‘We rejoice in the Lord’s blessing’: 5-y-o boy thrown from Mall of America balcony goes home

The parents of a 5-year-old boy who was thrown from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America said they are rejoicing in “the Lord’s blessing” while announcing their son has returned home five months after the near-fatal attack.

The family of Landen Hoffman announced on GoFundMe — which has raised over $1 million — that their son has completed inpatient rehabilitation and is now home. He will enter “the next phase of recovery” and receive outpatient rehabilitation for “multiple injuries and adjusting to life back at home and school.”

Landen’s family thanked those who have prayed for them over the last five months, adding: “You helped to give us hope and show us the Glory of God’s great love here on earth even during the darkest of days.”

“We are so thankful, and we rejoice in the Lord’s blessings to our family,” reads the update. “We continue to ask that His healing powers guide us and our son’s care team as we enter the next phase of recovery, which includes continued outpatient rehabilitation for multiple injuries and adjusting to life back at home and school.”

In August, the Hoffman family announced that Landen was moved from the hospital’s intensive care unit into a rehabilitation program. The young boy sustained severe head trauma and multiple broken bones in his arms and legs after being thrown from the third floor of the Minnesota mall by Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 25.

Despite the severity of the fall, Landen has continued to make great strides in his recovery: “While the miracle of his survival is what we celebrate and thank Jesus for every day, we must also acknowledge that our beautiful boy has been on a very challenging road to recovery,” the family wrote in an earlier update. 

Aranda was charged with attempted premeditated murder in the April 12 crime. He allegedly told investigators he went to the mall “looking for someone to kill” after past instances of women repeatedly rejecting his advances. Aranda pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced to 19 years in prison.

Statements from the boy’s parents were read aloud during proceedings, with both stating their Christian faith compelled them to forgive Aranda for his actions.

“Your act was evil and selfish, you chose to listen to the worst parts of yourself that day,” the boy’s father expressed in his statement. “You chose evil over good and chose to take your hate and hurt out on my precious boy. I want you to know that I forgive you, not because what you did was OK, not because I want to, but because God wants me to.”

“I’m not letting you take any part of my family: You’re not taking our love, our joy, our peace. You’re not taking anything. … That is where your impact on us stops, you will take nothing more from us.”

In her statement, Landen’s mother also said she forgave Aranda because she believes God expects her to.

“You chose to think about yourself that day, what you were feeling and wanted to do to someone else,” Landen’s mother said in a separate statement read by the prosecutor. “I’m sad you chose anger and hatred.”

“God will judge you some day and I have peace with that,” the mother added. “I hand it off to Him and you will take none of my thoughts ever again. I am done with you.”

What is worship? How do we worship, and what prevents us from worshiping?

We probably all have some kind of mental picture of what it means to worship. Depending on your church background, when you think of worship you may think of classical sacred music – a great choir, singing the Hallelujah chorus. Or perhaps what comes to mind is the image of a traditional brick church on a Sunday morning, filled with people singing one of the great hymns of the faith – “A Might Fortress is Our God”, or “How Great Thou Art”. Maybe you’ve been to a charismatic or Pentecostal church, and you envision a scene with hands raised, eyes closed, people singing praise choruses, or even something more active – hands clapping, feet moving, shouts of “Hallelujah!” and “Amen!” Or you may not think of singing at all. Perhaps for you, the word “worship” brings up images of people sitting quietly in church with their heads bowed, praying or meditating. Or even someone bowing down or kneeling.

Well, because people have many different ideas of what worship looks like, I’d like to begin by defining what it is. What are we doing when we sing, or pray, or raise our hands, or kneel down? What makes those activities “worship”?

First, worship is attributing ultimate worth to something – whether it’s an object, or a person, or even an idea. Worship is valuing one thing above all else. It’s literally “worth-ship”. So when we sing praises to God, we are worshipping, because we are proclaiming that He has the greatest possible worth; that His value is above that of gold, or silver, or jewels, or houses, or land. We are testifying that His power exceeds that of every king, President, or dictator in history; that the glory of his holiness outshines the billions of suns in every galaxy. When we worship God, we are saying that nothing compares to Him. He is above all, He is greater than all. Everything in creation pales to insignificance next to the sovereign Lord of the universe. Listen to what the Scriptures tell us:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11(NIV)

“In a loud voice they sang: ’Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” – Revelation 5:12(NIV)

God alone is supremely worthy of our praise, and our love, and our devotion, and our service; both because of who He is, and because of what He has done. Saying that is worship.

The Psalms are the hymnbook of ancient Israel, and they are full of examples of worship and praise to God. Listen to Psalm 148[Read Psalm 148:1-13]. That’s worship – to exalt and lift up the Lord for who he is and what he has done.

One Pastor Killed, Another Kidnapped in Separate Attacks in North-Central Nigeria

Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed a Pentecostal pastor and abducted a Baptist pastor in a spate of kidnappings this month in Kaduna state, Nigeria, sources said.

“The herdsmen, about 20 of them, shot into our house and broke the doors of the house,” said Emmanuel Noma, who along with his father, 60-year-old pastor Elisha Noma, was kidnapped at 1 a.m. on Aug. 14. “They forced us out of the house at gunpoint and took us away. After two hours they released me, with the demand that I should go and raise 20 million naira [US $55,155] for them before they will release my father or else he would be killed.”

The Rev. Joseph Hayap, chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), confirmed the kidnapping of Pastor Noma, of Nagarta Baptist Church in Makiri, Kaduna state, in north-central Nigeria. Pastor Hayap said the kidnappers have reduced their ransom demand from the original 20 million naira.

“The kidnapping herdsmen are now asking for 7 million naira [US $19,304], but we are still negotiating,” said Pastor Hayap, a Baptist.

Two weeks earlier, Fulani herdsmen killed pastor Jeremiah Omolewa of Living Faith Church in the Romi New Extension area of the city of Kaduna and kidnapped his wife, a church source told Morning Star News. Attacked on Aug. 4 along the Kaduna-Abuja highway on their way to Abuja, he was killed when the herdsmen shot at their car after the pastor finished leading three services at his church, the source said.

Pastor Omolewa’s wife was released after the church paid 3 million naira (US $8,273) to the herdsmen as ransom, the source said. A press statement from the church reported that the ransom was paid after negotiations with the herdsmen brought the amount down from 10 million naira (US $27,577). She was released on the Aug. 8 at about 10 p.m.

Kaduna State CAN Chairman Hayap told Morning Star News that she was recovered along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway.

“When she was with the kidnappers, she didn’t know that her husband had died,” Pastor Hayap said.

The day she was released, another group of herdsmen attacked a Roman Catholic parish in Kasuwan Magani, a town south of the city of Kaduna. A security guard was killed as the parish priest at St. Luke’s Catholic Church, the Rev. Joseph Kato Kwassau, escaped.

About 20 armed herdsmen arrived at the premises in a mini-van, according to a church press statement.

“They were armed with guns and other dangerous weapons,” it read.

Kwassau told Morning Star News by phone that the attack took place at about midnight, when only he and the church guard were in their living quarters on the premises.

500 Kidnapped

Kidnapping is rampant in Nigeria. Hayap said more than 500 Christians have been kidnapped in Kaduna state in the past four years. Churches have paid about 300 million Naira (US $827,321) to Muslim Fulani Herdsmen to ransom them, he said.

“We as the church, the body of Christ, have found ourselves in a very bad situation in Kaduna state,” he said. “Pastors and church members are being kidnapped, and huge sums of money are being demanded, and nothing has been done by Nigeria government to halt the situation.”

Hayap appealed to the Nigerian government to urgently take measures to bring to an end to attacks on Christians and churches in Kaduna state and across the country.

Kwassau of St. Luke’s, who is also a dean of Rimau Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, said that the Christian community at Kasuwan Magani has been under attack from herdsmen and local Muslims for some time. Hayap concurred that Christians in Kasuwan Magani have been attacked various times by herdsmen.

“As I speak to you, a daughter of a Baptist pastor in the area of Kasuwan Magani is under the captivity of the herdsmen,” Hayap said. “So we are really concerned that Christians and their pastors in Kaduna State are no longer safe.”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Millennials and the Bible: ‘Not What You Think’

There’s so much talk these days about so-called “Millennials.” Millennials are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. They are “digital natives,” and the defining events of their lives include the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, the War on Terror, Harry Potter, the Great Recession, and the birth of social media. Oh, and by the way, they love avocado toast.

They are also the “biggest” generation: Some 78 million strong. In the next five or six years, they will comprise 75 percent of the American workforce.

On the whole, Millennials tend to be skeptical of absolutes, and anyone or anything claiming to be the authority on life and the world. Thus, they tend to be skeptical about the Bible. Only 9 percent of Millennials claim to read the Bible on a daily basis, and only 30 percent believe that the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God.

All of this leads to an acute challenge for many in older generations: How to pass on the faith to their children and grandchildren. I’m happy to tell you there’s a new book that can really help.

Two Millennial Christian thought leaders, Michael and Lauren Green McAfee, seeking to overcome the skepticism of their peers about the Bible, have written a new and engaging book, “Not What You Think: Why the Bible Might Be Nothing We Expected but Everything We Need.”

Michael is director of community initiatives at the Museum of the Bible. His wife Lauren, who now works at the Hobby Lobby corporate offices, helped get the museum up and running. So they both have a deep, sincere passion to share their love for the Bible.

The first part of “Not What You Think” is devoted to explaining exactly who Millennials are: their demographics, aspirations, preferences, etc. One of the key characteristics we must understand is that Millennials came of age at a time when the very notion of truth was, well, fuzzy at best.

“Our era is one in which truth has moved from objective reality to personal response,” they write. “Our generation generally hesitates to accept truth outside of personal experience and opinion.”

This is the first huge obstacle for approaching Millennials with traditional Christian apologetics, which depends on the absolute and objective Truth claims revealed in the Bible.  And yet, this is where these millennial authors succeed as they invite their fellow Millennials to engage Scripture. While being upfront and honest about the truth claims of the Bible, they make the case that the Old and New Testaments, unlike other religious holy books and texts, are not primarily a set of rules. Instead, they present a grand Story woven together by God through various authors over a millennium and a half. It’s a story that God invites us all to join.

Throughout their book, the McAfees argue convincingly—and in detail—that both Testaments, from Genesis through Revelation, point to the God-Man, Jesus. Thus, the Bible not only invites us into God’s cosmic drama, it invites us into a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

“What if,” they write, “truth is not just a point of view . . . not just a list of rules—yours, ours, or anyone else’s? What if truth is not the ever-changing consensus of the crowd but instead is a person whom you get to know and who knows you. This person’s story is told in the Bible. His name is Jesus.”

This is exactly the kind of book that will not only help you communicate the importance of Scripture to younger generations, it’s a book you can actually give to younger generations. And, it’s a great resource for Sunday School classes and small groups to learn more about the “biggest” generation, while also learning about how to better reach them.

300 Churches Have Teamed Up with World Relief to Fight Ebola

The Democratic Republic of the Congo has felt the bitter sting of the Ebola virus, and with the help of Christian nonprofit World Relief, 300 churches in the country are fighting back.

Director of humanitarian and disaster response at World Relief, Charles Franzen, talked with the Christian Post about the work happening in the Congo to create awareness of the infectious and dangerous virus.

“Through sermons and training with leadership councils and committees in the churches, Ebola messages are being spread across congregations,” Franzen said.

The churches are located in North Kivu, the Djugu territory, and Ituri Province, where the situation is most dire. Franzen shared that nearly 1,800 people have died in the area with more than 2,500 infected.

“…[B]ut the major problem in halting the disease is that medical personnel need to be able to trace every single contact that an infected person has had during his or her infective period,” he said.

People who have been in contact with the disease are put into quarantine until the danger is over or they start to show symptoms, in which case they are then treated.

But not only is finding all of those people difficult, relief workers are also facing disruptions between factions and tribes in the region.

“It is not then easy for us to trace all the known contacts of an infected person ‘behind the lines,’ so to speak because the danger of becoming a casualty is too great,” Franzen explained.

“Many medical personnel have been beaten, and a few have been killed, and some Ebola centers have been ransacked and destroyed by local people who believe that Ebola is an invention of the West, and that all of this is just fakery which is being used and perpetuated by unscrupulous people to make money off the Western powers and NGOs,” he continued.

The Ebola outbreak has become rampant in the DRC with the World Health Organization declaring the epidemic an official Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

In a press release, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, general Director of WHO, said, “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system.” 

Samaritan’s Purse has also increased their relief to the DRC, establishing an 18-bed treatment center in Komanda in the northeast part of the country. The center was flown to Africa by cargo plane and more than 40 medical and non-medical staff operate within it on the ground. More than 60 Congolese staff also assist.

“When I see my fellow Congolese people suffering from Ebola, I am sad, but it challenges me to help them so that one day they will recover and be strong,” Sarah Ngaka, one of the local staff, said.

American churches can assist in caring for the DRC, as well. Franzen encouraged churches to support nonprofits like World Relief and the Samaritan’s Purse.

“One of the best ways for the American church to fight Ebola in the DRC is to provide assistance to those who are providing care and treatment…like World Relief, who are working hard on advocacy and awareness, countering rumors circulating, training in primary case management, and making sure that local churches have hand washing stations and whose leadership are committed to getting out messages about Ebola, identification and response to their congregations.”

Hillsong’s Marty Sampson: ‘I’m Genuinely Losing My Faith’

Yet another public figure popular within Christianity has come forward to say he is “losing” his faith.

Hillsong’s Marty Sampson, who is credited with writing or co-writing some of the most popular worship songs today, wrote on Instagram that Christianity is “not for me.” 

In a follow-up post, though, Sampson indicated he was studying some of the faith’s leading apologists, including John Lennox and Ravi Zacharias. He also said in response to a Christian Post column that he hasn’t “renounced” his faith but that “it’s on incredibly shaky ground.”

Sampson’s initial post came a few weeks after bestselling Christian author Joshua Harris – who wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye – announced he is no longer a Christian. 

“Time for some real talk,” Sampson wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post. “… I’m genuinely losing my faith … and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world… It’s crazy.

“This is a soapbox moment so here I go… how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it. How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send four billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it. Christians can be the most judgmental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me.”

Sampson is listed as a writer or co-writer of dozens of songs, including Hillsong’s God He Reigns.

“I am not in anymore,” Sampson wrote. “I want genuine truth. Not the ‘I just believe it’ kind of truth. Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion. Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I’m keeping it real. Unfollow if you want, I’ve never been about living my life for others.”

“All I know is what’s true to me right now, and Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point,” he added. 

“I could go on, but I won’t. Love and forgive absolutely. Be kind absolutely. Be generous and do good to others absolutely. Some things are good no matter what you believe. Let the rainfall, the sun will come up tomorrow,” the songwriter concluded.

The post has since been deleted. 

This week, he posted pictures of five Christian apologists, including Lennox, Zacharias and Mike Licona, and wrote: “I don’t know these men personally, but I do watch them regularly and listen to their arguments. If you don’t know who they are, perhaps you may want to find out more about them.”

He also posted a picture of Francis Collins, a Christian who affirms the theory of evolution, with a quote from Collins: “The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming. I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to deny that.”

Below both new posts, fans said they were praying for him.

Sampson responded to a Christian Post column, “Reaching out to a Hillsong leader who is renouncing his faith,” by saying he is studying both sides of the faith debate. 

“I have and continue to analyze the arguments of prominent Christian apologists and biblical scholars, and am open-minded enough to consider the arguments of atheist debaters and debaters from other religions,” he wrote. “If the truth is true, it will remain so regardless of my understanding of it. If I search it out, surely it will become even more clearly seen as the truth that it is. Examining a diamond more closer reveals the quality of the diamond. As I am still breathing, I am still learning.”

Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., said stories like those of Sampson and Harris are a reminder that the believer should never place one’s faith in a mortal person.

“Our faith is ultimately not in any Christian celebrity or leader but in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world who never fails or disappoints,” Burk told Christian Headlines. 

Apostasy, he added, is real. 

“Jesus warned us that it would happen (Matt. 13:20-22) and so did the apostles (Acts 20:30). Nevertheless, it is painful and heartbreaking to witness. No one plans on apostatizing when they come to Christ. Life happens. Troubles come. Faith is tested. The soil is eventually revealed for what it is. What will time and trouble reveal about you? About me?

“… And there is nothing in our flesh to keep us from [apostasy]. We are just as dependent upon God’s grace today as we were the first day we tasted it. If we stand, it will be by the power of God alone. Apart from grace, we would all be careening to our own destruction.”

Kentucky Bans Abortions after Heartbeat Detected

Kentucky has just become another state to ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is often around six weeks of pregnancy.

The “fetal heartbeat bill” was signed by Republican Governor Matt Bevin last Thursday.

“I am deeply grateful to be governor of a state that so overwhelmingly values the sanctity of human life,” he said in a press release. “Kentucky is leading the charge in this vitally important fight for the heart and soul of our great nation.”

Three other pro-life bills were also signed the same day. Senate Bill 50, also called the Chemical Abortion Reporting Act, states that doctors must inform patients of reversal medication abortions.

House Bill 5, the Human Rights of the Unborn Child and Anti-Discrimination Act, forbids abortions based off of sex, race or perceived disability.

And, House Bill 148 looks to the future should Roe v. Wade be overturned and bans all abortions in the state.

Bevin had attempted the heartbeat bill earlier this year, but was blocked by Judge David J. Hale, who ruled the law potentially unconstitutional, the New York Times reports.

With only one abortion clinic in the state, the Kentucky ACLU has also attempted to protect its existence. In 2017, Bevin signed another law requiring a written agreement with a hospital to transfer any patient with a medical emergency. ACLU feared the clinic would have to close should the bill be enforced, though that did not end up being true.

“There would have been no clinic in the state of Kentucky, which is an incredible burden on a patient’s ability to access care, about the most burdensome you can get,” Heather Gatnarek of Kentucky ALCU said. “There is no evidence put forth that patients who go to hospitals that have transfer agreements are better cared for than those without.”

Earlier this week, the Public Religion Research Institute released a survey indicating that 54 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, as reported by the Christian Post. Another survey, presented by Planned Parenthood according to the Courier, showed that 65% of Kentuckians believe women should have “access to all of the reproductive health care options available, including abortion.”

The ACLU does not plan on suing over this bill at this time.

Can I Lose My Salvation?: A Response to the Faltering Faith of Former Christian Leaders

A common question for many is, “Can I lose my salvation?” I’ve heard both sides of the argument, and only God truly knows a person’s heart, but I can share a few thoughts. The reason there is a debate is because the Scriptures teach that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned, but they also offer warnings about falling away. There should be a healthy tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. This issue should not create a spirit of division, elitism, or theological superiority.

One school of thought suggests that salvation cannot be lost, as in losing your car keys, but that it can be left, as in walking away from it. This may be why Jesus spoke of the man who embraced a sinful lifestyle because his master delayed His return (cf. Matt. 24:48). When the master returned unexpectedly, the servant was banished because he chose to turn from what he knew to be right. However, he was called an “evil” servant. The context suggests two different hearts—faithful and faithless.

In another passage, Jesus said, “You have left your first love,” when speaking to the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:4). James 5:19-20 adds, if anyone wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, a soul is saved from death (but is it physical death caused by sin that he is saved from?)

If anything, these Scriptures, and many more, reinforce the fact that we have certain responsibilities. We should never turn from what we know to be right. Jesus encouraged His followers to be watchful, prepared, and ready for His return. Are we watchful? Are we prepared? Are we ready? (Read Matthew 24:45-51Luke 21:34.)

The other school of thought suggests that some of those passages are dealing with people who never fully surrendered to Christ. As a result, they fell away. They heard the gospel, but never fully embraced it and turned from their sins; they only had “intellectual” knowledge of salvation. According to this view, the real question isn’t, “Can a person lose their salvation?” but, “Was the person really saved to begin with?”

Titus 1:16 and James 2:14 both conclude that many people “say” that they know God, but deny Him by their lifestyle, or they fall away. First John 2:19 suggests that those who acknowledge Christ initially, but deny Him later, are not saved to begin with: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.”

When it comes to salvation, we all agree that God gets all the glory and all the credit. Salvation is His work. We are never outside of His sovereignty and control: “It is God who makes us stand firm in Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:21). I am convinced, like Paul, “that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can separate us from God, but we should never ignore the strong warnings about turning from Him.

When we believe the gospel and repent of our sin we “are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:13-14). These promises are not based on anything that we do; they are based on what Christ did. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” Jesus adds, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Again, “It is God (not us) who makes us stand firm in Christ.”

I believe that salvation is guaranteed based on the assurances found in Scripture, but we also must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (cf. Philippians 2:12). My goal is to be faithful to the command to preach, witness, and proclaim while understanding that God does the drawing, saving, and sealing.

Again, I believe that there should be a healthy tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. This issue should not create a spirit of division, elitism, or theological superiority. At the heart of the division is Calvinism vs. Arminianism. Sadly, brother is shooting brother and sister is wounding sister. Have we forgotten how to show grace to those in the Body who we disagree with? Those who believe you can lose your salvation should not chide those who believe in eternal security – “once saved always saved” is by no means a license to sin – it’s a belief in God’s guarantee. But on the flip side, those who embrace eternal security should not mock those who disagree.

I can hear it now, “But what about Hebrews 6:4-6.” It says, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

Based on my understanding of terms such as “enlightened,” “tasted,” and “shared,” they are not necessarily words linked to salvation. Judas Iscariot was enlightened—he knew a great deal. He also tasted and shared in the ministry of Christ, but we all know his fate. When he fell away, repentance was elusive. His fate was sealed. However, this verse should force all Christians to take inventory.

We all sin and fall short, but the important question to ask is what is the condition of your heart—have you truly repented and believed in Christ as your Lord and Savior, or are you trusting in false assurance? This may be why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourself as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?”

VP Pence Demands Iran Release Christian Woman, Vows ‘America Will Stand Up for People of Faith’

Vice President Mike Pence is defending the religious freedom of a Christian woman in Iran.

This week an Islamic revolutionary court judge sentenced 65-year-old Mahrokh Kanbara to prison for “acting against national security” and engaging in “propaganda against the system.”

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports Kanbara was arrested last December. Local police raided her home, incarcerated her, and interrogated her for ten days Related

Friday morning, Pence took to social media to voice his concern. He tweeted “Iran must free Mahrockh Kanbari today. Whether Sunni, Sufi, Bahai’i, Jewish, or Christian, America will stand up for people of faith in Iran like Marokh and Pastor Bet Tamrz whose persecutions are an affront to religious freedom.”

In a second tweet, the vice president wrote, “I am appalled to hear reports that Iran’s despotic rulers have punished yet another Christian woman for exercising her freedom to worship.”

Other Iranian Christians are also facing similarly vague charges. On July 24, a hearing was put on hold after five of the accused Christians insisted on selecting their own defense lawyer. Rather than listening to their request, Judge Moghiseh transferred two of them to Evin Prison and arrested the other three, setting bail at around $180,000, according to the ICC. 

These latest cases signal a continued downturn trend of religious freedom for Iranian Christians. The country’s Islamic regime continues to view Christianity as a national security threat.

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