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Alabama to Vote on Ten Commandments Amendment

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Alabama voters overwhelmingly supported an amendment to the state’s 1901 Constitution authorizing public displays of the Ten Commandments.

“The people we were hearing from are super excited to have this opportunity to go down in history as the first state to acknowledged that we want God, that is the Christian God, in their Constitution,” said Dean Young, the chief advocate for the amendment and the campaign strategist last year for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. “This is the first time in the history of the country that a state has taken such a stand in acknowledging the God of the Old and New Testament.”

As the votes continue to come in tonight in Alabama, no measure nor state candidate is winning by a wider margin than the Ten Commandments, as more than 7 out of 10 voters backed the measure.

With almost all precincts counted, 71.6 percent of voters approved of the constitutional amendment while 28.4 percent disapproved.

“This is a big deal. It’s a huge deal,” said Young, before the polls closed earlier Tuesday. “The highest levels across the nation in government are watching what Alabama is doing.”

Young said he was confident the passage will lead to public displays of the Ten Commandments, even if national organizations which advocate for a separation of church and state are already promising legal challenges.

“Ten Commandments” ballot initiative, aimed at driving particular voters to the polls, was pure exploitation of religion for political purposes,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO with the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Government sponsored religious displays on public property clearly violate the core constitutional principle of religious freedom and put the seal of approval on one religion over another. And many of these displays will no doubt end up in court at the expense of the taxpayers.”

The ACLU of Alabama, in a statement, said they were not surprised with the passage of the constitutional amendment, “even though from a legal standpoint, it is meaningless.”

They also called the potential displays a violation of the U.S. Constitution, and that Tuesday’s passage will give public officials “false comfort that they will be safe from costly litigation.”

The amendment, as written, promises that no state money will be used to defend it during legal challenges. But Young predicted that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who won Tuesday’s governor’s election over Democrat Walt Maddox, will do everything “within all of her available power and that includes executive orders” to ensure that the Ten Commandments are displayed in public venues within 90 days.

Young, during a news conference last month in Montgomery, said Ivey committed in a questionnaire to putting the Ten Commandments on display inside every one of Alabama’s public schools. Ivey’s campaign, at the time, did not acknowledge making such commitment. But the governor has repeatedly cited her support for the displays.

“When the governor of your state is requesting the schools place the Ten Commandments on the walls and the people of the state are saying overwhelmingly that they want the Ten Commandments in the schools, then we won’t have too much of a problem (in getting them displayed),” said Young, who is from Orange Beach. “The people who work with the schools, they are excited about the opportunity.”

Young and state Senator Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, have also said there are Christian organizations willing to defend public entities which display them.

The ACLU, in its statement, added, “Local public bodies, such as school districts, will be forced to hire lawyers to defend lawsuits challenging specific Ten Commandment displays. And, should the plaintiffs prevail, the local public body and its taxpayers will be on the hook for the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, which could run easily into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The amendment is a trap for the unwary.”

Young, a campaign strategist for 2017 Senate nominee Roy Moore, said he’s been working on passage of such an amendment for the past 16 years.

Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, gained national notoriety in the 1990s and early 2000s for his attempts at getting the Ten Commandments displayed on public property. His most famous effort occurred in 2001, after he was elected as chief justice, when he had a 5,200-pound Ten Commandments monument installed inside the Helflin-Torbert Judicial Building in Montgomery. It was removed in 2004, following a federal lawsuit, and now is located inside the Church at Wills Creek in Gadsden.

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Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools

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An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.

In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.

‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’

The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.

While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.

The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.

He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.

Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.

But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.

John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.

‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.

They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.

They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.

This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.

He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.

The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’

He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.

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China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service

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The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.

An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.

The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”

China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”

“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”

While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.

The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.

In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.

Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.

In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.

The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.

“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”

“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”

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