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Mob in Pakistani city torches Christian homes

Mob in Pakistani city torches Christian homes | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
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LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Hundreds of people in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore ransacked a Christian neighborhood Saturday and torched dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against Islam's prophet, said a police officer.

Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim and people of other faiths, including the nation's small Christian community, are often viewed with suspicion.

The incident started Friday when a young Muslim man accused a Christian man of committing blasphemy by making offensive comments about the prophet, according to Multan Khan, a senior police officer in Lahore.

A large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the Christian man's home on Friday night, and Khan said police took him into custody to try to pacify the crowd. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.

Khan said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze. He said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area.

But Akram Gill, a local bishop in the Lahore Christian community said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between two men — one Christian and one Muslim — than blasphemy. He said the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback.

He said the Christian community handed over to police the accused man, identified by police and Gill as Sawan Masih, when police came to the neighborhood to investigate. Then the Christians all locked up their houses and went to relatives in other areas. He said the mob Saturday morning was armed with hammers and steel rods and broke into houses, ransacked two churches and burned Bibles and crosses.

"Poor people were living here. They have lost all of their belongings," he said. "Where can they go now?"

The scene was chaotic. An Associated Press photographer said roughly 50 homes and a small church were set on fire. One man was seen carrying a dog and some puppies from a burning house. Refrigerators, washing and sewing machines, cooking pots, beds and other household goods were ripped from homes, smashed and torched in the streets.

One Christian couple from the neighborhood said they went to their Muslim neighbors' house on Friday night after people came looking for the Christian man accused of blasphemy. Ishaq Masih said the Muslim neighbors sheltered the couple for the night and then gave them money to leave the area in the morning.

Such accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan can prompt huge crowds to take the law into their own hands. Once an accusation is made it's extremely difficult to get it reversed, partly because law enforcement officials do not want to be seen as being soft on blasphemers.

Speaking out against the blasphemy laws can put people in danger. Two prominent politicians were assassinated in 2011 for urging reform of the law. The killer of one of the politicians was hailed as a hero, and lawyers at his legal appearances showered him with rose petals.

According to Human Rights Watch, there are at least 16 people on death row for blasphemy and another 20 are serving life sentences.

Last year there was a rare reversal of a blasphemy case. A teenage Christian girl with suspected mental disabilities was accused of burning pages of the Quran. But she was later released after a huge domestic and international outcry about her treatment. A local cleric where she lived was arrested and accused of planting the pages in her bag to incriminate her, a rare example of the accuser facing legal consequences. However, he was later freed on bail.

While Muslims are frequently accused of blasphemy, members of Pakistan's small Christian community are especially vulnerable to the accusations, said the head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zora Yusuf. Only in Christian cases will violent mobs punish the entire community for the perceived crime of one Christian.

She said often these blasphemy cases are personal grudges or disputes masquerading as religious fervor.

"Most of the time there are other motives involved," she said, such as scaring off Christian residents to grab their property.

Also on Saturday, four people were killed and 25 were wounded when a bomb exploded inside a mosque of the Sunni Barelvi sect in the northwestern city of Peshawar. The bomb was planted in a bookshelf inside the mosque and was detonated by remote control when noon prayers started, said senior police officer Imtiaz Khan.

Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has been the site of several terrorist attacks in recent months. The city is surrounded by lawless tribal regions where al-Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban have hideouts.

The Pakistani military has carried out several operations in the area, but intermittent terrorist attacks continue.

__

Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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Boy Scouts Were Pressured by Corporate Sponsors to Change Policy on Gays

Boy Scouts Were Pressured by Corporate Sponsors to Change Policy on Gays | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Pressure from corporate sponsors may be the critical factor in a decision by the Boy Scouts of America to change policy to include homosexual scouts, volunteers and leaders.
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John Kerry Condemns Iran's Imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini

John Kerry Condemns Iran's Imprisonment of Pastor Saeed Abedini | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
John Kerry, who has been confirmed as the next U.S. Secretary of State, has condemned Iran for its imprisonment of U.S. Pastor Saeed Abedini in comments made on Tuesday.
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Paradoxes for Women

Paradoxes for Women | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
What is the 'Christian life' all about? Studying the Bible, attending church, cultivating a prayer life, witnessing to others---those are all good. But is that really what Jesus has in mind? The answer, says Scot McKnight in One.
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Boy Scouts Consider Ending Its Policy Banning Gay Members and Troop Leaders | TIME.com

Boy Scouts Consider Ending Its Policy Banning Gay Members and Troop Leaders | TIME.com | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
After years of resisting calls for it to drop its opposition to gay members and troop leaders, the Boy Scouts of America may finally — slowly — be changing its tune.
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The Old Republic and Obama's America

The Old Republic and Obama's America | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
"Second Term Begins With a Sweeping Agenda for Equality," ran the eight-column banner in which The Washington Post captured the essence of Obama's second inaugural.
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Iran’s Religious Crackdown

Iran’s Religious Crackdown | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Paul Marshall writes on NRO: As David French and my colleague Nina Shea have reported on The Corner, Iran has imprisoned and abused an American citizen, pastor Saeed Abedini and, following a trial on January 21, may sentence him to death.
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Researchers Rank Most, Least Megachurch-Oriented Cities in U.S.

Researchers Rank Most, Least Megachurch-Oriented Cities in U.S. | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
A new study reveals which U.S. cities have the highest and lowest concentration of megachurch attenders among the Christian population.
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Hundreds of thousands join record-breaking U.S. March for Life (93 PHOTOS: Updated) | LifeSiteNews.com

Hundreds of thousands join record-breaking U.S. March for Life (93 PHOTOS: Updated) | LifeSiteNews.com | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Many more photos have been added to the Flickr slide show. Sen. Rand Paul, House Speaker John Boehner, and a select group of politicians said the battle would continue at this year
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Army Removes Crosses, Steeple from Chapel

Army Removes Crosses, Steeple from Chapel | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
By Todd Starnes

The U.S. military ordered soldiers to remove a cross and a steeple from atop a chapel and to board up cross-shaped windows at a remote American forward operating base in Afghanistan.

FOLLOW TODD ON FACEBOOK FOR CULTURE WAR NEWS.
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Pastor Arrested for Kidnapping in Gay Custody Case - US - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com

Pastor Arrested for Kidnapping in Gay Custody Case - US - CBN News - Christian News 24-7 - CBN.com | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Pastor Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Va., was taken into federal custody Thursday for his role in a dispute between an ex-lesbian and her former gay partner.
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Apologetics 101–Christians Need to Know Why Jesus is the Only ...

Apologetics 101–Christians Need to Know Why Jesus is the Only ... | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
But before we can jump into topics like “Isn't It Arrogant and Immoral to Argue There Is Only ONE Way to God?” and “How Can Evil Co-Exist In A World with An All-Powerful, Loving God?”, we need to do a little ...
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Iran sentences American pastor Saeed Abedini to 8 years in prison

Iran sentences American pastor Saeed Abedini to 8 years in prison | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Christian pastor Saeed Abedini, an American imprisoned in Iran on charges of evangelizing, was sentenced this morning to eight years in prison.
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China's Christians see mounting persecution in country's effort to disband churches, report finds

China's Christians see mounting persecution in country's effort to disband churches, report finds | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Christians and house churches in China suffered a “serious comprehensive escalation” of government persecution last year, with a 42 percent rise in the number of cases, according to a new report.
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Christians in Syria Fleeing Country as Crisis Reaches 'Unprecedented Levels of Horror'

Christians in Syria Fleeing Country as Crisis Reaches 'Unprecedented Levels of Horror' | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
As the civil war in Syria has reached "unprecedented levels of horror," according to the U.N., Christians are being forced to flee their homes as avoiding the violent conflict has become less of an option.
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Amid Orthodox Christmas, Egypt's Christians fear for their rights ...

Amid Orthodox Christmas, Egypt's Christians fear for their rights ... | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
My Take: Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality · My Faith: Raising 'not too religious' kids · Rare look inside a Mormon temple · Reclaiming Jesus as Jewish · 4 big myths of Book of Revelation · Religion as justification for slavery ...
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Christian Leaders Support Senate's 'Gang of 8' Immigration Reforms

Christian Leaders Support Senate's 'Gang of 8' Immigration Reforms | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
A bipartisan group of senators, known as the "gang of eight," announced Monday an immigration reform agreement. Sen.
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To Bury or to Burn? Cremation in Christian Perspective

To Bury or to Burn? Cremation in Christian Perspective | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
I'd like to suggest Christians address this issue by considering three questions foundational to any ethical methodology.
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Women in combat move a 'tragic mistake,' Baptist leaders say -

Women in combat move a 'tragic mistake,' Baptist leaders say - | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Women in combat move a 'tragic mistake,' Baptist leaders say -
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March for Life Movement Counters Lack of News Coverage With Social Media

March for Life Movement Counters Lack of News Coverage With Social Media | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Participants in this year's March for Life, marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, seemed less bothered by the mainstream media's lack of coverage of the estimated half-million people descending on Washington, D.C.
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Most Bible-Minded City Is Knoxville, Tenn., Says ABS

Most Bible-Minded City Is Knoxville, Tenn., Says ABS | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Knoxville, Tenn., known for being the home of Dolly Parton and the Tennessee Valley Authority, was named number one on the American Bible Society's "Most Bible-Minded Cities" list.
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Supreme Court rejects atheist's appeal over 11-story Illinois cross

Supreme Court rejects atheist's appeal over 11-story Illinois cross | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a Buffalo Grove atheist's final appeal in his lawsuit challenging the use of state funds to renovate an 11-story cross atop southern Illinois' tallest peak, ending the legal dispute spanning more than two years.
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KNIGHT: Skirmish won in war for religious freedom

KNIGHT: Skirmish won in war for religious freedom | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
In a victory for religious freedom, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) won’t be able to make Catholic agencies fund abortions for sex-trafficking victims after all.
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Having to Choose - RedState

Having to Choose - RedState | Christian Times Record | Scoop.it
Having to Choose
RedState
The problem is that, for orthodox Christians, it is still a sin and the world is increasingly hostile to the idea that any sexual sin should be treated as sin. The world is opposed to ...
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