

The Tibetan exile administration is based here.

- ians

Holy door in St. Peter’s Basilica uncovered as Jubilee nears

November 21, 2015 by admin  
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Holy Door unveiling at the Recognitio ceremony in St. Peter's BasilicaVatican City, November 19, 2015: Hidden since the Jubilee of 2000, the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica was revealed Tuesday as the brick wall covering it was removed in anticipation of the Holy Year of Mercy launching next month.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, led a special “recognitio” ceremony, culminating in the removal of the brick wall.

According to a Nov. 17 communique from the Vatican, after the cardinal presided over a procession and brief prayer service, workers began to remove the wall brick by brick, beginning with the extraction of a small zinc box containing mementos from the Jubilee of 2000.

Opened with a type of blowtorch, the box held several documents of certification for the closure of the Holy Door in 2000. It also held the keys with which Pope Francis will open it Dec. 8 – the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – when this year’s Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy officially begins.

Also inside the box were the parchment deed for the previous jubilee, a few bricks and several commemorative medals.

The box’s contents were entrusted to the Master of Ceremonies for St. Peter’s Basilica, Msgr. Guido Marini, who was also present for the “recognitio” ceremony. Additionally, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, was also in attendance.

Each of the four major basilicas in Rome has a holy door, which are normally sealed shut from the inside so that they cannot be opened. The doors are only opened during jubilee years so that pilgrims can enter through them in order to gain the plenary indulgence that is connected with the jubilee.

Holy Doors in Rome’s other major basilica’s will be opened throughout the Jubilee year. St. John Lateran’s door will open Dec. 13, St. Mary Major’s Jan. 1, 2016, and St. Paul Outside the Walls will open Jan. 26, 2016.

The rite of the opening of the Holy Door is intended to symbolically illustrate the idea that the Church’s faithful are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of jubilee.

One of the novelties for the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy is that for the first time Holy Doors will be designated in every diocese throughout the world.

For the first time holy doors will be designated in dioceses, and will be located either in the cathedral, in a church of special significance or a shrine of particular importance for pilgrimages.

Though the Jubilee for Mercy doesn’t begin until Dec. 8, Pope Francis announced his intention to open the Holy Door in the Central African Republic’s capital 10 days early, during his Nov. 25-30 visit to the African continent.

In his Nov. 1 Angelus address, Francis said that he would jump-start the Jubilee by opening the diocese of Bangui’s Holy Door while in the Central African Republic, as a sign of prayer and solidarity for the war-torn nation.

Francis also spoke of the significance of the Holy Door during his Nov. 18 general audience. Sitting in front the St. Peter’s Basilica, where he will open the Holy Door in just three weeks, he described it as the “great door of God’s Mercy.”

“On the threshold of the Year of Mercy, I want to reflect today on the meaning of the Holy Door,” he said. “It’s a door that opens in the Church in order to reach out to those who for many reasons are far away.”

He said that families are also invited to open their doors “to meet Jesus, who waits for us patiently, and wants to bring us his blessing and friendship.”

“A Church that is not hospitable or a family closed in on itself would be a terrible reality that mortifies the Gospel and makes the world more arid,” he said.

The jubilee was announced by Pope Francis during a March 13 penitential service, the second anniversary of his papal election. It will close Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

- cna

International Men’s Day: In a world stacked against women, here’s why we still need to talk about men

November 20, 2015 by admin  
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FatherhoodU.S, November 19, 2015: Men have run most of the world for most of its history. Men make up the vast majority of members of Parliament, Congress and just about every other political power base across the globe. Men are paid more than women. In parts of the world, men are granted rights that women can only dream of. Men are over-represented in media, the arts, sport and finance. Men dominate boardroom by a ratio of three to one.

So why on earth should we give any space to International Men’s Day, which takes place today?

A day celebrating men seems like an extravagance at best, even an insult to everyone’s intelligence, given the litany of disadvantages that billions of women face day after day. We must support campaigns against those issues which disproportionately affect women – the horrors of domestic violence and sexual assault, alongside the more ingrained systemic sexism of pay inequality, lack of opportunity and severe under-representation in positions of power.

But this isn’t a Zero Sum game. Supporting equality for women doesn’t mean we need to be silent on men’s issues. In fact, I want to proudly proclaim from the top of my Adam’s apple that we should use International Men’s Day to talk widely and freely about them. Not because men are better than women, nor because men need to be recognised by a specific day in the calendar. Not even because a special day really changes anything in and of itself.

But I’m keen to use today to spark conversations because there are some challenges and issues which seem to affect men more acutely than women. There are also issues which affect many men but just aren’t talked about widely. And if International Men’s Day gives us a chance to focus on them and even play a part in addressing them, then we need to take any chance we can get.

International Men’s Day may not be perfect – identity politics of any kind makes me nervous – but we can use the springboard offered by the day to talk about some awkward issues.

We could focus on educational attainment, where girls outperform boys, body image, which is reported to be a concern for large numbers of men, or general health complaints, with men being 33 per cent less likely to visit a doctor than women. There may well be many more, but today, let’s focus on just two. Suicide and fatherhood.

Simply put, men are far more likely to kill themselves than women. This is a stark and sobering fact. In 2013, 78 per cent of suicides in the UK were men. Thirteen men kill themselves every day in the UK, making suicide the biggest killer of men under 44. These are devastating statistics. Until recently this phenomenon has been talked about very little in public. Fortunately, this is beginning to change. Journalist Owen Jones is among those who’ve started speaking out. Mainstream media is now describing this as a public health crisis, which hopefully means a wider conversation on the issue, followed by some concrete attempts at improving it are on the way.

We’ve got to openly talk about these horrendous statistics. We’ve got to demand more from ourselves – to open up those awkward conversations about mental health with friends, family and churches. We’ve also got to demand more from those in power, as a coalition of leading suicide prevention charities are doing today. They say, “Every year thousands of men take their lives, more than 4,600 last year alone. Yet the way we respond to each incident has changed little over the last four decades… there are no national plans to act to ‘contain’ the issue and support those impacted by or enforce suicide prevention plans across the country.”

Fatherhood is the second area where we really have to open up a conversation. Around a quarter of children in Britain are now being raised in single parent homes. Fewer than ten per cent of these families are headed by a single father. In other words, in more than nine out of ten cases, children in those homes are growing up without their father under the same roof. Of course, this could be for a number of reasons, and it doesn’t mean that every man who leaves the home has done so for dishonourable reasons. However, it’s perfectly clear why Pope Francis recently spoke about the existence of a ‘fatherhood crisis’.

“Fathers are so necessary as examples and guides for our children in wisdom and virtue,” said the Pope. “Without father figures, young people often feel orphaned, left adrift at a critical moment in their growth and development.” This is no criticism of single mothers, but is certainly born out by statistics which suggest children in single parent homes can be disadvantaged compared to those with both parents still present. Of course, many, many children from single parent families grow to be well-adjusted and happy. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a big issue here.

The so-called crisis in fatherhood is something precipitated by men leaving. We must begin to talk about why so many men now don’t live with their children and the impact that can have in society as a whole. A man’s decision not to commit to his his child and the child’s mother is a life-changing one – and one that it seems not enough men are taking seriously. There are, of course, no easy answers to this issue – relationships break down. But men must be confronted with the consequences of their actions.

So, three cheers for International Men’s Day, not in and of itself, but because we have to talk about this stuff. And if one extra conversation happens today by the water cooler, at a bar, in the school canteen, on a building site, or on the trading floor, then that’s good enough for me.

- christian today

Putin: 40 countries are financing Islamic state terrorists

November 19, 2015 by admin  
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United Nations General Assembly in New YorkU.S, November 17, 2015: While calling for greater global cooperation on terrorism Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said financing for the Islamic State is coming from 40 nations, including some G20 states.

I provided examples based on our data on the financing of different Islamic State units by private individuals. This money, as we have established, comes from 40 countries and, there are some of the G20 members among them,” Putin asserted, answering questions posed to him by the press at the summit in Antalya, Turkey.

According to Russia’s government-funded media outlet Russia Today, Putin provided satellite imagery to other heads of state at the G20 leaders summit, disclosing the black market sale of oil by the Islamic State: <em “I’ve shown our colleagues photos taken from space and from aircraft which clearly demonstrate the scale of the illegal trade in oil and petroleum products,” Putin said.

The motorcade of refueling vehicles stretched for dozens of kilometers, so that from a height of 4,000 to 5,000 meters they stretch beyond the horizon,Putin added about the oil convoy that helps to fund ISIS.

The New York Times reported that on Monday American warplanes based in Turkey struck an IS oil convoy in Eastern Syria. The story claims that the attack on the oil convoy was planned before Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

Putin has disagreed with Obama and other Western leaders on a strategy to defeat IS in Syria. The U.S. and Russia have often sparred over what constitutes legitimate targets, as Russia has been accused by some nations of merely working to prop up Syria’s Assad regime.

“We need to organize work specifically concentrated on the prevention of terrorist attacks and tackling terrorism on a global scale. We offered to cooperate [with the U.S.] in anti-IS efforts,” Putin added. “Unfortunately, our American partners refused. They just sent a written note and it says: ‘We reject your offer.’”

He continued, “But life is always evolving and at a very fast pace, often teaching us lessons. And I think that now the realization that an effective fight [against terror] can only be staged together is coming to everybody.”

The Russian president emphasized now was the time for a “united international effort” and not the time to figure out which country “is more and which is less effective” against fighting IS.

Putin specifically asked for more support from the Obama administration, EU nations, and Iran and Saudi Arabia in combating IS.

Obama and Putin met for over 30 minutes at the G20 to discuss a military strategy against the terror group.

According to the Times, Obama administration officials put a more positive spin on the meeting between the two world leaders, while Russian officials expressed that the two leaders are still at odds about how to handle the civil war in Syria.

“On tactics, the two sides are still diverging,” said Yuri Ushakov, Putin’s foreign policy adviser.

French President Francois Hollande also called on the U.S. and Russia to unite to defeat IS during a special address to parliament on Monday. Hollande declared that the divisions in the international community have been “divided and incoherent” for too long.

“We must combine our forces to achieve a result that is already too late in coming,” Hollande said.

Putin noted Monday that more intelligence sharing in the battle against IS must be a priority going forward, and added that Russia has asked for further details about specific targets.

- christian post

Analysis: United Methodist regional bodies offer mixed results on homosexuality debate

November 18, 2015 by admin  
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United Methodist U.S, November 16, 2015: For decades the United Methodist Church has debated its position on homosexuality, in arguments that have sometimes hinted at schism for the Mainline Protestant Denomination.

Every four years the global Church meets for General Conference, where issues including the UMC’s stated opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage are debated.

Most notably, the UMC’s Book of Discipline has declared since 1972 that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” and it is this language many have demanded be removed.

The UMC is divided into regional bodies known as Annual Conferences, the vast majority of which are located in the United States.

Annual Conferences held their gatherings and dealt with a diverse array of church matters over the course of this year.

The Christian Post examined how 54 of the U.S.-based Annual Conferences dealt with the issue in light of the next General Conference, scheduled for May 2016 in Portland, Oregon.

Petitions Supporting Removal

Of the 54 U.S.-based Annual Conferences examined, 13 of them passed resolutions supporting the striking of the “incompatible” language from the Book of Discipline.

These included the Conferences of Baltimore-Washington, California-Nevada, California-Pacific, Desert Southwest, Great Plains, Greater New Jersey, Iowa, New York, Northern Illinois, Rocky Mountain, Upper New York, Virginia, and West Michigan.

The language of these resolutions varied, but ultimately they supported completely removing the “incompatible” language or changing it to be more accepting of homosexuality.

In Virginia’s Petition 14, which passed by a vote of 989-868, the proposal argued that the Bible’s denunciations of homosexuality did not apply to the modern day or to consensual same-sex behavior.

“These passages do not address the practice of homosexuality that is affirmed in a life-long, covenanted relationship that embodies ‘celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage,’” read Petition 14 in part.

West Michigan’s petition was known as “A Third Way,” which amended the language to read that the UMC “historically has not condoned.”

The omnibus Third Way also called for allowing individual clergy to decide on whether or not to officiate gay marriages and allow bishops to decide whether or not to ordain openly gay individuals.

At present, the UMC prohibits both the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals and the blessing of any marriage union other than that of one man and one woman.

- christian post

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