WORLD News Service – May 16 2014
Former Covenant Life Church Leader Convicted of Child Molestation
UN Calls Catholic Pro-life Stance Torture
NRB Splits with Publisher over Pro-Gay Book
Judge Says D’Souza Wasn’t Prosecuted for his Politics
Teen Mania Turmoil Continues
Flip This Country: TV show or not, David Benham and his brother stand for biblical values and won’t back down
Judge Silences Pro-Life Criticism of the NAACP
The Lost Girls: Boko Haram’s horrific kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is one part of a wider campaign to obliterate Christians
Former Covenant Life Church Leader Convicted of Child Molestation
By Leigh Jones
(WNS)--A Maryland jury found Nathaniel Morales guilty of five counts of child molestation on May 15, bringing to a close a case that highlighted the responsibility church leaders have to report suspected abuse to the police.
The five-man, seven-woman jury found the former pastor guilty of molesting three teenage boys in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Morales, 56, faces up to 85 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 14.
In emotional testimony that began Monday, the victims recounted how Morales used his position as a trusted member of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., to get them alone and force them into unwanted sexual relationships. According to WJLA, the ABC affiliate in Arlington, Va., Morales led Bible studies, directed worship teams, and attended sleepovers with teen boys he was supposed to be mentoring.
Child advocacy groups said the pastoral team at Covenant Life helped enable Morales’ abuse by not reporting allegations to the police in the mid 1990s. Morales disappeared shortly after his victims told their parents what was going on, but he later went on to work as a pastor in Las Vegas and married a woman with five sons from a previous relationship.
During the trial, former Covenant Life pastor Grant Layman admitted he should have reported what he knew.
“Did you have an obligation to report the alleged abuse,” public defender Alan Drew, who represented Morales, asked during cross-examination. “I believe so,” Layman replied. “And you didn’t,” Drew followed-up. “No,” Layman said.
According to police reports collected before the trial, Layman and another pastor, Ernest Boisvert, confronted Morales at some point but it’s not clear whether they attempted to warn church members or other congregations about the allegations. In a statement released last year, the church said it didn’t know about the abuse until “many years later.”
Until last year, Covenant Life was a member of Sovereign Grace Ministries, which has faced accusations of covering up child abuse in several of its member congregations.
In a statement issued after the verdict, state officials said abuse in the church is particularly heinous. “Sexually abusing boys who trust you because of your prominence in your faith community is unforgivable,” said Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for the state attorney’s office. “These grown men have shown a lot of courage to come forward in reporting these incidents of sexual abuse during their childhoods. It lets other victims of abuse in our community know that they can come forward and justice will be served.”
UN Calls Catholic Pro-life Stance Torture
By Andrew Branch
(WNS)--In a novel attack on pro-life groups and nations, the United Nations has accused the Roman Catholic Church of torture for advocating against abortion.
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), said Western powers for years have tried to use the UN to force a liberal social agenda on conservative nations. The Vatican has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture. During reports to those committees in the last 90 days, the UN tried to further press the Vatican to change its teaching.
“Committees have started trying to rewrite treaties and add new language, which they don’t have a right to do, and try to foist these new obligations on the governments that have already ratified the treaties,” Ruse said.
The children’s rights committee in February told the Vatican to change its teaching on abortion and homosexuality, including the practice of excommunicating abortionists. On May 5, the torture committee accused the Vatican of torture in both its pro-life views and its handling of child sexual abuse by priests. The committee’s theory is that by advocating against abortion, especially for women who are younger or victims of crimes, the Church is committing a form of psychological torture.
“This is a violation of freedom of religion,” Ruse said. And Archbishop Silvano Tomasi told the UN as much. Abortion itself is a form of torture, he said, accusing the United Kingdom and Canada directly for their practice of late-term abortion. Other voices have added to those remarks to create a movement. European Centre for Law and Justice Director Grégor Puppinck and other pro-life activists said 622 babies in Canada from 2000-2011—and 66 in the United Kingdom in 2005 alone—died after botched abortions resulted in live births.
Committees cannot create binding resolutions, and “don’t really have any authority,” Ruse said. The American Center for Law and Justice said the torture committee “could begin an international legal process that would cause the UN to review statements or actions by pro-life public officials.” But ultimately, the torture committee’s power is slim.
That’s a victory for the pro-life community, according to C-FAM. Yes, the UN climate chief also lectured religious groups to teach their followers to accept the UN’s climate change position. Yes, the UN used battles against HIV and AIDS to intimidate African nations into abandoning teachings on abstinence, monogamy, and fidelity.
But despite the ongoing efforts to promote abortion and twist past resolutions to manufacture rights, C-FAM said, pro-abortion activists have failed to gain traction toward a binding international right to abortion. They don’t have the enough countries on their side. “Our opponents on this issue have tried for 20 years to get an international right to abortion, and they have failed,” Ruse said. “Repeatedly.”
NRB Splits with Publisher over Pro-Gay Book
By Lynde Langdon
(WNS)--The publisher of numerous evangelical bestsellers has resigned from the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) over a controversial new book published by the same company under a different trade name.
The split between WaterBrook Multnomah and NRB, reported by Christianity Today, took place after NRB President and CEO Jerry Johnson confronted the publishing group about the content of the God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines.
Convergent Books, Vines’ publisher, is under the same corporate umbrella and leadership as WaterBrook Multnomah. Throughout the years, WaterBrook Multnomah has published books by evangelical authors such as John Piper, David Jeremiah, Kay Arthur, and Randy Alcorn.
Convergent and WaterBrook Multnomah are imprints, or trade names, of the same publishing division owned by Penguin Random House, run by President Steven W. Cobb. In April, Cobb explained to WORLD the difference between the two imprints. WaterBrook Multnomah caters to a conservative evangelical audience, but Convergent targets readers who are “open in their approach to issues that face the church today,” Cobb said.
NRB is an industry association of mostly radio and television broadcasters, but it also includes some major Christian publishing houses. Its code of ethics states, “I will refrain from any sexual conduct or life-style, such as homosexuality or adultery, which is inconsistent with Scripture, or any promotion of the same.”
The organization advocates on behalf of its members in Washington and the courts, hosts an annual convention, and promotes networking. Beyond those benefits, NRB membership signifies to customers that a broadcaster or publisher espouses the conservative evangelical beliefs in the association’s statement of faith. The first article of that statement asserts the Bible is “inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.”
In a letter to the NRB board of directors, Johnson said the organization would “revisit the issue” with WaterBrook Multnomah if it could ensure that its staff would not work on Convergent books, according to Christianity Today.
Cobb sent a brief statement to WORLD saying NRB and his publishing group share mutual respect: “Our organization has discussed our publishing programs in private with leadership of the National Religious Broadcasters. These conversations with NRB have been characterized by one senior official at NRB as ‘professional and Christ-honoring.’ I couldn’t agree more.” Cobb declined to comment further.
Flip This Country
TV show or not, David Benham and his brother stand for biblical values and won’t back down
By Steve Jordahl
(WNS)--Until last week, twin brothers David and Jason Benham of Charlotte, N.C., were set to host a new home-renovation show on HGTV called Flip It Forward. HGTV yanked the program after left-wing groups complained about the brothers’ comments on homosexuality and abortion at a 2012 prayer rally. Since then, a group called Faith Driven Consumer has gathered more than 17,500 signatures in an online petition asking HGTV to reverse its decision. David Benham talked with WORLD Radio about what really happened last week, and what he would like to say to the people who oppose him.
My understanding is that the straw that broke the camel’s back with regard to the show was the appearance that you guys made at a rally … where you guys laid it on the line as to what’s happening in our culture. Do you think if maybe you had worded it differently, you might have been able to sneak past this thing? In 2012, before the Democratic National Convention came to our city, Charlotte, the Lord laid it on my brother and I’s heart to host a prayer service calling the church to repentance. And it was at that prayer service and all of the events surrounding that service—where 9,000 Christians gathered and prayer for our nation—where I made the comments. And I absolutely stand by those comments. As a matter of fact, those comments can be the same comments you hear from many great theologians, founding fathers, and others that would stand where biblical values would stand.
So, the one thing that is really interesting in this whole story is HGTV had already seen those comments before they even made us our offer. We had offers from another network, and then we also had other networks that were weighing in about 18 months ago. And HGTV saw these comments, and they called us and asked for an explanation. And then we met with one of the executives in person, and they realized we had no ill intent toward anyone. We did not hate anyone. We told them we hold to a biblical faith system. We also truly love everyone, and they said, OK, great, and then they made us an offer.
What really happened here was when we were announced in New York City at the upfront—our show was announced, we weren’t in attendance, but our show was announced—that’s when the Right Wing Watch and GLAAD (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) decided we’re going to go on a smear campaign and try to bully HGTV into firing these guys, and they won. They actually succeeded.
I did give a call to People for the American Way, that’s the parent of Right Wing Watch. If you could tell them something right now, if you could explain or have a word for them, what would it be? Well, I guess the first thing I would say is that you are not People for the American Way, you are people for your way. And your way leads to destruction and hurts everyone, Christian and non-Christian. The way of Christ is the way of truth, and it’s that way that affords everyone in this nation the liberty to believe how they want to believe and to voice it. And so I believe, in America, that we have people for another way, and it’s an overwhelming majority of Americans.
And I believe we are going to show this: that we really want this change in America, and people are not going to remain silent anymore. We’re just tired of getting pushed around. We’re speaking for millions of people.
Judge Says D’Souza Wasn’t Prosecuted for his Politics
By Emily Belz
(WNS)--A federal judge said conservative author and commentator Dinesh D’Souza had no evidence he was selectively prosecuted because of his politics, and said the criminal trial against D’Souza would move forward next week.
D’Souza faces charges of orchestrating straw campaign donations of $20,000 to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long, who in 2012 challenged incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a Democrat. D’Souza’s defense doesn’t dispute the facts in the case but argues that D’Souza had no criminal intent and thus should face a civil penalty instead of jail time.
A jury will now decide whether D’Souza willfully broke the law. The defense had hoped to get the case dismissed on Thursday, arguing that the Obama administration was retaliating against D’Souza for his strident positions against the president.
“A decision to submit [the case] to the Southern District for prosecution was because [of] what the defendant had said, not because of what he had done,” argued D’Souza’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, at the pre-trial hearing Thursday.
Judge Richard Berman of the Southern District of New York, who will oversee the trial, rejected the selective prosecution motion, citing the “rigorous standard” required for such a motion.
“The burden is ‘some evidence,’” said Berman. “I find no evidence.” He cited a handful of similar cases of relatively small amounts (between $10,000 and $20,000) where the U.S. attorney’s office in New York prosecuted both Democrats and Republicans. The defense had argued that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) typically doesn’t seek prosecution for amounts under $25,000. Berman on Thursday said the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York could prosecute regardless of how the FEC chooses to prosecute.
“That a case is interesting or high profile is insufficient to supply ‘some evidence’ of selective prosecution,” Berman added.
The trial will begin on Tuesday and should only last two or three days. D’Souza faces up to 16 months in prison. His new film, America,is due out on July 4.
“We’re disappointed but understand the court’s ruling,” said Brafman after the hearing. D’Souza declined to comment.
Teen Mania Turmoil Continues
By J.C. Derrick
(WNS)--One of only six independent board members resigned this week from Teen Mania, one of the nation’s largest Christian youth ministries.
Nathan Moody, a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, would not comment on why he chose to step down, but his decision came in the wake of a foreclosure on the ministry’s property and a WORLD report detailing some of Teen Mania’s ongoing management and financial challenges. Following the story’s publication last month, Moody requested and received a copy of the comprehensive third-party audit, conducted before he joined the board, mentioned in WORLD’s report.
Moody, an Honor Academy alumnus, told me in an email that his resignation included a commitment to be “fully transparent” to Teen Mania founder Ron Luce and the remaining board members, and agreeing to an interview would be interpreted as “violating the commitment I just made.”
Moody’s departure leaves five independent members on Teen Mania’s board of directors: George Babbes, a professor at Azusa Pacific University; Chris Hill, senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Denver, Colo.; Jennifer Labit, founder and CEO of Cotton Babies; Steve Riggle, pastor of Grace Community Church in Houston; and Marcos Witt, a musician and former pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston.
Babbes has been on the board since 1995, but Labit didn’t join until 2012, and Hill, Riggle, and Witt all joined in 2013. Ron and Katie Luce also serve on the board.
None of the remaining board members, including Ron Luce, responded to my requests for comment.
The Teen Mania board was small even before Moody’s resignation. Following the completion of a strategic and operational audit, Calvin Edwards & Co., an Atlanta-based consulting firm that has scrutinized more than 600 organizations in 50 countries, in early 2012 recommended the board have between 7 and 15 independent members—which would have included replacing Luce’s wife Katie as a voting member. That never happened.
Teen Mania in February announced it would vacate its 472-acre property near Tyler, Texas, and move to Dallas. Luce cast the decision as the result of long-range planning and an effort to go global, but the ministry has yet to announce a new location. Teen Mania has continued to lease its land after the bank repossessed it in March.
WORLD’s previous story was the result of extensive interviews with current and former employees, and a review of internal documents and recent IRS Form 990s available on GuideStar. Luce blamed the article on former employees eager to bad-mouth the organization. He wrote to Teen Mania alumni a lengthy response to the article, saying it contained “false statements, errors and misperceptions regarding the current state of our ministry”—although he did publicly acknowledge for the first time the foreclosure on the ministry’s East Texas property. Luce has declined to identify any specific error in WORLD’s article.
To throw further light on Teen Mania’s situation, WORLD is releasing one of the documents it obtained: A list of 32 specific recommendations from Calvin Edwards & Co. We originally had no intention of releasing this document, but since Ron Luce questioned WORLD’s credibility, we present it to allow our readers to decide for themselves.
Calvin Edwards, the organization’s founder and CEO, did not supply the document to WORLD—it came from a former Teen Mania employee—and a binding contract prohibited him from authorizing its release. But Edwards stands by the recommendations and told me publishing them “could help other ministry boards” examine issues similar to the ones Teen Mania is facing: “If you release it, I only hope that good comes from it and that it serves kingdom purposes.”
Edwards said the Teen Mania board sought to implement the report’s recommendations, but “it was met with strong opposition from Ron Luce, who sought to maintain the status quo.” He confirmed that several board members and at least two key executives subsequently left the organization.
Judge Silences Pro-Life Criticism of the NAACP
By Sarah Padbury
(WNS)--A U.S. district court judge sided with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in a trademark case against an African-American pro-life leader who parodied the group’s name.
Ryan Bomberger, the founder of the pro-life group Radiance Foundation, wrote an article on LifeNews.com in January 2013 entitled “NAACP: National Association for the Abortion of Colored People,” which pointed out the organization’s ongoing support for pro-abortion groups. The cause is personal to Bomberger, who was conceived through rape.
The NAACP wrote a letter to Bomberger and LifeNews accusing them of copyright infringement and insisting they remove the words from online forums within seven days. Bomberger responded by filing a lawsuit, claiming it was his First Amendment right to use parody to criticize the NAACP. But the NAACP counter-sued, claiming the phrase was not parody, but an infringement on its registered trademark name.
On April 24, Judge Raymond Jackson agreed with the NAACP. According to the ruling, copyright infringement occurs if a trademark imitation is used in connection with “the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services” and/or if the imitation could cause confusion or deceive the public. Two of the three websites featuring the article included a donation button for Radiance on the same page. All three sites linked to the Radiance Foundation’s billboard campaign, which also asks for donations to sponsor a billboard.
In addition, the NAACP said the article confused is constituents about the group’s real name. Jackson agreed that the article did not provide the organization’s real name, giving the reader “no suggestion or signal” that the phrase is indeed a parody. The judge ruled that the Radiance Foundation “may not present such critiques in a manner that is likely to confuse the public regarding whether certain trademarks espousing a pro-abortion viewpoint are authorized or sponsored by the NAACP.”
But Bomberger said he doubted his article confused anyone. “We've been using this [parody] for years,” he told me via email, “and no one has ever been confused, written to us, [or] called us thinking that we were somehow the NAA**.” Since the ruling was announced, Bomberger is careful not to speak or write about the group by name.
Not only does the permanent injunction require Bomberger to remove the online article, it gave him 15 days to destroy anything else—including signs, social media posts, research, and computer memory—that references the NAACP or its logo. In addition, Bomberger may never again use the parodied phrase “National Association for the Abortion of Colored People” because it confuses people about the real organization. Bomberger’s attorneys plan to ask the judge for clarification of the overly-broad ruling.
“The ruling is a frightening attack on the First Amendment,” Bomberger said. “In essence, the ruling prevents us from criticizing, from commenting upon, or even satirizing an organization’s documented actions in a news commentary.”
Although the NAACP claims it doesn’t take an “official” position on the abortion debate, Bomberger noted in another online post that Planned Parenthood co-sponsors the NAACP’s annual conventions. A recent YouTube video features NAACP national board member Rev. William Barber II winning Planned Parenthood’s “Care. No matter what.” award at its 2014 national gala.
Many organizations use parodies to criticize their opponents or to make a point. Political parody ads are common during campaigns, running on television and radio, and political cartoon parodies are published daily by hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Saturday Night Live (SNL) is famous for employing the tactic in many fake advertising skits.
The only difference between Radiance’s use of parody and SNL’s, Bomberger said, is that he’s not making money from it. He’s also using truth to make a point. “SNL’s and political cartoons' parodies are typically rife with hyperbole,” he said. “Our use is irrefutably factual.”
The Lost Girls
Boko Haram’s horrific kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls is one part of a wider campaign to obliterate Christians
By Jamie Dean
(WNS)—Deep in the rural regions of northern Nigeria, a group of kidnapped schoolgirls bear names far removed from their condition—names like Comfort, Blessing, Grace, and Glory.
The teenage girls vanished in the early morning hours of April 15, when militants from the Islamist terror group Boko Haram raided a school in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok. The gunmen loaded more than 300 girls onto waiting pickup trucks, and fled into a dense forest.
As many as 50 girls escaped into the woods but reports indicate two of the escaped girls died from snakebites. By mid-May more than 270 schoolgirls—ages 15 to 18—remained missing.
A 16-year-old girl who escaped told the Associated Press the militants first said they were soldiers. But after moving the girls outside, the gunmen set fire to the building. “They started shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great),” the student said. “And we knew.”
For the first two weeks of the girls’ captivity, it seemed as if few others knew about the mass abduction. Agonized parents armed with bows and arrows formed search parties when the Nigerian military failed to act. Government officials claimed they had recovered most of the girls—a claim the school principal and bewildered parents immediately refuted.
Meanwhile, international attention remained fixed on the missing Malaysian airliner that carried 239 people, and the April 16 South Korean ferry disaster that killed at least 187 people, mostly high-school students. For weeks, the plight of more than 200 still-living Nigerian girls barely registered.
Burned school where gunmen abducted more than 200 students.By the third week, the story gained traction, as women’s groups demonstrated in the Nigerian capital. A Twitter hashtag—#BringBackOurGirls—caught on, and a Nigerian petition on Change.org calling for better rescue efforts drew more than 450,000 signatures. By May 6, President Barack Obama announced the U.S. government would send a team of personnel to Nigeria to help the military coordinate search and rescue efforts.
Across town, Ann Buwalda of the Washington, D.C.–based Jubilee Campaign said she was thrilled with the international attention on the girls’ abduction, but she noted that similar atrocities have been happening for years: “How many churches have been blown up, and how many Christians have been killed, and nothing’s happened?”
Indeed, Boko Haram has been waging a brutal campaign to force Islamic law in northern Nigeria for more than a decade. This year marks the deadliest year of the insurgency so far, with as many as 1,500 killed since January. The group has burned churches, razed villages, kidnapped women, and massacred civilians for years. In January, Boko Haram militants barred the doors of a Catholic church, and burned the building with worshippers inside.
The Obama administration barely acknowledges the widespread Christian persecution raging in northern Nigeria. But in a video released on May 5, the leader of Boko Haram boasted he would sell the missing girls as slaves, and repeated the group’s intentions: “It is a Jihad war against Christians and Christianity,” he said with a smile. “Allah says we should finish them when we get them.”
Nigeria advocates say rescuing the Chibok girls is critical, particularly as reports swirl that some of the girls have already been sold into marriage to their captors for the price of $12. But experts also emphasize that a single rescue effort won’t stop more atrocities. If Boko Haram isn’t crushed, says Buwalda, “they’ll do this again. There will be another church. There will be another school.”
THERE ALREADY was another school attack less than eight weeks before the Chibok kidnappings. In a horrific exploit that gained scant international attention, militants stormed the dormitories of a school in Yobe State on Feb. 24.
This time, the gunmen released the girls. Witnesses reported the militants told the young women to go home, get married, and abandon the education the militants called anti-Islamic. The boys fared worse: The militants burned down the school with the boys inside, and shot some who tried to escape. The attack killed at least 50 young men ages 15-20. The local police commissioner reported: “Some of the students’ bodies were burned to ashes.”
A similar attack last September killed 40 students. Less than two weeks before the assault on the young men, militants killed more than 106 civilians in the predominantly Christian village of Izghe.
Boko Haram militants also have killed Muslims in the predominantly Muslim northern region, particularly if they view them as hostile to the group’s extremist efforts. At least 16 of the missing Chibok girls reportedly are Muslim. But Boko Haram’s campaign against Christians dates back to at least 2005, when the group began kidnapping pastors. In 2009, militants beheaded Nigerian pastor George Ojih after he refused to convert to Islam.
The years that followed brought more attacks on government buildings, schools, and churches, and more executions of Christians, particularly men with large families. One widow reported in 2012 that militants had killed her husband and kidnapped her two young daughters. Other widows said gunmen had killed their husbands after asking if they were Christians.
It took the U.S. government years to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization, but even after the designation last November, the U.S. State Department has continued largely to ignore the overwhelming rate of Christian persecution in northern Nigeria.
In its recently released annual report on Nigeria, the U.S. State Department notes Boko Haram’s campaign of terror against civilians, but the opening summary doesn’t mention relentless attacks on churches and Christians. The summary does report Boko Haram attacks on a much smaller number of mosques.
The report later mentions “bombed churches” far into a long list of other Boko Haram abuses, but it doesn’t identify persecution as a motivation for Islamist terror. Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian and a human rights attorney, decried the report and asked: “The question remains—why is the U.S. downplaying or denying attacks against Christians?”
Instead, the State Department often lists issues like poverty as motivations for Boko Haram’s terror. Even after the Chibok kidnappings, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the need to “alleviate poverty” as a way to fight terrorism in Africa. In 2012, senior State Department official Johnnie Carson told Congress: “Boko Haram thrives because of social and economic problems in the north.”
Laolu Akande, a Nigerian pastor with the New York–based Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, bristles at that suggestion, and notes the majority of Nigerians are poor. “Please don’t use poverty to justify acts of terrorism,” he said. “It’s an insult to poor people.”
Two students of government secondary school in Chibok, who were abducted by gunmen and managed to escape.The State Department also cites reports from human rights groups like Amnesty International that have criticized the Nigerian military for excessive force in its counterterrorism efforts.
Akande says he doesn’t deny or excuse abuses by the Nigerian military, but adds: “I’m aghast at how they [human rights groups] are painting the military without pointing to the thousands who have been killed—whose humanity has been reduced to nothing. Boko Haram is going to churches, slicing the throats of pastors, and burning people’s homes. Let’s deal with that first.”
Clare Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy, says failing to deal properly with the threat of Boko Haram hinders U.S. efforts at combating terrorism in Nigeria and other countries. “The bigger issue is this administration’s absolute refusal to acknowledge and confront Islamic jihad,” says Lopez. “We can’t turn a blind eye to what Boko Haram says is their objective. And their deeds match their words.”
Confronting Boko Haram is a confounding task, especially as reports emerged that Nigerian security forces in the Chibok area didn’t heed warnings about the impending attack, and responded too slowly to track the abductors as they fled. Some Nigeria advocates called for a group of special elite forces dedicated solely to the task of dismantling Boko Haram.
Beyond mass killings, Boko Haram’s deeds have also left thousands of Nigerians homeless. The United Nations estimates the terror attacks have produced nearly a half million internally displaced Nigerians. At least 60,000 more Nigerians have fled to neighboring countries.
Mark Lipdo of the Nigerian advocacy group Stefanos Foundation, recently returned to Nigeria after visiting Nigerian refugees in nearby Cameroon. He’s working to produce a report on conditions in the camps, and says the situation Christians are fleeing in northern Nigeria is pitiful: “A whole community is displaced.”
Lipdo says he hopes efforts to rescue the kidnapped girls will include efforts to confront the wider threat of Boko Haram: “It’s not just about recovering the Chibok girls. It’s about the slaughtering of schoolchildren. It’s about imprisonment. It’s about so many victims.”
As the Nigerian military continued to search for the missing girls, Boko Haram claimed more victims. The group kidnapped 11 more girls, and launched a May 7 raid on a trading town near Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. Gunmen opened fire in a crowded market, tossed bombs into houses, and burned shopkeepers alive. Authorities confirmed at least 100 dead, but local residents expected the number could reach 300.
On May 12, Boko Haram militants released a video purportedly showing more than 100 of the missing girls dressed in hijabs and reciting Islamic prayers. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said he wouldn’t release the girls unless the Nigerian government released all jailed Boko Haram militants. But it wasn’t immediately clear how many of the young women in the video came from Chibok, and some parents said they didn’t recognize their daughters in the group.
In May the names of the victims in the Chibok kidnappings appeared in a Nigerian newspaper and were also published by the Christian advocacy group Barnabas Fund. The organization urged supporters to use the list to pray for each girl by name, with hopes that Comfort, Blessing, Grace, and Glory will soon be restored.
Christians Kicked Off HGTV For Their Faith
(WNS)--Twins Jason and David Benham found out Wednesday their pro-life and pro-family values aren’t welcome at HGTV. The brothers were five weeks into filming a new show with six families learning how to work together to flip a house. Flip It Forward, was set to air in October, and an HGTV promo touted that in each episode, “the guys help a deserving family find a fixer-upper and transform it into their forever home.” But HGTV has a large LGBT audience, and Ellen DeGeneres recently announced her own design show on the network. Activist group Right Wing Watch dug into the Benhams’ lives and brought down the politically correct hammer. Most of the “dirt” that Right Wing Watch found on the brothers actually came from their father, Flip Benham, a preacher and colorful pro-life activist.
Did Planned Parenthood Help Arizona Rapist Go Free?
(WNS)--Planned Parenthood Arizona is under fire again for alleged misconduct—but this time, the charges aren’t coming from undercover pro-life activists. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office alleges that the abortion center intentionally hid a rape involving what turned out to be a serial rapist. The Casa Grande Dispatch discovered documents implicating Planned Parenthood while investigating the April 28 arrest of 18-year-old Tyler Kost, who is accused of raping or molesting at least 18 girls in San Tan Valley. The sheriff’s office report based on detectives’ interviews included a girl who said she became pregnant after Kost raped her last year. The girl’s mother told a Planned Parenthood staff member about the assault at the girl’s New Year’s Eve appointment.
Pro-life Priests Take Obamacare Fight to Court
(WNS)--Pro-life priests should not be forced to cooperate with a government scheme to expand contraceptive coverage, Priests for Life attorneys argued in early May before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. “This is a battle of biblical proportions,” Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said after the arguments. “We will obey God rather than man.” Priests for Life, a nonprofit with about 50 employees, sued the government last year over the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to over health insurance coverage for contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. Priests for Life and other faith-based nonprofits have received preliminary injunctions against the mandate, but these proceedings proceeding marked the first time an appeals court has heard the merits of one of those cases.
Religious Leaders Band Together to Support Believers in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria
(WNS)--A broad coalition of religious leaders and organizations announced in early May a pledge of solidarity and call to action for American Christians to stand with persecuted communities in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria. “The targeting of religious minorities in the Middle East is heart-breaking, and we should respond with a combination of tears and anger,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals during a press conference on Capitol Hill. Reps. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., co-chairs of the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, hosted the event and urged American believers to pray, give, and advocate on behalf of suffering Christians. They also called on the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to create a State Department special envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia, which the House has twice passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.
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