Feb 28

ISIS Abducts 285 Syrian Christians

The number of Christians kidnapped by ISIS has risen every day since their offensive began on Monday.

The number of Christians kidnapped by ISIS has risen every day since their offensive began on Monday.

Terrorist group ISIS has abducted as many as 285 Christians from Assyrian villages beginning on Monday, 22 February.

Originally estimated to be between 70 and 100, the number of those kidnapped has risen every day since the attack began.

CNN reported Thursday that the number has reached 262 Christians kidnapped, and the BBC offers this newest report of 285 kidnapped.

Men, women, children, and the elderly were captured as the militants burned and looted their homes. Most of the captives are said to have come from the Assyrian villages of Tal Shamiram, located 50 miles southwest of the Hassakeh provincial capital of Qamishli, another city to the northeast.

Hassakeh borders Turkey and Iraq, and while it is mainly Kurdish, many Arab, Assyrian and Armenian Christians live in the province.

Over 3,000 people have been displaced since the early morning raid on Monday forced Syrian villagers out of their homes. ISIS has been targeting Christians for months, trying to force them to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax (called a jizya), or be put to death.

The motive behind these kidnappings is not yet clear, but one correspondent indicated that these captives might be used as part of a prisoner swap with Kurdish forces.

While Isis has not affirmed the kidnappings, photos have circulated online of ISIS’ fighters using machine guns and looking at maps. These pictures were reportedly taken near Tel Tamr, the area in which the abductions happened.

The captured people have been in touch with relatives, and people in Sweden, Germany, Canada, and the United States are worried for the safety of their family members.

Osama Edward of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network, who has relatives in the area, told the BBC that his wife’s elderly aunt and her cousin were among the hostages.

“My wife tried to call her cousin’s house and there was somebody who picked up the phone and said: ‘This is not Akram’s house. This is the Islamic State’s house.’”

One Assyrian woman now living in Beirut has been trying to find out what has happened to her parents, brother and his family.

“Land lines have been cut, their mobiles are closed,” she told the Associated Press. “Have they been slaughtered? Are they still alive? We’re searching for any news.”

“I cannot do anything for them but pray,” she said on the telephone. She has not revealed her identity so to protect her relatives’ lives.

Sharlet and Romel David, another couple in Modesto, California, said they have twelve family members in Syria who were among those captured by ISIS.

“We pray, we pray all the time,” said Romel.

“What we’ve heard is it was like a sea of black uniforms marching through all the villages, burning down the churches, desecrating the crosses and wreaking havoc.”

Sharlet’s 59-year-old brother left California two years ago and moved back to Syria in an attempt to bring his family back to the United States. But he was unsuccessful in bringing them back, and now his family is being held captive by ISIS.

In response to this attack, a prominent Christian Syrian leader called for a US-led coalition to aid the Christian and Kurdish fighters to oust ISIS.

In January of this year, the Kurds attacked terrorists with the help of international air strikes. This was a four-month siege that eventually resulted in those terrorists leaving the border of Turkey.

Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, said that foreign aid is needed to decidedly get ISIS out of their country.

Ishak’s appeal to stop the Islamic State advancement has been echoed by Syriac Catholic Archbishop Jacques Hindo of Hassakeh.

“I wish to say quite clearly that we have the feeling of being abandoned into the hands of those Daesh [the Arabic acronym for Islamic State],” Archbishop Hindo told the Vatican’s Fides news service.

“American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action,” he said. U.S analysts have confirmed this report. No military airstrikes against IS have been made in the Hassakeh region.

The area is currently being defended by local military units, but they lack sufficient arms to launch an attack. They said they are currently seeking air support to fight the extremists.

This civil war has been going on for years, and many of these Assyrians do not have basic necessities like food, water, and clothing.

“We have 100 Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hassakeh, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is nowhere to be seen,” Archbishop Hindo told Fides.

The cry for help by Archbishop Hindo, Ishak and other Christian leaders follows a church burning and kidnapping spree that began on Monday.

Osama Edward fears that these Christians might face the same fate as the 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded earlier this month.

In Libya, ISIS fighters were filmed beheading 21 Egyptian Christians. The militants were dressed in black, the Christians in orange jumpsuits. After taking their captives to a beach, the ISIS militants forced the Christians to kneel before beheading them all.

In addition to the kidnappings, ISIS also engaged with Kurdish and Christian militiamen while it seized several villages in Syria.

ISIS has also released a video showing their destruction of artifacts in the lands under their control. The video showed men smashing ancient Mesopotamian artifacts with sledgehammers in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

This video only adds to the mounting fears surrounding the fate of the abducted Christians and other minorities targeted by ISIS’ cruelty.

Osama Edward said that these terrorists are wiping Assyrian heritage in Mosul, and at the same time wiping them geographically from the face of the Earth,” the director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria said.

By systematically destroying Assyrian heritage, ISIS is eliminating what it views as heresy. It is also believed that they are acquiring and selling ancient artifacts to fund their cruel campaign.

The Assyrian Christians are an ancient race, and their presence in the area goes back to the ancient Mesopotamians.

Christians are believed to have constituted about 10% of Syria’s 22 million people before the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began almost four years ago.

Assyrians, of whom there were about 40,000 in Syria, are Nestorian Christians and speak Syriac, a form of Aramaic, the language of Christ.

The largest concentration of Assyrians in Syria is in Hassakeh province, but there are also smaller communities in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.

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Feb 26

Still Time to Act on 3-Parent Babies

3 parent babiesAlthough the UK Parliament has now officially approved the creation of 3-parent babies, concerned citizens can still work to block the new measures at the implementation stage.

It will be up to the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), to decide whether a treatment can go ahead on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, UK citizens opposed to the new measures can still make a difference by writing to their MPs. Our lawmakers can put pressure on the HFEA to think through a number of problems and ramifications before allowing the practice to become widespread. Some of the problems the HFEA needs to wrestle with before allowing widespread implementation have been helpfully summarized on the CitizenGo website and are quoted below:

 

  • None of the proposed techniques represents a cure for mitochondrial disease which will continue to appear randomly at birth. These techniques would only be applied to families already identified as being at risk of conceiving a baby with mitochondrial disease.
  • The current proposals represent in no way whatsoever attempts to cure the condition in existing babies, but rather involve the creation of a completely new kind of human embryo whose genetic composition would be determined by using material from two maternal progenitor sources.
  • The woman donating the healthy mitochondria would provide identifiable genetic material – no matter how minimal – to the embryo produced and the offspring would (at least in the case of one technique) have three biological parents.
  • The proposed techniques are unequivocally germline genetic modification (unlike post-natal therapies such as blood or organ donation) and as such, changes made would be passed on to future generations with completely unknown consequences.
  • At least one technique is in effect a cloning technique, thereby opening the door to full reproductive cloning, which is universally prohibited.
  • Serious safety issues associated with the mitochondrial transfer and modification of the mammalian egg have already been identified in published studies. The last time one of the techniques was tried in humans, it resulted in an abortion and two stillbirths.
  • Animal experiments in this field have shown decreased survival, inhibited growth and other horrifying abnormalities.
  • A further consideration is harm to the women used as egg donors, as the procedure requires aggressive ovarian stimulation, which can lead amongst other complications to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which can be fatal.
  • Modification of human eggs or early embryos for procreation using heritable interventions is widely prohibited in such international declarations and conventions as:
  • The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights which indicates in Article 24 that ‘germ-line interventions’ could be considered as practices which are ‘contrary to human dignity”.
  • The Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine which indicates in Article 13 that “an intervention seeking to modify the human genome may only be undertaken for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes and only if its aim is not to introduce any modification in the genome of any descendants”.
  • The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union which indicates in Article 3 that “In the fields of medicine and biology (…) the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the selection of persons, must be respected”.

BACKGROUND

On 4th February, Christian Voice reported on the recent vote, in which 382 MPs voted in favour and 128 against the practice of creating 3-parent babies. Those voting against represented the views of the public, who are opposed. The amendment still has to go through the House of Lords, but it will most likely not face much opposition.

This law will become an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and will come into effect in October 2015. Human trials can then begin immediately and the first babies could be born next autumn.

Oocyte modification, commonly called ‘three-parent in vitro fertilization (IVF),’ is the process by which damaged mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from the woman’s egg are replaced with healthy mtDNA of a female donor, thus allowing a child to be born with healthy mitochondria. Because the procedure replaces an egg’s defective mitochondrial DNA with healthy mDNA from a female donor’s egg, it essentially creates a baby with DNA from three people: the male and two females.

Developed by British scientists, this currently illegal procedure is aimed to prevent debilitating health conditions such as liver and brain deterioration and muscular dystrophy.

As many as 2,500 British women could undergo this treatment, allowing them to have biological children who do not inherit their mitochondrial diseases. Despite these benefits, many doctors and lawmakers oppose this controversial procedure on both ethical and health grounds.

Jacob Rees, an MP who voted against the amendment, said: ‘You are not curing somebody of something; you are creating someone different. People have compared it to blood transfusions. That is simply wrong.’

The procedure can potentially prevent a child from being born with a mitochondrial disease, but it cannot cure children already born with a disease. Much of the time, mothers are not aware that they are passing on mitochondrial diseases until the first child is born.

While 1 in 200 with some form of a mitochondrial disorder, only 1 in 10,000 babies are severely affected by this. As a result, not many births would be involved with the procedure.

The potential of creating three-parent babies has received backlash from several churches.

Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster stated on behalf of the bishops that human life should not be used as ‘disposable material,’ but must be respected and protected. He said further that while the ‘Church recognises the suffering that mitochondrial diseases bring and hopes that alternative methods of treatment can be found, it remains opposed on principle to these procedures where the destruction of human embryos is part of the process.’

Sherrington added elsewhere that it is ‘extraordinary that a license should be sought for a radical new technique affecting future generations without first conducting a clinical trial.’

Rev. Dr. Brenden McCarthy, the Church of England’s national advisor on medical issues, contested that more research and debate was needed before the procedure moved forward.

‘The Archbishops Council, which monitors this issue, does not feel that there has been sufficient scientific study or informed consultation into the ethics, safety and efficacy of mitochondria transfer.’

Some scientists have also raised concerns. Stuart Newman, professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College said he was ‘very disappointed’ in the vote. He described the three-parent baby procedure as one that essentially creates a human being from ‘bits and pieces of cells from different people.’

‘Scientifically, it you try to put together an organism from fragments of cells, it’s going to mostly not work. Frequently it will look normal, but there will be things wrong with it. That has been shown experimentally.

‘It is going to lead to children with conditions which, in some cases, will probably be worse than the conditions they are trying to avoid.’

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Feb 24

Organs of Aborted Fetuses Used for Research

Organs of aborted fetuses are used for research in a new medical procedure.

The most successful experiment involves the kidneys of aborted babies to be harvested and transplanted into adult rats, where the organs grow until they are ready to transplant to awaiting human adults.

Researchers who conducted the study transplanted an aborted human fetus’ kidney into an adult rat without an immune system so as to avoid tissue rejection. Then they stitched the animal’s blood vessels to the organ.

The scientists surgically removed the rat’s own kidneys after about a month, and most rats were able to survive about four months with the transplanted human fetus’ kidney. One rat survived about ten months.

The key to the success of this procedure is to adjust the animal’s blood pressure to work with a human organ. To do this, researchers use a device called an arterial flow regulator. The blood pressure of rats is much higher than in humans which, if not accounted for, causes the organ to hemorrhage.

This experiment could be furthered to transplant a kidney into a human for development, but scientists would need to do much more research to decide if that is feasible.

Researchers implant a human fetal kidney into a rat, where the kidney grows until it is fully functioning. Then the rat's original kidneys are removed and the implanted kidney is used to sustain life.

Researchers implant a human fetal kidney into a rat, where the kidney grows until it is fully functioning. Then the rat’s original kidneys are removed and the implanted kidney is used to sustain life.

The human fetal kidneys were obtained from a California-based company that gives researchers tissue from deceased fetuses and adults. Consent was given for all procedures, and the scientists were not involved in the donation process.

Co-author of the study Eugene Gu said this “is definitely the first time an actual whole human organ has been grown in an animal, and has sustained the life of that animal. He went on to explain that the developers’ “long-term goal is to grow human organs in animals, to end the human donor shortage.”

Gu added that the fetal organs could also be used to test the effects of new drugs.

Understandably, this procedure has raised a number of ethical questions. The first and most is important is, should human fetal organs even be used as part of organ donation research?

Ethical and legal biomedical expert Hank Greely told Live Science that “the key issues are the existence of the pregnant woman’s consent and the total separation of the decision to abort from the decision to let the fetal remains be used in research.”

In practice, a woman must have already decided to abort before doctors can ask the mother about donating her baby to research.

Caty Dyer, Founder and CEO of Stem Express, a multi-million dollar research firm that sells human clinical specimens to biomedical researchers, reiterated the necessity of consent to this research. “All donors are properly consented through an Institutional Review Board (IRB) consent, and donors are made aware of the potential use of any sample that we collect”, he said.

A second concern is the very act of transplanting human organs into an animal. Greely said that researchers often do experiments that use human body parts in an animal host. Although this sort of research is usually done with cells or tissues, Greely claims that this practice is not ethically objectionable unless it involves human sex organs, brains, or external signs that distinguish a human from other animals.

But not all scientists are positive about this new procedure. NYU Langone Medical Center Bioethicist Arthur Caplan thinks “there is no way we’re ever going to use fetal human kidneys or any other solid organs for transplant. American society is morally uncomfortable enough about abortion that growing organs from fetal remains will never be accepted, and will be banned in state after state.”

Eugene Gu, Founder and CEO of Ganogen biotech company in Redwood, CA, believes the American public might find this idea “more palatable” if the recipients of such organs have no other chance of survival.

The third, and perhaps biggest concern, is that procedure like these can easily lead to abuse. The debate surrounding whether or not it is ethical to purchase fetal organs has been going on for years now. Invasive medical procedures like this can lead to all kinds of abuses. These include travesties like baby trafficking, and in the most extreme examples, women who are forced to having babies for the sole purpose of using that infant’s organs.

Even now, scientists do not treat a fetus as a human being until after it is born. There would not be many ethical objections to making a profit from the tissues and organs of a non-living mass of cells.

The success of transplanting infant organs and tissues has also led to the increasing demand in continuing research.
In mid-January, doctors at the Hammersmith hospital in west London performed the first UK organ transplant from a baby who died shortly after birth.

Hospital staff reportedly “praised” the parents for being so generous in consenting to the donation. Two different patients received the newborn’s healthy kidneys and liver tissue.

Doctors viewed this as a “milestone” in organ donation, and see the potential for more newborns to become organ donors.

Currently, UK guidelines do not make it easy for parents to allow their newborns to become organ donors, because doctors must wait until the newborn’s heart has stopped beating. But in the next few month the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) plans to publish new guidelines that will approve neurological tests for determining the death of a newborn.

 

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Feb 11

Pardons for Homosexuals

At the end of January 2015, Benedict Cumberbatch and Stephen Fry sent a letter to the Government asking them to pardon 49,000 homosexual men convicted of gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Acts 1885.

Mr Cumberbatch recently played codebreaker Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, and pardonned by Her Majesty in 2013.   Stephen Fry is of course a self-proclaimed homosexual, so in that sense he has a dog in this fight.  But in the circles in which they move, both must at least know or know of men who were convicted of gross indecency before the law was changed.

In a video just published on Youtube, I support their campaign on the grounds that this must be the most intelligent, compassionate, sophisticated and plain clever generation that has ever walked this earth, so that if something is not against the law now, it never should have been.  Follow the argument to its logical conclusion on the video.

 

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Feb 04

3-parent babies approved by UK Parliament

KIF_2152The UK Parliament has approved the creation of children with 3 biological parents in the hope of preventing mitochondrial diseases.  See how your MP voted below.

382 MPs voted in favour and just 128 against.  Those voting against represented the views of the public, who are opposed.  You can read the debate HERE.

This link explains the objections: http://citizengo.org/en/17728-please-keep-uk-allowing-germline-genetic-modification-human-embryos-and-creation-3-parent?sid=MTY0NDA0MzE5NDkxNTc1

 

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How your MP voted:

AYES
Abrahams, Debbie
Adams, Nigel
Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob
Alexander, rh Danny
Alexander, rh Mr Douglas
Alexander, Heidi
Allen, Mr Graham
Andrew, Stuart
Arbuthnot, rh Mr James
Ashworth, Jonathan
Austin, Ian
Bailey, Mr Adrian
Baker, rh Norman
Baldwin, Harriett
Balls, rh Ed
Barclay, Stephen
Baron, Mr John
Barron, rh Kevin
Barwell, Gavin
Bayley, Sir Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Dame Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benn, rh Hilary
Benyon, Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Berger, Luciana
Betts, Mr Clive
Bingham, Andrew
Blackman-Woods, Roberta
Blackwood, Nicola
Blenkinsop, Tom
Blomfield, Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boles, Nick
Bottomley, Sir Peter
Bradley, Karen
Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben
Brady, Mr Graham
Brake, rh Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Bridgen, Andrew
Brine, Steve
Brooke, rh Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr Nicholas
Brown, Mr Russell
Browne, Mr Jeremy
Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Buckland, Mr Robert
Burden, Richard
Burley, Mr Aidan
Burnham, rh Andy
Burstow, rh Paul
Burt, rh Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Byles, Dan
Byrne, rh Mr Liam
Cable, rh Vince
Cairns, Alun
Cameron, rh Mr David
Campbell, rh Mr Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Campbell, Mr Ronnie
Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair
Carmichael, Neil
Carswell, Douglas
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Jenny
Clappison, Mr James
Clark, rh Greg
Clark, Katy
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr Nick
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coffey, Ann
Collins, Damian
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crabb, rh Stephen
Creasy, Stella
Crockart, Mike
Crouch, Tracey
Cunningham, Alex
Cunningham, Mr Jim
Danczuk, Simon
Darling, rh Mr Alistair
Davey, rh Mr Edward
David, Wayne
Davidson, Mr Ian
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Geraint
De Piero, Gloria
Denham, rh Mr John
Dinenage, Caroline
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr Frank
Dorries, Nadine
Doughty, Stephen
Duncan, rh Sir Alan
Dunne, Mr Philip
Eagle, Ms Angela
Efford, Clive
Ellis, Michael
Ellison, Jane
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ellwood, Mr Tobias
Engel, Natascha
Evans, Chris
Evans, Graham
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, rh Michael
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Foster, rh Mr Don
Freeman, George
Freer, Mike
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Sir Edward
Garnier, Mark
Gauke, Mr David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr Nick
Gilbert, Stephen
Gilmore, Sheila
Goodwill, Mr Robert
Gove, rh Michael
Graham, Richard
Grant, Mrs Helen
Green, rh Damian
Green, Kate
Greening, rh Justine
Greenwood, Lilian
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Andrew
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Hague, rh Mr William
Hain, rh Mr Peter
Halfon, Robert
Hames, Duncan
Hamilton, Mr David
Hamilton, Fabian
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr Mike
Hands, rh Greg
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harper, Mr Mark
Harris, Rebecca
Harris, Mr Tom
Hart, Simon
Harvey, Sir Nick
Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan
Havard, Mr Dai
Healey, rh John
Heath, Mr David
Heaton-Harris, Chris
Henderson, Gordon
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, rh Nick
Heyes, David
Hilling, Julie
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs Sharon
Hollingbery, George
Hood, Mr Jim
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, rh Mr George
Howell, John
Hughes, rh Simon
Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy
Hunt, Tristram
Hunter, Mark
Huppert, Dr Julian
Hurd, Mr Nick
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Margot
Jamieson, Cathy
Javid, rh Sajid
Jenkin, Mr Bernard
Jenrick, Robert
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Diana
Johnson, Gareth
Johnson, Joseph
Jones, Andrew
Jones, Graham
Jones, Mr Kevan
Jowell, rh Dame Tessa
Kendall, Liz
Kirby, Simon
Knight, rh Sir Greg
Kwarteng, Kwasi
Lamb, rh Norman
Lancaster, Mark
Lansley, rh Mr Andrew
Latham, Pauline
Lavery, Ian
Lee, Jessica
Lee, Dr Phillip
Leech, Mr John
Leslie, Charlotte
Leslie, Chris
Letwin, rh Mr Oliver
Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma
Lewis, Brandon
Lewis, Dr Julian
Lilley, rh Mr Peter
Lloyd, Stephen
Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn
Long, Naomi
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr Andrew
Lucas, Caroline
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Sir Peter
Lumley, Karen
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr Khalid
Malhotra, Seema
Mann, John
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCartney, Jason
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr Pat
McInnes, Liz
McKechin, Ann
McKenzie, Mr Iain
Mearns, Ian
Metcalfe, Stephen
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Miller, rh Maria
Mills, Nigel
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Austin
Moon, Mrs Madeleine
Moore, rh Michael
Mordaunt, Penny
Morgan, rh Nicky
Morrice, Graeme (Livingston)
Morris, Anne Marie
Morris, Grahame M. (Easington)
Morris, James
Mosley, Stephen
Mowat, David
Munn, Meg
Munt, Tessa
Murray, Ian
Murray, Sheryll
Nandy, Lisa
Newmark, Mr Brooks
Newton, Sarah
Nokes, Caroline
Norman, Jesse
O’Donnell, Fiona
Offord, Dr Matthew
Onwurah, Chi
Opperman, Guy
Osborne, rh Mr George
Osborne, Sandra
Ottaway, rh Sir Richard
Paice, rh Sir James
Parish, Neil
Paterson, rh Mr Owen
Penrose, John
Perkins, Toby
Perry, Claire
Phillips, Stephen
Phillipson, Bridget
Pickles, rh Mr Eric
Poulter, Dr Daniel
Powell, Lucy
Prisk, Mr Mark
Raab, Mr Dominic
Raynsford, rh Mr Nick
Redwood, rh Mr John
Reeves, Rachel
Reid, Mr Alan
Reynolds, Jonathan
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Riordan, Mrs Linda
Robathan, rh Mr Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, rh Sir Hugh
Robertson, John
Rotheram, Steve
Rudd, Amber
Russell, Sir Bob
Sanders, Mr Adrian
Sandys, Laura
Sawford, Andy
Seabeck, Alison
Shapps, rh Grant
Sheerman, Mr Barry
Shelbrooke, Alec
Simpson, Mr Keith
Skidmore, Chris
Skinner, Mr Dennis
Slaughter, Mr Andy
Smith, Angela
Smith, Chloe
Smith, Henry
Smith, Julian
Smith, Nick
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, rh Sir Nicholas
Soubry, Anna
Spellar, rh Mr John
Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline
Spencer, Mr Mark
Stanley, rh Sir John
Stephenson, Andrew
Stewart, Bob
Stewart, Rory
Straw, rh Mr Jack
Stride, Mel
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, rh Sir Andrew
Sturdy, Julian
Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry
Swales, Ian
Swinson, Jo
Swire, rh Mr Hugo
Tami, Mark
Thomas, Mr Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Thornton, Mike
Thurso, rh John
Tomlinson, Justin
Tredinnick, David
Trickett, Jon
Truss, rh Elizabeth
Turner, Karl
Twigg, Derek
Twigg, Stephen
Tyrie, Mr Andrew
Umunna, Mr Chuka
Vaizey, Mr Edward
Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa
Walker, Mr Charles
Walker, Mr Robin
Ward, Mr David
Watkinson, Dame Angela
Watson, Mr Tom
Weatherley, Mike
Webb, rh Steve
Wheeler, Heather
White, Chris
Whiteford, Dr Eilidh
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Whittingdale, Mr John
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, rh Mr David
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Roger
Williams, Stephen
Williamson, Gavin
Willott, rh Jenny
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wollaston, Dr Sarah
Woodcock, John
Wright, Mr Iain
Wright, Simon
Yeo, Mr Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Zahawi, Nadhim

NOES
Aldous, Peter
Amess, Sir David
Anderson, Mr David
Baker, Steve
Banks, Gordon
Bebb, Guto
Bellingham, Mr Henry
Berry, Jake
Binley, Mr Brian
Blackman, Bob
Bone, Mr Peter
Brazier, Mr Julian
Bruce, Fiona
Burns, Conor
Burns, rh Mr Simon
Burrowes, Mr David
Campbell, Mr Gregory
Cash, Sir William
Chishti, Rehman
Chope, Mr Christopher
Clarke, rh Mr Tom
Coffey, Dr Thérèse
Colvile, Oliver
Crausby, Mr David
Cunningham, Sir Tony
Davies, Glyn
Davies, Philip
de Bois, Nick
Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.
Donohoe, Mr Brian H.
Doyle, Gemma
Doyle-Price, Jackie
Drax, Richard
Durkan, Mark
Elphicke, Charlie
Evans, Mr Nigel
Evennett, Mr David
Field, Mark
Flello, Robert
Francois, rh Mr Mark
Fuller, Richard
Gale, Sir Roger
Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl
Glass, Pat
Glen, John
Goldsmith, Zac
Gray, Mr James
Grayling, rh Chris
Greatrex, Tom
Hanson, rh Mr David
Hayes, rh Mr John
Heald, Sir Oliver
Hemming, John
Hermon, Lady
Hillier, Meg
Hinds, Damian
Hoban, Mr Mark
Hoey, Kate
Hollobone, Mr Philip
Holloway, Mr Adam
Howarth, Sir Gerald
Jackson, Mr Stewart
Jones, rh Mr David
Jones, Mr Marcus
Jones, Susan Elan
Kane, Mike
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Kawczynski, Daniel
Leadsom, Andrea
Lefroy, Jeremy
Leigh, Sir Edward
Lopresti, Jack
MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan
Mahmood, Shabana
Main, Mrs Anne
Marsden, Mr Gordon
McCann, Mr Michael
McCartney, Karl
McCrea, Dr William
McGovern, Jim
McGuire, rh Dame Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McPartland, Stephen
Meale, Sir Alan
Menzies, Mark
Mudie, Mr George
Mulholland, Greg
Murphy, rh Paul
Neill, Robert
Nuttall, Mr David
Ollerenshaw, Eric
Owen, Albert
Pawsey, Mark
Penning, rh Mike
Percy, Andrew
Pincher, Christopher
Pound, Stephen
Randall, rh Sir John
Reckless, Mark
Rees-Mogg, Jacob
Ritchie, Ms Margaret
Robertson, Mr Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Roy, Mr Frank
Ruffley, Mr David
Rutley, David
Scott, Mr Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shannon, Jim
Shepherd, Sir Richard
Sheridan, Jim
Shuker, Gavin
Stevenson, John
Stewart, Iain
Streeter, Mr Gary
Stuart, Mr Graham
Swayne, rh Mr Desmond
Syms, Mr Robert
Tapsell, rh Sir Peter
Teather, Sarah
Timms, rh Stephen
Turner, Mr Andrew
Vaz, rh Keith
Wallace, Mr Ben
Weir, Mr Mike
Wharton, James
Whittaker, Craig
Williams, Mr Mark
Wilson, Sammy
Wright, rh Jeremy

Feb 04

Norse Temple for Iceland

The pagan Norse religion is making a comeback in Iceland.

The pagan Norse religion is making a comeback in Iceland.

A New Age sect are building a ‘Norse Temple’ in Iceland according to Huffington Post.

Asatruarfelagid, a neopagan organization, plans to start construction next month on the country’s first Norse temple since Christianity arrived in the island nation roughly 1,000 years ago.

The Reykjavik City Council has donated land for the temple, but the group has to raise nearly $1 million for the building itself, which will be set into a hillside and topped with a dome to let in sunlight, the BBC reported.

Once completed, the temple will accommodate 250 worshippers. It will host weddings, funerals, naming rituals, initiation ceremonies and more for the group’s 2,488 members, which Reuters says is triple the number from just a decade ago.

The Asatruarfelagid, which began in 1972, says on its website that its values are “based on tolerance, honesty, honor and respect for the ancient cultural heritage and nature,” and follows the principal that “each person is responsible for themselves and their actions,” according to a Google translation..

 

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Jan 28

Gendercide Could Be on its Way Out of UK

Gendercide--aborting a baby because of its gender--primarily targets girl babies.

Gendercide–aborting a baby because of its gender–primarily targets girl babies.

Gendercide–choosing abortion because of the baby’s gender–could be on its way out of the UK within the next few months after MP’s upheld a parliamentary motion to fast-track a new law last week.

The amendment, which prohibits abortion based on the baby’s gender, was signed by more than 70 MP’s. If passed, the amendment will be added to the Government’s Serious Crime Bill by May 2015.

The proposed law would mean that doctors who commit gendercide can be prosecuted.

Conservative member Fiona Bruce is one of the main supporters of the amendment. She related in The Daily Telegraph that the Government has shown a lack of interest in this issue, claiming that the coalition Government “persistently denied” that sex selective abortions were happening in the UK. Referring to the statistical analysis that the Government used to back up its claims, Bruce said:

“The Government statistics do not reflect the reality. And the reality is that sex-selective abortion is happening in the UK.

“We know this partly because UK women are coming forward in increasing numbers to tell their stories, and partly due to the existence of authoritative, peer-reviewed research which has found evidence of sex imbalances in birth ratios in some UK populations—most notably a paper authored by Dr Sylvie Dubuc of the University of Oxford which dug deep into the data and found strong circumstantial evidence that sex-selective abortions were common in certain communities.”

The head of Jeena International, which works with women who have been forced into sex selective abortions, said that “saying that there is no evidence is tantamount to saying that the women we work with are lying and that my organisation is making things up.”

Despite her disappointment with the Government, Bruce believes, as with issues like FGM and forced marriages, the issue of sex-selective abortions will also be addressed by the Government.

At the end of her letter to the Telegraph, Bruce asserted:

“The time has come to face up to the truth. Sex-selective abortion is a reality in the UK.
We can no longer ignore it. I do not pretend that my amendment can solve the problem of son-preference all on its own, but I know that it is a big step in the right direction. It is my hope that my colleagues in the Commons will agree that urgent action needs to be taken and vote in favour of my amendment when the time comes.”

And although we in the pro-life movement know it’s nowhere near enough to stop gender-based abortions—because every unborn child is equally valuable, regardless of the reason for abortion—we can also be confident that saving a few babies from death is the goal of the U.K. amendment.

“It’s a goal we can wholeheartedly support.”

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce has pushed for laws to end gendercide in  the UK.

Conservative MP Fiona Bruce has pushed for laws to end gendercide in the UK.

Opponents of the Bill claim it is a way to make abortion less available to women.

Mary Glindon, the Labour MP for North Tyneside, said: “If opposing the abortion of baby girls—often under coercion—makes me anti-choice, then I will wear the label with pride.”

Jasvinder Sanghera, founder and Karma Nirvana, and a spokeswoman for the campaign website stopgendercide.org, added: “Sex-selective abortion is a reality in the UK.

“This is widely known in diaspora communities and beyond.

“The Government has a responsibility both to women suffering under cultural pressures and to their baby girls.”

Controversy erupted last year when a 2012 undercover investigation by The Daily Telegraph revealed that girls were being aborted simply for being girls. Two UK doctors were committing gendercide based on a recording of the doctor agreeing to do this at the parents’ request.

After the Telegraph’s revealing investigation, Aisling Hubert, backed by the Christian Legal Centre, launched her campaign for action.

Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan received a summons from Birmingham magistrates allowing the case on Monday.
He is accused, along with Dr Prabhan Sivaraman, of a conspiracy to use poison to procure abortions. This act goes against the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Despite the nature of this case, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) was asked by Sivaraman’s lawyers to take over and drop the case.

The CPS concluded in 2013 that there was enough evidence to convict Dr Sivaraman, but they decided not to prosecute because it was “not in the public interest.”

Hubert began her private prosecution because of the CPS’ unwillingness to prosecute. She is “pleased that the case will now go to the Crown Court.” She emphasized that the case must continue, if only for the sake of the baby girls whose lives are in danger.

Dr Sivaraman will appear before the Manchester Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on 6 February. Dr Rajmohan is due to appear for the same type of hearing at Birmingham Crown Court on 21 May.

Both doctors are banned from performing abortions while their eligibility to practice is investigated by the General Medical Council.

In November 2014, MP’s backed a Bill introduced by Fiona Bruce to make gender selective abortion illegal in one of the most overwhelming majorities ever seen in the Commons.

Unfortunately, the vote has no legal force. It was simply clarifying that the practice of gendercide is unacceptable. This was in response to The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), the UK’s largest abortion provider, who “maintains that gender abortion is not illegal under the 1967 Abortion Act and that the law is ‘silent’ on the subject.”

However, this Parliamentary move would make sex selective abortion illegal because it would add a clause to the Serious Crime Bill and eliminate any uncertainty over the legality of the practice.

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Jan 27

Plans for LGBT School in Britain

If approved, a gay-friendly school could open in Manchester within the next three years.

If approved, a gay-friendly school could open in Manchester within the next three years.

Plans to open the first LGBT school in Britain were revealed last week.

The school, which would open in Manchester, is designed for students age 13 and up who are bullied or otherwise struggling in mainstream schools.

If approved, the school could open its doors within the next three years. From the plans outlined so far, the school would have the capacity for 40 full-time students and 20 part-time students, with part-time students attending the mainstream school if they wish.

The Department for Communities and Local Government, which is looking into an alternative education for LGBT students, donated £63,000 for a “feasibility study.” This study will assess demand for the institution and help purchase the community centre from the Manchester City Council.

A Manchester City Council spokeswoman said:

“We supported LGBT Youth NW in their bid for funding to look at the feasibility of expanding their premises and developing the work they do,” she said.

“One of their development ambitions is around how they might make additional educational support available to LGBT young people. We’ve had an initial discussion with them about that but there are no current plans that we’re aware of to open a LGBT school in the city.”

Critics have lambasted the idea as lawful segregation that would inhibit tolerance efforts, not help them.
Tom Loughton, Tory MP and former education minister, said:

“We need to do a lot more to combat homophobic bullying and to create a more tolerant society.
“But I cannot see how segregating a group of young people identified by their sexuality can aid better engagement and understanding.

“The way to achieve more integration, understanding and empathy is not by segregating members of one group, and this would seem to me to be a step backwards from achieving tolerance.”

Paul Nuttall, educational spokesman and UKIP deputy leader stated: ‘This idea does nothing but foster division.

“At a time that successive governments have closed all but a few special schools, why this sudden exception, if not for reasons of political correctness?

“Integration is the key to understanding, and it is utterly bizarre to be taking a step that highlights differences and adds nothing of value to a child’s education.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “There is simply no way that we will approve a free school specifically for LGBT young people.

“Pupils regardless of their sexuality should be educated in mainstream schools which should be equipped to tackle any bullying that should occur.”

Director for the LGBT Youth North West, Amelia Lee, said this school is “not about making a little, safe enclave away from the real world.”

She argued that right now the education system “sets up 5%-10% of pupils to fail” because the structure does not take the needs of LGBT students into account.

In addition, Lee said that the school would be “LGBT inclusive, but not exclusive.”

Writing in the Gay Star News, Elly Barnes argued that “education is key to eradicating all forms of discrimination including those of different gender and sexual diversities.”

The Founder and CEO of “Educate to Celebrate” believes that creating an LGBT-friendly school in Manchester will help, but it is not the long-term answer.

“Making ALL schools LGBT-friendly is the solution. Giving all teachers, staff and parents the confidence, training and resources to change ingrained attitudes amd make positive institutional change; this is the way forward to achieving social justice in the education system.”

“The key is to make LGBT-Friendly schools though delivering training to all staff, updating policies, creating resources for an LGBT-Inclusive curriculum, increasing visibility in the environment and engaging the community in events.”

Sally Carr, Founder and Operational Director of LGBT Youth NW told Christian Today that because the school is open to all students, not just LGBT students, the criticism of creating a gay “ghetto” is misplaced.

“Much like you would expect Christian schools to be absent of prejudice towards Christianity, this would be a school free from homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. These things have no place in modern British society.”

Carr also believes that Christians can help prevent gay children from being bullied in UK schools.

“I think Christians, particularly straight Christians, need to listen more than we speak,” she said. “There’s a need to listen to young LGBT people, and if they say that the current system is not working we need to take that seriously. We need to change the system so that future LGBT people are able to live and find God and find that God loves them, both at work and at play and at church.

“That has to be our highest priority, keeping young people from giving up on life and giving up on God.”

David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, agreed that LGBT students in mainstream schools could use extra support. He said that “the Church of England has made its position very clear that we strongly oppose homophobic bullying in schools.

“We are committed to eliminating homophobic bullying in all Church of England Schools and we produce national resources and guidance for teachers to use.

“However we recognise that other schools are not there yet.

“If pupils are being bullied because of their sexual orientation I would support alternative provision for them within the council’s service.”

Rev Sally Hitchiner, who founded Diverse Church, a support network that allows LGBT Christians to connect, believes this proposed school could help struggling LGBT students.

“I think it’s a tragedy that it’s needed,” she said, “but for students involved it might be a lifeline. Far too many LGBT students face misunderstanding and isolation to the point that some of take their own lives.

“However, I think the highest priority has to be enabling every school in the country to be a supportive and safe place for all of its people.”

Amelia Lee will wait until after the general election to move forward with an application to the school. If approved, students would be able to start in about three years.The grant received from the Department for Communities and Local Government said the grant was not to set up the school, but only to help purchase the community centre from the Manchester City Council.

The plans for this school are based on the Harvey Milk School in New York, which is designed for, but not exclusive to, LGBT students. It is named after Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to a public office in America.

Lee secured a meeting with Department of Education officials after visiting the Harvey Milk School last year.

While it is true that as Christians we are to love and minister to one another, there is a difference between loving someone and turning a blind eye to their sin. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:9: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” Another name for “abusers of themselves with mankind is homosexuality. The Bible clearly teaches that people who practice these sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But if they repent of this sin, He will be faithful and just to forgive them their sin and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

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Jan 16

“Brexit” on the Horizon?

Without EU reforms, a Brexit might well be imminent.

Without EU reforms, a Brexit might well be imminent.

A so-called “Brexit” might be on the horizon, according to Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission.

On 13 January, Delors publicly acknowledged that Britain might be on its way out of the European Union.

Along with two other politicians, Pascal Lamy and Antonio Vitorino, Delors wrote in an article for Euractiv emphasizing the necessary changes the EU will have to make if Britain is to remain a member.

Delors, a founder of the modern EU, called for unity among European nations while affirming that no country should have to remain in the EU against its wishes.

“We must unite further in order to promote this common will, along with our interests and our values, in an increasingly less Eurocentric world through the adoption of more consistent trade and external aid policies, through the creation of a genuine energy union, and through the patient bolstering of our common foreign and defence policy, because strength lies in numbers.

“This Union naturally needs the United Kingdom—but only as long a majority of its citizens still wish to be a part of it, because the Union is by no means a prison.”

In response to this article, Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Eurosceptic campaign group Business for Britain, said: “It’s nice to see that even the modern architects of the EU now realise that the EU needs to change if the UK is to remain a member.

“But these EU grandees still fail to grasp why so many Europeans are deeply unhappy with the EU, by yet again arguing for more integrating, more Brussels and a greater focus on propping up the Euro.”

Mr Delors is not the only person who advocates a “Brexit” (shorthand for British exit).

David Davis, Conservative former Shadow Home Secretary, said earlier this week that David Cameron needed to persuade German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the UK leaving the EU is not just “sabre-rattling.”

Speaking in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Davis said:

What [David Cameron’s] got to do is to persuade [Merkel] that the prospect of us leaving is real. It’s not just sabre-rattling. Germans go in for sabre-rattling an awful lot at the moment. They’re virtually threatening Greece with exit from the euro. They don’t mean it, but they’re talking it up.

“There should be no mutual misunderstanding about this. Cameron doesn’t want us to leave … but [he] may well face the prospect where the people tell [him] to leave.

Davis McAllister, the German MEP for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, was interviewed at the same time as Davis. According to McAllister, the meeting was not primarily about British concerns with the EU. However, he indicated that Germany wanted the UK to remain in the EU while acknowledging that reform needed to happen.

“Germans are ready to talk to London about British demands in a fair and reasonable manner. But we’re very clear that we are the UK’s partner in Europe and we are interested that the United Kingdom stays in the European Union,” he said.

“No reasonable politician can ignore the fact that over the next five years we will have to find solutions for the political concerns of the United Kingdom. We have to because we want to keep the United Kingdom within the European Union.

“I, and many others, will work for a fair deal with Britain, but it must be a deal that accepts the specificities of the United Kingdom in the EU on the one hand, while allowing the member states of the EU to integrate further.”

Discussing the consequences of a “Brexit” for Ireland, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Ireland will support changes in the EU if it means that Britain will remain a member.

Mr Kenny, speaking at a foreign affairs council in Dublin, said on 12 January that Britain and Ireland’s “shared EU membership has played an immensely important role in strengthening relations between our two islands, not least in creating the environment for business links to flourish and as a force for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.”

At the same time, Mr Kenny indicated that Ireland would be “candid if we are presented with proposals that we do not see as achievable or desirable.”

Kenny also raised concerns about the effects of a potential UK exit on Ireland:

“The Government’s position is clear and unequivocal: we want the UK to remain in the EU.

“This is clearly in our national interest, and in the wider European interest,” he said.

In another article, one UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson stated:

“There is a widespread—and growing—recognition that the EU can’t continue as it is. There are many voices around Europe saying that this requires treaty change.

“But we don’t need to wait: many of the reforms we seek on trade, on regulation and on deepening the single market, can be made right now.”

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Jan 10

Kessab Churches Destroyed by Syrian Rebels

Graffiti was plastered on church walls by rebels in Kessab.

Graffiti was plastered on church walls by rebels in Kessab.

Christian churches were destroyed by Syrian rebels in the town of Kessab.

Ruth Sherlock reports in the Telegraph how the Holy Trinity Armenian Evangelical church was destroyed—its library, pews, altar, and graveyard burned and vandalized by Syrian rebels.

Before the assault on Kessab, rebel fighters were instructed to act like “moderate Muslims” and “natural allies of the West.”

Syrian rebels tried to reassure Kessab residents in March 2014 that they were not intolerant of Christians and other minority religions. They claimed that they were “non-sectarian protectors” of the city.

Rebels from Syria and the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham snapped pictures of themselves guarding churches and conversing civilly with locals. Approximately 30 elderly Armenians were driven in buses to Turkey, where they received a warm reception that was covered by state television.

However, the destruction of the churches disproves the above picture of good intentions. As soon as the television cameras turned away, the rebels turned on the people they were supposedly protecting and began burning and desecrating churches.

Sherlock, who works as a Middle East journalist for the Telegraph stated:

The perpetrators had shown both purpose and glee in their destruction of Christian sites in the ancient Armenian town. Statues were riddled with bullets and Islamist slogans were scrawled across the walls of homes and shops.

Father Miron Avedissian, priest of the Armenian Apostolic Church related his story:

“They took photographs to show they were looking after the churches, and then set them alight…It all still happened in the first day.”

“There is no God but Allah” is now plastered on walls, doors, and shop fronts of Kessab’s streets. Father Avedissian’s church suffered the same fate. The crosses outside the church were peppered with bullet holes, and the interior was blackened by fire.

Nothing remained of the nearby Holy Trinity Armenian Evangelical Church but a charred shell. Graffiti covered the church’s walls, naming the rebel groups who participated in the vandalism.

One resident, Zavinar Sargdegian, witnessed one of the churches being set on fire by rebels. She said:

“I was at home with my husband when they raided the house…they broke down the front door. They pushed us on to the street. We were on our knees and they put a gun to our heads. From the road I saw the Angelic Church burning. Fire was coming out of the doors and windows.”

After Kessab was captured on 24 March 2014 by Muslim and Syrian rebels there was controversy surrounding how much damage was actually done. Some reports claim that much of the reports were propaganda.

But some facts are not debated. With the help of Turkey, rebels did overrun the Kessab, and its 2,500 Armenian Christian inhabitants were forced to flee for their lives. Numerous photographs show the destruction of churches and other buildings.

Rebels, by nature, are not moderate. Nor are they protectors of innocent people.

Please continue to pray for peace and protection for our fellow Christians in Syria.

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