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Jehovah's Witnesses Remain Banned as Russia Rejects Appeal
And most Russians are okay with it. The last-ditch efforts by Jehovah’s Witnesses to appeal Russia’s ban against their faith have failed in the country’s Supreme Court. With all three judges siding on Monday with Russia’s Ministry of Justice, the April 20 ruling to liquidate the Witnesses’ centers and criminalize their worship stands—despite desperate pleas from members of the faith and religious freedom advocates. “The Supreme Court’s decision sadly reflects the government’s continued equating of peaceful religious freedom practice to extremism,” said Daniel Mark, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which called out Russia’s violations earlier this year. “The Witnesses are not an extremist group, and should be able to practice their faith openly and freely and without government repression.” In Russia, where the Russian Orthodox Church remains the dominant religious affiliation, support is high (79%) for the government’s ban designating Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist group, according to a survey conducted by the Levada Center last month. Almost half of Russians view Witnesses as a “Christian sect,” while small minorities think of it as a Protestant offshoot (5%) or a variant on ordinary Christianity (2%). Russian Protestants, though also a minority, view Jehovah’s Witnesses as having their own theology and methodology. While Witnesses stand out with their distinct materials and eager proselytism, evangelicals have enjoyed a better reputation with the Russian government in many cases, as CT has previously reported. Still, all religious groups attempting to share their faith and gain converts must adhere to the new ...Continue reading... [...]



Interview: Between Two Cultures: How Latina Christians Approach Leadership
Yvette Santana pilots a new project to coalesce Hispanic women. With nearly 58 million Hispanics residing stateside and one in every four children born in the United States being Hispanic, the US Census Bureau identifies the Hispanic population as one of the nation's fastest growing groups. Given that 60 percent of Hispanic evangelicals are women, new ministries have emerged that are solely focused on equipping these bicultural women. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) has recently established one such ministry with a commitment to creating a safe space for Latina Christian leaders from different generations to gather. This ministry—which represents mothers, mijas (a term of endearment used in the Hispanic community that translates as “my daughters”), hermanas (sisters), tias (aunts), abuelas (grandmothers), and nietas (granddaughters) alike—seeks to empower, equip, and encourage Hispanic female leaders to reach their God-given potential. Yvette Santana spearheads this new bilingual and bicultural ministry in her role as chief women’s ministry officer for the NHCLC. She also serves as women’s discipleship coordinator for the Church of God, Southwest Region. “The NHCLC’s division for women’s ministry desires to create a community for these fabulous women to connect and share and celebrate our role in the church,” says Santana. “We want to create a network for Latina pastor’s wives and lead female pastors, as they have such a unique role in the kingdom.” Andrea Ramirez, executive director of the Faith and Education Coalition of the NHCLC, interviewed Santana on her unique work.Continue reading... [...]



The Vacuum Christian Indifference Creates

The crisis we face when the church is silent on social justice.

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In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis warns that the enemy sends errors in pairs: "He relies on our dislike of one to send us into the opposite." We’re all prone to address an evil that offends or victimizes us by embracing its flawed opposite. Nowhere is this clearer than the current relationship the church has with social justice, where many American Christians inadvertently embrace the extreme of uncompassionate individualism or permissive secularism. Both are a corruption of the grace and truth that is the gospel, and both feed into one another in subtle but devious ways.

Many conservative Christians reject involvement in what has come to be known as the Christian social justice movement. To them, participation in this movement compromises doctrine by pursuing a false gospel that emphasizes cultural identity, social engineering, and earthly liberation over repentance and spiritual liberation from sin. This world becomes the focus and God’s law is replaced by interpretations of the human experience and relativism. To them, the achievements of this worldly bunch are negated by the frayed social fabric left in their wake. For instance, while they agree with equal treatment under the law for women, many believe the women’s equality movement has become an effort to deny natural gender distinctions and ultimately, to subside biological difference. Accurate or not, many evangelical Christians have used this narrative as justification to disparage and obstruct efforts connected with social justice.

At best, this line of reason ignores injustice; at worst, it rationalizes the church’s participation in the oppressive status quo. From the Jim Crow era to mass incarceration today, overlooking systemic ...

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