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HEART newspaper: Heart Publications | December 17, 2018

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News for prayer

Society and politics

  • 160,000 young children in ‘toxic’ homes: A report, published in October 2018, finds that these children are growing up around the ‘toxic’ combination of domestic violence, drug/alcohol dependency and severe mental illness. 160,000 under-fives live in homes with two of these three problems.
  • UK Jews disproportionate targets of hate: You may have heard that ‘hate crime’ rose in Britain through 2017/18. But did you know that, relative to their small population (0.5% of the population), British Jews are the single most targeted group (12% of attacks)?
  • Government dilutes marriage… again: At the 2018 Conservative Party conference, Theresa May pledged to introduce civil partnerships for heterosexual couples, offering what pro-marriage groups have termed ‘marriage-lite’.
  • MPs express concern over trans debate: An October ComRes poll shows that the majority of MPs are worried about the rapid rise in children identifying as transgender, but 54% also said they feel unable to speak freely about trans issues without being branded transphobic. The Equalities Minister has expressed particular concern over the 4,400% rise in the number of young girls being referred for gender transition treatments in the last nine years.
  • Home Secretary rejects abortion buffer zones: Sajid Javid has panned calls for ‘buffer zones’ around abortion clinics, adding that claims of widespread ‘harassment’ by pro-life vigils are unjustified.

Church issues

  • Church of England affiliation at record low: The 35thBritish Social Attitudes survey finds that in 15 years, the number declaring allegiance to the institutional Church has halved, from 31% in 2002 to 14% in 2017, dropping to just 2% among those aged 18-24.
  • Police apologise to street preacher: A formal apology has been issued to open-air evangelist Dale McAlpine, after he was threatened with arrest and ordered to leave Bath City Centre in June. Police in Bath have been reprimanded.
  • Successful visit for Franklin Graham: Despite attempts to get him banned from entering the UK, and protests on arrival from LGBT and Muslim groups, the son of the late Billy Graham held a successful three-day crusade in Blackpool in September, reaching 9,000 people and an additional 50,000 online.

World scene

  • Merkel refuses to toughen Iran policy: The German Chancellor has re-iterated her support for Israel’s safety and her abhorrence of anti-Semitism – but has refused to budge on her commitment to helping Iran circumvent US sanctions. She has also joined French President Emmanuel Macron in calling for an EU army.
  • China’s new surveillance ‘credit’ system: By 2020 Chinese authorities will have installed a system to monitor the behaviour of citizens closely and reward or punish them based on an overall score. The Economist has described it as “the world’s first digital totalitarian state”.
  • US pastor jailed in China: A pastor from North Carolina has spent over 20 months in a Chinese prison after being wrongfully convicted for organising illegal border crossings. Pastor John Cao was arrested in March 2017 and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. The 59 year old had spent decades establishing schools for impoverished children and providing humanitarian aid in China and Burma (Myanmar). China’s crackdown on believers continues, with churches being raided and closed, Bibles being burned and Christians being pressured to renounce their faith. 279 pastors have bravely signed a public declaration calling on the government to respect religious freedom.

Israel and Middle East

  • Iran in Iraq: Concern is growing about Iran’s extension into Iraq through proxy groups, taking advantage of regional instability left in the wake of Isis to replicate and expand Hezbollah’s threat to Israel. Israel is unlikely to tolerate this. Since 2012, Iran has spent some $16 billion propping up the Assad regime and funding terror groups across the region.
  • Russian delivery of S-300 to Syria causes concern: The surface-to-air missile defence system was granted to Syria free of charge in October 2018. Once operational will make it much more difficult for Israel to defend itself.
  • Archaeological evidence for the Exodus? Archaeologists working in the Jordan valley have found evidence of a nomadic people-group believed to be the Hebrews, coming from Egypt and poised to enter the Promised Land.
  • ‘State of Palestine’ upgraded at the UN: The UN General Assembly has voted to grant the so-called ‘state’ temporary privileges that will enable it to chair the Group of 77, the largest bloc of developing nations in the UN, during 2019. At the same time, the US has downgraded itsmain diplomatic mission to the Palestinians, which will now come under the Jerusalem embassy.
    Courtesy of Prophecy Today UK, where news selections are published weekly. For more information, visit www.prophecytoday.uk.
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