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Christians Standing in the Way of China, 12/18/18, “Christians ‘Standing in the Way’ of China’s Xi Jinping’s Totalitarian Rule” [Excerpts]: It was 40 years ago that China opened its doors to the world and launched a series of ambitious reforms that would create one of the world’s largest economic engines.

“December 18, 1978, was an important day to be remembered in the history of the Chinese nation,” Xi added, saying that it marked the “start of a great journey of reform....”

But unlike Deng Xiaoping, who helped launch the country’s reforms and wanted to reduce the power and influence of the Communist Party over civil society, China’s current leader believes in the absolute power of the Party and wants his government to exert control over every aspect of Chinese life.

Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has severely cracked down on human rights, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. Christians are experiencing some of the worst persecution in decades.

“Under President Xi, the government has further tightened control over Christianity in its broad efforts to ‘Sinicize’ religion or ‘adopt Chinese characteristics’....In other words, to ensure that religious groups support the government and the Communist Party.”


Threat of America’s New Political Religions, 12/12/18, “‘The Great Awokening’: The Threat of America’s New Political Religions” [Excerpts]: The decline of religion in America is real—that is, depending on how you define “religion.” 

Weekly church attendance is in decline, as is self-identification with a formal religion, denomination, or belief system. Meanwhile, the rise of the “nones” seems increasingly steady in speed, replacing religious-cultural standards and norms of old with a modern menu of “personal spiritualities” based on any number of humanistic priorities—from humanitarianism to political activism to self-helpism to the garden-variety exultations of hedonism, materialism, and comfortability.

In a striking essay, Andrew Sullivan explores the phenomenon and its deleterious effects, reminding us that the decline in Western Christianity has not meant a decline in “religiosity” after all....“We’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion,” Sullivan writes. “It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults. Like almost all new cultish impulses, they see no boundary between politics and their religion.” 

As a result, Sullivan argues, the Great Awakening of America’s past has been replaced by a “Great Awokening” of sorts. On the left, we see the growth of an identitarian shame culture, with “social justice” and “fairness” as its supposed ends. Those who violate its dogmas are deemed heretics, dealt with only by coercions into “public demonstrations of shame” or outright cultural banishment. Likewise, on the Right, we see a vigorous opposition that opts for the same sort of intellectual overreach, elevating a narrow nationalism and isolationism to religious heights, conflating Christian witness with political control, and purging those who disagree.

In each case, we see political orthodoxies asserting themselves much like they always have. This time, however, there’s a religious vacuum to be filled, allowing them to masquerade as causes “bigger than ourselves.” Unfortunately, and quite ironically, our selves are still firmly at the forefront.


Discrimination Against Christians In Egypt, 1/7/19, “‘Christian Family, Church Devastated by Killing of Church Elder in Nigeria” [Excerpts]: Ladi Yakubu does not know how her family will eat after Muslim Fulani herdsmen destroyed crops on their farm in Kaduna state, Nigeria on Nov. 26 and shot and killed her husband.

The 49-year-old Yakubu, a member of the Dogo Awo village congregation of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in north-central Nigeria, said she knew the gunmen were Fulani herdsmen [who] lived near the village for several years.

The armed herdsmen left the area, she said, but the next morning they returned and destroyed crops, water-pumping machines for irrigation, herbicide sprayers and even the food warmers the family had taken to the farm, she said.

Every morning during family devotionals, she said, her husband would instruct them never to repay evil with evil.