Thursday, August 18, 2011

Iran Seizes 6,500 Bibles to Stop 'Deceiving' Christian Missionaries

Iran has seized 6,500 copies of the Bible in northwest Iran in what appears to be the latest crackdown by Iranian authorities against Christianity in the country.

Few details are known about the seizure, however, Christian news agency, Mohabat News, reports that Dr. Majid Abhari, adviser to the social issues committee of the parliament in Iran stated, "These missionaries with reliance on huge money and propaganda are trying to deviate our youth."

In a government interview with Mehr news agency, Abhari explained that the Bibles were taken because of governmental concerns that Christian missionaries mean to "deceive" young Iranians with "false propaganda."

"The important point in this issue that should be considered by intelligence, judicial and religious agencies is that all religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam, otherwise what does this huge number of Bibles mean?" he told Mehr.

According to persecution advocacy group, Voice of the Martyrs, missionary work is banned in Iran, though Christian conversion has been growing in the majority Islamic country in recent years.

Conversion from Islam to another religion, known as apostasy, is also a crime in Iran, and offenders are often arrested and tried in court. Recent legislation is aiming to have the crime of apostasy punishable by death.


Meth Lab Busts Up 600 Percent Since Tenn. County Launched Prayer Rallies

Government and church leaders in Tennessee’s Scott County are attributing a surge in meth lab seizures and drug arrests to the power of prayer originating from monthly community rallies which began in April.

The first prayer rally held in early April was attended by 200 people on the lawn of the Huntsville courthouse and was planned by county officials as an annual event. However, when four meth labs were seized by law enforcement within the first week of the prayer event, the meetings became monthly.

Also, since the first meeting, 21 meth labs have been seized by police, an increase of 600 percent, say county officials.

For the last two weeks, the prayer vigils have turned into nightly revival meetings held in a tent at the park across from the courthouse.

In a state that recently surpassed Missouri as having the most methamphetamine production in the nation, several counties in Tennessee appear to be losing the war on drugs as the result of less funds for enforcement.

Scott County Sheriff Mike Cross and Commissioner David Day say they were desperately looking for answers when they came up with the idea for a prayer rally.

“We had three or four deaths in the county and the sheriff and I had a talk,” Day told The Christian Post. “He said, ‘Man, we just can’t control it. The only one that can control it is God.’ I said let’s have a prayer rally. Let’s get together and pray.”

Day, who attends a Baptist church in Pioneer, told CP that he and the sheriff are men of faith that believe strongly in the power of prayer.

"We seem to look at government for our solutions and a lot of people like myself don't think government can solve these problems,” Cross told a local TV station reporter at the first rally. “It's up to each individual community. I think God is the answer. Washington or Nashville are not the answer. God is the answer."

Chief Deputy Ronnie Phillips told reporters that the county has seen a 600 percent increase in drug arrests, “specifically with meth, since we have had the prayer vigil.”

“We have used every tool that we could to slow down the drug problem that we have here and prayers have been the answer,” Phillips said.

Day said the second prayer rally doubled in attendance to 400 people and that the increasing number of seizures of meth labs since that time has come in amazing ways.

“The meth labs just started falling into our laps. Everywhere the police were going, they were coming up with meth labs. Whether they were serving papers, traffic stops or whatever,” Day explained.

Residents in the county have now met 14 times during the nightly revival meetings, which meet every day but Sunday. A different church leads the non-denominational meeting every night, Day said.

The prayers have extended beyond asking for relief in the meth war, he said.

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Are Children Being Exposed to Sex and Profanity on Nick, Disney and Cartoon Network?

Cartoons frequently watched by children between the ages of 12 and 17 are riddled with adult content, including the use of profanity and strong sexual themes, according to a recent study by the Parents Television Council.

The networks used in the study include Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nick at Nite, since they air the highest rated primetime animated series for teens and pre-teens, according to Nielsen data.

“Nielsen data told us where children ages 12-17 are watching animated programming on basic cable. PTC analysts followed the Nielsen data in order to see exactly what type of material kids are consuming,” said PTC President Tim Winter in a press release. “The findings of this report should be vexing for every parent.”

Winter describes how the networks use the term “adult” to market their shows, which he feels is a perfect description of the nature of the programming’s content.

“We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels and ramming into doors. Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth,” said Winter.

He goes on to state that this type of content is not just included in the most popular cartoons, but has invaded most of animated programming.

Winter feels parents are aware that animation blocks like Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim contain adult content, but feels they have no clue on how high the cartoon’s level of raunchiness can be.

Alarmingly, Adult Swim starts at 9 p.m., moved up two hours from its former 11 p.m. slot, marketing the programming to a larger audience, including some children.

The network also fails to issue the proper warnings to children and parents, according to Winter.


New Noah's Ark in Ky. aims to prove truth of Bible

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.

This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.

"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."

The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.

It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.

"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."

Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.

Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.

There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.

"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.

A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.

"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."

The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.


Ex-drug Dealer Becomes Pastor

Pastor Brian Morris The married father-of-five who will take up his new role in September has written a book about his experiences

A former drug dealer who was jailed for 12 years is to become a full-time minister at a Welsh village church.

The congregation at Oakdale Baptist Church near Caerphilly unanimously voted for Pastor Brian Morris to take up the role.

He had admitted to parishioners that he once had a £100-a-day heroin habit and was jailed for smuggling cocaine.

Mr Morris, 57, who has just graduated in theology at Cardiff University had been working part-time at the church.

He will take up his new position next month.