LISTEN: Urban Christian News Network Weekend Report #89

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1. According to CNN, Invoking the familiar names of black men who died at the hands of the police, thousands of protesters marched throughout the nation Saturday as part of a growing national conversation about what they see as rampant racial injustice. The throngs — young and old, black and white — hit the streets in major cities, including New York City and Washington, where thousands snaked through the streets in a march to the Capitol. They appear to represent a burgeoning movement sparked by the decision of grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black men.

2. According to World Magazine, the U.S. Senate voted on Friday to confirm Rabbi David Saperstein as the first non-Christian ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom–capping a busy week for religious liberty in Washington. Saperstein was approved on a 62-35 vote, winning support from 51 Democrats and 11 Republicans. One Democrat and 34 Republicans, mostly conservatives, voted against the nomination. President Obama nominated Saperstein almost five months ago, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has kept the Senate schedule packed with judicial nominees. This week, 74 faith leaders sent a letter to Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to confirm Saperstein and drawing attention to his “almost universal” support.

3. According to the Associated Press, Californians are cleaning up Saturday from a major storm that soaked the drought-stricken state before moving east to drop rain on Arizona. Perhaps the biggest job was in Camarillo, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where a mudslide made 13 homes uninhabitable on Friday. A rare tornado that briefly touched down in South Los Angeles also triggered cleanup efforts. In Northern California, residents of two trailer parks in Redwood City were bailing floodwaters, while Sonoma County residents were relieved the Russian River didn’t overflow its banks. More rain is forecast in California starting Sunday in the north and Monday in the south, though the weather isn’t expected to equal the strength of the storm swirling farther east on Saturday.

4. According to the New York Times, rescue teams in Indonesia were searching on Saturday for dozens of victims of a landslide in Central Java Province that has killed at least 17 people. More than 30 homes were buried or swept away on Friday by the landslide, which was caused by heavy seasonal rains. 91 people remained missing as of Saturday afternoon after the landslide southeast of Jakarta, the capital. 11 people suffered severe injuries and were transferred to a hospital.

5. According to the New York Daily News, atheist activists are taking their anti-religion “fairy tales” campaign to the Bible Belt this Christmas with a series of provocative billboards urging people to skip church. Giant advertising hoardings have appeared across the southern states showing a little girl writing a letter to Father Christmas. Organizers say the ads — which are located in the Tennessee cities of Memphis and Nashville, St. Louis, Mo., and Fort Smith, Ark. — will stay in place until Christmas Eve. It’s the first time the group has aimed its anti-God adverts directly at religious residential areas.

6. According to Charisma News, Hindu radicals in India are intensifying their religious purification practices, amping up cleansing, reconversion and converting Christian churches in the state of Uttar Pradesh to turn it into a Christian-free zone. The brutal religious cleansing attacks that have engulfed the Christian community have left many Christians feeling like they are facing a life and death struggle in the world’s largest democracy. Radically right-wing Hindu organizations have increased their reconversion campaign to turn India into a Hindu nation by carrying out numerous attacks on Christian communities. A leader within the radical movement said that within 2-3 years, the rural area “will be free of Christians.”

7. According to the Los Angeles Times, in an unprecedented news conference from CIA headquarters, agency Director John Brennan admitted that some officers had engaged in “abhorrent” conduct in their interrogations of terrorism suspects, but he insisted that the secret program had provided “useful intelligence.” Whether that intelligence could have been obtained without torture was, in his words, “unknowable.” No CIA director has ever given a televised address at agency headquarters. Brennan did so partially to rebut a Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s George W. Bush-era interrogation program. Brennan said the report was “flawed.”

8. According to the New York Times, a Palestinian man sprayed acid on six members of an Israeli family in a car and an Israeli hitchhiker in the West Bank on Friday, wounding them lightly to moderately. The assailant, who was also wielding a screwdriver, was then shot and wounded by an Israeli passer-by. The events took place on a main road near the Palestinian town of Husan in the Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, where the family had stopped to give the hitchhiker a ride. It was the latest in a wave of attacks carried out by lone Palestinians, though the first to involve acid. Eleven people have been killed in recent weeks by Palestinians using vehicles, knives, meat cleavers and guns as weapons.

9. According to the Associated Press, already well into overtime, U.N. climate talks reached a standstill Saturday as developing countries rejected a draft deal they said would allow rich countries to shirk their responsibilities to fight global warming and pay for its impacts. The main goal for the two-week session in Lima was relatively modest: Reach agreement on what information should go into the pledges that countries submit for a global climate pact expected to be adopted next year in Paris. But even that became complicated as several developing nations rejected a draft decision they said blurred the distinction between what rich and poor countries can be expected to do.

10. According to NBC Sports, Adrian Peterson will not be playing again this season. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello announced on Friday afternoon that Harold Henderson has denied Peterson’s appeal of the suspension without pay through at least the end of the 2014 season that was handed down by the league in November. Henderson, a former league official, was appointed to hear the appeal by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Peterson’s suspension stems from felony charges that of reckless or negligent injury to a child that were filed in September after Peterson was accused of hitting his 4-year-old son with a switch​.

As you go throughout this day, keep this word in mind. Matthew 2:4-6 says, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.”

As always, we want you to know that God loves you. He loves you so much that the Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, why don’t you get to know Him today. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose by the power of God for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening. May God bless your day.

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