The highest ranking member of China’s officially recognized Protestant church has been imprisoned after he vocally opposed the government’s plan to demolish crosses displayed on churches in the province of Zhejiang. According to reports from the group China Aid, Pastor Gu Yuese has been placed in a “black jail” and is under “residential surveillance.” Gu’s wife and several family members are also now missing.
In a statement, the president and founder of the group China Aid, Bob Fu, said, “His arrest marks a major escalation in the crackdown against those who oppose the forced demolition of crosses. He will be the highest-ranking national church leader arrested since the Cultural Revolution.” Government officials have disputed the details of his imprisonment, saying that he is being investigated for “suspicions of economic issues, including embezzling money.” Activists and supporters, however, have said that the arrest was motivated by Gu’s opposition to the government’s recent crackdown. Discuss
This week, President Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast, and used the opportunity to essentially preach a sermon on fear—and why the Bible calls us to reject it. While acknowledging global violence, economic hardships and environmental concerns, he said that “Jesus is a good cure for fear.”:
Lately I’ve been thinking and praying on verse from 2 Timothy, ‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’ … “Fear can feed our most selfish impulses and erode the bonds of community. It is a primal emotion–fear–one that we all experience, and it can be contagious, spreading through societies, and through nations, and if we let it consume us, the consequences of that fear can be worse than any outward threat.
For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear, and what more important moment for that faith than right now? … What better time than these changing tumultuous times to have Jesus standing beside us, steadying our minds, cleansing our hearts, pointing us towards what matters. His love gives us the power to resist fear’s temptations.
He gives us the courage to reach out to others across that divide rather than push people away. He gives us the courage to go against the conventional wisdom and stand up for what’s right even when it’s not popular – to stand up not just to our enemies, but sometimes stand up to our friends.
He also discussed his recent visit to mosque, and the need for people of all faiths to reject fear and embrace peace. You can watch his entire address below. Discuss
Ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry’s is launching a new, milk-free line of ice cream for vegan customers. It actually has to be called “frozen dessert” because it’s dairy-free, but the line will resemble Ben & Jerry’s traditional pints with four flavors including Chunky Monkey, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, P.B. & Cookies and Coffee Caramel Fudge. We’re no nutrition experts or anything, but we’re pretty sure that for non-vegans, this basically means that Ben & Jerry’s is now healthy. Right? The almond milk-based line hits shelves in about four weeks. Discuss
Sure, many Christians will find the show's irreverent depiction of Jesus offensive. But the truly interesting part is that this segment ends up being less funny and more of an indictment of the current political climate. And, unexpectedly, Kimmel may cause some Christians to pause and think about their politics in light of their faith. Check it out:
Last year, at least 149 individuals—who, on average, served 14 years in prison—were exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. It’s the highest number ever recorded according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Nearly 40% of those were falsely convicted in homicide cases. The Registry first began assembling records in 1989. As University of Michigan law professor and registry editor Samuel Gross, told CBS News, in 2015, the rate of exonerations was nearly three a week and the overall annual number of exonerations since 2011 has doubled.
The Registry said that the reason for the rising numbers is most likely because of the work of “conviction integrity units,” established by district attorneys to review cases. Gross told Reuters, “There is a coming to terms that this is a regular problem, not just something that happens once in a while and unpredictably. But progress so far is a drop in the bucket.” Five the individuals exonerated in 2015 had been sentenced to death. Most of the exonerations—nearly 75%—included some sort of official misconduct in the cases. Discuss