Monday, August 22, 2016

The 3 - August 21, 2016

In this week's edition of The 3, identifying three stories of relevance to the Christian community, there is information about Christian churches and ministries getting involved in helping flood victims in Louisiana.  Also, the Supreme Court in India is offering more relief to Christian victims of religious violence in an uprising from a number of years ago.  And, Target has made a decision to install single-stall private bathrooms in all its stores, in light of the uproar over its transgender bathroom policy, an announcement made after financial figures for the retail giant were released.

3 - Christian organizations respond to flooding in Louisiana

The devastating floods in Louisiana have taken their toll, resulting in thousands of people having to evacuate their homes and scores of homes and businesses damaged.  And, a variety of churches and Christian ministries are taking up the mantle to help the victims.  Christian Headlines reported on two sister ministries:  Samaritan's Purse and the Rapid Response Team of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Samaritan's Purse sent disaster relief team members to Louisiana and Mississippi - advance members went in to canvass hard-hit areas and to prepare to get relief to the victims of the historic flooding, caused by after more than 30 inches of rain within a week.

Baptist Press report quotes Staff Sgt. Chad McCann, a member of Union Baptist Church in Deville, LA, who was aboard a Black Hawk helicopter rescuing flood victims in south Louisiana.  He said that, "It is way worse … more widespread" than even Hurricane Katrina.

The story relates that over 20 Louisiana Baptist churches were "serving as mobile feeding centers; hosting disaster relief volunteers; serving as shelters for evacuees; responding to mud-out requests for areas where waters have receded; distributing food, water, clothing and other essentials to sustain families displaced by the flooding; providing mobile shower units; and performing training for "walk-up" volunteers." The first wave of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams came alongside Louisiana Baptists for immediate crisis as well as long-term recovery response - from Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and Tennessee.   And, the North American Mission Board was helping to coordinating assistance with the Southern Baptist Convention.

John Hebert, the Louisiana convention's missions director, is quoted as saying that it is "an opportunity to restore lives" -- "but also to win souls." He urged prayer that "the lost will see Christ in us and allow us to share the Gospel with them."

2 - Indian Supreme Court says that government response to anti-Christian attacks was inadequate

Back in 2008, according to an article on the Christianity Today website, in the Kandhamal district of the eastern coastal state of Odisha in the nation of India, there was the death of a Hindu priest, which set off violence against Christians at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists, who blamed Christians in the region for the death.  Around 100 Christians were killed, 300 churches attacked, 6,000 Christian homes damaged, and 50,000 people displaced.

This month, the India Supreme Court ordered the Odisha government to reinvestigate the trials of perpetrators “where acquittals were not justified on facts.” There were 827 criminal cases that were registered, but 315 were not even pursued. Plus, in the 362 cases where a verdict was given, only 78 resulted in conviction. There were almost 6,500 people arrested, but only 150 cases continue.

Two justices, including the Chief Justice, ruled that the compensation that the state government offered was not enough. The offers ranged from $150 to $750 for destroyed homes and $7,500 per family who lost a member.

The Court offered some additional compensation for the widows and children of the 39 victims, as well as some additional money for damaged homes, as well as injuries.

The amounts were less than requested for families suffering loss of loved ones or property damage by Archbishop Raphel Cheenath, who had filed the lawsuit - he passed away on August 14 at the age of 82.

Activist John Dayal says it's not enough: “We are disappointed that Christian traders, NGOs, and others who lost their businesses to arson and violence have not been compensated,” adding, "The economic strength of the Christians in the district had been severely impacted in the violence—by design. But they have not been paid any compensation at all.”

Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Fides news agency, according to the Christianity Today story, quoting from, that the ruling by Chief Justice Thakur is “a step forward in justice for the victims of Kandhamal." He added, “It is a positive sign that the Supreme Court of India recognized as unjust compensation paid. The justice procedure is slow and inadequate, but this is a sign of hope.”

1 - Major retailer to spend millions to construct single-stall bathrooms in aftermath of transgender bathroom policy implementation

Target has announced that it will spend $20 million dollars to construct single-stall bathrooms at its stores.  But, if you think those private restrooms are for transgendered individuals, who have been placed at the center of the recent controversy in which Target is involved, think again.  This new restroom arrangement seems to be designed for those who may have been offended by the policy. That's consistent with comments made by Stuart Shepard of Family Policy Alliance about this new construction on a recent edition of The Meeting House.

Christian Daily reports that:

On Wednesday, Target CFO Cathy Smith acknowledged some of their customers' objections to their transgender bathroom policy, which allows transgender customers and employees to use the bathroom designated for the gender they identify with. Despite the support the company has gained from some of its customers, Smith said they have decided to install a third, single-toilet bathroom in all of their branches, CNN Money reports.

The website reports that Target spokesperson Katie Boylan said, "We put that in motion for some time prior to the [June] shareholders meeting," who added, "At the end of the day, Target is all about inclusion. We want everyone to feel comfortable in our stores."

That same day, Target had reported that its stock decreased because of its low sales. Also, the company lowered its sales forecast as a result of their performance.  The article says that Smith denied that the #BoycottTarget movement had anything to do with the 7 percent drop in their sales. 

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