3 - Teacher fired for not calling transgender student by preferred pronoun, students walk out to show support for teacher
Peter Vlaming, until recently, was a teacher in West Point, Virginia, after he declined to call a transgender student by the student's preferred pronoun. According to the Christian Post website:
Following a brief suspension, Vlaming was fired after the school board accused him of engaging in “discrimination” and contributing to a “hostile learning environment.”
The teacher explained that while he agreed to use the student's chosen name, he drew the line at pronouns, as doing so violated his conscience.The story quotes from another Christian Post story, in which Vlaming is quoted as saying, "I won't use male pronouns with a female student that now identifies as a male though I did agree to use the new masculine name but avoid female pronouns..."
And, students are siding with...Mr. Vlaming. The original Post story reports:
Less than 24 hours after the West Point, Virginia school board unanimously voted to terminate high school French instructor Peter Vlaming, a large group of students walked out of their classes to protest the decision.
“He's an amazing man,” student Wyatt Pedersen told WWBT News. “I think he really was going with what he believed was right and it's really unfair that he’s being punished for that, especially in such a dramatic way.”The story refers to Forrest Rohde, the student who organized the walkout, who "emphasized that the protest was not about the transgender student. Rather, he said students took issue with the school board 'trying to force the teacher to conform to their ideologies with the threat of removal from the school.'" The article also says:
Vlaming’s attorney, Shawn Voyles, maintained that the school system was not respecting the constitutional rights of his client, but praised West Point for permitting students to participate in the walkout.2 - President signs law protecting religious freedom in Iraq and Syria
Recently, President Trump signed into law a bill that is designed to stand with persecuted religious minorities in Iraq and Syria. The Washington Free Beacon reported that the bill "will help channel U.S. humanitarian and rebuilding assistance to Christians, Yazidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria who were the victims of ISIS genocide."
The reports says that: "The measure...ensures that the U.S. aid may come through the federal government or other entities, including faith-based groups." The bill "also enables the State Department, in collaboration with other federal agencies, to conduct criminal investigations and apprehend individuals identified as alleged ISIS members, and to identify warning signs of genocide and threats of persecution."
And there's more: the Free Beacon states that the new law "encourages foreign governments to identify suspected Islamic State perpetrators in security databases and security screenings to assist with their capture and prosecution."
It is notable that religious groups working in the region will now be able to receive U.S. assistance. The article says:
The piece of the legislation allowing faith-based groups working in the region to receive the U.S. aid directly changes the prior policy of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development, which argued for a "religion-blind" policy of distributing funds mainly to the United Nations.To hear analysis of this bill, as well as other aspects of the situation in the Middle East, you can listen to or download a conversation with Jalil Dawood of World Refugee Care here.
1 - In excess of 100 members of Chinese church arrested, pastor writes declaration about civil disobedience
On Sunday, December 9th, over a hundred members of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, China were arrested, including its pastor, Wang Yi, and his wife, Jiang Rong, according to the China Partnership website.
The site recently published a letter from the pastor and stated:
Foreseeing this circumstance, Pastor Wang Yi wrote the declaration below to be published by his church should he be detained for more than 48 hours. In it he explains the meaning and necessity of faithful disobedience, how it is distinct from political activism or civil disobedience, and how Christians should carry it out.The declaration was posted on his Facebook page. After affirming his respect for the authority of the Chinese government, he wrote this:
As a pastor of a Christian church, I have my own understanding and views, based on the Bible, about what righteous order and good government is. At the same time, I am filled with anger and disgust at the persecution of the church by this Communist regime, at the wickedness of their depriving people of the freedoms of religion and of conscience.He also stated, "...I believe that this Communist regime’s persecution against the church is a greatly wicked, unlawful action. As a pastor of a Christian church, I must denounce this wickedness openly and severely. The calling that I have received requires me to use non-violent methods to disobey those human laws that disobey the Bible and God. My Savior Christ also requires me to joyfully bear all costs for disobeying wicked laws."
Pastor Wang Yi also wrote:
If I am imprisoned for a long or short period of time, if I can help reduce the authorities’ fear of my faith and of my Savior, I am very joyfully willing to help them in this way. But I know that only when I renounce all the wickedness of this persecution against the church and use peaceful means to disobey, will I truly be able to help the souls of the authorities and law enforcement. I hope God uses me, by means of first losing my personal freedom, to tell those who have deprived me of my personal freedom that there is an authority higher than their authority, and that there is a freedom that they cannot restrain, a freedom that fills the church of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.