Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 3 - September 22, 2013

The latest edition of "The 3" features a milestone celebrated by an initiative incorporating short videos by high-profile people.  Also, there has been Congressional legislation introduced, designed to protect the rights of conscience for non-profit organizations.  And, the top story involves violence in two nations - a church bombed in Pakistan and a mall attack in Kenya, a majority Christian nation, where Muslims were allowed to leave before the gunmen opened fire.

3 - "I Am Second" celebrates release of 100th video

This past week marked the release of the 100th short film of the initiative, "I Am Second", in partnership with e3 Partners.  "I Am Second" features video stories of a variety of musicians, athletes, actors and everyday people on the website, To date, according to a press release, the website has received more than 10 million visits from 219 countries and territories. The I Am Second films, which address an array of personal struggles, including abuse, addictions, pride, eating disorders, broken families and the search for success and meaning in life, have received a total of more than 20 million views. More than one-half million people “like” the I Am Second Facebook page.

Curtis Hail, president of e3 Partners, which birthed I Am Second just five years ago, is quoted as saying, “We are grateful for the 100 individuals who have officially shared their story through films on the website. But even more so, we are touched by the countless number of individuals who have seen I am Second and told us about their own experiences of discovering what it means to be ‘second.’ We believe this is only the beginning for the movement.”

The 100th video featured best-selling author and co-host of the daily Breakpoint radio commentary, Eric Metaxas. Prior to releasing the film to the public on Wednesday, I Am Second debuted it at a special 100th film celebration in Dallas on Sept. 18. I am Second Live, a late-night TV styled event, was hosted by Metaxas and featured additional individuals who have joined I am Second including Korn guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, former prostitute Annie Lobert and Navy Seal Remi Adeleke.

I Am Second has released two books through Thomas Nelson – “I Am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives” and “Live Second.” The movement also offers numerous curriculums to accompany films as well as volunteer opportunities and expeditions to help encourage people to live second daily.

2 - Marriage and Religious Freedom Act introduced into Congress

Recently, there has been concern expressed about the rights of various organizations and their leaders to express their faith.   And, a group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation this week that could be an important first step in reversing a trend that has generated particular concern. According to CitizenLink, the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act would protect those who support traditional marriage, including institutions and individuals, from discrimination through the federal tax code.

Congressman Raul Labrador, a Republican from Idaho, has championed the bill, and Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said that, “As we’ve seen with the IRS scandals, nonprofit organizations and those who support them may be targeted and punished for their beliefs and principles.”

Other Representatives who introduced the bill include Democrats Mike McIntyre, from North Carolina, and Dan Lipinski, of Illinois. The Act has more than 60 original co-sponsors.

Labrador summarized the legislation by saying, “Our bill will protect freedom of conscience for those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman...This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. As President Obama said, ‘Americans hold a wide range of views’ on marriage and ‘maintaining our nation’s commitment to religious freedom’ is ‘vital.’ We agree.”

Kim Trobee of the CitizenLink radio feature gave some analysis and commentary on The Meeting House radio program on Faith Radio recently.  You can listen to or download the conversation here.

1 - Christians focus of church bombing in Pakistan, Kenya attack apparently targets non-Muslims

On Sunday morning, a suicide bomber attacked a crowd receiving free food after the Sunday morning service at All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, according to Christianity Today, citing a report in the The New York Times. More than 75 people were killed and 100 wounded.

Protests by Christian groups erupted in major cities nationwide.

The church was built in 1883 and was "inspired by the structures of the mosques," according to an AsiaNews report that was cited in the CT piece. "It is facing Mecca and is a landmark building for its attempt to promote peace, harmony and peaceful co-existence between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority in Pakistan."

CT quotes The Hindu, as reporting that the government pledged to "bear the cost of rebuilding the damaged church and declared a three-day mourning...Missionary run schools will be shut for three days in protest."

This is a huge attack against Christians in Pakistan, who are a religious minority in that country. And, Christians were apparently targeted in a weekend tragedy at an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.

Islamist militants from Somalia laid seige to the mall, and at least 68 people are reported dead, with reports as late as Sunday afternoon that hostages were still being held.

Christianity Today also has a report on the violence in Kenya. It cites a Reuters report that Al Shabaab, which has increasingly sought to punish neighboring Kenya for its military role in an African peacekeeping mission in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack.

USA Today reports that witnesses told local and national news media that the gunman asked Muslims to leave before opening fire. Kenya is 83% Christian with a sizable Muslim community — about 11% of its 44 million people.

According to CT, a witness told The Observer how he survived:
Covering the Christian name on his ID with his thumb he approached one of the attackers, whom he described as Somali, and showed them the plastic card. "They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward and they said, 'What is the name of Muhammad's mother?' When he couldn't answer they just shot him."
al Shabaab has reportedly been recruiting those converting to Islam out of a Christian background to attack Kenyan churches.

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