SYRIAN WAR DEVASTATES
SIXTY-THREE CHURCHES have been
damaged or destroyed so far during
four years of civil war in Syria, says
the Syrian Network for Human Rights
In a 21-page report the rights group,
known for being antigovernment,
launches a withering attack on Syrian
president Bashar al-Assad’s forces,
claiming they were responsible for
almost two-thirds of the attacks.
The report, Targeting Christian
Places of Worship in Syria, took
five months to compile, says the
SNHR, which claims it verified each
of its photos and videos that were
provided by locals or obtained from
social media. However, the group
acknowledges it “might not have been
able to document all incidents.”
Both extremist groups and
government and opposition forces
are accused of committing war
crimes through “deliberate targeting”
of churches, and not just “random”
attacks. All three are also accused of
breaching international law by using
churches as military bases.
“Christians have become trapped between the fire of the al-Assad government and the hell of extremist groups,”
says Dr. Wael Aleji, spokesperson for
the SNHR, in the report.
HILLSONG UNI TED WINS
BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARD
AUSTRALIAN WORSHIP BAND Hillsong
United took home the award for Top
Christian Artist at the Billboard Music
Awards in May, shortly before debuting
its fourth studio album Empires.
Billboard Music Awards are based on
American year-end chart performance
according to Nielsen data for sales,
number of downloads and total airplay.
“At this point it’s all so far beyond
us that everything and nothing is a
surprise,” said Joel Houston, pastor
of the Sydney megachurch where the
band is based. “We’ve been riding on
this scandalous grace for so long and
throwing everything we have into not
taking a moment of it for granted.”
An estimated 50 million people sing
their songs every Sunday.
MALAYSIA RULES ON
AF TER SEVEN YEARS of legal battles,
the Malaysian high court ruled that
a Catholic newspaper can no longer
use the word “Allah” for God in its
publication because it could confuse
Muslim Malays and inadvertently
promote Christianity among them.
The Arabic name for God has been
used in Malaysia for hundreds of years,
ever since Europeans first spread
In a similar case, the court ordered
eight CDs with Allah in the titles to
be returned to 33-year-old Jill Ireland.
They had been seized from her at an
airport in 2008 when she tried to bring
them into the country from Indonesia.
But the case isn’t finished, as Ireland
has appealed to resolve the issue over
usage of the word.
The National Evangelical Christian
Federation Malaysia sees her case
as “another serious attempt to strip,
restrict, and alter the right to profess
and practise one’s religion.”
JOHN M. TEMPLE TON JR., a former
pediatric surgeon who was president
and chair of the John Templeton
Foundation, died May 16 at his home in
Bryn Mawr, Pa. He was 75.
His father, Sir John Templeton,
created the Templeton Fund in 1954,
and established the foundation in
1987 to support what it describes
as “discoveries relating to the Big
Questions of human purpose and
ultimate reality.” He died in 2008.
From 1987 to 2007, the foundation’s
endowment grew from $28 million to
$3.34 billion, with 188 grants awarded
last year mainly to universities and
scholars. – WWW.WASHINGTONPOST.COM
is to engage
them in the
(AT A 4/14 WINDOW
RETREAT AND ASIA-PACIFIC YOUTH CONGRESS
IN BALI, INDONESIA)
At a remote Siberian village inaccessible by land and two days’ travel from the
nearest pharmacy, Canadian doctor Bill Etzkorn (left) dispensed medicine in 2011
to heal Sergey (right), a retired trapper with bacterial conjunctivitis. Sergey also
received Jesus as his Saviour.
Debra Fieguth of Kingston, Ont., is a senior
writer at Faith Today. Find more of these
columns at www.faithtoday.ca/GlobalVillage.