Poll: Most Churches Avoid Discussing Social Issues

Originally posted by Veronica Neffinger

Social Issues

Am not used to posting this kinda topic but it caught my eye during my research.

A Pew Research Center poll has revealed that most Christians do not hear about relevant social issues from the pulpits of their churches.

Firstthings.com reports that the poll surveyed over 4,000 churchgoers. All survey participants had attended at least one religious service within the past few months.

The poll asked respondents how often they heard about various social issues in a sermon. Only forty percent of respondents said that the pastor had spoken about religious liberty. Thirty-nine percent said that the pastor had spoken about homosexuality. And only 29 percent said they heard about abortion from the pulpit.

Because of how vocal many in the Christian community appear to be on social and political issues, these results were surprising to many.

The findings of the survey held true across denominations, including for White Evangelicals, Black Protestants, and Roman Catholics.

Possible reasons for why clergy are reluctant to discuss such sensitive social issues from the pulpit are that they are afraid of the controversy such a discussion may ignite, or they may be afraid of losing their tax-exempt status

So I throw this question to the house. Do you think social issues are rarely raised and addressed to in our churches?

Please drop your contributions in the comment section.

Hope And Decide #inspiration #Sunday

You probably have met people who know that what they do gets them into serious trouble, and at the same time
are really looking for someone else to make a decision for them that would effectively change them. They seem to hope that their life will change without having to make a decision or take action.

I have met more than one person who desired a change and hoped for a better life but were more than willing to let another decide the best for them. In some cases, the person would change only if another life promised more than they had right now even though that lifestyle saw them confined to jail more often than they were free.

A Story of a Young Man

Such was the case of a young man I met while working within the correctional system. In this particular case, this young man had become used to living the high life with all the material things he wanted but these were all acquired through criminal activity. The only flaw with his lifestyle was that he would invariably be caught and given jail time again and again. It wasn’t that he had committed heinous crimes but crimes that were subject to frequent arrests.

One day, he called me over to his cell and began to ask me how he could change his life so that he wouldn’t end up in jail again. I asked him if he was really serious or if he was only putting in time by using my time ? He said he was serious.

I went through a number of options with him trying to find out what his educational background was, what he was interested in, and if he had support mechanisms in the community that would help him while he attended classes. I was directing him to some possible careers so he could think about what he really wanted and would stick to.

So, after speaking with him, I went on with my other work telling him I’d return the next day to further discuss plans. I did return and the one occupation he said he was interested in was a plumber. His first question to me was not about what he would have to do to become a plumber, or where he could find out more information, or anything that one would expect. Instead, he asked how much does a plumber make every year?
I told him. His response was very revealing. He replied with absolutely no hesitation saying’ “I make more than that every month with what I do now. I don’t mind spending a few months in jail when I can make the kind of loot I make now.”
To hope for a new life or decide what you have is what you got. In this young man’s case, he had made a choice – a choice to keep doing what made him money so he could live how he wanted even though the price of his lifestyle, every few months, was to spend time behind bars.

Is Money Worth Unhappiness

Unfortunately, there are many like minded people similar to this young man, I am not saying they are criminals – I am saying though that they spend time making money to live what they think is the good life only to find that the price they pay is continual dissatisfaction with their life, continual stress from doing something they really dislike and all for the big bucks. Is there really a big difference between the young man and those who imprison themselves five days a week doing what they dislike just so the big money flow in?

Around The World: Christians in Malaysia to Fight for Rights after Court Ruling on Conversion #Christian Headlines

What happened to the treaty signed in Westphalia for freedom of religion? In short why are people so keen on religion and not the belief and faith? Am so tired of people imposing laws on religion that doesn’t have any meaning to one’s everlasting life or where he or she is going to be in eternity. Surfing the internet and cane across this post in Malaysia refusing to allow four Muslims convert to Christianity.

According to a source, In the wake of the highest court in Malaysia refusing to hear an appeal by four Christians wanting to officially convert out of Islam, Christian leaders continued to hold hope for change.

In a country where there is no legal way to leave Islam, the four people were asking the Federal Court to have their names and their faith changed on their national identity cards. On Tuesday(Feb. 27) the court held that the four people were Muslims and hence fell under the jurisdiction of the Sharia (Islamic law) Court system, and that it must adjudicate matters of Islamic law.

The five-member panel of the Federal Court unanimously ruled that civil courts had no jurisdiction to decide on apostasy cases. The four converts held that the Shariah Courts had no power to decide apostasy cases under state laws because they are no longer Muslims.

Court of Appeal President Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin wrote that although no such legal provision for deciding apostasy cases existed in the law, there were clauses in it that Shariah Courts could apply.

The Federal Court decision helps clear up a gray area in apostasy cases in Malaysia, but bewilderment remains as Shariah Courts are state courts subject to different state laws. Furthermore, the Federal Court ruled in January that the federal civil court has the final say on legal matters even as they pertain to Muslims.

Hence after the verdict, Joshua Baru, son of the four converts’ attorney, Baru Bian, said the decision “seems to suggest a double standard of the jurisdiction of the civil courts and the interpretation of [the federal constitution].”

Christian leaders, meantime, held out hope. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuching, capital of Sarawak state, Simon Peter Poh Hoon Seng, issued a statement asserting Christians should not give up.
“Next, we should pray that the lawmakers will table a just law to face this issue,” Poh said. “Do not lose hope. By the way, I was at the court hearing yesterday, and I testify that the judges were very neutral and fair. Pray, continue to pray. With God, nothing is impossible.’”

Gracious words amid the emotions that ran high on all sides; the Malaysian Insight noted that the archbishop was indeed present at the hearing, and then was heckled by demonstrators trying to jostle him as he exited the court.

At the same time, Christian organizations, including the Association of Churches in Sarawak, have reportedly appointed senior lawyers Leonard Shim and Libat Langub as amicus curae (friends of the court) to monitor their interests. The Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, which represents the state’s largest ethnic group, and the Methodist Church in Malaysia, the Sarawak Ministers Fellowship and the Sarawak Evangelical Churches Association have appointed lawyers to hold a watching brief.

Three of the four appellants were raised as Christians but converted to Islam in order to marry Muslims. Jenny Peter divorced her Muslim husband in 2006 and returned to Christianity. Salina Jau was divorced by her Muslim husband in 1992, and then she returned to Christianity. Tiong Choo Ting began to practice Christianity after his Muslim wife died in 2007. All three signed “statutory declarations” that they intended to return to Christianity.

The fourth person, Syarifah Nooraffyzza, is an ethnic Malay raised as a Muslim. According to the Malaysian Constitution, all ethnic Malays are Muslims – a principle upheld in the case of Lina Joy, who was denied her right to leave Islam in 2007 and convert to Christianity.

Syarifah filed a document stating that she no longer practices Islam, and she was baptized in 2009, according to published reports. She is asking to change her identity card from Muslim to Christian and to change her name to Vanessa Elizabeth.
She as well as the other three people are “still Muslims on papers,” according to an appeals court. For the moment, they must take their cases back to Sharia Court to try to get letters of apostasy.

Around The World: This Generation Can Be the One to End Legal Abortion- Mike Pence

In as much am not a Trump fan, and also not supporting some of his policies, for this to be a concern in their administration stand as a positive policy in their administration. I pray the bill is passed and the abolition is active.

According to the source, Vice President of U.S Mike Pence told a luncheon group this week that legal abortion would end in the U.S. “in our time.”

“I know in my heart of hearts this will be the generation that restores life in America,” Pence said at a Nashville luncheon hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List & Life Institute, an anti-abortion organization.

“If all of us do all we can, we can once again, in our time, restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law,” he added.

He said in President Donald Trump’s first year in office, Pence has already seen “great” moves to eliminating legal abortion.

“I see more progress in the last year in the cause of life than I have seen in public policy in all of my years,” Pence said.
Trump has signed legislation that reverses a law from Obama’s term that blocks states from defunding Planned Parenthood.

He reinstated a ban on international federal funds for global health organizations that cover or provide education on abortions.

“Let me admonish you as we go forward in this cause in 2018 to understand while we have made great progress, we have much work left to do,” Pence said.

The Trump administration has not been able to pass a law banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The proposal passed in the House, but the Senate failed to approve it in January.

In his speech, Pence called Trump the “most pro-life president in American history.”

… Younger Americans, are choosing and embracing the sanctity of LIFE more and more every day, and we have to be their voice,” Pence tweeted after his speech.

Hot Trend:Indian Pastor is Severely Beaten for Refusing to Deny Christ- Repost

We are living in a world where religion is misunderstood, causing violence everywhere. Most people don’t want to accept the fact that it’s not the religion that justifies our faith, but our belief. I pray in the future we don’t experience and witness “a religious war”.

According to the source, When Hindu extremists in India told pastor Karma Oraon they would not stop beating him until he worshipped the monkey god, he felt Christ close to him, he said.
“In those moments when they were kicking and beating me, I felt that even if I die now, the Lord will make the ministry I leave behind fruitful,” Pastor Oraon told Morning Star News. “We are just a few gathering in the name of Jesus. He is our strength.”

His small flock of eight people was meditating on Scripture on Christmas Eve at 10:30 a.m. in Harmu village of Ranchi District, Jharkhand state, when twice as many Hindu nationalists brandishing wooden stick intruded, shouting, “Praise Bajrang Bali.” Bajrang Bali is another name for the popular monkey god Hanuman.

“They forcefully dragged me outside when we were in the middle of meditating on the Word of God,” Pastor Oraon said. “They spewed many words in extreme foul language and beat me on my chest repeatedly.”

As he was dragged out by the collar, one of the Hindu extremists video-recorded the scene, also asking his accomplices to record, forward and circulate the video, sources said.

The Hindu extremists repeatedly asked the pastor his name, refusing to believe him, as his name is typical of area tribal people who practice indigenous religions, not Christianity, he said. They called him an idiot, slapped him and told him to stop lying, and when he showed them his national identification card, they tore the original document to pieces, Pastor Oraon said.

“They slapped me and said, ‘You are Oraon? Tell us what you must do, being an Oraon? Should you should follow the Adivasi [indigenous] religion or this foreign religion?’” he told Morning Star News. “They told me, ‘Immediately you should give up Christianity and embrace Sarnaism/Sarna

[indigenous religions) – if you don’t, you will be brutally murdered.”

Pastor Oraon said they told the congregation, “All the Christians in this area beware! There is no place for Christianity here. All of you must embrace Sarna. If anybody goes against this rule, their houses will be set on fire and they will be killed along with their families.”

They kicked him and expelled him from the village, he said.

Chotu Munda, 21, said he was beaten when he tried rescue the 34-year-old pastor and female church members who had also tried to separate the assailants from Pastor Oraon. The pastor noted, “They scolded the sisters in very vulgar language for coming to help rescue me.”

That night at 10 p.m., he went to a police station, but officers refused to register a case against the assailants or even receive his complaint, he said.

“I never had an experience of opposition when I preached gospel or visited families to pray for the sick. But I seek inspiration from my Lord; people have crossed every limit to humiliate Him and crucify Him, but He patiently bore their torture for my sake, for my sins,” Pastor Oraon said. “I strongly feel the presence of my Lord Jesus in all this. Had He not granted the strength to endure, I could have never overcome from what happened.”

Worship Anything but Christ

In a separate incident in Jharkhand state, another group of Hindu extremists beat tribal Christians while they worshipped – also reviling them for leaving their indigenous religion for Christianity.

About 60 Hindu nationalists stormed into a house church on Christmas Day in Behratoli village, Ranchi District, where 16 Christians had gathered to celebrate Christmas.

“They rushed inside and held me by collar – it was sudden,” said pastor Rakesh Tirkey. “They were at least 60 people, and we were just 16. They shouted at us and asked us to stop the singing.”

They arrived on 25 motorcycles, slapped him and asked him his name to determine his indigenous heritage, he said.

“They abused me in extreme foul language, saying, “Idiot, if you are a Tirkey, then how did you become a Christian?’” the 35-year-old father of three told Morning Star News. “They beat me with wooden sticks; the blows got heavier after they got to know that I am a Tirkey.”

Initially they accused him of stealing a motorcycle, and when he showed them the ownership and insurance papers, they told him they didn’t want to see any Christians in the area, he said, adding that they snatched away his Bible, tore the pages to pieces, spit on it, kicked it, and told him, “Stop converting Adivasis – we will slash your neck off.”

When they tried to light a match to set the torn Bible on fire, they were unable to ignite it, he said.

Jeevan Munda, at whose house the worship service was held, was also injured in the attack.

That night Pastor Tirkey went to a police station to file a report, but officers refused to accept his complaint, the pastor said.

“After the attack, I invited the believers to my house in Khunti District and urged them to pray in their houses,” he said. “I told we must stand firm in Christ no matter how severe the opposition.”
He became a Christian eight years ago. Then an alcoholic with declining health that no doctor was able to relieve, he was healed after putting his faith in Christ, he said.

“It was then I decided that the Lord has given me good health, so I will dedicate it to my Lord’s work, and as long as I live, I will serve Him,” he said. “Now I am leading a life full of joy.”

Endangered Religious Freedom

Pastors Oraon and Tirkey belong to the Believers Eastern Church. The Rev. Somnath Honhaga, Believers Eastern Church secretary of the Diocese of Chakradharpur, told Morning Star News that religious freedom in Jharkhand is in danger.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

The growth of Christianity in Jharkhand state has also brought increasing attacks by Hindu nationalist groups, Honhaga said.

Unable to get police to register their cases, the two pastors have filed First Information Reports online, though there has been no progress in the investigations, Honhaga told Morning Star News.

“The police did not make any arrests,” he said. “Instead, we have been told that since the pastors cannot identify the assailants, it is difficult to catch the culprits.”

Politicizing Conversion

Indigenous leaders on Dec. 24 raised black flags in parts of Jharkhand in protest of rising Christianity and “Western culture,” and Christian leaders suspect indigenous Sarna advocates supported by the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were behind the attacks.

The Central Sarna Committee (Kendriya Sarna Samiti ) of Jharkhand state issued a press release demanding the government enforce the state’s “anti-conversion” law. The law passed last year bans forcible or fraudulent conversion, though comments by Hindu nationalists indicate they mistakenly take it to mean it bans any conversion from Hinduism.

People convicted of fraudulent or forcible conversion can be punished by prison terms of up to three years in Jharkhand state, or up to four years if the person fraudulently or forcibly converted is an indigenous tribal known as Adivasi. Adivasis are entitled to government benefits.

“Christian missionaries are forcefully taking away the rights of Adivasis by converting them,” the Central Sarna Committee statement read, labelling as “Westernization” people converting to Christianity. “People from other faiths representing themselves as Adivasi are rising to the positions of village president, ward members and government employees.”

Phulchand Tirkey, director of Sarna Samiti, demanded the government stop considering Christians as Adivasi, saying, “Christians must not be given the status of Adivasi.”

The Constitution of India recognizes tribal populations who are original inhabitants of a given region as Adivasi regardless of their religious beliefs, a constitutional expert who requested anonymity told Morning Star News.

“There is potential threat to the Christian converts from those who believe in the deep-rooted casteism,” the source said.

During the Dec. 24 protest, Sarna activists were reported to have taken an oath to disrupt Christmas celebrations, according to local media reports.

“Standing in the middle of the main road in the state capital, Ranchi, they shouted these words,” Honhaga said. “They raised slogans against Christianity.”

The smaller churches were attacked, he noted.

“It was a pre-planned attack by the Sarna committee supported by the RSS,” Honhaga said. “They are trying to divide the aboriginal people of this state. The Christian missionaries have played a vital role in bringing education to the Adivasis. They have reached even the remotest parts of Jharkhand, started good schools and propagated the love of God through various activities.”

The Hindu nationalists cannot abide tribal people rising to higher positions, he said.

“The word Adivasi means native of the region, and they want to use tribals as their vote bank by creating divisions among them,” Honhaga told Morning Star News. “If an Adivasi converts to Christianity, how can he lose the status of being an Adivasi? He is the native, and he will remain so. They have left behind the pointless beliefs and myths, idol worship and have come to the Light. Instead of encouraging their progress, they are creating rifts among them. It is pathetic.”

Adivasi Christians in Jharkhand requested prayers for freedom to worship.

India ranked 11 on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution, up from 15 the previous year, and ahead of Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Egypt.

Source: morning star news

Photo credit: Google