This is the International Christian Herald podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to CBN, A house church in India’s Chhattisgarh state was reportedly attacked by a mob of 200 radical Hindu nationalists earlier this month, leaving two Christians with serious injuries. International Christian Concern (ICC) reports the brutal attack started when a radical named Sanjith Ng barged into a worship service taking place in Odagoan village on Jan. 9. After entering the church, Ng attacked members of the congregation, beating on them, and then dragged Pastor Hemanth Kandapan outside where a mob was waiting. Villagers said the crowd beat Kandapan and another Christian named Sankar Salam so badly that both were hospitalized with severe internal injuries. During the attack, the mob cursed the Christians and accused them of illegally converting Hindus to Christianity. The pair were told they would be killed if they continued to hold prayer events in the village. “I was under house arrest for nearly nine hours,” Kandapan told ICC. “All through that time I was hackled and abused by the mob even in the presence of the police.”
According to the Associated Press, The Vatican secretary of state and his deputy have both tested positive for the coronavirus, Vatican officials said Tuesday. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who serves as the Vatican’s secretary of state and the pope’s No. 2, has “very light” symptoms, while Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra is asymptomatic, officials said. There was no immediate comment on their last contact with Pope Francis. It wasn’t clear if Francis has received a booster shot, which has been administered to his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. These are the first cases of COVID-19 confirmed so high up in the Vatican hierarchy since the pandemic began.
According to the Daily Mail, A UK Christian pastor has said a ‘homophobic’ tweet about gay pride being harmful was ‘born out of love’ as he sues his ex-employer for constructive dismissal. Keith Waters, who is a minister at an evangelical church, claims he was forced out of his job as a caretaker at a secular primary school after making the tweet in 2019. The 55-year-old said the tweet, which he later deleted, was an expression of a ‘Christian viewpoint’ on LGBTQ Pride events. He wrote on Twitter on June 1, 2019: ‘A reminder that Christians should not support or attend LGBTQ ‘Pride Month’ events held in June. ‘They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. They are especially harmful to children.’ Social media users accused him of homophobia and parents wrote to his school in Ely, Cambridgeshire, to complain about his views. But Waters, who is married and has a daughter, told an employment tribunal yesterday his tweet was ‘born out of love’. He is suing Active Learning Trust, which runs Isle of Ely Primary School, for direct and indirect discrimination, and constructive dismissal.
According to Religion News Service, In a decree signed Jan. 5, the Vatican tightened its COVID-19 regulations by requiring the use of FFP2 masks (similar to N95 masks) inside and making vaccinations and booster shots mandatory for employees and visitors wishing to enter the Vatican Museums and gardens. The Governorate of Vatican City State issued a decree in early January requiring the use of FFP2 masks in “all closed spaces” as well as any other type of mask while outside, in accord with health regulations in most parts of Italy. In an attached document, the Vatican also issued fines for people who do not respect the new regulations. Local media reported the fines range from over $28 to more than $1,700 for employees who fail to wear the FFP2 masks, don’t respect social distancing or don’t follow quarantine measures. Vaccinated people who have come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 will have to self-isolate for five days and take a rapid test, or not at all if they received the second dose or booster within 120 days. Starting Jan. 31 every Vatican employee — not just health workers and those who come into contact with the public — will be required to present a “green pass,” proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19. And at that time restrictions will become stricter for the unvaccinated. While there are very few who have not received the vaccine at the Vatican, Article 4 of the decree states unvaccinated employees will be considered absent without pay, which may eventually result in losing their position.
According to the Guardian, Hillsong church will not be fined by police over a New South Wales youth camp where congregants were filmed singing and dancing, despite the state’s health minister saying the event was “clearly in breach of both the spirit and intent” of public health orders. The church apologised on Friday for “giving any perception that we were not playing our part to keep New South Wales safe” after footage of its annual youth summer camp near Newcastle provoked widespread outrage amid the state’s Covid case numbers. They faced paying fines up to $55,000. New South Wales police said officers had attended the event and spoken with organisers, but would not issue a fine. “Following discussions with organisers and after consultation with New South Wales Health, no infringement will be issued,” acting assistant commissioner Peter Glynn said in a statement on Friday. The church confirmed it had been instructed by New South Wales Health to “cease congregant and student singing and dancing” at the camp, and had immediately done so.
According to the Roys Report, The elders at a Mexican church found out their pastor groomed multiple girls and molested at least one. After they confronted him, the pastor suddenly fled to Canada, calling the elders on the way to confess to adultery, too. The elders formally banned him from the church and documented the allegations in a letter to other churches, which The Roys Report has obtained. Yet the pastor, David Alves Sr., is now believed to be ministering at churches in a different part of Mexico and through an online ministry with his son. Documents also show it took years for his sending church in Vancouver, Canada—Victoria Drive Gospel Hall—to acknowledge the extent of Alves’s misconduct. At least one church leader reportedly asserted that Alves was simply a victim of “character assassination.” And one former member of the Canadian sending church says he was banned after pushing for an accounting of Alves’ actions. The Canadian church did not respond after The Roys Report reached out repeatedly for comment for this story. But elders with the Mexican church confirmed the ban they placed on Alves — and the reason for it — when TRR called them for comment.
According to Religion News Service, An Indian court on Friday acquitted a Roman Catholic bishop of charges of raping a nun in her rural convent, a case that became a major issue amid allegations of sexual harassment in the church. Sessions Judge G. Gopakumar in a brief order said the bishop was not guilty of charges that he repeatedly raped the nun between 2014 and 2016. Bishop Franco Mulakkal was present in the court in Kottayam, a southern Indian city. Supporters cheered and chanted “Praise the Lord” as he left the court. The detailed judgment is likely to become available later Friday. The prosecution, representing the nun, will appeal the verdict, said lawyer Sandhya Raju.
In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!