Soldiers in the U.S. military have been told in a training briefing that evangelical Christians are the No. 1 extremist threat to America—ahead of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, KKK, Nation of Islam, al-Qaida, Hamas, and others, WorldNetDaily reports. “Men and women of faith who have served the Army faithfully for centuries shouldn’t be likened to those who have regularly threatened the peace and security of the United States,” said Col. (Ret.) Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization. It also appears that some military entities are using definitions of ‘hate’ and ‘extreme’ from the lists of anti-Christian political organizations. That violates the apolitical stance appropriate for the military.” The briefing, which was given to an Army reserve unit in Pennsylvania, came from a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief titled “Extremism and Extremist Organizations.” The material mentions neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other white supremacist organizations. Pictures are shown on various slides of people in Klan attire and Nazi flags. The significance of gang tattoos, racist acronyms, and the significance of numbers were also discussed. While the material on gangs and racist organizations is similar to what one might receive from a local police briefing on gang issues, after teaching on neo-Nazis in the military such as Timothy McVeigh, the material makes an amazing link. A slide titled “Religious Extremism” lists multiple organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Hamas, the Nation of Islam, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Christian Identity movement as examples of extremist groups. However, the first group on the list is evangelical Christianity. Catholicism and ultra-orthodox Judaism are also on the list of religious extremist organizations. Following the briefing, one of the soldiers who attended the presentation and describes himself as an evangelical told the trainer he was offended at the material and asked for a copy of the briefing. After receiving a copy, he forwarded the material to Crews. The material describes religious extremism as those having beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or actions that are “far removed from the ordinary.” It then elaborates by saying that “every religion has some followers that believe that their beliefs, customs and traditions are the only ‘right way’ and that all others practicing their faith the ‘wrong way.’” Crews said it is astounding that soldiers were taught that a key foundation of the Christian faith is now considered extreme and compared to those who want to implement Shariah law. “The idea of salvation being exclusively through Christ is a key doctrine of the Christian faith,” Crews said. “It is amazing that the trainer felt they had the authority and right to list evangelical Christian, Catholics, and orthodox Jews alongside groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.”
- While many Christians have a grasp of important doctrinal positions, some churchgoers struggle with basic truths about salvation, the Bible, and the nature of God, Baptist Press reports. A LifeWay Research study on “Doctrinal Positions,” released April 5, shows 81 percent of churchgoers agree, in regard to salvation, that “when you die, you will go to heaven because you have confessed your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.” Yet 26 percent of churchgoers concurrently believe that “if a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity,” while 57 percent disagree. “Consumers in America are accustomed to having endless combinations of choices for every want in life,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “Biblical truth is radical because it teaches that eternal life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone.” Other responses regarding beliefs about life after death include: “When you die, you will go to heaven because you have tried your best to be a good person and live a good life” (selected by 7 percent of churchgoers). “You have no way of knowing what will happen when you die” (5 percent of churchgoers). “When you die, you will go to heaven because God loves everyone and we will all be in heaven with Him” (4 percent). “When you die, you will go to heaven because you have read the Bible, been involved in church, and tried to live as God wants you to live” (2 percent). “There is no life after death” (1 percent). The survey also reveals that churchgoers strongly hold to the accuracy of the Scriptures, with 82 percent agreeing that “the Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches.” Ten percent disagree and 8 percent neither agree nor disagree. While the majority of churchgoers (75 percent) strongly regard the God of the Bible as not the same god worshiped in other world religions, 13 percent say the God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Another 12 percent neither agree nor disagree with the uniqueness of the God of the Bible. The study also shows nearly two-thirds (71 percent) agree with the statement “God is just and sin has to be punished.” However, 13 percent of churchgoers disagree and 16 percent neither agree nor disagree with the statement. The research found that churchgoers responded better to the questions when engaged in activities including reading the Bible, participating in small groups or classes such as Sunday School, reading a book about what’s in the Bible, confessing sins to God and asking for forgiveness, or going through a class or training group for new believers. “If churches stopped to assess their congregation on these biblical truths, many would be surprised to find out how many are struggling with basic doctrinal issues,” Stetzer said. “Every church has a different mix of mature disciples and spiritual infants who still need a diet of the basic gospel message,” he noted. “A discipleship process must help every person take the next step in his or her spiritual journey. Too many churchgoers are stuck on square one.”
- A major social conservative organization is calling upon the Federal Communications Commission to not loosen its standards for graphic content on television and radio. The American Family Association, a Tupelo, Miss.–based pro-family group, announced Thursday that Americans should petition the FCC “to uphold high television, radio decency standards.” “In addition to the overarching negative impacts of indecency in media on children, a more immediate issue exists: radio ‘shock jocks’ that thrive on shocking even the most hardened of sensibilities will have even greater latitude to express even more profanity without the worry of FCC censure,” states AFA. Sharp, director of Special Projects for the AFA, told The Christian Post that the changes would be in regards to nudity and expletives. “The Federal Communications Commission is accepting public input in response to a proposal that would abandon current regulations prohibiting expletives (f-word and s-word) and nudity on public airwaves,” said Sharp. “Currently, broadcast decency laws prohibit obscene and indecent language in any form or frequency, especially during hours when children may be watching television or listening to the radio.” Sharp also told CP that should the FCC loosen its decency standards it will only encourage the growing trend of graphic content on television. “Although many network television programs contain offensive and graphic programming, the networks know there is a limit to how far they can push the envelope, and still remain within the confines of what the law allows them to broadcast,” said Sharp.
- The Sudanese government’s bombing of predominantly Christian, ethnic Nuba civilians in South Kordofan state has taken more lives the first three months of this year—possibly including Muslims, sources said. Two civilians were killed and 12 seriously wounded on March 19 when a Sudan government Antonov airplane dropped bombs on them in the Hadra area, local sources told Morning Star News. The identities and religion of those killed and wounded were not available, but there are some Muslim Nuba people in the area, they said. The government’s Russian-made Antonov airplanes dropped bombs that killed six Christians on Jan. 9 and destroyed a church building on March 11, sources said. Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity. The March 11 bombing in the Angolo area reduced the Evangelical Church building to ashes, sources said. A store attached to the church building was also destroyed, though no injuries were reported.
- The U.S. government is absent when it comes to the issue of increasingly violent and deadly Christian persecution, according to a new book, WorldNetDaily reports. The charge is the topic of Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, coauthored by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert, and Nina Shea. Introduced at a Hudson Institute forum, the book says Christian persecution is on the rise worldwide, especially in the Muslim world. Marshall, a senior fellow at the institute, says that it’s hard to measure how bad the persecution is getting. “The U.S. has tended to underplay religious persecution in general—and called it something else—and, in the case of Christians, often does not mention what is happening in places like Iraq and Egypt,” Marshall said. “Or, the federal government mentions the fact of persecution of people, but, often with Christians, not their religion nor the fact that they are being persecuted because of their religion, as distinct from race, etc.,” Marshall said. The panel also covered the ongoing case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, who is being held in Iran’s infamously brutal Evin Prison. All three co-authors pointed out that it was only in the past week that Secretary of State John Kerry asked the Iranian government to release the American pastor. WND reported last week Kerry’s statement as Abedini reportedly was to be moved to a hospital outside of Tehran for medical treatment. However, there is no word on whether Abedini has actually been moved. Marshall also points to negligence by the previous White House. “Note that this (absence of condemnation of persecution) was often true of the Bush administration also—especially regarding Iraq and Afghanistan,” Marshall said.
- Pensacola Christian College has gained control of a website a former student once used to criticize its doings, reports thenewsstar.com. The website was once the online presence for The Student Voice, a publication that started in the mid-1990s and frequently criticized the college. The Voice’s site was last updated in 2003. Now, users who click on the site will be directed to PCC’s main website. The site’s former owner, Peter Gage, agreed to hand it over after a lawsuit was filed against him last week in the Northern District of Florida that accused him of cybersquatting and tarnishing the college’s name and trademark.
- Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, an outspoken woman known to many as “The Iron Lady,” has died at 87 after suffering a stroke, Fox News reports. “It is with great sadness that Mark and Carol Thatcher announced that their mother Baroness Thatcher died peacefully following a stroke this morning,” Thatcher spokesperson Lord Bell said in a statement. Thatcher led Britain’s Conservatives to three election victories from 1979 to 1990, the longest continuous period in office by a British prime minister since the early 19th century. Alongside former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher battled against communism and saw the Berlin Wall get torn down in 1989. On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his trip to several European countries after the announcement of Thatcher’s death.
- Well-known Christian writer and speaker Dave Hunt went to be with the Lord Saturday, April 6. Born in 1926, David Charles Haddon Hunt enjoyed the advantages of a godly upbringing and placed his trust in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord in his early teens. As a young man, he served in the military toward the end of World War II. Afterward, he attended UCLA and received a degree in mathematics. It was during that time that he met the love of his life, Ruth Klassen. In 1950, they were married, and since both loved the outdoors, they enjoyed a beautiful honeymoon hiking in the High Sierras—perfect for two young people madly in love and with very little money to their name. Marriage was soon followed by the birth of two sons and two daughters. Ruth was a busy mother and also a gifted writer herself. She had a tremendous interest in and knowledge of history, a gift that would help Dave further down the road. Dave’s own career path led him into a position as a CPA/management consultant and later as the manager of several corporations. Along with church-related activities, Dave initiated and became involved in numerous campus ministries and meetings in their home, with a special outreach to Jewish young people and foreign students. The desire of Dave’s heart was ultimately to be involved in full-time ministry, especially since he saw firsthand everywhere he went the breaking down of the true church as the world began to work its way into her midst. He began to write in 1973, warning believers about the incursion into Western culture and into the church itself of Eastern religion, psychological and selfist philosophies, ecumenism, and other unbiblical teachings. The ministry of The Berean Call was founded by Dave in 1992. It grew out of a previous organization, of which Dave was also a founding member since 1986. With T. A. McMahon working alongside him at The Berean Call, Dave was able to share his love for and defense of Christ in the subsequent newsletters, books, videos, and speaking engagements that resulted from this ministry. Dave and T. A. wrote three books together, including the best-known The Seduction of Christianity, which was groundbreaking in its boldness, exposing false teachings in the church and daring to identify the names of the ones behind the deception. At least 4 million copies of his books have been sold, many of them translated into more than 50 languages.
- The Southern California church headed by popular evangelical Pastor Rick Warren says his 27-year-old son has committed suicide, Fox News reports. Warren’s Saddleback Valley Community Church said in a statement that Matthew Warren had struggled with mental illness and deep depression throughout his life.