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Rwanda Weeds the Church Plants

Thousands of churches closed in attempt to curb bad buildings—and bad preaching.

Authorities have closed more than 7,000 churches across Rwanda, including 714 in the capital city of Kigali, in the span of two months for failing to comply with health, safety, and noise regulations.

Underscoring the seriousness of the campaign, a lightning strike killed 16 worshipers and injured 140 at a Seventh-day Adventist church that had not installed a mandated lightning rod.

Lawmakers are now debating new regulations in an attempt to prevent fraudulent behavior among the East African nation’s mushrooming churches.

President Paul Kagame welcomed the shutdowns but was stunned at the scale: “700 churches in Kigali?” he said during a government dialogue in March. “Are these boreholes that give people water? I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? This has been a mess!”

Kagame said his country doesn’t need so many houses of worship, explaining that such a high number is only fit for bigger, more developed economies that have the means to sustain them.

Many church leaders disagree, and six Pentecostal pastors were arrested for organizing protests. Rwandan authorities maintain the churches were in such poor physical condition that they threatened the lives of churchgoers.

The majority are small Pentecostal gatherings. Many are shepherded by charismatic preachers who draw followers with promises of signs and wonders. Often, such churches meet in houses, tents, or crude structures that lack adequate water systems. They often blast sermons down streets through megaphones and loudspeakers.

The existing law on civil society organizations permits Rwandans to open churches and register after a period of months and doesn’t require pastors to go through ...

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Nigerian Mass Becomes a Massacre: Herdsmen Kill 18 Worshipers, Adding to Hundreds of Victims

‘Vile, evil, and satanic’ attacks by Fulani now outnumber Boko Haram, one of the world's deadliest terror groups.

An attack on morning Mass at a Catholic church in central Nigeria yesterday left 2 priests and at least 16 parishioners dead, adding to the hundreds killed by herders in the region so far this year.

Police suspect Fulani herdsmen were responsible for the shooting rampage at Saint Ignatius Catholic Church in Mbalom, where about 30 attackers also ransacked a burial ceremony and burnt dozens of homes in the community, according to reports.

“The herdsmen burnt nearly 50 houses during the attack and sacked the entire community,” said Terver Akase, a police spokesman. “We expect arrests to be made because they are becoming more brazen.”

The village is located in Nigeria’s Benue state, in the tense “Middle Belt” between the nation’s predominantly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

In areas like Benue, most of the settled farmers living there are Christian. The Fulani herdsmen, mostly Muslim, are semi-nomadic and fighting for land and resources.

While Boko Haram militants have waged attacks on Christians and others in Nigeria for years, intensifying to become the deadliest terror group in the world, the clashes with the Fulani have become “more deadly than the Boko Haram jihadist insurgency that has ravaged Nigeria’s northeast and is becoming a key issue in the upcoming 2019 presidential polls,” The Guardian reported.

“Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil, and satanic,” said Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s current president and a Muslim (the nation alternates between Muslim and Christian heads of state), “it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into ...

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80% of Americans Believe in God. Pew Found Out What They Mean.

Does God talk to you? Has God punished you? Here’s how denomination, gender, and political party relate to how we see the divine.

“We believe in God,” Amy Grant famously sang in the ’90s. Today, 4 out of 5 Americans still say the same.

But according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, what they mean by God varies a lot.

Pastors and theologians often warn Christians against ascribing to a “God of their own making,” knowing that not all who say they believe understand God as described in Scripture or in the traditional creeds of the church.

In the shifting spiritual landscape of the United States, Christians too can no longer assume that their friends and neighbors believe in the God of the Bible, if they believe in God at all.

Though God regularly gets evoked in prayer, platitudes, and phrases like “God bless America” and “in God we trust,” Americans—even within Christianity—have different conceptions of who God is and how he operates. Does God judge? Does God love all? Does God control what happens on Earth?

A Pew survey released today found that how people view God—and how they believe God interacts with them—shifts by religious affiliation, gender, and political party.

Even in an era where more of the nation doesn’t ascribe to a higher power at all (10%) or believes in some sort of higher power or spiritual force (33%), a slim majority of Americans (56%) still believe in God “as described in the Bible,” according to the Pew report.

What Protestants, Catholics, and Jews Believe About God

But even belief in a biblical God can lead to different conclusions.

Take two of the “People of the Book”: Christians and Jews. American Christians (80%) are most likely to believe in a biblical God, a minority position among Jews (33%). A majority of American ...

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Community Home Offers ‘Boot Camp’ for Pregnant Moms

How a residential program in Virginia goes beyond crisis pregnancy aid.

In the living room at Carried to Full Term (CTFT), a residential home for mothers in Haymarket, Virginia, seven-month-old Fabia crawls toward her mother, stretches out her arms, and whimpers. Her mother, Samrawit (Sam) Biru, obliges and picks her up. The two touch heads for a moment, like a mother lion and cub. This is their home—at least for now.

In October 2017, while pregnant with Fabia, Biru moved from Ethiopia to Virginia and was living in the US on asylum when she found herself homeless. She moved into CTFT before giving birth. (Her immigration case is still pending, and her husband—still overseas—hopes to join her when her status is approved.) Even if she’d been able to return to her native country, says Biru, she wouldn’t have gone. She wanted to stay in the US and build a new life. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing long-term residential support to pregnant mothers in crisis, CTFT has helped her do just that.

Unlike a pregnancy clinic that only offers medical care, CTFT focuses on the entire well-being of the women who stay, many for up to two years. What makes it unique is also what makes it a challenge for the women who live there: The home operates like a boot camp for moms.

“The Program,” as staff and residents call it, albeit half tongue-in-cheek, is a set of strict but often-personalized covenants that are put in place for the good of the residents, the resident coordinator, and the 32 volunteers who help implement them.

“The guidelines are there to facilitate change,” says Frances Robin, or “Franie,” the executive director of CTFT. At 5′10″, the Caribbean-born, Jesus-loving mother of four is a formidable presence in ...

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