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Former members of the Evangelical group Sovereign Grace Ministries have sued the church in Maryland, charging leaders covered up sexual abuse.
Two of the plaintiffs say they were molested as young girls by John Loftness, a pastor in Maryland, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reported. Another plaintiff says that when he told Loftness he had been molested the pastor ordered him to re-enact the sexual act and then to forgive the man who abused him.
Sovereign Grace was founded in the 1970s and changed its name from People of Destiny in 1998. The church relocated to Louisville from Maryland last year.
Loftness, who recently resigned as head of the group, denied any misconduct.
The allegations made in the lawsuit involve Covenant Life Church of Gaithersburg, Md., and Sovereign Grace Church of Fairfax, Va. The two churches were the largest in Sovereign Grace Ministries but have cut their ties with the denomination.
Posted by Pernicious (#1) 4 days ago (http://www.deseretnews.com)
Religious freedom is described as essential and valuable to all people — especially to those who have experienced intolerance in the past. Mormons, along with many other religions, have a history of faith-based persecution.
Yet, it was during this time that church leaders emphatically taught the importance of religious tolerance and liberation. Joseph Smith, the first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often taught of such acceptance.
Recorded in "The History of the Church," Joseph Smith explained to the early members of the church just how deeply he felt about religious liberty:
"If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing before Heaven to die for a 'Mormon,' I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbytarian (sic), a Baptist or a good man of any other denomination."
When composing a letter with the basic beliefs of the LDS Church — and what would later become known as the "Articles of Faith" — Joseph Smith wrote, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where or what they may."
While the LDS Church has since become a global and widely respected faith, leaders continue to discuss the importance and necessity of religious freedom.
“Peace will come,” Golda Meir once famously remarked, “when the Arabs start to love their children more than they hate us.” The obstacle to peace was not actually Arabs as such, but Muslims who had imbibed Islam’s doctrine of jihad and hatred of non-believers and primarily Jews — a hatred so intense that it drives people to prefer death (and murder) to life. And as we have seen recently with the monstrous grandstanding of Mama Tsarnaeva, this hatred is passed on in some Muslim families – and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva is by no means the only mother from hell.
Who, in your estimation wins the all-time, “most incredible Christian in history” prize?
Call me crazy, but I vote for the guy who holds birdbaths up in people’s gardens—St Francis of Assisi.
I knew zero about St Francis until I went through a spiritual crisis a few years ago. I was burnt out on ministry, disillusioned with church, fed up with evangelical subculture, and tired of not being able to voice my spiritual doubts and questions without being labeled a ‘backslider.’
At the height of my faith meltdown a friend invited me to visit him at his home in Bermuda to pray about whether to remain in ministry or not. While packing I saw an unread copy of G.K. Chesterton’s St Francis of Assisi on my bookshelf, and without thinking I threw it in my bag.
Over the course of the next week, I devoured it three times.
It was a game changer.
What can we do to be more secure in who we are so we can be comfortable around Christians and understand them?
I am with you. I wish Jews were more secure with (and knowledgeable about) Judaism. That is the antidote to proselytizing -- more about that in a moment.
Before that though, I'd like to address your other two points which really are two different issues. Your question about the city putting a Christian symbol of a fish in their flag or emblem is not a matter of Jewish paranoia. Members of other religions fight this sort of thing too because it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Unlike Israel -- "the Jewish State" where Judaism is the official religion -- America is built on the concept of the separation of church and state. No religious symbol is appropriate on any government institution, place or symbol, as the Supreme Court has affirmed.
As to your other point about Jews singling out Evangelical Christians, I don't think this is true. Jewish community leadership in my view, is opposed to any religion, including the ones you cite, when they attempt to convert Jews. There are two main reasons. There is a theological argument that Judaism brings something unique to the world. There is also a practical argument: we are not a billion strong! With just a few million of us we cannot afford to lose Jews.
Now, if you are referring to just learning and being influenced from other religions, that is another matter, that I endorse, regardless of the religion. Your Shabbat dinner is good example. I too enjoy this kind of interaction with Christians (and others) and recognize that not all Christians want to convert me.
However, there are many Christians who have a goal of actively seeking converts. One of the main objectives of these Christians is to bring the Gospels of Jesus to the world. If you'll pardon the term, in their theology, this is a great "mitzvah." They believe they are saving the world and the souls of those
Two cancer survivors, a small business owner, a pastor, some Southern Baptists and Chuck Norris. What do they have in common? All want to point people to Christ through BGEA’s evangelistic website, PeaceWithGod.net.
Across the United States and around the world in countries like Croatia, New Zealand, Kuwait and the Congo, web administrators are posting links to PeaceWithGod.net on their church websites, blogs and business pages. PeaceWithGod.net presents the Gospel in a simple way and gives visitors the chance to ask questions, indicate commitments to Christ and receive follow-up discipleship materials. More than 12 million people worldwide have visited PeaceWithGod.net, part of BGEA's Search for Jesus ministry, since it launched in 2011.
Israeli Messianic believers in Yeshua from across the country gathered in the Jerusalem-area village of Yad Hashmonah on Wednesday to mark the biblical festival of Shavuot.
Shavuot is one of Israel's most revered biblical holidays, as it commemorates, among other things, the giving of God's Word at Mt. Sinai. The holiday has entered the Christian calendar as Pentecost, the day of the outpouring of God's spirit on the local body of Yeshua's followers in Jerusalem. So, for Israeli believers, Shavuot is doubly important.
As with every year, hundreds of Messianic Jews and Christians living in Israel made their way to Yad Hashmonah for the festive event. Among those addressing the gathering was a Ugandan pastor who two years ago had acid poured over his head by an angry Muslim gang. He is currently living in Israel to undergo treatment in Tel Aviv.
The African visitor said he was raised a Muslim who hated the Jewish state, but after finding the Bible realized that every passage made clear that the God of Israel is the one and only true God.
Walid Shoebat is well known as a fraud. CNN recently exposed him in a two part series for masquerading as a “terror expert.” The truth is that Shoebat is just one of many so called “terror expert professionals” who are banking big time on your dime when in fact they are impostors, no better then two-bit snake-oil salesmen.
Now there is a website documenting the fraud Shoebat is perpetrating: www.walid-shoebat.com. Please follow the site, favorite it and share with your networks.
Has the Western world lost God? Author Mary Eberstadt thinks so and she takes a fresh approach to the question in her book, How the West Really Lost God.
It's long been accepted that the breakdown of the family is a result of the West losing its religion.
But Eberstadt says the opposite is true. She believes that the loss of family values is what led to the loss of faith.
Jesus at the Check Point is a “Christian” organization with a liberal socialist twist – and will soon be speaking at a church near you.
The group is touring to muster support to alleviate “Christian Persecution,” or so they claim.
The organization’s motto is “non-violent resistance against the Israeli Zionist occupation.” “Zionism is the obstacle to peace,” they write, and they want to “educate evangelical Christians” to “understand the Bible from a Palestinian Christian perspective,” which openly supports a “divided state” as the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The main dynamo and sponsoring agent of these tours is Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel. Its Second International Conference was led by a Palestinian family, the Awads, including Sami Awad, Bishara Awad and Alex Awad. Claiming to be evangelical Baptists, the Awads were able to muster some influential figures. Several American evangelicals they recruited had taken action to bring them into American churches.
But what many in the West do not know is that this group has nothing to do with being Baptists, nor are involved in any way shape or form with Christian persecution. There is no mention whatsoever by this group of any persecution by Islamists against Christians in the Middle East. The persecution against Christians, they say, emanates from the Jewish presence in all of biblical Judea, Jews they claim confiscated Arab lands.
Today, one in four Christian adults believes Jesus could return in their lifetime. Revelation is God’s message to those who are concerned about the future. In this program, Dr. Ankerberg and Dr. Jimmy DeYoung take you step by step through the Book of Revelation in a clear and concise manner to help you understand its central message and the future events God has predicted.
As well as the victims of religious persecution, let’s also remember those God loves just as much - the people who are responsible for this suffering.
Let’s remember that God had an amazing plan for Saul, one of the worst persecutors of the early church. And although some describe it as the hardest commandment to keep, Jesus was absolutely firm on the importance of loving our enemies, and blessing those who persecute us.
This week please:
Pray for Than Shwe,the leader of the military junta in Burma,
Pray for Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist militant group in Nigeria,
Pray for China’s leaders,
Meditate and pray about Matthew 5, particularly verses 43-48.
A Reflection from CSW's Mervyn Thomas
In the last issue of Response I talked about what could be the hardest commandment in the Bible: to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). It’s one of the most difficult, but also one of the most powerful prayers we can pray.
I want to encourage you to recommit yourself to praying for the persecutors. When a CSW staff member visited Turkey in 2010, she met a lady who had just fled Iran in awful circumstances because of her faith. With painful memories still fresh in her mind, the woman gently but firmly told my colleague, “I cannot pray for those responsible.” We need to stand in that gap for them – praying for the persecutors of those whose emotional wounds are too fresh to forgive.
You can start doing that today using the persecutors’ prayer. Use it in your church, prayer and Bible study group. We all need to play our part in these prayers. May God continue to bless you throughout 2013.
Lord when I can’t bring myself to pray for my enemies,
Remind me of the grace you showed me.
When I struggle to forgive those who persecute others,
Be there to give me grace.
As I try to follow the example of Christ in suffering,
Show me what it means to live in your grace.
Your grace is s