Support for LGBTQ people across the country has fallen, according to a national survey indexing attitudes toward the community. It is the first time in the survey’s four-year history to register a decline. The Harris Poll, which has been tracking public opinion and social sentiment since 1963, was commissioned by LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD four years ago to annually survey attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. This year’s online survey included 2,160 adult participants, 1,897 of which identified as “non-LGBTQ.”


The survey’s results indicated a significant decrease in comfort among heterosexual people in personal situations relating to LGBTQ identity. These situations included “learning a family member is LGBTQ,” “learning my child’s teacher is LGBTQ” and “learning my doctor is LGBTQ.” Thirty percent of non-LGBTQ respondents reported they would be either “very uncomfortable” or “somewhat uncomfortable” if they learned a family member was LGBTQ. This is up from both 2015 and 2016’s findings, when 27 percent of non-LGBTQ respondents reported they would be uncomfortable on some level.


Thirty-one percent of non-LGBTQ respondents said they would be uncomfortable with their child having an LGBTQ teacher. This is the highest level of discomfort reported in the Harris Poll’s history, with 30 percent expressing discomfort in 2014, 29 percent in 2015 and 28 percent in 2016. A meaningful shift from “allies” to “detached supporters” was also recorded in the survey. The survey defines “allies” as “non-LGBTQ respondents who were either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ comfortable in all situations” involving LGBTQ identity, and “detached supporters” as “non-LGBTQ respondents whose comfort level varied across situations.”


Last year, 53 percent of respondents were “allies,” while 33 percent were “detached supporters.” This year, 51 percent were “allies,” while 35 percent were “detached supporters.” “Resisters,” defined as “non-LGBTQ respondents who were either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ uncomfortable in all situations” involving LGBTQ identity, remained steady at 14 percent. Perhaps most disturbing is the noted uptick in the number of LGBTQ respondents reporting having experienced discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In this latest survey, the number jumped to 55 percent, an 11-point jump from last year.


“In the past year, there has been a swift and alarming erosion of acceptance which can only be fought by being visible and vocal,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement sent to NBC News. “This report puts numbers to the bias that too many LGBTQ Americans have recently experienced.” In a statement included within the report, Ellis said the decline in LGBTQ support “can be seen as a dangerous repercussion in the tenor of discourse and experience over the last year. 2017 brought heightened rhetoric toward marginalized communities to the forefront of American culture.”


“Policies and headlines that were anti-LGBTQ including the President’s proposed ban on transgender people entering the U.S. military, confirmation of a Supreme Court justice opposed to marriage equality, and the passage of a state law in Mississippi which allows businesses to legally deny service to LGBTQ families,” Ellis wrote. The GLAAD/Harris Poll findings followed a new report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs that found anti-LGBTQ homicides nearly doubled in 2017 compared to 2016. The organization, which has been tracking hate-violence homicides since 1996, found 52 LGBTQ people were killed last year as a result of hate violence.


“This report is a wake-up call for all of us,” Beverly Tillery, executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which coordinates the NCAVP, said. “Our communities live in an increasingly hostile and dangerous climate.” The GLAAD/Harris Poll findings and the NCAVP report are concurrent with a rise in hate crimes in general, which rose 5 percent in 2016, compared to the year before, as reported by the FBI. Of the 6,063 incidents involving 7,509 victims the FBI analysed, 17 percent were targeted for their sexual orientation. Of the 17 percent, most of the victims were gay men.


Source: NBC News

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Following a horrific terror attack in Southern France, the police officer who took the place of a hostage and was subsequently killed, was a practicing Christian. In a tactical move, Col. Beltrame left his phone on as he entered the supermarket so that his colleagues could hear any conversation between him and the terrorist. Tragically, he was shot in the neck by jihadist Radouane Lakdim prior to police storming the supermarket and fatally shooting the Moroccan-born Frenchman. In an interview with the BBC, Beltrame’s brother Cedric explained how Col. Beltrame knew he “didn’t have a chance,” adding that his heroic actions went “beyond the call of duty.”


“He gave his life for strangers,” Cedric said. “He must have known that he didn’t really have a chance. If that doesn’t make him a hero, I don’t know what would.” “Arnaud Beltrame died in the service of the nation to which he had already given so much,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. “In giving his life to end the deadly plan of a jihadi terrorist, he fell as a hero.” Beltrame had served in Iraq in 2005 and was the recipient of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest military award. The 45-year-old was a devout Catholic, having “experienced a genuine conversion” in 2008, according to the Catholic Herald.


Fr. Dominique Arz, national chaplain of the gendarmerie, explained to French Catholic magazine, Famille Chretienne. “The fact is that he did not hide his faith, and that he radiated it, he bore witness to it. We can say that his act of self-offering is consistent with what he believed. He served his country to the very end, and bore witness to his faith to the very end.” Beltrame and his fiancee, Marielle, were preparing for their Catholic marriage ceremony when he was killed in the line of duty, Fr. Jean-Baptiste, a pastor at the Mother of God of Lagrasse Abbey, said in a statement.


Fr. Jean-Baptiste went on to explain his friendship with the couple and Beltrame’s conversion, saying that the officer was proud to put all his hope and trust in Jesus Christ. “Intelligent, sporty, voluble and lively, Arnaud spoke readily of his conversion,” Fr. Jean-Baptiste continued. “Born into a family with little practice, he experienced a genuine conversion around 2008, at almost 33 years old. He received First Communion and Confirmation after two years of catechumenate, in 2010.” The priest also explained the motivation that was likely to have driven Beltrame’s decision to voluntarily place himself in such a perilous situation.


“By substituting himself for the hostages, he was probably motivated by a commitment to gallantry as an officer, because for him, being a policeman meant protecting,” he said. “But he knew the incredible risk that he was taking.” “Was he right to take such a risk?” asked the priest. “It seems to me that only his faith can explain his sacrifice which is today the admiration of all. He knew, as Jesus told us, that ‘There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15.13). He knew that if his life began to belong to Marielle, it was also to God, to France, to his brothers in danger of death. Only a Christian faith animated by charity could ask for this level of sacrifice.


“His astonishing heroism will, I believe, inspire many imitators, ready to give of themselves to France and her Christian joy, he added. Beltrame’s mother said that when she heard the news that a police officer had placed himself in harm’s way to save a member of the public, she immediately “knew it was him.” “He’s always been like that,” she explained. “He is someone who would do anything for his country.” The chief of French police, Richard Lizurey echoed these messages of heroism. “It’s an heroic act, in fact an exceptional act, carried out in the heat of action. We are proud. Proud to have counted Arnaud Beltrame among us.”


Source: Faithwire

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‘For the first time since ISIS drove all Christians from Iraq’s Nineveh Plain in 2014, the Christian town of Qaraqosh has celebrated Palm Sunday after many families returned. Thousands of Iraqi Christians walked through the streets of the ancient town, waving palm branches; praying, singing and remembering the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ. Their chorus: “King of kings and Lord of Lords. Glory! Hallelujah!” Amidst all this, we spoke with a 25-year-old teacher named Andraws. His message to all Christians was clear: “Do not lose hope. Two and a half years we were displaced and we almost lost hope. But we are here again, because of Jesus and our hope in Him,” he said.


Standing with thousands of Christians, Andraws added: “The Christians have returned to Qaraqosh!” Andraws and his family joined the march that ended with an open air service outside St. John’s Church. The roof of the church served as a pulpit for the Church leaders, proclaiming the gospel, reading the Bible and leading the crowd gathered in worship and singing Hosanna. Andraws who teaches in Qaraqosh’s recently reopened school, said: “Today is the start of Easter week. We are very excited about it. I’m glad we can celebrate Palm Sunday again in our city. Praise God! Three years ago, something like that would never have happened, when we were displaced.”


After renovating their house last spring, Andraws and his family moved back to Qaraqosh. In their freshly painted living room, his father shows us a video from his first visit to the house after the town was liberated from ISIS. Everything of value was gone or completely destroyed, ISIS fighters had ransacked and looted the place completely. He shares how Palm Sunday is traditionally a huge celebration in Qaraqosh, drawing Christians from all over the region to join. “You can go anywhere in the world and you’ll not find Palm Sunday celebrated like here.”


The young teacher told of how his faith changed after ISIS forced him and his family out of their town, leaving almost everything they owned behind because they refused to renounce their faith in Christ. “During the first days we were displaced, I felt like there was no God  because of the things that happened to us. But after that, I realized that Jesus does exist and we have to believe in Him. Because of Him, we are here today.” He is glad that Christians all over the world will be celebrating Easter this year. “I feel that we are connected with each other. Please have hope because you never know what the future will bring. Today we are here again, because of Jesus.”



Source: Open Doors

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During this time of Easter celebration, remember to pray for those who have not come to the revelation of our Saviour Jesus Christ! “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9)  A Palm Sunday poll for the BBC found that “Fewer than one-in-three Christians in Britain believe ‘word-for-word’ the biblical story of Jesus rising from the dead, with another 41 percent believing some sections should not be taken literally. But it also found 23 percent of those calling themselves Christians ‘do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead’ at all.”


When presented with figures like this, what should the reaction be? Outrage at the growing stream of secularism within religion? Excitement that a major British newspaper is talking about Christianity? My first response is puzzlement. If you don’t believe in the resurrection, but still identify as Christian, then what exactly do you believe? And how can those beliefs still be called “Christian”? A word that’s been around as long as the word “Christian” has had plenty of time to collect lots of baggage. Like a broom running along the floor of history, much has been swept into the flow of “Christian” that really has nothing to do with Jesus, the Bible or Christianity.


Christian is a label for something: “Christian Media”, “Christian Clothing”, even “Christian Dieting”. Some of this is marketing. Some is description. Much is vague connotation. To find out what really makes a “Christian”, we have to go to the one called Christ. It’s not our cultural definitions but his eternal words that can truly mark what Christianity is all about. Jesus himself says, in Luke 9:22 that he must die and be raised on the third day. Paul definitively writes in 1 Corinthians 15:17: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Effectively, without the resurrection of Jesus, we have no hope.


Imagine if the headline read “A Quarter of Atheists Believe in God”. We’d be baffled. To be an atheist means to not believe in God. That’s what it means. If an atheist believes in God then he is no longer an atheist! Stating that isn’t judgmental or narrow minded, it’s an acknowledgement of facts.


Source: CBN Europe

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An Ontario court has ruled a Christian couple’s rights were violated when the government closed their foster home for refusing to tell their foster kids about the Easter Bunny. The kids’ social worker told the court she was paying a visit to the house in April 2017 when she told Derek and Frances Baars that it was their duty to tell the kids about the Easter Bunny. The Baars said they would have the kids participate in other holiday activities, but telling children in their care that a fake character was real was a violation of their religious beliefs. Shortly after, the two girls were then taken away and their foster home was closed.


The couple took the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton to court a year later. Now the Canadian Press reports Superior Court Judge A.J. Goodman has ruled in favour of the Baars, saying their religious rights were violated. Derek Baars said, “Many Christians have been praying for us and so behind the actions of the judge, for which we’re very thankful, we see the hand of God to direct him in the judgment.” The couple is now hoping to adopt a child and hopes this ruling will help the outcome of that process.


Source: CBN News

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has held a historic meeting at Egypt’s largest cathedral with Coptic Pope Tawadros II. While it’s unknown what the pair discussed, speaking to Egyptian media after the meeting, the Pope said: “Prince Mohammed spoke a lot of his affection for the Copts.” He said the heir to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia also invited him and all Copts to visit his country.  The talks are being seen as part of a softening of Saudi Arabia’s ultra-conservative Muslim position.  Egypt has been hit by a series of church attacks by groups linked to Islamic State in recent years. A bombing near to the cathedral where the meeting took place saw 25 people killed in 2016. Prince Mohammed is carrying out a series of foreign visits.





Source: Premier News Service

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