Make up your own list and then read it all.
The world’s top 50 thinkers 2019 https://t.co/mflixuvtYG
— 선대인 (@kennedian3) July 21, 2019
Make up your own list and then read it all.
The world’s top 50 thinkers 2019 https://t.co/mflixuvtYG
— 선대인 (@kennedian3) July 21, 2019
As of this month, the world’s population is 7.63 billion, according to the United Nations, which celebrates World Population Day today. More than half of all people around the globe (3.97 billion) live in just seven countries, according to the UN’s estimates. China has the world’s largest population (1.42 billion), followed by India (1.35 billion). The next five most populous nations – the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria – together have fewer people than India.
As recently as 2014, half the world’s population was concentrated in just six countries – the same nations as above, with the exception of Nigeria. Recent population growth, however, has been faster in the rest of the world than in these six nations, meaning that the top six now hold slightly less than half (49.4%) of the world’s people. Including Nigeria’s nearly 200 million people puts the world’s seven most populous countries at 52% of the global population.
The demographic future for the U.S. and the world looks very different than it did in the recent past. Growth from 1950 to 2010 was rapid — the global population nearly tripled, and the U.S. population doubled. However, population growth in future decades is projected to be significantly slower and is expected to tilt strongly to the oldest age groups, both globally and in the U.S.
— Pew Research Global (@pewglobal) July 21, 2019
“I always say,” Karen Armstrong admits with a conspiratorial grin, “that God bought me that place.” She is referring to the north London house she paid for with the proceeds of her series of bestsellers on religion — and Islam in particular.
If there was one specific book that underpinned the foundations of her Islington home, it was her short history of Islam. Published in 2000, this was perfectly timed for the west’s agonising over religion and the potential for a clash of civilisations sparked by the September 11 attacks the following year.
“I never saw the inside of a library” after that, she tells me as we are steered to our table. Instead, she was on the radio nonstop, “talking about Islam ” — as indeed she has been virtually ever since. She sees it as a civic duty to defend the religion — against both the misconceptions of non-Muslims and against what she sees as the corrupting influence of certain strains of Islamic theology, notably Saudi Wahhabism.
It is, Armstrong says of the latter, “as if a tiny sect in the [American] Bible belt had petrodollars and international approval to export their form of Christianity over the rest of the world.”
Read it all(subscription).
Karen Armstrong: ‘Religion is a matter of imagination’ https://t.co/AMXV4nD1Hg
— Financial Times (@FT) July 19, 2019
Pew Research Center just published its 10th annual report analyzing restrictions on religion (by both governments and individuals or groups in society) around the world. This year’s report differs from past reports because it focuses on changes that have occurred over the course of a decade, covering 2007 to 2017, rather than emphasizing year-to-year variations. Another new approach this year involves splitting each of two broad types of religious restrictions – government restrictions and social hostilities – into four subcategories. This provides a clearer picture of the specific types of religious restrictions that people face – and how they are changing over time.
Here are key findings from the report:
1Government restrictions on religion have increased globally between 2007 and 2017 in all four categories studied: favoritism of religious groups, general laws and policies restricting religious freedom, harassment of religious groups, and limits on religious activity. The most common types of restrictions globally have consistently been the first two. Governments often enshrine favoritism toward a certain religious group or groups in their constitutions or basic laws. And general laws and policies restricting religious freedom can cover a wide range of restrictions, including a requirement that religious groups register in order to operate. But one of the more striking increases involved the category of government limits on religious activities, which can include limits or requirements on religious dress. The global mean score in this category rose by about 44% between 2007 and 2017.
2Social hostilities involving religion have increased in a few categories, but levels of interreligious tension and violence, also known as sectarian or communal violence, have declined globally. In 2007, 91 countries experienced some level of violence due to tensions between religious groups, such as conflict between Hindus and Muslims in India, but by 2017 that number dropped to 57 countries. However, harassment by individuals and social groups, religious violence by organized groups, and hostilities related to religious norms (for example, harassment of women for violating dress codes) have all been on the rise.
About a quarter of the world’s highest-emitting, publicly listed companies fail to report their greenhouse gas emissions and nearly half do not properly consider the risks from the climate crisis in decision-making, new research has found.
The findings show the distance even the world’s biggest companies still have to cover to meet the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change, according to the group of investors coordinating the report.
The research covered a sample of 274 of the world’s highest emitting companies which are publicly listed, and therefore must make official disclosures of key financial data.
It was carried out by the Grantham Research Institute on climate change at the London School of Economics and commissioned by the Transition Pathway Initiative, a group of investors supportive of the Paris agreement, with about $14tn (£11tn) in funds under management.
Quarter of world’s biggest firms ‘fail to disclose emissions’ https://t.co/qrzsHrDLam
— The Guardian (@guardian) July 9, 2019
Today’s woes have their roots in the 1990s, when policymakers set the world on its current, hyperglobalist path, requiring domestic economies to be put in the service of the world economy instead of the other way around. In trade, the transformation was signaled by the creation of the World Trade Organization, in 1995. The WTO not only made it harder for countries to shield themselves from international competition but also reached into policy areas that international trade rules had not previously touched: agriculture, services, intellectual property, industrial policy, and health and sanitary regulations. Even more ambitious regional trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, took off around the same time.
In finance, the change was marked by a fundamental shift in governments’ attitudes away from managing capital flows and toward liberalization. Pushed by the United States and global organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, countries freed up vast quantities of short-term finance to slosh across borders in search of higher returns.
At the time, these changes seemed to be based on sound economics. Openness to trade would lead economies to allocate their resources to where they would be the most productive. Capital would flow from the countries where it was plentiful to the countries where it was needed. More trade and freer finance would unleash private investment and fuel global economic growth. But these new arrangements came with risks that the hyperglobalists did not foresee, although economic theory could have predicted the downside to globalization just as well as it did the upside.
“It is to the more flexible principles of Bretton Woods that today’s policymakers should look if they are to craft a fairer and more sustainable global economy”
|Globalization’s Wrong Turn https://t.co/Tr4aUBz7du via @ForeignAffairs
— Gbádégésin Fábùnmi (@Seun731) June 23, 2019
The Bishop of Truro Philip Mounstephen has finally published his independent report on persecuted Christians across the world, and it doesn’t disappoint. The review was commissioned by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt last December, and launched in January, and the intervening six months have been worth the wait, not least for its impeccable justification:
..this particular focus is justified because Christian persecution, like no other, is a global phenomenon. And it is so precisely because the Christian faith is a truly global phenomenon. Thus Christian persecution is not limited to one context or challenge. It is a single global phenomenon with multiple drivers and as such it deserves special attention. More specifically it is certainly not limited to Islamic-majority contexts. So this review is not a stalking horse for the Islamophobic far-right, and nor does it give the Islamophobic right a stick to beat Islam with. To focus on one causative factor alone is to be wilfully blind to many others.
..Because the Christian faith is perhaps the one truly global faith it has become a bellwether for repression more generally. If Christians are being discriminated against in one context or another you can be confident other minorities are too. So renewing a focus on Christian persecution is actually a way of expressing our concern for all minorities who find themselves under pressure. And ignoring Christian persecution might well mean we’re ignoring other forms of repression as well.
Bishop Philip not only calls for the UK to impose sanctions upon countries that persecute Christians, but also for the adoption of a specific definition of anti-Christian discrimination and persecution. Since the Government has refused to adopt a specific definition of Islamophobia, and the definition of Antisemitism is not without contention, it will be interesting to see how anti-Christian discrimination (which some call ‘Christophobia‘) is actually finally defined.
Significantly, Bishop Philip affirms the view expressed by the Rev’d Jonathan Aitken last December in his Christmas sermon to the Foreign Office, of an essential lack of religious literacy among FCO staff.
On May 18, extremists in Nigeria interrupted a church choir practice and abducted 17 Christians. They are being ransomed and might never see their families again. Some of the Christian women may be sold into slavery or raped and forced to marry the jihadist. It’s the latest attack in the escalating violent war on Christians within Nigeria, where 3,731 Christians were killed last year.
If such violence had occurred in Nashville rather than Nigeria, it would dominate nightly news broadcasts and saturate social media feeds. American churches would be launching fundraising campaigns for victims’ families and addressing it in their weekly gatherings. In this case, however, the American church has barely acknowledged it. Unfortunately, when violence occurs somewhere “over there” instead of in our backyard, it is often dismissed as just another story. American churches must do better.
I constantly bear witness to this sort of violence and the corresponding malaise by the nature of the organization I lead, Open Doors USA. We track such incidents of Christian persecution around the world through our annual World Watch List, a comprehensive ranking of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. To us, this is more than just “another story”; it is another data point in a global crisis of persecution. One of every nine Christians experience high levels of persecution and suffer for their faith, and it’s picking up pace.
It’s not just in Nigeria.
Today in USA Today, Open Doors CEO David Curry calls the U.S. Church to wake up to the global crisis: “The American church is feeding itself to death while the worldwide church is being murdered.” https://t.co/kKXiN4O6bv
— Open Doors USA (@OpenDoors) June 18, 2019
A new battlefront has opened in the trade war between the United States and China: the $1.6 trillion American travel industry.
A Los Angeles hotel long popular with Chinese travelers saw a 23 percent decline in visits last year and another 10 percent so far this year. In New York City, spending by Chinese tourists, who spend nearly twice as much as other foreign visitors, fell 12 percent in the first quarter. And in San Francisco, busloads of Chinese tourists were once a mainstay of one fine jewelry business; over the last few years, the buses stopped coming.
Figures from the Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism Office show a sharp decline in the number of tourists from China last year.
Industry professionals worry that the drop-off is picking up speed this year, affecting not just airlines, hotels and restaurants, but also retailers and attractions like amusement parks and casinos.
The number of Chinese tourists coming to the United States is falling. That’s especially painful to the businesses that cater to them because they spend an average of 50 percent more than other international visitors during their stays. https://t.co/nLfgTOJWJI
— NYT Business (@nytimesbusiness) June 12, 2019
“This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” says Aro. “This is not normal political discussion. Saying, ‘Jessikka is a crack whore who needs to be killed’ is a crime in many different countries.”
Confident, passionate and highly articulate, Aro speaks fluent English and Russian. She has tried reporting her abusers to Facebook and YouTube, but mostly receives an automated reply saying that they haven’t violated community standards. The reality of moderating, she argues, can be too complex for an algorithm, and requires human brains. “In fact, some of this content violates both their own community standards and Finnish legislation. By not removing it, they are enabling state-sponsored Russian troll operations.”
She accuses the companies of putting profit before anything else. Facebook has even profited from the trolls, she claims, because they pay for visibility and sponsored posts to attack her.
“Their moderation and security guarantee goes against their business model, basically. But if they’re going to do business in our countries, if they’re going to take our data and use it to make money, then they should also take some responsibility. It’s wrong, and illegal, to send death threats to anyone. They should have put an end to this years ago, but it’s still going on. They don’t seem interested in investigating it voluntarily, unless the US Senate or special counsel Robert Mueller demands that they do.”
Read it all (subscription).
After exposing a Russian ‘troll factory’, Jessikka Aro was so vilified that she fled Finland in fear of her life. Yet she refuses to stop reporting https://t.co/rOKH4KMxtr
— The Times of London (@thetimes) May 29, 2019
Western powers take the threat of Islamic State and other jihadis in Africa seriously. The U.S. has thousands of forces on the continent, provides intelligence and military support to several governments, and is stepping up airstrikes in Somalia, some of which are targeted at Islamic State. France has 4,500 counterterrorism troops in the West African Sahel region. The U.K.’s foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggested in May that London wanted to provide more military help against Iswap and Boko Haram, but that the Nigerian government was wary of hosting foreign combat troops.
Washington sees little risk of attacks on U.S. soil by the African cells of Islamic State, but it fears that could change if it takes over large territories or creates a caliphate on the continent akin to its former structure in the Middle East. Even if it doesn’t achieve that, Islamic State is already reaping benefits from its efforts. “What they’re doing in Africa is to show they have global reach,” says Judd Devermont, a former CIA analyst who’s now Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “They’re saying: We’re undefeated. We remain a player.”
ISIS is rebuilding in Africa after Middle East defeat https://t.co/3RbXXGraCT
— Bloomberg Africa (@BBGAfrica) May 23, 2019
One side, let us call them Islamoskeptics, will say that the attacks remind us of what only fools fail to perceive: Islam is a violent religion. Westerners who let down their guard or indulge hopes of a peaceful Islam are latter day Neville Chamberlains and invite further violence….
Who is right about Islam? This is the question I take up in Religious Freedom in Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right in the Muslim World Today, just published by Oxford University Press. There, I propose religious freedom as the yardstick for assessing whether Islam is peaceful and tolerant or violent and intolerant. A universal human right, religious freedom requires people and states to respect the beliefs and practices of those who espouse different answers to the ultimate questions of life, to accord them the full rights of citizenship, and to refrain from invidious discrimination against them. Religious freedom means that nobody pays a penalty for his or her religious beliefs. I pose this criterion for the world’s 47 (or so) states where Muslims are a majority. This is a good test, for in these states, Muslims possess the demographic power to carry out repression if that is what they wish. If freedom obtains here, then the Muslim world’s capacity for freedom is evidenced.
What results emerge? A landscape view shows that on average, Muslim-majority states are less free than the rest of the world and even less free than Christian-majority states. In the 2011 book, The Price of Freedom Denied, sociologists Brian J. Grim and Roger Finke document that 62% of Muslim-majority countries host a moderate to high level of persecution, in comparison with 60% of all other countries and 28% of Christian countries. More sharply, they show that 78% of Muslim-majority countries contain high levels of government restrictions on religion as compared to 43% of all other countries and 10% of Christian countries. Overall, the Muslim-majority world has a religious freedom problem.
A closer look at this world, however, reveals a more complex and hopeful picture. It turns out that 11, or 23%, of Muslim-majority states are religiously free according to a scale devised by the Pew Forum. These are too numerous to be outliers. In the other 36, or three-quarters, of Muslim-majority states that are not religiously free, Islam is not necessarily the reason for the lack. 15 states are “secular repressive,” meaning that they are governed by a regime that aspires to become a modern nation-state and is convinced that religion can only be a hindrance to this quest—an ideology borrowed from the French Revolution. Examples are Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and the other “stans” of Central Asian. True, the other 21 of these unfree states are “religiously repressive” because they are governed by an ideology of Islamism that calls for the imposition of a strict and traditional form of Islam by the state. While these states bear out Islam’s capacity for repression, they are 45%, or less than half, of the total. The French Revolution vies with the Iranian Revolution as the dominant form of repression in the Muslim world.
Both sides of the culture war, then, are partially right and partially wrong, at least on the criterion of religious freedom in today’s Muslim-majority states. That these states are religiously unfree in the aggregate supports Islamoskeptics; that they are diverse supports Islamopluralists. Both positions point to prescriptions. The dearth of religious freedom shows the need for its increase. The diversity in the Muslim world—the presence of some religiously free states, the fact some are unfree because of secularism, not Islam—shows the possibility of its increase. The case for its increase lies in justice. Religious freedom is a human right not only in the legal sense that it is articulated in the world’s major human rights conventions but also in the moral sense that it protects the dignity of persons and communities in their search for and expression of religious truth. Scholars also have shown that religious freedom fosters goods that Muslim states disproportionately lack, including democracy and equality for women, and reduces ills that these states disproportionately suffer, including terrorism, civil war, and poverty.
But in the 45 years since the late US Center for World Mission founder Ralph Winter popularized the concept—spurring maps, checklists, and stats toward a new goal—missiologists have begun to update their terminology for targeting the unevangelized, with some rethinking the “people groups” idea altogether.
The labels are not just a matter of semantics; if too broad or too narrow, they fail to identify the people who are most desperate for the gospel and won’t accurately capture the church’s progress toward making disciples of all nations.
Critics of the traditional definition of an unreached group, one where evangelicals make up less than 2 percent of the population, note that it ends up including peoples at disparate ends of a spectrum: some that already have a strong Christian presence, and others that have almost no exposure to the gospel. “Unreached people groups with no believers among them will not receive the witnesses they need if they are not clearly distinguished from those with thousands of believers,” wrote missionary and scholar Rebecca Lewis, Winter’s daughter, in the International Journal of Frontier Missiology last year.
Plus, “there is now significant status associated with mission efforts among unreached people groups,” said Robby Butler, general director of Missions Network. “This translates into prayer and financial support for such efforts, so no one wants their people classified as reached.”
Missions experts agree that the categories could be more precise, with some opting to focus on “unengaged unreached people groups,” those that are less than 2 percent evangelical and have no existing missionary efforts among them.
Evangelizing “unreached people groups” has mobilized Christians for decades.
But does that term still work anymore? https://t.co/yS7Z3AiBvf
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) May 9, 2019
Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, something remarkable happened: people started having fewer children. Way fewer. In country after country, fertility rates fell from four to eight children per woman to less than three, and in many cases less than two.
What caused this decline in fertility? Did changes in child mortality and life expectancy cause parents to desire fewer conceptions? Did increased return to human capital change the optimal child-rearing strategy? Was the decline caused by increasing exposure to the toxic chemical mix of industrialization?
The above explanations, and many others, have been proposed at various times by biologists, economists, and sociologists. But a growing body of economic research is offering a decidedly anthropological explanation for fertility: it’s about culture. People have the children they have not simply due to their individual pursuit of happiness, economic returns, or mere biology, but because of how cultural and values systems shape their behaviors.
It’s easy to spot culture-fertility linkages “in the wild.” For example, in ethnically Chinese populations around the world, birth rates spike in lucky Zodiac years, like the Dragon year. Births fall sharply around major holidays in virtually all countries. In America, they also fall sharply on unlucky days like April 1 or Friday the 13th. I’ve catalogued these and many more cultural-fertility interactions elsewhere.
But can cultural factors explain big changes in fertility? Sure, maybe a change in cultural values can nudge when a couple has a baby by a little bit here or there, or maybe we can change the pace of change in birth rates a bit. But could an arbitrary shock to social values really trigger an epochal shift in demographics like that observed during the so-called “demographic transition?” New research by Brian Beach and W. Walker Hanlon says yes.
The whole project of Western-funded family planning operations is nothing else than cultural colonialism. https://t.co/rfXby8iDdz
— Public Discourse (@PublicDiscourse) May 8, 2019
In pictures: Easter celebrated around the world https://t.co/fedh8eqvdy
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) April 21, 2019
The Church of England and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have made a joint submission to the Independent Review of Foreign and Commonwealth Office support for persecuted Christians.
In a joint letter accompanying the submission, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, said that in many places “our Christian sisters and brothers face persecution of an intensity and extent unprecedented in many centuries.”
However, the Archbishops added that these threats to freedom of religion or belief are not restricted to Christians alone, but are a widespread experience of the followers of other faiths.
“We ask Her Majesty’s Government to take note of the practical recommendations offered by our Churches in this Submission and to take meaningful action not only in protecting Christians facing persecution but also in promoting freedom of religion and belief more widely,” they said
(follow the link to see the 2 full letters).
Anglicans and Catholics make joint submission to Foreign Office review on persecuted Christianshttps://t.co/bWT5KbFH4E
The submission was accompanied by a joint letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and Westminster. pic.twitter.com/YBFTsd9ufE
— churchstate (@churchstate) April 17, 2019
Since the end of the Second World War, middle- and working-class people across the Western world have sought out—and, more often than not, achieved—their aspirations. These usually included a stable income, a home, a family, and the prospect of a comfortable retirement. However, from Sydney to San Francisco, this aspiration is rapidly fading as a result of a changing economy, soaring land costs, and a regulatory regime, all of which combine to make it increasingly difficult for the new generation to achieve a lifestyle like that enjoyed by their parents. This generational gap between aspiration and disappointment could define our demographic, political, and social future.
In the United States, about 90 percent of children born in 1940 grew up to experience higher incomes than their parents, according to researchers at the Equality of Opportunity Project. That figure dropped to only 50 percent of those born in the 1980s. The US Census bureau estimates that, even when working full-time, people in their late twenties and early thirties earn $2000 less in real dollars than the same age cohort in 1980. More than 20 percent of people aged 18 to 34 live in poverty, up from 14 percent in 1980. Three-quarters of American adults today predict their child will not grow up to be better-off than they are, according to Pew.
These sentiments are even more pronounced in France, Britain, Spain, Italy, and Germany. In Japan, a remarkable three-quarters of those polled said they believe things will be worse for the next generation. Even in China, many young people face a troubling future; in 2017, eight million graduates entered the job market, but most ended up with salaries that could have been attained by going to work in a factory straight out of high school.
On the Return of Feudalism may become one of 2020’s most important books https://t.co/NauJDZnZ8m
— Harry Lehmann (@harrymlehmann) April 10, 2019
A dozen more countries have been added to the list of areas where Christians experience high persecution, according to Open Doors International.
The latest survey by the persecution watchdog shows one in nine Christians globally experience “high” levels of persecution, as compared to one in 12 the previous year. It is worst across Asia and the Middle East, where one in three Christians experience “high” levels of persecution.
Open Doors also warns that new laws in China and Vietnam are part of an effort to control all religious expression. In China, the wave of persecution is as high as that experienced during the cultural revolution of Mao Zedong in the 1970s. Many churches have been forced to close down, crosses have been removed from a number of buildings and some believers have been sent to “re-education camps”.
The annual ranking of religious persecution in 50 countries indicates that at least 245 million Christians in 73 countries experience high levels of persecution – up from 215 million in 58 countries in the previous year. The sources of persecution vary from government and nationalist crackdowns to Hindu and Islamic attacks.
North Korea remains the world’s worst persecution hotspot, as it has been every year since 2002. Persecution rose in Myanmar – it is now up to 18th position from 24th – and Indonesia rises to 30 from 38th position last year, mainly due to suicide bombing attacks against churches. China moved up 16 positions to number 27.
In response to all this, Muslim representatives frequently stress that the problem of Islamophobia (a term that remains contentious in many countries) is by no means confined to a far-rightist fringe. They insist that an anti-Muslim climate has been created by politicians much closer to the respectable centre-right, or in the French case by zealous advocates of the century-old doctrine of laïcité, or strict secularism.
At Birmingham Central Mosque, one of the leading places of Islamic worship in Britain, the initial reaction to New Zealand’s horror was one of inter-faith solidarity. Representatives of all local creeds gathered to offer sympathy and support. But mosque leaders say their people live daily with abuse, spitting, jostling and in the case of women, attempts to grab their scarves. Nassar Mahmood, a mosque trustee, says social peace in the city is challenged on many fronts. Reduced levels of policing (because of budget cuts) lead to a rise in petty crime that, he fears, may be blamed on Muslims. “We could very easily face attacks similar to those in New Zealand that would destabilise our social harmony,” he says. In the early hours of March 21st, five mosques in Birmingham were attacked with sledgehammers.
Salma Yaqoob, a local politician of the left who may be Birmingham’s best-known Muslim woman, has been adamant that the problem goes far beyond an extremist white-nationalist fringe. Her response to the New Zealand massacre was to “call out” mainstream Tory politicians who in her view played to the gallery with anti-Muslim innuendos.
“Top 10” lists can often be helpful in displaying and illuminating data. For example, the two tables of countries with the largest Christian and Muslim populations featured here reveal differences in the concentration, diversity and projected changes in the world’s two largest religions.
The two lists show that the global Muslim population is more heavily concentrated in Islam’s main population centers than the global Christian population is for Christianity, which is more widely dispersed around the world. Indeed, about two-thirds (65%) of the world’s Muslims live in the countries with the 10 largest Muslim populations, while only 48% of the world’s Christians live in the countries with the 10 largest Christian populations.
Lists of the countries with the 10 largest Christian and Muslim populations illustrate the extent to which the population centers for these religions have moved away from their historical and traditional hubs. https://t.co/6dAw47TTA5 pic.twitter.com/Q6mCYQqtQh
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) April 2, 2019
Broader trends also raise the stakes. Trump has turned a blind eye to far-right terrorism, while some of his most prominent supporters such as Lou Dobbs and Ann Coulter have denied the existence of a right-wing threat. Right-wing media personalities and activists, including Candace Owens and even the president’s son Donald Trump, Jr., have peddled conspiracy theories regarding recent attacks. At the same time, politics, particularly on the right, is shifting into a more radical register. Recent public marches organized by the far right have resulted in violence, including the vehicular ramming that killed Heather Heyer during the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally last year.
This new terrorist threat cannot be addressed with an overwhelming focus on jihadist ideology. Nor will a travel ban address a threat rooted in domestic politics and the Internet’s conveyance of global issues into American homes. Instead, today’s terrorist threat requires effective law enforcement, a real discussion of the dangers of lax gun laws, policies to regulate the ways social media has helped spread violence, community resilience, and a reckoning with the forces driving U.S. and global politics increasingly toward radicalism.
Since 9/11, the U.S. government has been extraordinarily successful in disrupting foreign terrorist organizations’ ability to strike the United States. But the task of renewing and strengthening American society to face down the new terrorist threat could be even more difficult.
Robert Kraft, the billionaire owner of the six-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots was charged Friday with soliciting prostitution at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. Not three days prior, the Martin County Sherriff’s Office hosted a press conference to announce the bust of a human trafficking ring involving numerous spas in three counties, including Orchids of Asia.
The evidence indicates that Chinese women were recruited and transported to the United States under the false promise of securing legitimate jobs, only to be held captive at the spas and coerced to transact for commercial sex. Male clients at Orchids of Day could purchase a female body at the rate of $59 for thirty minutes or $79 for one hour.
Sex trafficking generates annual profits of nearly $100 billion, according to the International Labour Organization, making it the most profitable form of slavery the world has ever seen. Under the United States Trafficking Victims Protection Act, sex trafficking involves the recruitment or transfer of a person; through force, fraud, or coercion; for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
Taking a broad, international approach to this complicated topic, Pew Research Center researchers set out to determine whether religion has clearly positive, negative or mixed associations with eight different indicators of individual and societal well-being available from international surveys conducted over the past decade. Specifically, this report examines survey respondents’ self-assessed levels of happiness, as well as five measures of individual health and two measures of civic participation.2
By dividing people into three categories, the study also seeks to isolate whether religious affiliation or religious participation – or both, or neither – is associated with happiness, health and civic engagement. The three categories are: “Actively religious,” made up of people who identify with a religious group and say they attend services at least once a month (sometimes called “actives”); “inactively religious,” defined as those who claim a religious identity but attend services less often (also called “inactives”); and “religiously unaffiliated,” people who do not identify with any organized religion (sometimes called “nones”).3
This analysis finds that in the U.S. and many other countries around the world, regular participation in a religious community clearly is linked with higher levels of happiness and civic engagement (specifically, voting in elections and joining community groups or other voluntary organizations). This may suggest that societies with declining levels of religious engagement, like the U.S., could be at risk for declines in personal and societal well-being. But the analysis finds comparatively little evidence that religious affiliation, by itself, is associated with a greater likelihood of personal happiness or civic involvement.
Are religious people people happier, healthier or more civically engaged? We examined international data for eight different indicators of well-being to find out. https://t.co/ZDMwlWwmh8
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) February 1, 2019
Postcolonial guilt about Britain’s imperial past has held the country back from addressing the deepening persecution of Christians across the world, the foreign secretary has said.
Jeremy Hunt was speaking at the launch of an independent review into how the government defends the rights of persecuted Christians. The review, which will be led by the bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, will study the scale, causes and geography of persecution and what more the UK may be able to do to raise the profile of the issue in its diplomatic network.
Hunt, a committed Christian, said: “We wanted to do this not just because freedom of worship is a fundamental human right, but because also freedom of worship is the invisible line between open societies and closed societies.”
He added he wanted “to banish any hesitation to look into this issue without fear or favour that may exist because of our imperial history, because of the concerns that some people might have in linking the activities of missionaries in the 19th century to misguided imperialism”.
“freedom of worship is something that cannot only not be taken for granted, but is a growing concern all over the world.”@Jeremy_Hunt spoke at the launch of the Independent Review into the Persecution of Christians across the Globe
— Foreign Office 🇬🇧 (@foreignoffice) January 30, 2019
On a related note, we at Redeemer City to City aren’t in the business of exporting Hollywood and Western values. Far from it. One of the things the global church has suffered from is America’s role as an amazing economic engine. When Christians in America have a new idea, they churn out books and videos. They send people all around the world to sell their product. If they have an evangelistic method that works in Florida, they think they should give it to everybody. The trouble is, when Americans export their way of doing evangelism to other parts of the world where people are more secular or non-Western, it just doesn’t work.
Even though Americans have produced so much material for the Christian world, America is out of step. It may be ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to packaging and marketing and publishing, but it’s behind the rest of the world when it comes to understanding the cultural moment.
On a positive note, our kids are already connected across cultures. Young people are talking to each other all across the world. This is the sort of communication that church leaders need to reach the next generation — a collaboration across cultural, national, and denominational lines. And when we meet together, like the cultures of the world already are, then we can begin to meet the most important challenges of our day.
— City to City (@RedeemerCTC) January 24, 2019
Year after year, Open Doors has reported on the decline of religious freedom for Christians worldwide—measuring persecution through government restrictions, social pressures, and outright violence.
“In the north and Middle Belt of Nigeria … at least 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith—almost double the number of a year ago (an estimated 2,000)—with villages completely abandoned by Christians forced to flee, as their armed attackers then move in to settle, with impunity,” wrote World Watch Monitor in its analysis of the list. The news service noted that “of the 4,136 deaths for Christian faith that the List reports, Nigeria alone accounts for about 90% (3,731).”
Overall, 1 in 6 African Christians now experience high levels of persecution for their faith, according to Open Doors researchers.
The latest World Watch List indicates that religious freedom restrictions have also become more widespread, affecting 1 in 9 Christians worldwide. An estimated 245 million Christians in the 50 countries on this year’s rankings experience high levels of persecution compared to 215 million last year.
Of the 150 countries monitored by Open Doors, 73 now exhibit high to extreme levels of persecution; last year, only 58 countries showed the same. “[In 2019], 11 countries score highly enough to fit into the ‘extreme’ category for the level of persecution of Christians,” noted World Watch Monitor. “It was the same last year, but five years ago, only North Korea was in that category.”
The 50 most anti-Christian countries in the world https://t.co/dE4smo4blK
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) January 16, 2019
According to The Christian Century this study of how American evangelicals have engaged with the wider world was OUP’s best-selling religious book in the US in 2018. There have been numerous studies of evangelicalism within America but this is the first I know to look at how evangelicals have engaged with other cultures. It has important lessons for anyone interested in the mission of the church.
Melani McAlister describes herself as ‘secular’ but although she makes some sharp criticisms she does try to understand the people she writes about and present them fairly. Her story begins with racism in America in the 1950s and 1960s and ends with a group of InterVarsity students spending five weeks in Cairo trying to help Sudanese refugees. The evangelical community McAlister describes is diverse. Many evangelicals voted for Trump but others are struggling with issues of race, cultural imperialism and global poverty.
McAlister devotes chapters to important developments in evangelical engagement with the world: post-colonial turmoil in the Congo, relations with communism, pre-millennialism and support for Israel, the debates at Lausanne, apartheid, war in the Sudan, the growth of evangelical NGOs, the response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, short-term missionaries, relations with Islam and the war in Iraq are all discussed. The importance of people from outside the US such as John Stott and Michael Cassidy is recognised and there are interesting comments on the 1998 Lambeth Conference.
Read it all (may require subscription).
'This bk has mch 2 teach rders like me who R neither #usa nor #evangelical. McAlister’s criticisms in discussing sch issues as the redemptn of slaves in the Sudan or short-term miss service R usually spot-on ut she also tries 2 B fair +report the gd tht people do or try to do' TK pic.twitter.com/9gjjYrjRSU
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) January 17, 2019
Professor Lamin Sanneh was a giant in the field of World Christianity. His loss sends a tidal wave across multiple fields, institutions, and continents. He will be sorely missed by those of us who worked with him and called him friend, as well as by people who knew him only from his powerful writings.
As an African, a superb scholar, and a convert from Islam, Lamin Sanneh saw from the outside what those raised on the inside could not. His 1989 book Translating the Message showed how the gospel could become part of every culture, through being translated into the language and worldview of the people. He challenged the assumption that Christianity was merely a tool of western colonizers.
Through his founding of the annual Yale-Edinburgh conferences on mission history, his publications, his editorship of the Oxford University Press World Christianity Series, his leadership of the Dictionary of African Christian Biography, and many other important projects, Lamin Sanneh collaborated with others to transform the study of mission history, African religions, and World Christianity.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Lamin Sanneh was a Gambian convert from Islam to Christianity, whose scholarship shaped contemporary discourse around world Christianity and missions in Africa.
He died on Sunday at age 76.https://t.co/pc4sKJDLIO
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) January 8, 2019
Today is Three Kings’ Day! It is a day celebrated by Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians and among many Hispanic communities around the world. This is Epiphany of the church calendar when the magi’s arrival bearing gifts for baby Jesus in Matthew 2 is celebrated. pic.twitter.com/edET6RHfA3
— Museum of the Bible (@museumofBible) January 6, 2019
In pictures: World celebrates Christmas https://t.co/v92Q73OaJG
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 24, 2018