Category : Violence

(C of E) An update on timing for the John Smyth Review from the National Safeguarding Team

Read it all and for background please see there.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Youth Ministry

(NBC) Boko Haram Kidnapping Survivors Now Pursuing Graduate Degrees To Help Others

“Joy Bishara and Lydia Pogu were among the hundreds of girls kidnapped in 2014 by Boko Haram in Nigeria. After escaping, both women have now graduated from Florida’s Southeastern University and plan to pursue graduate degrees. They’re determined to be a voice for those still missing.”

Watch it all.

Posted in Education, Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence, Women, Young Adults

(BBC) South Africa looting: Government to deploy 25,000 troops after unrest

The South African government plans to deploy 25,000 troops after days of widespread looting and violence.

The military deployment – to counter riots sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma – would be the biggest since the end of apartheid.

At least 117 people have died and more than 2,000 have been arrested in South Africa’s worst unrest in years.

Hundreds of shops and businesses have been looted and the government says it is acting to prevent food shortages.

Citizens are arming themselves and forming vigilante groups to protect their property from the rampage.

Read it all.

Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, South Africa, Violence

(CT) Whispered Prayers, Hidden Bibles, Secretly Scribbled Verses: Inside the Resilient Faith of the #BringBackOurGirls Hostages

Eventually, word of the girls’ indiscipline reached Malam Ahmed. The girls were singing, he learned, and were hiding a Bible. He was furious. His guards arrived, a mass of men descending on them all at once, shouting orders and demanding to search the area. The girls stood to the side while the men rifled through the piled-up clothes and kitchen utensils they kept under a tree. The militants confiscated medicine, mainly basic painkillers the girls had been hiding. They found a cellphone. But the girls had already buried their diaries and a Bible, marking the spot with a stone.

“We were no longer afraid,” Naomi told us.

It wasn’t until May 2017 that she and 81 of her classmates were ordered to march to the side of a dirt road, where a row of white Red Cross Toyota Land Cruisers were parked. One after the next, the young women were invited to cross the road by a lawyer, who had been working with the Swiss Foreign Affairs ministry to help negotiate their release. The cars rumbled off, and as the schoolmates cracked open juice boxes, the men who’d held them hostage for three years became small figures on the horizon. The journey had barely begun when the passengers broke into a song from Chibok, loud enough that the entire convoy could hear and join in. Their voices arched and lingered over the a in happy, reaching for a note at the top of the melody.

Today is a happy day!
Everybody shake your body, thank God! Today is a happy day.

Years later, Naomi began to recount these anecdotes to us, recalling a story of courage in the face of horrors that sounded fantastical in their depravity. Nevertheless, after many hours of interviews with the young women held in captivity, it became clear that her account often understated the schoolgirls’ bravery. Naomi and her friends had no reason to believe they would survive their ordeal and every expectation that each challenge to their captors’ worldview would result in physical and mental punishment. They stuck to their principles all the same, staging a rebellion that signaled their determination to persevere.

“We stood our ground,” as Naomi later told us.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

(Washington Post front page) As homicides soar nationwide, mayors see few options for regaining control

The killings rolled over the country like a fast-moving storm. From Savannah to Austin, from Chicago to Cleveland. In six hours one night this month, four mass-shooting attacks. And in their wake, a sober recognition from city leaders that they don’t have many options left for curbing a surge in homicides that is traumatizing communities nationwide.

“We have done almost all we can do,” said Van Johnson, the mayor of Savannah, Ga.

The tools for fighting back are “limited” without state and federal help, said Austin Mayor Steve Adler (D).

“It’s going to get worse,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson (D) said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Local Paper front page) Charleston clergy, activists mark 6th anniversary of Emanuel AME Church shooting

The bells tolled at 9 p.m. in downtown Charleston and the crowd stood in silence as they listened to the pastor dressed in black read nine names.

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Graham Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Susie Jackson, DePayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders and the Rev. Dan Simmons Sr. — nine names, nine lives whose loss on June 17, 2015, irrevocably changed the Holy City.

At least 50 people gathered at 8 p.m. on June 17 in front of Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street to remember those names, marking the sixth anniversary of the racially motivated mass shooting that continues to scar the Black community.

“I’m so grateful that you are here to remember,” said Marlena Davis, a church member.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(RNS) Ed Litton, a pastor known for racial reconciliation, is surprise winner for SBC president

Ed Litton, the relatively unknown senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, defeated two preeminent rivals to be elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention during a session of the SBC’s annual meeting Tuesday (June 15).

Litton has made racial reconciliation a hallmark of his work since at least the 2014 riots after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Litton’s election is considered a defeat for hard right conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent battles over race, sexual abuse and gender roles.

Litton won in the second round of voting Tuesday, defeating conservative Georgia pastor Mike Stone, a former SBC Executive Committee chair and favorite of the Conservative Baptist Network, which has been critical of SBC leadership, saying it has become captive to liberal ideas.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Science & Technology, Violence

(SA) Sydney Diocese: No tolerance for abuse

All Anglicans should be deeply grieved by the study released this week by the Anglican Church of Australia on domestic and family violence.

“Like my predecessor, I want to state clearly that all forms of domestic abuse are incompatible with Scripture and Christian faith,” said the new Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel. “Nothing justifies violence or coercion. Christian relationships are to be marked by love, gentleness and respect.”

The report, outlined here, indicates the prevalence of family abuse was the same or higher than in the wider Australian community. The report will be studied to determine ways to further strengthen responses to domestic abuse and family violence within church communities and a ten point commitment has been enacted by the General Synod, as well as work already undertaken in the Sydney Diocese. “There is much work to do and our shock and sadness should stir us into further action,” said Archbishop Raff

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Violence

(Christian Today) I was a Smyth victim too, says Rector of St Helen’s Bishopsgate William Taylor

Taylor said he had desired to keep his abuse private but felt compelled to make a public statement after some critics on social media suggested he had been involved in a cover-up.

“My heart goes out to all those abused by Smyth in this country and in Africa,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(UCA) Anglican pastor among 50 killed in Congo attacks by an Islamist armed group

An Anglican pastor was among 50 people killed in separate attacks in the troubled eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Local officials and monitor groups said on June 1 that the attacks on May 31 night were the worst seen in at least four years in the troubled Tchabi and Boga regions in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, bordering Uganda.

The army blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist armed group, for raiding villages.

Albert Basegu, head of a civil rights group in Boga, told Reuters that he came to know about the attack there by the sound of cries at a neighboring house.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Republic of Congo, Terrorism, Violence

(KC Star front page) ‘An execution’: Kansas City faith group says video shows March 25 police shooting

A group of faith leaders in Kansas City held a news conference Tuesday announcing they have video of the fatal police shooting of Malcolm Johnson earlier this year.

Johnson, 31, was killed March 25 during a confrontation with Kansas City police officers at a gas station near East 63rd Street and Prospect Avenue, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday, the group of ministers gathered outside the gas station and said they had obtained video of the shooting and were releasing it to news media. The video they released did not show the shooting itself, but the faith leaders said it, and other facts surrounding the shooting, showed the initial account given by the highway patrol was not accurate.

“What I saw was an execution,” said the Rev. Darron Edwards, a leader with Getting to the Heart of the Matter, a group of local faith leaders who have been cooperating with the Kansas City Police Department.

“Regardless of the sound quality and the video not showing the actual shots, it is clear that the report does not match the video,” said the Rev. Emanuel Cleaver III. “We are demanding justice.”

Read it all.

Posted in City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) Tulsa Church Ledger Preserves Stories of Faith After Historic Massacre

The book might look like it’s just a list of names and numbers, but Robert Richard Allen Turner, pastor of Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, knows it’s more than that.

“It’s a ledger of our history that we still need to know today,” Turner said. “It’s a story of faith and folks who had faith in God.”

The city of Tulsa will pause on June 1 to remember the 100th anniversary of a racial massacre. In 1921, white Oklahomans killed hundreds of Black people and completely destroyed a prosperous Black community. When the violence ebbed, Greenwood Avenue—the heart of what was then called America’s Black Wall Street—was rubble. The mob had destroyed four hotels, two newspapers, eight doctor’s offices, seven barbershops, half a dozen real estate agencies, and half a dozen churches. One of the Black houses of worship that was damaged was the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, located then at 307 N. Greenwood.

The only thing left of the AME was the basement, and it too had been badly damaged. But the church decided to rebuild, and it kept a ledger of all the people who pledged to help and the money they contributed to the cause.

When Turner looks at that book, he thinks of the biblical genealogies and the Book of Numbers, where God told Moses to write down the names of the people who assisted him and to count and record the names of the people who had escaped bondage in Egypt and the descendants who went through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

(WSJ) The Tulsa Race Massacre 100 Years Later

Tulsa boomed in the early 1900s due to the discovery of nearby oil. Its population grew rapidly from 1,390 in 1900 to 72,075 in 1920, according to census records. Despite the strictly enforced Jim Crow laws at that time, Greenwood had become a “prosperous, vibrant” district and “an American success story,” according to historian Scott Ellsworth.

But in 1921, that success story was interrupted.

On May 31, Dick Rowland, a Black shoe shiner, was arrested for allegedly assaulting a white woman. She would eventually refuse to cooperate with his prosecution.

That night, a mob of over 1,000 white Tulsans gathered in front of the county courthouse where Mr. Rowland was being held. A boxer, Jack Scott was one of the approximately 75 other Black men who came to protect Mr. Rowland.

A fight broke out. The Black men retreated to Greenwood. The white mob organized an attack, and in the early morning hours invaded and burned Greenwood to the ground.

Read it all (and the 8 other articles as well).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Race/Race Relations, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

The BBC Story on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘personal apology’ over charity abuse

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a “full personal apology” to the survivors of abuse by former barrister John Smyth QC in the 1970s and 80s.

Smyth, who died aged 77 in 2018, violently beat boys who attended Christian summer camps.

Justin Welby said: “I am sorry this was done in the name of Jesus Christ by a perverted version of spirituality and evangelicalism.”

Survivors who recently met Mr Welby welcomed him “taking responsibility”.

In a statement issued by Lambeth Palace, the archbishop said: “I continue to hear new details of the abuse and my sorrow, shock and horror grows.

“The Church has a duty to look after those who have been harmed. We have not always done that well.”

He said the Church’s safeguarding team will investigate every clergyperson which they suspect “knew and failed to disclose the abuse”.

Mr Welby worked in the evangelical Christian camps for public schoolboys run by Smyth, but denies any knowledge of the abuse at the time.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence, Youth Ministry

Statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury about the abuse carried out by John Smyth QC

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Premium Times) Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Isaac Nwobia calls for national dialogue to address issues of insecurity throughout the country

An Anglican Archbishop, Isaac Nwobia, has urged the federal government to convene a national dialogue to address issues of insecurity in the country

Mr Nwobia, who is the Archbishop/Bishop of Diocese of Isiala Ngwa South (Aba Province), made the call during the 4th Synod of the diocese at St. Peter’s Cathedral Owerrinta, Abia State on Thursday.

The archbishop, while speaking with reporters during the opening session of the Synod, said that national dialogue was important, as the communication gap could be responsible for some of the present security challenges in Nigeria.

“The president should summon us, either as a meeting or a confab, so that people can say why they are annoyed.

“The solution should be that we need to sit down, dialogue and sort things out,” he said.

The cleric condemned the destruction of some of the nation’s security facilities.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Open Doors) Christians murdered in terror attack in Indonesia this week

On 11 May, four Christian men were murdered in a village in Indonesia. Members of a terrorist group are believed to be responsible. Open Doors partners are looking to help the families of the victims.

Tragically, four Christian men from a village called Kalimago in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, were beheaded by Islamic extremists on the morning of 11 May. The attack is believed to have been carried out by members of the terrorist group East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), which has links to so-called Islamic State – it’s the second attack in the past six months: four Christians were killed in Sigi, in the same region, last November.

The victims (who have yet to be named) were men aged between 42 and 61, and all attended churches in the area.

Read it all.

Posted in Indonesia, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Terrorism, Violence

The Astonishing Witness of the Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 2006

The sleepless grandfather of the two slain sisters was walking by the schoolhouse, reflecting on his loss…

a little…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Sunday, May 9, 2021

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, America/U.S.A., Books, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Tablet) Welby condemns ‘sins of male violence’ amid vigils for Sarah Everard

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Testimony after testament from women over recent days have shown us something we have known and ignored for far too long: the profound impact of the sin of male violence, intimidation, harassment, sexism and abuse carried out against women. It is these sins – and the culture that perptuates and condones them – that need our urgent repentance, our fervent prayer, and our resolute action as men.”

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Programme that Ms Everard’s death was a tipping point, and acknowledged the Churches’ role in fostering a culture of male dominance. “We have used scripture to make women submissive to men. . . We have contributed to that pervasive culture that women and girls are lesser than men and boys and we have got a big part to play in redressing that,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Violence, Women

(NPR Goats+Soda) Nearly 1 In 3 Women Experience Violence: Landmark Report From WHO

The numbers are stark – and startling.

Around the world, almost 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization. That number has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, WHO said.

The report, which WHO says is the largest-ever study of the prevalence of violence against women, draws upon data from 161 countries and areas on women and girls age 15 and up collected between 2000 and 2018. So it does not account for the impact of the pandemic. Lockdowns and related restrictions on movement have led to widespread reports of a “shadow pandemic” — a surge in violence against women and girls around the world, as many found themselves trapped at home with their abusers.

The figures “really bring to the fore how widely prevalent this problem already was” even prior to the pandemic, said WHO’s Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, one of the report’s authors. She says researchers won’t know the pandemic’s true impact on violence against women until they can conduct new population-based surveys again in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(KC Star) With gun suicides on the rise, a rare hotline staffed by St. Louis teens saves lives

Firearms are the only means of suicide Makulec talks about because it is the most lethal and the most common. In Missouri, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 24, behind accidents of all kinds. Ninety-eight Missourians ages 24 and under died from firearm suicides in 2019, the most recent year data was available.

And the problem is getting worse: Missouri’s youth suicide rate is rising faster than all but four other states.

Suicide prevention advocates, mental health professionals and parents who lost children to gun suicide point to solutions: restricting teens’ access to guns and encouraging more informed conversations to end stigma and silence surrounding suicide and mental health, like the work done at KUTO.

“I’d like to think every day is my last day of work,” said Makulec, who serves as KUTO’s executive director. “But while we’ve made an impact, teens are still dying by suicide at an alarming rate in Missouri.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Suicide, Violence

(Local Paper) This South Carolina human trafficking survivor is drawing from her past to tackle the problem

As South Carolina’s leaders pledge to end human trafficking and prosecute its perpetrators, a Lowcountry woman is pulling their focus to the survivors of such horrors.

Kat Wehunt, who survived years of sex trafficking as a teenager, knows she’s lucky to have escaped. But she worries that her peers in the Palmetto State don’t have a simple, thorough and accessible system to help them maintain a life free from abuse.

Her solution is The Formation Project, the state’s only survivor-led nonprofit dedicated to ending human trafficking. While law enforcement, legislators and faith leaders work to pull victims from their abusers, Wehunt focuses on the next step: connecting them with resources to make sure they’re able to thrive for the rest of their lives with the physical and emotional support they deserve.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Local Paper) Police, doctors warn South Carolina lawmakers against passing ‘open carry with training’ gun bill

Charleston’s police chief warned South Carolina lawmakers a proposal to let trained gun owners carry their weapons openly could endanger public safety and make the jobs of law enforcement officers more difficult.

Chief Luther Reynolds was one of dozens of South Carolinians who testified Feb. 10 in opposition to the bill, joining several doctors and self-identified gun owners who said they fear the bill could lead to more violence and anxiety on the streets.

The opponents outnumbered the six supporters who testified in favor of the measure by saying they believe the training aspect will ensure guns are handled responsibly and noting that South Carolina is one of only five states that does not have any form of open carry law on the books.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, State Government, Violence

(BBC) ‘Their goal is to destroy everyone’: Uighur camp detainees allege systematic rape

Read it all.

Article content may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

The Rector of Falls Church Anglican on the DC Riots–we are Called to be Ambassadors of Reconciliation within the World

Dear Church Family,

Taking the necessary time to recoup and quarantine since having COVID has meant Sundays away from you. This has been hard, especially in light of recent events.

What we witnessed at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, in the wake of a complex and burdensome year, leaves us all emotionally unsettled. Tragically, the violence and destruction of that day only deepened the seemingly intractable divisions in our nation.

We can be sure our Heavenly Father, the Author of Life and Love, despises the death and discord wrought that day. As Christians, we also decry such violence.

I join you in being heartbroken for our nation. I too lament such a sad beginning of 2021. I also join you in asking certain questions: how should the Church respond to something like this? What is God calling us to be and to learn?

Below I offer suggestions for Christian life together at a time such as this, which I hope members of any local church will consider. Prior to that, I want to draw our attention to one idea, or biblical concept, that should shape Christian engagement with the world right now: reconciliation.

Jesus’s first followers were not sent into a docile world. The cultures of Greece, Rome, Israel, and other nations, often clashed. Shortly after Jesus’s ministry, his own people’s imperial city, Jerusalem, and Temple, were sacked and razed by the Romans. In the midst of national and political tumult, we don’t find Jesus’s early followers dividing over preferred political allegiances; we find them instead proclaiming and embodying a universal message of reconciliation—for Jews, Greeks, Romans … for everyone (Gal 3:28). Christian political allegiance was to a kingdom not of this world (John 18:36).

This message of reconciliation was not a secular ideal. It was the message that in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, and that Christians were now ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:16–20). It meant that Christians saw all reality and all people as in need of reconciliation, being re-united, with God.

What might this message of reconciliation mean for Christian engagement with the world following the tumult of recent weeks and months?

First, it means affirming all genuine desires for truth-seeking. Christians do not want matters obscured in half-truths or lies to be reconciled with the crystal clarity of the God Who is Truth. We cheer on truth-seeking and decry dishonesty. We also resist oversimplification, and instead acknowledge the painstaking process of discernment required by the many complex issues of our day.

Second, it means condemning ungodly means of pursuing truth or power. Storming the Capitol, fear-mongering, or any form of violent protests, are irreconcilable with a God whose way was self-sacrifice (Mark 10:45). Christians champion the right use of laws and tools of democracy, that human pursuits of justice would be reconciled with God’s passion for righteousness.

Third, it means that while condemning the violence of January 6th, we are careful not to condemn persons whose politics and opinions differ from ours. Hearty debates and passionate arguments have an important role. However, judging the state of someone’s soul or hurling condescension upon them are irreconcilable with a God who bore patiently with those who rejected him (John 1:11).

In public engagement, a Christian’s attitude and actions should bespeak a desire to see the world, its ways, and its people, reconciled with a righteous, just, and loving God. As you read blogs and engage with others, be asking: are my speech, attitude and aims reconcilable with the reconciling work of God in Christ?

Ambassadors of Reconciliation within the Church
Turning now to our life together within the body of Christ, here are three practices to help us maintain the reconciliation God has purchased for us with one another.

1. Resist Grouping and Labeling Your Brother and Sister in Christ.

Within our church family, people hold differing political views. However, avoid grouping and labeling each other, we are first and foremost brothers and sisters in Christ. The “purposes of a man’s heart are like deep water” (Prov 20:5). Often a conversation over a cup of coffee—rather than a barb over social media—is the appropriate place to discover what’s really going on in the heart of your brother or sister in Christ.

2. Reevaluate Who’s Enthroned in the Temple.

The New Testament teaches that the temple of God is no longer in Jerusalem, but in you! (1 Cor 6:19). God’s unfolding plan does not include enacting his reign through any nation-state, but rather through His Church—the individuals who collectively make up the Body of Christ.

The question for us, then, is who is enthroned in God’s temple? As we pass through turbulent political waters, have you sensed that perhaps false gods have made their way into your temple? Are we, the Church, putting ultimate hope and trust in a country, political party, or preferred leader? Are we conflating our nation’s purposes with God’s purposes? Are we treating political viewpoints like Divine Law? We are responsible for our civic engagement, yes, but we are not counted righteous based on our politics, but rather upon the atoning work of Christ.

3. Use Disagreement as an Opportunity to Practice Jesus’s Teaching to Love Your Enemies.

What if the Church is the very place where we learn “to beat our swords into plowshares” (Isa 2:4), and even dare to love those who differ from us politically? Jesus’s twelve disciples included the pro-Israelite, Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15) as well as the so-called sell-out-to-the Gentiles, Matthew the tax collector (Luke 5:27–28). Jesus called both of these men into fellowship with each other and himself. The local church may be the very classroom God has ordained for us to learn Jesus’ teaching to “love our enemies” (Matt 5:44).

One way to put this into practice, is to focus on your commonality in Christ rather than your differences. In relationships with those who differ on politics or other matters, consider talking more about what Jesus is doing in your life, or perhaps share your testimonies.

Finally, I call our attention to the inauguration on January 20th. We should all join in praying that this will be a peaceful transition of power, that all law enforcement would be secure and safe, and that the plans of any intent on violence would be stopped. We should pray for our incoming President, Joseph Biden, that God would place His hand of blessing and guidance upon him, and give him an unswerving commitment to truth and the wisdom to lead well. I am dedicating time from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evening, January 19th, to pray for these matters. Please consider doing so as well.

God has entrusted us, His Church, with the message of reconciliation. Let us be faithful to His call.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Violence

(NBC) Florida Restaurant Manager Saves Boy From Abuse, Police Say

“Flavaine Carvalho, sensing distress from an 11-year-old boy with his family, secretly flashed the boy a note asking him if he needed help. When the boy said yes, Carvalho called 911. The boy’s stepfather faces three charges of aggravated child abuse, and his mother faces two charges of child neglect.”

Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Violence

(Local Paper) South Carolina human trafficking annual report released

The South Carolina Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force released new numbers from 2020 showing the scourge is not going away and COVID-19 has only made things worse, as traffickers prey on the most vulnerable.

Traffickers look for vulnerabilities and exploit them. Fresh data from the report on how victims become ensnared by traffickers shows most of the time it starts with an ad for a job. Other times the trafficker is familiar with the victim– an intimate partner or the victim becomes indebted by receiving a loan. Soon the victim is coerced, manipulated and trapped.

“It presents a public health and a public safety issue that violates basic human rights,” said Attorney General Alan Wilson at a press conference from the Statehouse on Jan. 11.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, Violence

(Wash Post) Boko Haram claims the kidnapping of 300 boys in Nigeria, marking an alarming move west

Boko Haram asserted responsibility on Tuesday for laying siege to a secondary school in northwest Nigeria and abducting more than 300 boys, marking a striking leap from the extremist group’s usual area of operation.

Hundreds of gunmen on motorbikes surrounded the boarding school in Katsina state Friday night and opened fire on police, witnesses said, before rounding up students and dragging them into the woods.

Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, said in an audio message released in the early hours of the morning that fighters stormed the school to discourage “Western education,” according to Nigerian media outlets and researchers who reviewed the recording.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism, Violence

(Church Times) Pandemic likely to increase slavery and trafficking, mission warns

The world must act now to prevent a surge in global slavery under the conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Justice Mission (IJM) has warned today, the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Covid-19 is exacerbating poverty and the circumstances that cause people to fall into bonded labour and servitude, the IJM, a Christian anti-trafficking charity, has said. Furthermore, the lockdowns that many governments have imposed in an effort to control the virus have led to a marked increase in online sexual exploitation of children, as adults in the West who are restricted to their homes have spent more time on the internet, facilitating the abuse of children elsewhere.

Estimates from the World Bank suggest that 49 million extra people will be forced into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The IJM said that it had already observed people-traffickers trying to exploit this by offering false job offers or loans to entrap vulnerable people who had lost their income because of the virus.

The IJM’s principal adviser on modern slavery, Peter Williams, said that evidence suggested that certain vulnerabilities were key key, and that these — loss of income, family medical emergencies, isolation — were “characteristic of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on people in poverty”.

In the developing world, public institutions that were needed to combat trafficking and modern slavery — such as local police forces, social services, and the courts — were being put under unprecedented pressure by the pandemic, Mr Williams said.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

([London] Times) Africa becomes new focus for Isis terrorism

Islamic State terrorism is surging in Africa while in the western world the threat from far-right extremists has overtaken that from jihadists.

The 2020 Global Terrorism Index found that despite a fall in the global terrorism death toll for the fifth year running, Africa was suffering a dramatic increase in jihadist violence linked to Islamic State.

“The centre of gravity for Isis has now shifted to sub-Saharan Africa,” said Steve Killelea, founder of the Institute of Economic and Peace which produces the annual index. “Seven of the ten countries with the largest increases in terrorism all reside in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Terrorism, Violence