BBC Criticizes U.S. Christians Who May be Playing Hanky-Panky With Martyr Statistics

If Christians are killed by other Christians, do the dead still count as martyrs for Jesus? With that question in mind, Ruth Alexander of BBC News takes issue with the much-bandied-about number that annually, around the world, 100,000 Christians are killed because of their faith.

Alexander looked into that squishy statistic and found that

… it comes originally from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the US state of Massachusetts, which publishes such a figure each year in its Status of Global Mission (see line 28).

Its researchers started by estimating the number of Christians who died as martyrs between 2000 and 2010 — about one million by their reckoning — and divided that number by 10 to get an annual number, 100,000.

But where does that number of one million come from?

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City Council Member Justifies $7,000 Budget Item for Child Evangelism Group by Claiming It’s Not ‘Religious’

Just as the Pierce County Council (in Washington) was getting ready to approve their 2014 budget last week, the council members decided to amend it to include one additional $7,000 expense.

That money would go to Child Evangelism Fellowship, better known to most of you as the group that sponsors the elementary-school-evangelizing Good News Club:

The money would go towards renting space at local fairs, according to the director of the Pierce County chapter Marlene Stoll.

“We just want to push God’s love for us and how it can make a difference in our life,” Stoll said Saturday night.

Jim McCune, the elected official who suggested the donation, offered justification for his lawsuit-worthy decision:

McCune said Friday night Child Evangelism Fellowship is non-denominational, and the money would not go towards religious items.

“Yes, (CEF) may come from a certain book (the Bible), but it’s not a so-called religious foundation. Completely separate,” McCune explained.


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The Atheist Version of the ‘Noah’ Trailer

Late last week, we saw the release of the trailer for Darren Aronofsky‘s 2014 movie “Noah“:

Not bad. But Dusty Smith‘s atheist version of that story makes a lot more sense (warning: NSFW language):

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What the Frack? Why is the Pope Talking About Environmental Issues?

Earlier this week, Pope Francis met with environmental activists from Argentina to discuss concerns about water contamination and hydraulic fracturing — that’s “fracking” for short. After the meeting, the pontiff appeared in photographs with two of his guests, Juan Pablo Olsson and Fernando “Pino” Solanas, displaying T-shirts bearing Spanish-language anti-fracking slogans. The Pope mentioned that he has begun work on an encyclical exploring the connections between “nature, humans, and environmental pollution.”

For those who are accustomed to papal pronouncements of a different sort, this sudden eco-consciousness is a bit perplexing. Is the Vatican going green?

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Indian Temple Where Buddha Renounced Material Wealth is Being Adorned With $12 Million in Gold

There’s nothing quite like a big display of ostentatious, costly excess to celebrate a holy man’s asceticism and humility.

Via the Huffington Post:

The Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India, marks the spot where Buddha renounced material wealth along with emotions like anger and envy, according to author Thubten Samphel. Despite its spiritual significance, the King of Thailand, along with some others, has donated 660 pounds of gold to create a shiny new temple dome that will be inlaid with the precious metal.

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