Rwanda Restricts Fasting as 8,000 Churches Closed

New law requires pastors to obtain theology degrees and forbids urging lengthy fasts.

About 8,000 official and unofficial churches, as well as 100 mosques, have been closed in Rwanda for failing to comply with health, safety, and noise regulations. This includes 4 in 10 congregations belonging to a nationwide association of 3,300 Pentecostal churches.

And authorities indicate such shutting down of houses of worship in the East African nation will continue until congregations meet the strict requirements of a new law adopted by Rwanda’s parliament on July 27.

The latest requirement: Pastors must now have a degree in theological education from an accredited school. The law also prohibits church leaders from urging their followers to fast for lengthy periods—like Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness—in order to better secure God’s blessing; authorities claim this is a form of starvation.

Many churchgoers look at the new law as a form of harassment and restriction on freedom of worship. But many also fear to speak out, saying it’s a directive from the government and Christians should not oppose authorities.

The law also requires churches and “prayer houses”—unofficial places where Christians gather to pray and worship—to explain their sources of funding, while donations received must be kept on a known bank account.

Lawmakers even debated imposing limits on how much churchgoers could tithe to their church, given the numerous complaints about pastors who collect money from impoverished worshipers while living luxurious lives. The Council of Protestant Churches in Rwanda even “declared war” on such “bad pastors” last year.

Robert Kayitare, a businessman who attends St. Peter’s Anglican church in Kigali’s Remera neighborhood, believes …

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‘Christopher Robin’ Is Childhood Revisited … and Resold

The keepers of our nostalgia want to peddle it to us again and again.

In most lexicons, nostalgia means either a wistful longing for the past or products and artifacts that invoke that feeling. Contemporary film is glutted with nostalgia. Sequels and franchise films parlay the profits banked by their predecessors, often reducing beloved narratives to familiar slogans and cookie-cutter plot formulas. To date, eight of the 10 highest-grossing films of 2018 are either sequels or franchise films. Only A Quiet Place and Ready Player One are new cinematic stories, and the latter, while wildly entertaining, is based on a novel of the same name and relies almost completely on affection for the games and films of a previous era.

It’s especially important for Christians to be aware of the nostalgia craze and to distinguish between nostalgia and memory, as nostalgia can be a particular temptation for us. The NIV translation of the Bible uses some form of the word remember more than 200 times. In his epistles, Paul often urges readers to remember the past events and relationships, both as an encouragement and a caution (Eph. 2:12; 1 Thess. 1:3). But it is equally important to note that the Christian exercise of memory includes the acknowledgment of past pain and suffering. Good memories should be an encouragement in the face of current trials, not a psychological escape from them. In stark contrast, the etymology of nostalgia roughly translates as “homesickness”; the nostalgic person does not simply remember the past or take strength from it, he or she longs to return to it as deeply as an exile longs to return home. That backward-looking focus can be paralyzing and counterproductive, and it is the antithesis of learning to be content “in any and every situation” (Phil. 4:12). …

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U.S. Marshals fatally shoot fugitive on Salt River Reservation

A U.S. Marshals task force shot and killed a suspect on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Tuesday




Scottsdale schools spent $37.7M before hitting pause on more big projects

As Scottsdale’s new school year gets underway, The Arizona Republic looked at what’s been spent on construction and the plan to move forward.




Arizona has millions in unclaimed property – here's how to see if any of it's yours

The Arizona Department of Revenue is reminding consumers and businesses to check for unclaimed assets on its website,




Hybels Heir Quits Willow as New Accusations Arise Before Global Leadership Summit

Teaching pastor Steve Carter resigns after New York Times article; GLS had already lost 111 host sites.

Steve Carter, teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, resigned Sunday after new allegations surfaced against founding pastor Bill Hybels.

Carter, one of Hybels’s two heirs at Willow, had previously apologized for the church’s handling of accusations against Hybels, who took early retirement earlier this year after allegations of misconduct.

Earlier on Sunday, one of Hybels’s former assistants accused the Willow Creek founder of repeatedly groping her. Pat Baranowski told The New York Times that Hybels allegedly touched her breasts repeatedly and rubbed against her, had oral sex with her on one occasion, and once asked her to watch porn with him as a research project.

Baranowski told her therapist about the incidents, according to the Times. She also told another pastor at the church, but asked him to keep silent until now. She is the tenth woman to accuse Hybels of misconduct.

Hybels told the Times that the allegations were not true.

“I never had an inappropriate physical or emotional relationship with her before that time, during that time or after that time,” he told the Times in an email.

Those accusations were the last straw for Carter.

“The new facts and allegations that came to light this morning are horrifying, and my heart goes out to Ms. Baranowski and her family for the pain they have lived with,” he wrote on his blog, announcing his resignation. “These most recent revelations have also compelled me to make public my decision to leave, as much as it grieves me to go.”

The new allegations and Carter’s resignation come days before the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS), which opens this week at Willow Creek and simulcasts worldwide.

Hybels’s shadow …

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Secularism and Diversity: Lessons from Canada

The implications of the Canadian Supreme Court’s refusal to accredit the Trinity Western University law program.

Trinity Western University, a Canadian liberal arts university, planned to open a law school as part of its vision to prepare Christians to serve in public and civic life. It wasn’t long before their plan triggered the ire of provincial law societies.

In the end, this case ended up before the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled that provincial law societies could refuse to admit TWU law grads from practicing law. Their ruling was based on their objection to the university’s community covenant: It requires students to agree to abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and woman.”

Why Does This Matter?

Let me share a few reasons I believe this is important for Christians both in Canada and beyond.

First, it shows how a country’s top court can render a verdict in favor of human rights but biased against religious freedom. When the two ideas butted heads, religious freedom was the loser.

Second, it makes short shrift of the model that within a diverse society a plurality of ideas and beliefs can exist together. This is a huge loss. And when Canada, known for its democracy and public fairness, takes this road, we lose an important example of how pluralism functions.

In today’s cultural, religious, and ethnic stew, to respect and get along with each other is as basic a formula as I can imagine. Justices opposing the majority noted,

The state and state actors [and in this case, provincial law societies] – not private institutions like TWU – are constitutionally bound to accommodate difference in order to foster pluralism in public life. . . . Canadians are permitted to hold different sets of values.

Third, it keeps faith from being public. I hear …

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Scottsdale house renovation adds touch of Sicily

Ulyssa Preciado and Daniel Didier oversaw the renovation of their Scottsdale McCormick Ranch house.




Here is the science behind Arizona's giant dust storms

Walls of blowing dust, including one spanning 70 miles and reaching 5,000 feet tall, have become characteristic of this year’s Arizona monsoon season.




Child drownings in Arizona are nearly twice the national average

Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan, are raising awareness after their daughter drowned in a pool.