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Macron steps up financial support for Christian schools in the Middle East

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French President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that France would double financial support for Christian schools in the Middle East — a surprising decision for a country that prides itself on its secularism, which is baked into the country’s constitution. Experts, however, see Macron’s move as a wily attempt to court right-wing voters in a possible re-election bid.

“Supporting Christians in the Middle East is an age-old commitment in France, an historic mission,” declared the French president at an event at the Élysée Palace in Paris on February 1. Macron announced that financial aid for Christian schools in the Middle East would be doubled in 2022, going from €2 million to €4 million, co-funded by the French government and the religious organisation L’Oeuvre d’Orient.

French has been a secular state since a 1905 law definitively separated Church and State and guaranteed freedom of religion in the country. It means that religion is treated in France as a private matter, and public education in particular has to be secular – a policy that isn’t the case overseas, where the government works closely with L’Oeuvre d’Orient, a Christian non-profit which has historic ties with the Pope and is overseen by the archbishop of Paris. The charity works in areas such as healthcare and heritage protection, while also providing education with a religious slant.

The French government’s strategy of secular at home, sectarian abroad, can be attributed to France’s desire to keep its sphere of influence in the Middle East, says Bernard Heyberger, the director of studies at the École des Hautes études en sciences sociales and the École pratique des Hautes études in Paris.

“France supports Christian schools in the Middle East because it’s its only presence there,” he told FRANCE 24. “Until recently, archaeological digs were a sphere of influence for France, but there are fewer and fewer of them with the political situation in the region. Schools, therefore, are the best tool that France has to spread its influence: wherever France is sending funding, you can be sure there’s French-speaking education.”

French schools also ensure that the region has a French-speaking population, even if the number of French speakers has diminished.

“L’Oeuvre d’Orient has existed since the 19th century,” explained Heyberger. Massacres of Christians in the 1860s in Damascus and Lebanon horrified the French population and caused a surge in humanitarianism in the country.

“Napoleon III and the Third Republic instrumentalized this and invented the idea that France had been the historical protector of Christians in the region since the time of Saint Louis and Charlemagne. Ever since, France’s political right and far- right have latched on to this idea, which also comes up in left-wing talking points,” he said.

Christians: a political symbol of victims of terrorism?
Mihaela-Alexandra Tudor, a lecturer in communication and media sciences at University Paul-Valéry in Montpellier, says that Macron is deliberately targeting French Catholics before declaring his candidacy for this year’s presidential elections. It’s one of similar gestures he’s made towards the French Catholic community, including meeting the Pope twice during his mandate.

“Emmanuel Macron’s message was designed as a counter-attack against the right-wing and far-right presidential candidates,” Tudor continues. “He is trying to bolster his track record in the face of the far right’s arguments about secularism and the risk of Islamist terrorist attacks.”

Political instability in the Middle East in the last decade and the Syrian and Iraq wars have drawn the French public’s attention to the plight of Christians in the region. Religious minorities, including Christians, have been particularly targeted during the conflict. The Vatican estimates that there are approximately 15 million Christians in the Middle East, making up about 4 percent of the population.

“Christians in the Middle East have become the symbol of civilian victims of Islamist terrorist groups,” explains Tudor. “After the terrorist attacks committed in France by the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, the cause of Middle Eastern Christians has become intertwined with the French state’s domestic fight against terrorism and the defence of democratic values like religious freedom.”

Stepping into right-wing territory
“The issue of Christians in the Middle East is at the heart of my engagement,” declared Valérie Pecresse, the presidential candidate for right-wing party Les Républicains, while she was on a trip to Armenia. The National Rally’s interim president Jordan Bardella also said, “I don’t want us to suffer the same fate as the Middle East’s Christians,” and extreme right candidate Éric Zemmour, also on a political trip to Armenia, emphasised the necessity of defending Western civilisation, highlighting that the Christian world should “never refuse to wage war when it is attacked”.

Emmanuel Macron’s decision to double funding for Christian schools in the region is part of a long line of politicians courting right-wing Catholic voters. The president particularly wants to send a message to voters for the far-right candidate Éric Zemmour, “who can draw a lot on the Catholic fringes of the electorate”, explains Tudor. The majority of Christians in the Middle East who are supported by France are Catholics.

“France essentially funds Catholic education in the Middle East,” says Heyberger. “Lebanese Maronites and Catholic Greeks are France’s main intermediaries in the region – France has less contact with Egyptian Coptic Christians or Assyrian Christians, for example.”

French funding went to 174 schools in 2021, including 129 in Lebanon, 16 in Egypt, seven in Israel, 13 in the Palestinian Territories and three in Jordan.

But a major announcement like this could end up being a risky strategy for Macron. “It could be considered opportunistic,” says Tudor. “Catholics are used to presidential candidates asking discreetly for their support, but anyone can change their mind when they’re in the voting booth.”
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ടോറോന്റോയിൽ PCIC പ്രമോഷണൽ മീറ്റിംഗ് ജൂൺ 1 ന്

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ടോറോന്റോ : പെന്തക്കോസ്തൽ ഫെല്ലോഷിപ്പ് ഓഫ് ഇൻഡോ കനേഡിയൻസ് കോൺഫെറൻസിന്റെ പ്രഥമ പ്രമോഷണൽ മീറ്റിംഗ് ജൂൺ 1 (ശനിയാഴ്ച്ച ) 6:30 PM ന് International Revival Church ( IRC) 4150 Chesswood Dr , Toronto യിൽവച്ച് നടത്തപ്പെടുന്നു . Pr. Finny George ( Professor of Bethel Bible College, Punalur) മുഖ്യ സന്ദേശം നൽകും .
Sources:gospelmirror

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Teen Denied Diploma Because He Mentioned Jesus in Graduation Speech

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A high school senior in Campbell, Kentucky was denied his diploma because he went off-script during a commencement address and mentioned the name of Jesus Christ.

Campbell County High School graduate Micah Price broke from his pre-approved address to give honor and glory to his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

“He is the light, He is the way, the truth and the life,” Price said. “Class, everyone in the audience today, I’m here to tell you if you don’t have any of those things in your life, you can’t seem to find the answer, my Lord and Savior is your answer. He will give you the truth, the way and the life.”

Price said in a post, which you can watch [here], that he stands by his decision and that he will accept whatever punishment the school decides to levy.

“If anyone is in the wrong, it’s me. I went against school policy, school rules,” he said. “I deserve to get punished.”

“All speakers were told that going off their submitted speech, or any unplanned choices at graduation, may have repercussions as they would at any school function,” Superintendent Shelli Wilson said in a statement to Local 12.
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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Hope on Capitol Hill: ‘There Are a Great Number’ in Congress ‘Who Want to Bring Honor to God’

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I stood in awe at what a wonderful opportunity the Reverend Billy Graham statue unveiling event proved to be in terms of sharing the Gospel message. This month, within the walls of the elegant Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol, a prominent and faithful preacher was remembered and honored. Several speakers took the time to preach the good news, calling for those listening to put their faith in Jesus, “the Lord of lords and the King of kings,” as Senate Chaplain Barry Black proclaimed.

Looking at the world around us, especially when surrounded by contentious politics, it can feel utterly overwhelming and chaotic. Division appears to be the norm, and hope for a better society or government often feels scarce. But two weeks ago, I was struck with the beauty of hearing the Gospel proclaimed not once, not twice, but at least three or four times in the heart of our nation. It gave me hope. It was encouraging to listen as members of Congress, the Speaker of the House, and other authoritative figures represent Christ boldly. Who knows what seeds were planted? Perhaps their boldness will inspire other influential figures to be bold as well.

However, the question that lingered in my mind following the event was: How many faithful Believers do we have in our government? The short answer is that I don’t know exactly. But clearly, there are more than meets the eye. It would also seem there’s far more being done within the walls of the Capitol to edify, encourage, and equip Believers in government to stand firm.

A few weeks ago, I attended a lecture through Faith & Law (FL). If you’re unfamiliar, FL met for the first time on Capitol Hill in 1983 with pastor and theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul as their guest speaker. Other prominent FL speakers include Carl F.H. Henry, Os Guinness, and Nancy Pearcey. According to their website, FL’s “mission is to encourage and equip Christian policymakers to more fully understand the Biblical worldview and its implication in their calling to the public square.” The FL event I attended featured Ligonier Ministries’ CEO Chris Larson and Chairman Robert Godfrey to discuss the current challenges Christians face in society.

“Christians, along with a lot of other people in our society, are confused these days,” Godfrey said. “Things have changed a lot” in recent years, and “the source of our confusion,” Godfrey added, “is that a major shift has occurred in western history” in that we have dramatically shifted away from Christendom—the state of having a Christian-majority. That was Godfrey’s argument, but it’s not unique to him. A variety of scholars and experts refer to our day as a post-Christian society. But, as Godfrey emphasized, Christianity is not the same as Christendom. And so, to say we have moved away from Christendom in no ways means Christianity is of the past.

The societal turning point Godfrey emphasized was the legalization of same-sex marriage. Interestingly, he wasn’t arguing that the legalization marked the degradation of Christendom, but rather, that the public reaction did. Christendom served as a way of “establishing Christianity in law in some sense,” Godfrey said, and in many ways, it was a “unifying factor of civilization.” But in 2015, when the Obergefell decision legalized same-sex marriage, we saw that unity slip farther away. As Godfrey noted, a serious, vehement, and organized effort to overturn that decision did not seem to occur. Were there many against it? Surely.

But it stands to reason many lawmakers, such as former President Barrack Obama, who once claimed to oppose homosexual marriage, now champion the ideology. The same is true as we investigate society. Today, the push for LGBT ideology feels inescapable—and with pride month just around the corner, it will soon make that cultural domination painfully blatant. This sweeping secularism seems most obvious in the Pride mayhem, but it’s also seen in the rampant push for killing the unborn, the increased justification (and perhaps encouragement) of crime, and the list continues.

So, what’s there to glean from these observations? Well, according to Godfrey, the most important takeaway from this breakdown of moral impact on society, at least for Christians, is to recognize God’s sovereignty over all things. This is the first step towards garnering peace in a world of confusion and calamity. Regardless of the current cultural climate, we serve a God who’s in control of all. Hebrews 13:8 says our Lord “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” So, really, there’s no failure in store for the one with faith, because our God is a God of victory, and He’s secured His kingdom from now into eternity. “I will build My Church,” Jesus proclaimed, “and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

But the second step in securing peace during a time of frustration would be to pay attention to how the Lord is working in government. In my short time in DC, I’ve seen groups such as Faith & Law, the Word on the Hill, and others faithfully raise up Gospel truth within our Capitol. There are also plenty of congressional members who carry the armor of God into their political battles, and they need our prayers and support. In a conversation with Representative Michael Guest (R-MS), I got a glimpse into what it means to be a Christian lawmaker.

“You know,” Guest said, “I think we’re all challenged at certain times in life, whether you serve in a public capacity or whether you have a job in the private sector.” But a particular challenge Guest highlighted is how much time he must spend away from his family. Community is crucial, especially for the Believer, and it’s taxing to be away from home so frequently. The congressman explained how he’ll often be traveling Monday through Friday for four to five weeks in a row, with little time for his family on the weekends. In this regard, Guest makes sure to have a strong Christian community in his personal life, as they’re what “keep us grounded and … on track,” he told The Washington Stand.

Reflecting on when he first came to Congress, he emphasized, “it was important … for me to find fellow Believers.” And by God’s grace, he did. Guest shared there are multiple ways in which the word of God is alive and active on the Hill. “There’s a group of Believers … that meet every Wednesday morning when we’re in session, and we spend time in God’s word and time in prayer.”

He continued, “[W]e have the prayer caucus that meets between votes,” which he noted provides “the opportunity to be with those Believers and to pray about the things that we’re going to be doing that week in Congress.” And in addition to praying about their work, Guest said the prayer caucus also serves “to bring forward individual prayer requests of people in our district who may be suffering from some sort of bad diagnosis, or [may have just] lost loved ones.” Ultimately, “[T]here are a number of ways in which members can be plugged in with other members of similar faith and belief. And I think in this environment, it is so important to find those fellow Believers you can associate with.”

When it comes to having faith and being in government, Guest urged that both in words and in action, Christians are called to be a witness to the light of the Gospel. “Being able to share your faith and being able to talk about the things that God has done in your life is important,” he said, “but I [think], as a Believer, people are watching how we act. Do we act as the world acts, or do we act different? Do people see something different about us than they do non-Believers?”

Guest concluded, “I think it’s important for people to know that there are a great number of Believers here on Capitol Hill. … [P]eople who want to bring honor and glory to God” and “see our nation turn from our sinful ways and want to see God continue to bless this land that we’ve been so proud to call home for so long. … God is not done with America,” he insisted. “We have great days ahead, and … there are men and women of faith in Washington, DC and in our state capitals and in our local government who God will use to continue to see that we prosper.” S
Sources:BREAKING CHRISTIAN NEWS

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