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Franklin Graham tells UK LGBTQ community he is not bringing a ‘hateful’ message


Franklin Graham has invited the UK LGBTQ community to come and hear him preach as he denied that he was bringing a “hateful” message to the country in an upcoming tour.

Liverpool ACC has cancelled his forthcoming tour stop and London’s O2 told Newsweek that it would not host his event.

A spokesperson for the ACC said it had been “made aware of a number of statements” by Graham “which we consider to be incompatible with our values.”

“In light of this, we can no longer reconcile the balance between freedom of speech and the divisive impact this event is having in our city,” the spokesperson told the BBC in a statement.

They added: “We have informed the organizers of the event that the booking will no longer be fulfilled.”

A representative for the O2 toldNewsweek that it had never entered into an agreement with Graham to host an event there.

A petition calling on the O2 to refuse to host Graham’s London event has been signed by over 8,000 people.

The creator of the petition claimed that Graham “travels around the world telling tens of thousands of people that Satan runs the LGBT+ movement”.

People were invited to sign the petition to “send a clear message to this US hate monger that he is not welcome in London or the UK.”

“He persuades audiences that LGBT+ people don’t deserve to have families,” they said.

“He stands on stages in huge arenas warning people of the consequences of being gay, threatening impressionable young people with the ‘flames of hell’.

“In short, he spends a lot of time and money telling the world that our love is a sin and encouraging those who want to hurt us.”

In a statement on Facebook, Graham – son of the late evangelist Billy Graham – denied that his message was one of hate.

“It is said by some that I am coming to the UK to bring hateful speech to your community. This is just not true. I am coming to share the Gospel, which is the Good News that God loves the people of the UK, and that Jesus Christ came to this earth to save us from our sins,” he said.

“The rub, I think, comes in whether God defines homosexuality as sin. The answer is yes. But God goes even further than that, to say that we are all sinners—myself included.” 

He continued: “My message to all people is that they can be forgiven and they can have a right relationship with God. That’s Good News. That is the hope people on every continent around the world are searching for.

“In the UK as well as in the United States, we have religious freedom and freedom of speech. I’m not coming to the UK to speak against anybody, I’m coming to speak for everybody. The Gospel is inclusive. I’m not coming out of hate, I’m coming out of love.

“I invite everyone in the LGBTQ community to come and hear for yourselves the Gospel messages that I will be bringing from God’s Word, the Bible. You are absolutely welcome.”


Source: ChristianToday

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Paula White explains her ‘Satanic pregnancies’ prayer: ‘Comments taken out of context’


Paula White has said that footage of her apparently praying against “Satanic pregnancies” has been taken out of context. 

The megachurch pastor and spiritual adviser to Donald Trump defended her comments on Twitter after coming under fire over the footage.

The clip appearing to show her praying for “all satanic pregnancies to miscarry” went viral.

In it, she said prayed for herself, the Church and the US President.

“We declare any strange winds — any strange winds that have been sent to hurt the church, sent to hurt this nation, sent against the president, sent against myself, sent against others — we break it by the superior blood of Jesus right now,” she said.

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now.

“We declare that anything that has been conceived in satanic wombs will miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

The footage was met with angry comments as it circulated on Twitter, with bestselling author Elizabetta Holcomb saying she was “so appalled” by the prayer.

Jesuit priest and America Magazine editor, James Martin SJ, tweeted, “No pregnancies are satanic. Every child is a gift from God. No one should ever pray for any woman to miscarry. No one should ever pray for evil or harm to befall another person. Jesus asked us to pray for our persecutors, not to curse them. To love our neighbors as ourselves.”

White responded to the controversy by saying that she had been praying against the fulfilment of demonic plans in people’s lives. 

“I don’t normally respond but clearly this has been taken out of context,” she said.

“I was praying Eph 6:12 that we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Anything that has been conceived by demonic plans, for it to be canceled and not prevail in your life.”

She followed that up with: “That is- any plans to hurt people. Let’s be clear what is really going on… this is a disingenuous attempt to use words out of context for political gain. I will just keep praying!”


Source: ChristianToday

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Kobe Bryant a Christian? Kobe talked about Catholic faith, said talking to priest changed his life


NBA Legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning. 

Kobe Bryant is being remembered as “one of the most extraordinary players” in the history of basketball who “inspired people around the world” to play the game.

The 41-year-old, who retired in 2016 after a successful 20-year career with the LA Lakers, was a five-time NBA champion and was named an NBA All-Star 18 times.

“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary.

“But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.

“He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.

Upon the tragic news, fans wondered about the faith of the NBA legend. He was a Catholic who had once said talking to a priest changed his life.

Back in 2003, Bryant’s career and personal life hit an all-time low after he was accused by a woman of rape. Bryant admitted that he had sex with the woman, but denied rape. The court judge dropped the charges against him, but the woman still filed a civil lawsuit against him and they settled out of court.

Because of the scandal, advertisers wanted nothing to do with Bryant, and his wife Vanessa filed for divorce. But during that bleak moment in his life, Bryant knew who to turn to – God. He went to church and talked to his priest, and the conversation was really enlightening for the sports star.

“The one thing that really helped me during that process — I’m Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic — was talking to a priest. It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, ‘Did you do it?’ And I say, ‘Of course not.’ Then he asks, ‘Do you have a good lawyer?’ And I’m like, ‘Uh, yeah, he’s phenomenal.’ So then he just said, ‘Let it go. Move on. God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point,” Bryant told GQ Magazine.

Bryant took the priest’s advice to heart and sought to live his life better. Eventually, he and his wife got back together and have even started their own cause called the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF), which encourages young kids to develop their physical and social skills through sports and charity work.

When asked why they started the foundation, Bryant had answered, “My career is winding down. At the end of my career, I don’t want to look back and just say, ‘Well, I had a successful career because I won so many championships and scored so many points.’ There’s something else that you have to do with that.”

Bryant said that everybody deserves a second chance and a little lift every now and then. “[The homelessness] issue is one that kind of gets pushed on the back burner because it’s easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, ‘Well, you made that bad decision. This is where you are. It’s your fault.’ In life, we all make mistakes and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it… that’s not right,” he said.


Source: ChristianToday

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Roberto Firmino in tears as Liverpool teammate Alisson assists emotional baptism.


Liverpool and Brazil teammates Roberto Firmino and Alisson Becker broke down in tears as the goalkeeper helped the forward in a Christian baptism.

Firmino took to Instagram on Wednesday to share with fans a video of him during the ceremony, which was attended by a large crowd.

The video starts showing a singer accompanied by a keyboard player and a number of people watching.

Firmino then walks into a swimming pool with Alisson waiting for him, and is joined by his wife Larissa before Alisson aids him in dunking his head in the water to complete the process.

Firmino then embraces his wife and they both appear to cry, while Alisson can be seen in the background visibly emotional and wiping tears from his eyes.

Source: Mirror

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Netflix Ordered To Remove Film Depicting Jesus As Gay


A judge in Brazil has ruled that a film depicting Jesus as gay must be removed from the TV streaming service Netflix.

The film, The First Temptation of Christ, infuriated fervent Christians in the country.

Two million people signed a petition calling for it to be axed, and the production company was attacked with Molotov cocktails last month.

In the ruling against Netflix, the judge said: “The right to freedom of expression… is not absolute”.

However, the ban is only temporary while a final decision is made.

Why has the film caused uproar?

The parody film, which was run as a Christmas special, was created by Brazilian YouTube comedy group Porta dos Fundos.

Many of the country’s conservative Christians were angered by the portrayal of Jesus bringing home a presumed boyfriend to meet his family.

On Christmas Eve, a group attacked Porta dos Fundos’s office in Rio de Janeiro with fire bombs.

One man suspected of having been part of the attack has fled to Russia, and Interpol are working to arrest him.

What’s in the ruling?

A judge in Rio de Janeiro ordered Netflix to take the film down, the BBC’s Daniel Gallas reports from São Paulo.

Judge Benedicto Abicair said his temporary decision would appease furious Christians until a final decision is made by a higher court.

“Exhibiting the ‘artistic production’… may cause graver and more irreparable damage than its suspension,” the judge wrote.

Neither Netflix nor Porta dos Fundos has yet commented.

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro once said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.

His son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, called the Netflix show “garbage” on Twitter, adding that Porta dos Fundos “do not represent Brazilian society”.

Source: kuulpeeps

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Nigerian Crocodile Worshipped As A God; Its Faeces Believed To Have Healing Powers


Residents of the Oje suburb of Ibadan city bring chickens to the reptile so that it can answer their prayers.

It has been owned by the Delesolu family as a pet for several generations, though they don’t believe it has any spiritual powers.

Raufu Yesufu, head of the Delesolu household, told BBC Yoruba: “Because of our faith, the Muslim faith, I don’t believe it has any powers.”

But he said traditional herbalists have long thought the crocodile does have special abilities – in particular in healing the sick or helping those who want to fall pregnant.

“We would then allow them access to pray and they would throw the fowl to the crocodile.

“That was how it began and people keep coming till today.

“They [also] come to ask for its faeces or the water in the crocodile pond.”

He says the faeces and water are then used in treatments in the belief that they will remedy various ailments.


Source: kuulpeeps

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After horrific execution of Christians, Release International names Nigeria country of special concern for 2020


Persecution watchdog Release International has named Nigeria as its country of special concern for 2020. 

It follows the horrific execution of 11 Christians in the country over Christmas.  The Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of the terrorist outfit Boko Haram, was behind the brutal killings.

Footage of the executions was released on December 26 and appeared to be deliberately timed to coincide with Christians around the world celebrating the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day.

ISWAP claimed that the brutal murders were in retaliation for the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself during an attack by US forces in October.

A voiceover to the video said: “This message is to the Christians in the world. Those you see are Christians and we will shed their blood as revenge.”

In addition to violence by ISWAP, Nigerian Christians are being targeted in attacks by Boko Haram and armed Fulani militia. Thousands have been killed and or forced from their homes.

“Tens of thousands of Christians are being driven from their homes by the ongoing persecution in Nigeria,” said Release CEO Paul Robinson.

“While the death toll is rising, the world simply watches. Nigeria’s government appears to lack the will or the power to prevent the killings.”

Release International’s Nigeria partner, Archbishop Ben Kwashi, added: “Across the north, the mainly Muslim Fulani have been taking land from predominantly Christian farmers by force and occupying their villages.

“They attack, typically, in the middle of the night while people are sleeping. They shoot in the air and create panic to drive the villagers out. When the people flee from their houses into the darkness, the Fulani lie in wait with their machetes and cut them down. Again and again. And the government seems powerless to stop them.”

The Global Terrorism Index 2019 last month ranked Nigeria third for terrorist violence after Iraq and Afghanistan, with the report warning that while deaths at the hands of Boko Haram have decreased, those attributed to extremist Fulani militants increased by 261 per cent in a single year.

“Eighty-four per cent of these armed assaults targeted civilians,” the report said, adding that Fulani extremists have become the “primary driver of the increase in terrorism” in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr Robinson warned that attacks by Fulani militia are “set to continue” in 2020.

“Our contacts on the ground say the government does not have the will to stop the land-grab and provide security for Christians,” he said.

But Release International has identified other hotspots for 2020, including Iran, where persecution has been on the rise over the last four years, with one of the organisation’s partners describing a “forced exodus” of Christians resulting from the government’s attempts to “exterminate the Persian-speaking church”. 

It also predicts increased instability in Iraqi Kurdistan, wich over 100,000 refugees expected to arrive in the region in the coming year as a result of unrest in the south of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

There are fears that Islamic State fighters are seeking to re-establish their presence in Iraq, posing further risks to the country’s persecuted Christian minority.

Mr Robinson welcomed the promise of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his Christmas message to stand with persecuted Christians. 

Mr Johnson said: “I want us to remember Christians around the world who are facing persecution. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practise your faith.”

Release International has asked the new government to implement the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro’s review into persecution commissioned by former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The review warned that persecution against Christians was reaching genocidal levels. 

“Release is delighted that the UK government has pledged to put freedom of religion and belief at the centre of foreign policy,” Mr Robinson said.

“This could make a significant difference in the coming year, as persecution worldwide looks set to increase.”

Source: ChristianToday

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Christmas celebrations mark progress of religious freedom in Sudan


In stark contrast to his predecessor, Sudan’s new minister of religious affairs last week attended a long-persecuted church’s Christmas service.

Following the Sudanese government’s announcement of Christmas as a public holiday for the first time in eight years, Minister of Religious Affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh accompanied senior government officials at the Christmas Day service of Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church – a congregation the previous Islamist government had harassed for years.

At a press conference after visiting several churches in Khartoum on Christmas Day, the Muslim leader sent a strong signal of religious coexistence to Christians in a country where they suffered for their faith under former President Omar al-Bashir.

“I tender my apology for the oppression and the harm inflicted on you physically, by [the prior government’s] destruction of your temples, the theft of your property and the unjust arrest and prosecution your servants and confiscation of church buildings,” Mufreh said, according to Radio Dabanga.

Sudan had suspended Christmas as a holiday following the secession of South Sudan in 2011. The government-run Sudan TV on Christmas Day broadcast Christmas services of various churches in Khartoum, including the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church, whose members had been subject to arrests on false charges and whose property had been threatened. The church is part of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC), which has been embroiled in property disputes, with the government appointing a government-run committee to assume control of the denomination.

In light of advances in religious freedom since Bashir was ousted in April, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 20 that Sudan had been removed from the list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) that engage or tolerate “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom” and was upgraded to a watch list. Sudan had been designated a CPC by the U.S. State Department since 1999.

Bashir, ousted by the army on April 11 after widespread protests began in December 2018, was sentenced on Dec. 14 to two years in a correctional facility for corruption and illegitimate possession of foreign currency. He still faces charges of plotting the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

Bashir has not yet been charged in the crackdown earlier this year that killed more than 250 protestors.

Among 11 people appointed to a Sovereignty Council to oversee the transition to civilian rule in Sudan is Raja Nicola Eissa Abdel-Masih, a Coptic Christian who long served as a judge in Sudan’s Ministry of Justice. She was one of six civilians appointed to the council on Aug. 21.

Amid these hopeful signs, Christians in Sudan are still awaiting the return of properties seized by the government under Bashir, who also has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for directing a campaign of mass killing, rape, and pillage against civilians in Darfur.

Following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Bashir had vowed to adopt a stricter version of sharia (Islamic law) and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language. Church leaders said Sudanese authorities have demolished or confiscated churches and limited Christian literature on the pretext that most Christians have left the country following South Sudan’s secession.

In April 2013 the then-Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population. Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who did not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

After Bashir was deposed, military leaders initially formed a military council to rule the country, but further demonstrations led them to accept a transitional government of civilians and military figures, with a predominantly civilian government to be democratically elected in three years.

Christians are expected to have greater voice under the new administration. In September pastor Mobarak Hamad, former head of the Sudanese Church Council, demanded that the transitional government return all church buildings, lands and properties wrongfully confiscated by the former regime.

Religious Affairs Minister Mufreh told Asharq Al-Awsat his ministry would fight terrorism, extremism and takfiri notions – punishments for leaving Islam. Mufreh previously worked as a leader in the Al-Ansar Mosque in Rabak, south of Khartoum.

The new government that was sworn in on Sept. 8, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, is tasked with governing during a transition period of 39 months. It faces the challenges of rooting out longstanding corruption and an Islamist “deep state” rooted in Bashir’s 30 years of power.

Hamad, the former chairman of the Sudan Council of Churches, has said that the government should recover all properties confiscated under the previous regime, including the Catholic Club and another building belonging to the Sudan Interior Church.

The Catholic Club, strategically located near the Khartoum International Airport, was turned into the headquarters of Bashir’s National Congress Party. The Sudan Interior Church building, used by the Khartoum International Church and other Christian organizations, was turned into offices for the notorious National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

On July 29, Chairman of the Military Council Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decision to amend the name of NISS to General Intelligence Service. The measure also froze Article 50 of the Law of Security Service, which had given NISS broad powers of inspection and detention without cause, widely misused against Christians and political opponents.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Sudan ranked sixth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Source: ChristianToday

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Archaeologists uncover 1,700-year-old church in Ethiopia


A newly discovered 1,700-year-old church in Ethiopia is shedding fresh light on the spread of Christianity into sub-Saharan Africa.

The remains of the Roman-style basilica are from the fourth century AD and have been uncovered in Beta Samati, a town that was once part of the ancient Aksumite civilisation.

According to a paper published in Antiquity, the ruins are 60ft by 40ft and date back to the time when Christianity was adopted as the Aksumite Empire’s official religion.

The Smithsonian reports that the church and the findings from the site “confirm Ethiopian tradition that Christianity arrived at an early date in an area nearly 3,000 miles from Rome.”

“The find suggests that the new religion spread quickly through long-distance trading networks that linked the Mediterranean via the Red Sea with Africa and South Asia, shedding fresh light on a significant era about which historians know little,” it adds.

The researchers said that the church makes them “feel more confident in dating the arrival of Christianity to Ethiopia to the same time frame” as Constantine granted freedom of worship to Christians in the fourth century AD. 

Dr Aaron Butts, a professor of Semitic and Egyptian languages at Catholic University in Washington DC, told The Smithsonian that the find was “to my knowledge the earliest physical evidence for a church in Ethiopia”, as well as all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Lead archaeologist Michael Harrower, of John Hopkins University, revealed that while the Aksumite empire was at one time “one of the world’s most influential ancient civilizations”, it “remains one of the least widely known.”

“The excavations of Beta Samati help fill important gaps in our understanding of ancient Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite civilisations,” he said.

Source: ChristianToday

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Kanye West says Sunday Services saved him from drug use and addiction


Kanye West has told his fans that his popular Sunday Services saved him from a life of drugs and p0rnography.

The rapper hosted Sunday Services throughout 2019, the first of them being local to his home in Calabasas before being taken across the US and then internationally to Jamaica.

Just before the end of 2019, he held another Sunday Service, this time at a homeless shelter on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

He brought his choir to the Union Rescue Mission, where in addition to providing a musical performance, he shared his testimony.

“A lot of times people say, ‘Thank you Ye for Sunday Service.’ I’m saying thank God. This thing saved my life,” West said.

“This thing was an alternative to opioids. This thing was an alternative to p0rnography.”

He told the shelter guests that he could handle being called names as long as no one calls him “secular” because he is now in the service of God.

“I worked for others before Christ,” he said. “It landed me right in the hospital.”

One of the songs performed at the shelter was “Closed on Sunday”, from his new gospel album, Jesus is King.  The song talks about the value of stores staying closed on Sunday and takes inspiration from the US fast food chain Chick-fil-A, which shuts on Sundays to give staff a day of rest and time to spend with their families.

One of Kanye’s biggest Sunday Services last year was held at the megachurch of Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas, which seats around 40,000 people. 

They are reportedly pairing up again this year for another Sunday Service to take place at the Yankee Stadium in New York City during Osteen’s annual “Night of Hope” tour.

It was a busy Christmas for the “Jesus Walks” singer, though, as his new Sunday Service Choir album, Jesus is Born, released on Christmas Day to positive reviews.

And later this month, West be part of the line-up at the Strength to Stand Bible Conference in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, alongside Christian artists Lecrae, Tauren Wells, and Hillsong Young & Free.


Source: ChristianToday

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