By Christy Barritt
Sudan Bans Construction of Christian Churches
The Sudanese government has banned the construction of any and all Christian churches in the country.
The Sudanese Minister for Guidance and Religious Endowments, Shalil Abdullah, said that existing churches in the Republic of Sudan are sufficient for the nation’s minority Christians. The government has also confiscated church land and demolished other churches in the Muslim-dominated country.
Many religious groups have expressed concern about the poor treatment of Christians in the country and predict this problem will only continue growing worse. Sudan ranked 11 on Open Door’s 2014 World Watch list, which brings to light the countries where Christians face the most persecution.
“I Am Second” Changes Lives
“I Am Second” is a ministry that posts web videos featuring testimonies by famous actors, athletes, and musicians, as well as ordinary people. It’s designed to help people find purpose in life through Christ.
The ministry is changing people—even those from within the organization. Director of Student Initiatives for “I Am Second,” David Martin, admitted that before these videos he had a whole list of excuses for not sharing the gospel with individuals one-on-one, including the fact that he was an introvert. After being convicted, he started going to the waiting room of a local hospital once a month. He asked those whose loved ones were undergoing life-threatening surgeries if they wanted coffee. He oftentimes had the opportunity to pray with others and engage in spiritual conversations.
Martin said he’s found a lot of contentment while putting himself second and God first, which is the aim of the video series.
Social Views Lead to Lawsuit
A nurse is suing a Florida health center, claiming officials there refused to hire her due to her opposition to certain forms of birth control and her pro-life views.
Sara Hellwege applied for a nurse-midwife position at the health center, but the clinic allegedly cited her membership with a pro-life organization as a reason she wasn’t eligible for the job.
According to emails between Hellwege and the clinic, the director of human resources for the center said that because they were a Title X organization and Hellwege was a member of a pro-life group, they were unable to move forward in the interviewing process.
The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Hellwege. Lawyers with the firm said that Hellwege’s First Amendment rights were trampled, and a lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court.
IRS Agrees to Monitor Churches for Electioneering
As part of a settlement reached with an atheist group, the Internal Revenue Service has agreed to monitor churches and other houses of worship to ensure they aren’t electioneering.
The initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist advocacy group. The suit alleged that the IRS routinely ignored complaints by the FFRF and others about churches that were promoting religious candidates, issues, or proposed legislation.
As part of their tax-exempt status, churches and other religious groups are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activity. The IRS maintained that it was not ignoring complaints of electioneering, but the organization never hired an official to investigate church politicking, which it had been ordered to do as the result of another lawsuit in 2009.
Christy Barritt is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and speaker living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband Scott have two sons.