Daily Archives

March 13, 2018

Christian Foster Parents Lose Kids over Easter Bunny. Court Disagrees.

Canadian couple celebrate religious freedom victory: “We knew … God would take care of us.” An Ontario judge ruled this week that a foster agency violated a Protestant couple’s religious freedom rights when it opted to remove two children from their home and ban them from fostering over their refusal to teach about the Easter Bunny. Frances and Derek Baars didn’t grow up learning about the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, and didn’t want to lie about the fictional figures to the 3- and 4-year-old sisters in their care. Their convictions, based on Christian beliefs, raised concerns among the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) of Hamilton—which took the children away from the Baars with just a day’s notice, citing the couple’s refusal to respect the girls’ cultural traditions. As committed members of a small Presbyterian denomination, the Baars assumed there would be instances where their values wouldn’t line up with CAS, a government-approved, secular organization that they knew placed kids with same-sex parents and supported gender transition for youth. But they never anticipated what happened back in 2016. “If someone had told us then that the Easter Bunny and Santa would team up against us, we would have asked what they…

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Why Didn’t God Make You More Beautiful?

The glorious gospel needs ordinary people. Perhaps you are one of the blessed few who are entirely content with their appearance. Perhaps you never stand in front of the mirror, as I did this morning, wondering as you take in the image before you, “Why didn’t God improve on that?” While we’re at it, why didn’t God make you smarter? Stronger? More creative? More insightful? More wonderful in every way? If, like some irritating friends of mine, you happen to be reasonably good-looking, talented, prosperous, healthy, and happy, asking such questions could seem downright greedy. But lots of us are obviously lacking in one or more of these zones. Or so it would seem. But in the kingdom of God, things are not always as they appear. Jesus is pausing with his disciples in the region of Caesarea Philippi. He asks them how he is currently viewed by the populace, and the response seems very promising: “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:14). One would think a rabbi couldn’t do any better, but Jesus then asks the disciples their opinion. Peter, one of those keen pupils who instantly…

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InterVarsity Back on Campus After Suing Wayne State

Michigan university had kicked out student ministry over requiring leaders to hold Christian beliefs. Just two days after InterVarsity Christian Fellowship filed a lawsuit against Wayne State University, the Detroit school decided to let the chapter regain its official status on campus once again—one of the quickest initial victories in a string of legal battles over Christian groups at public colleges. Last year, InterVarsity lost its recognition as a student group at Wayne State, the third-largest school in Michigan, over requirements that its leaders affirm the organization’s Christian beliefs. The school viewed the belief requirement as a violation of its nondiscrimination policy. InterVarsity sued on Tuesday, claiming religious discrimination; other student groups allowed on campus similarly ask leaders to share certain core values. Wayne State ultimately re-certified the student ministry on Thursday. “We’re so glad that Wayne State is letting us back on campus,” said Cristina Garza, former president and current member of Wayne State’s InterVarsity chapter, which dates back 75 years and is one of the oldest in the country. “We hope the school will make this change permanent, so no other students have to go through what we’ve been through over the last six months.” InterVarsity is all…

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How Christian Faith Led a Single Woman to Defy Chairman Mao

Lin Zhao’s faith led her to embrace China's Communist movement—then pay the ultimate price for opposing it. Nelson Mandela. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Martin Luther King Jr. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. When we think of 20th-century political dissidents who were people of faith, these are the names that spring to mind. And for good reason: These men left an indelible mark on humanity with their resolve and fortitude, their eloquent words, and their profound wrestling with what it meant to oppose injustice. Now, thanks to the research of historian Lian Xi, we have a new name to add to the list: Lin Zhao, the only Chinese citizen known to have openly and steadfastly opposed communism under Mao Zedong. Lian Xi, a professor of world Christianity at Duke Divinity School, has written extensively about China’s modern encounter with Christianity. His first book, The Conversion of Missionaries (1997), is a critical study of American Protestant missions in early 20th-century China. His second book, Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China (2010), examines the transformation of missionary Christianity into a lively, indigenous Chinese faith. Lian began researching the life of Lin Zhao in 2012, and he received a copy of her prison writings…

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