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Making Sense of the Syrian Crisis

Stratfor the respected global intelligence agency reports on the escalating crisis in Syria and the government under President Assad has attempted to stamp out internal protests within the country using military force.

Making Sense of the Syrian Crisis | STRATFOR

Syria is clearly in a state of internal crisis. Protests organized on Facebook were quickly stamped out in early February, but by mid-March, a faceless opposition had emerged from the flashpoint city of Daraa in Syria’s largely conservative Sunni southwest.

From Daraa, demonstrations spread to the Kurdish northeast, the coastal Latakia area, urban Sunni strongholds in Hama and Homs, and to Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus. Feeling overwhelmed, the regime experimented with rhetoric on reforms while relying on much more familiar iron-fist methods in cracking down, arresting hundreds of men, cutting off water and electricity to the most rebellious areas, and making clear to the population that, with or without emergency rule in place, the price for dissent does not exclude death. (Activists claim more than 500 civilians have been killed in Syria since the demonstrations began, but that figure has not been independently verified.)

A survey of the headlines would lead many to believe that Syrian President Bashar al Assad will soon be joining Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in a line of deposed Arab despots. The situation in Syria is serious, but in our view, the crisis has not yet risen to a level that would warrant a forecast that the al Assad regime will fall.

Four key pillars sustain Syria’s minority Alawite-Baathist regime:

Though the regime is coming under significant stress, all four of these pillars are still standing. If any one falls, the al Assad regime will have a real existential crisis on its hands. To understand why this is the case, we need to begin with the story of how the Alawites came to dominate modern Syria.

The Rise of the Alawites

Syria’s complex demographics make it a difficult country to rule. It is believed that three-fourths of the country’s roughly 22 million people are Sunnis, including most of the Kurdish minority in the northeast. Given the volatility that generally accompanies sectarianism, Syria deliberately avoids conducting censuses on religious demographics, making it difficult to determine, for example, exactly how big the country’s Alawite minority has grown.

Most estimates put the number of Alawites in Syria at around 1.5 million, or close to 7 percent of the population. When combined with Shia and Ismailis, non-Sunni Muslims average around 13 percent. Christians of several variations, including Orthodox and Maronite, make up around 10 percent of the population. The mostly mountain-dwelling Druze make up around 3 percent. (click here to enlarge image)

Alawite power in Syria is only about five decades old. The Alawites are frequently (and erroneously) categorized as Shia, have many things in common with Christians and are often shunned by Sunnis and Shia alike. Consequently, Alawites attract a great deal of controversy in the Islamic world. The Alawites diverged from the mainstream Twelver of the Imami branch of Shiite Islam in the ninth century under the leadership of Ibn Nusayr (this is why, prior to 1920, Alawites were known more commonly as Nusayris).

Their main link to Shiite Islam and the origin of the Alawite name stems from their reverence for the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali. The sect is often described as highly secretive and heretical for its rejection of Shariah and of common Islamic practices, including call to prayer, going to mosque for worship, making pilgrimages to Mecca and intolerance for alcohol. At the same time, Alawites celebrate many Christian holidays and revere Christian saints.

Alawites are a fractious bunch, historically divided among rival tribes and clans and split geographically between mountain refuges and plains in rural Syria. The province of Latakia, which provides critical access to the Mediterranean coast, is also the Alawite homeland, ensuring that any Alawite bid for autonomy would be met with stiff Sunni resistance. Historically, for much of the territory that is modern-day Syria, the Alawites represented the impoverished lot in the countryside while the urban-dwelling Sunnis dominated the country’s businesses and political posts. Unable to claim a firm standing among Muslims, Alawites would often embrace the Shiite concept of taqqiya (concealing or assimilating one’s faith to avoid persecution) in dealing with their Sunni counterparts.

Between 1920 and 1946, the French mandate provided the first critical boost to Syria’s Alawite community. In 1920, the French, who had spent years trying to legitimize and support the Alawites against an Ottoman-backed Sunni majority, had the Nusayris change their name to Alawites to emphasize the sect’s connection to the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law Ali and to Shiite Islam. Along with the Druze and Christians, the Alawites would enable Paris to build a more effective counterweight to the Sunnis in managing the French colonial asset.

The lesson here is important. Syria is not simply a mirror reflection of a country like Bahrain, a Shiite majority country run by a minority Sunni government. Rather than exhibiting a clear Sunni-Shiite religious-ideological divide, Syria’s history can be more accurately described as a struggle between the Sunnis on one hand and a group of minorities on the other.

Under the French, the Alawites, along with other minorities, for the first time enjoyed subsidies, legal rights and lower taxes than their Sunni counterparts. Most critically, the French reversed Ottoman designs of the Syrian security apparatus to allow for the influx of Alawites into military, police and intelligence posts to suppress Sunni challenges to French rule. Consequently, the end of the French mandate in 1946 was a defining moment for the Alawites, who by then had gotten their first real taste of the privileged life and were also the prime targets of purges led by the urban Sunni elite presiding over a newly independent Syria.

A Crucial Military Opening

The Sunnis quickly reasserted their political prowess in post-colonial Syria and worked to sideline Alawites from the government, businesses and courts. However, the Sunnis also made a fateful error in overlooking the heavy Alawite presence in the armed forces. While the Sunnis occupied the top posts within the military, the lower ranks were filled by rural Alawites who either could not afford the military exemption fees paid by most of the Sunni elite or simply saw military service as a decent means of employment given limited options. The seed was thus planted for an Alawite-led military coup while the Sunni elite were preoccupied with their own internal struggles.

The second major pillar supporting the Alawite rise came with the birth of the Baath party in Syria in 1947. For economically disadvantaged religious outcasts like Alawites, the Baathist campaign of secularism, socialism and Arab nationalism provided the ideal platform and political vehicle to organize and unify around. At the same time, the Baathist ideology caused huge fissures within the Sunni camp, as many — particularly the Islamists — opposed its secular, social program.

In 1963, Baathist power was cemented through a military coup led by President Amin al-Hafiz, a Sunni general, who discharged many ranking Sunni officers, thereby providing openings for hundreds of Alawites to fill top-tier military positions during the 1963-1965 period on the grounds of being opposed to Arab unity. This measure tipped the balance in favor of Alawite officers who staged a coup in 1966 and for the first time placed Damascus in the hands of the Alawites. The 1960s also saw the beginning of a reversal of Syria’s sectarian rural-urban divide, as the Baath party encouraged Alawite migration into the cities to displace the Sunnis.

The Alawites had made their claim to the Syrian state, but internal differences threatened to stop their rise. It was not until 1970 that Alawite rivalries and Syria’s string of coups and counter-coups were put to rest with a bloodless military coup led by then-air force commander and Defense Minister Gen. Hafez al Assad (now deceased) against his Alawite rival, Salah Jadid. Al Assad was the first Alawite leader capable of dominating the fractious Alawite sect. The al Assads, who hail from the Numailatiyyah faction of the al Matawirah tribe (one of four main Alawite tribes), stacked the security apparatus with loyal clansmen while taking care to build patronage networks with Druze and Christian minorities that facilitated the al Assad rise.

Just as important, the al Assad leadership co-opted key Sunni military and business elites, relying on notables like former Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass to contain dissent within the military and Alawite big-business families like the Makhloufs to buy loyalty, or at least tolerance, among a Sunni merchant class that had seen most of its assets seized and redistributed by the state. Meanwhile, the al Assad regime showed little tolerance for religiously conservative Sunnis who refused to remain quiescent. The state took over the administration of religious funding, cracked down on groups deemed as extremist and empowered itself to dismiss the leaders of Friday prayers at will, fueling resentment among the Sunni Islamist class.

In a remarkably short period, the 40-year reign of the al Assad regime has since seen the complete consolidation of power by Syrian Alawites who, just a few decades earlier, were written off by the Sunni majority as powerless, heretical peasants.

A Resilient Regime

For the past four decades, the al Assad regime has carefully maintained these four pillars. The minority-ruled regime has proved remarkably resilient, despite several obstacles.

The regime witnessed its first meaningful backlash by Syria’s Sunni religious class in 1976, when the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood led an insurgency against the state with the aim of toppling the al Assad government. At that time, the Sunni Islamists had the support of many of the Sunni urban elite, but their turn toward jihadism also facilitated their downfall.

The regime’s response was the leveling of the Sunni stronghold city of Hama in 1982. The Hama crackdown, which killed tens of thousands of Sunnis and drove the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood underground, remains fresh in the memories of Syrian Brotherhood members today, who have only recently built up the courage to publicly call on supporters to join in demonstrations against the regime. Still, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood lacks the organizational capabilities to resist the regime.

The al Assad regime has also experienced serious threats from within the family. After Hafez al Assad suffered from heart problems in 1983, his younger brother Rifaat, who drew a significant amount of support from the military, attempted a coup against the Syrian leader. None other than the al Assad matriarch, Naissa, mediated between her rival sons and reached a solution by which Rifaat was sent abroad to Paris, where he remains in exile, and Hafez was able to re-secure the loyalty of his troops. The 1994 death of Basil al Assad, brother of current president Bashar and then-heir apparent to a dying Hafez, also posed a significant threat to the unity of the al Assad clan. However, the regime was able to rely on key Sunni stalwarts such as Tlass to rally support within the military for Bashar, who was studying to become an ophthalmologist and had little experience with, or desire to enter, politics.

Even when faced with threats from abroad, the regime has endured. The 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the 2005 forced Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon may have knocked the regime off balance, but it never sent it over the edge. Syria’s military intervention in the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war allowed the regime to emerge stronger and more influential than ever through its management of Lebanon’s fractured political landscape, satisfying to a large extent Syria’s strategic need to dominate its western neighbor. Though the regime underwent serious internal strain when the Syrian military was forced out of Lebanon, it did not take long for Syria’s pervasive security-intelligence apparatus to rebuild its clout in the country.

The Current Crisis

The past seven weeks of protests in nearly all corners of Syria have led many to believe that the Syrian regime is on its last legs. However, such assumptions ignore the critical factors that have sustained this regime for decades, the most critical of which is the fact that the regime is still presiding over a military that remains largely unified and committed to putting down the protests with force. Syria cannot be compared to Tunisia, where the army was able quickly to depose an unpopular leader; Libya, where the military rapidly reverted to the country’s east-west historical divide; or Egypt, where the military used the protests to resolve a succession crisis, all while preserving the regime. The Syrian military, as it stands today, is a direct reflection of hard-fought Alawite hegemony over the state.

Syrian Alawites are stacked in the military from both the top and the bottom, keeping the army’s mostly Sunni 2nd Division commanders in check. Of the 200,000 career soldiers in the Syrian army, roughly 70 percent are Alawites. Some 80 percent of officers in the army are also believed to be Alawites. The military’s most elite division, the Republican Guard, led by the president’s younger brother Maher al Assad, is an all-Alawite force.

Syria’s ground forces are organized in three corps (consisting of combined artillery, armor and mechanized infantry units). Two corps are led by Alawites (Damascus headquarters, which commands southeastern Syria, and Zabadani headquarters near the Lebanese border). The third is led by a Circassian Sunni from Aleppo headquarters.

Most of Syria’s 300,000 conscripts are Sunnis who complete their two- to three-year compulsory military service and leave the military, though the decline of Syrian agriculture has been forcing more rural Sunnis to remain beyond the compulsory period (a process the regime is tightly monitoring). Even though most of Syria’s air force pilots are Sunnis, most ground support crews are Alawites who control logistics, telecommunications and maintenance, thereby preventing potential Sunni air force dissenters from acting unilaterally. Syria’s air force intelligence, dominated by Alawites, is one of the strongest intelligence agencies within the security apparatus and has a core function of ensuring that Sunni pilots do not rebel against the regime.

The triumvirate managing the crackdowns on protesters consists of Bashar’s brother Maher; their brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat; and Ali Mamluk, the director of Syria’s Intelligence Directorate. Their strategy has been to use Christian and Druze troops and security personnel against Sunni protesters to create a wedge between the Sunnis and the country’s minority groups (Alawites, Druze, Christians), but this strategy also runs the risk of backfiring if sectarianism escalates to the point that the regime can no longer assimilate the broader Syrian community. President al Assad has also quietly called on retired Alawite generals to return to work with him as advisers to help ensure that they do not link up with the opposition.

Given Syria’s sectarian military dynamics, it is not surprising that significant military defections have not occurred during the current crisis. Smaller-scale defections of lower-ranking soldiers and some officers have been reported by activists in the southwest, where the unrest is most intense. These reports have not been verified, but even Syrian activist sources have admitted to STRATFOR that the defectors from the Syrian army’s 5th and 9th divisions are being put down.

A fledgling opposition movement calling itself the “National Initiative for Change” published a statement from Nicosia, Cyprus, appealing to Syrian Minister of Defense Ali Habib (an Alawite) and Army Chief of Staff Daoud Rajha (a Greek Orthodox Christian) to lead the process of political change in Syria, in an apparent attempt to spread the perception that the opposition is making headway in co-opting senior military members of the regime. Rajha replaced Habib as army chief of staff when the latter was relegated to the largely powerless political position of defense minister two years ago. In name, the president’s brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat, is deputy army chief of staff, but in practice, he is the true chief of army staff.

The defections of Rajha and Habib, which remain unlikely at this point, would not necessarily represent a real break within the regime, but if large-scale defections within the military occur, it will be an extremely significant sign that the Alawites are fracturing and thus losing their grip over the armed forces. Without that control, the regime cannot survive. So far, this has not happened.

In many ways, the Alawites are the biggest threat to themselves.

Remember, it was not until Hafez al Assad’s 1970 coup that the Alawites were able to put aside their differences and consolidate under one regime. The current crisis could provide an opportunity for rivals within the regime to undermine the president and make a bid for power. All eyes would naturally turn to Bashar’s exiled uncle Rifaat, who attempted a coup against his brother nearly three decades ago. But even Rifaat has been calling on Alawite supporters in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon and in Latakia, Syria, to refrain from joining the demonstrations, stressing that the present period is one in which regimes are being overthrown and that if Bashar falls, the entire Alawite sect will suffer as a result.

While the military and the al Assad clan are holding together, the insulation to the regime provided by the Baath party is starting to come into question. The Baath party is the main political vehicle through which the regime manages its patronage networks, though over the years the al Assad clan and the Alawite community have grown far more in stature than the wider concentric circle of the ruling party. In late April, some 230 Baath party members reportedly resigned from the party in protest.

However, the development must also be viewed in context: These were a couple of hundred Baath party members out of a total membership of some 2 million in the country. Moreover, the defectors were concentrated in southern Syria around Daraa, the site of the most severe crackdowns.

Though the defections within the Baath party have not risen to a significant level, it is easy to understand the pressure the al Assad regime is under to follow through with a promised reform to expand the political system, since political competition would undermine the Baath party monopoly and thus weaken one of the four legs of the regime.

The Foreign Tolerance Factor

Internally, Alawite unity and control over the military and Baath party loyalty are crucial to the al Assad regime’s staying power. Externally, the Syrian regime is greatly aided by the fact that the regional stakeholders — including Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Iran — by and large prefer to see the al Assads remain in power than deal with the likely destabilizing consequences of regime change.

It is not a coincidence that Israel, with which Syria shares a strong and mutual antipathy, has been largely silent over the Syrian unrest. Already unnerved by what may be in store for Egypt’s political future, Israel has a deep fear of the unknown regarding the Syrians. How, for example, would a conservative Sunni government in Damascus conduct its foreign policy?

The real virtue of the Syrian regime lies in its predictability: The al Assad government, highly conscious of its military inferiority to Israel, is far more interested in maintaining its hegemony in Lebanon than in picking fights with Israel. While the al Assad government is a significant patron to Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, among other groups it manages within its Islamist militant supply chain, its support for such groups is also to some extent negotiable, as illustrated most recently by the fruits of Turkey’s negotiations with Damascus in containing Palestinian militant activity and in Syria’s ongoing, albeit strained, negotiations with Saudi Arabia over keeping Hezbollah in check. Israel’s view of Syria is a classic example of the benefits of dealing with the devil you do know rather than the devil you don’t.

The biggest sticking point for each of these regional stakeholders is Syria’s alliance with Iran. The Iranian government has a core interest in maintaining a strong lever in the Levant with which to threaten Israel, and it needs a Syria that stands apart from the Sunni Arab consensus to do so. Though Syria derives a great deal of leverage from its relationship with Iran, Syrian-Iranian interests are not always aligned. In fact, the more confident Syria is at home and in Lebanon, the more likely its interests are to clash with Iran.

Shiite politics aside, secular-Baathist Syria and Islamist Iran are not ideological allies nor are they true Shiite brethren — they came together and remain allied for mostly tactical purposes, to counter Sunni forces. In the near term at least, Syria will not be persuaded by Riyadh, Ankara or anyone else to sever ties with Iran in return for a boost in regional support, but it will keep itself open to negotiations.

Meanwhile, holding the al Assads in place provides Syria’s neighbors with some assurance that ethno-sectarian tensions already on the rise in the wider region will not lead to the eruption of such fault lines in Turkey (concerned with Kurdish spillover) and Lebanon (a traditional proxy Sunni-Shiite battleground between Iran and Saudi Arabia).

Regional disinterest in pushing for regime change in Syria could be seen even in the April 29 U.N. Human Rights Council meeting to condemn Syria. Bahrain and Jordan did not show up to vote, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt insisted on a watered-down resolution. Saudi Arabia has even quietly instructed the Arab League to avoid discussion of the situation in Syria in the next Arab League meeting, scheduled for mid-May.

Turkey’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has given indications that it is seeking out Sunni alternatives to the al Assad regime for the longer term and is quietly developing a relationship with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. AKP does not have the influence currently to effect meaningful change within Syria, nor does it particularly want to at this time. The Turks remain far more concerned about Kurdish unrest and refugees spilling over into Turkey with just a few weeks remaining before national elections.

Meanwhile, the United States and its NATO allies are struggling to reconcile the humanitarian argument that led to the military intervention with Libya with the situation in Syria. The United States especially does not want to paint itself into a corner with rhetoric that could commit forces to yet another military intervention in the Islamic world — and in a much more complex and volatile part of the region than Libya — and is relying instead on policy actions like sanctions that it hopes exhibit sufficient anger at the crackdowns.

In short, the Syrian regime may be an irritant to many but not a large enough one to compel the regional stakeholders to devote their efforts toward regime change in Damascus.

Hanging on by More Than a Thread

Troubles are no doubt rising in Syria, and the al Assad regime will face unprecedented difficulty in trying to manage affairs at home in the months ahead. That said, it so far has maintained the four pillars supporting its power. The al Assad clan remains unified, the broader Alawite community and its minority allies are largely sticking together, Alawite control over the military is holding and the Baath party’s monopoly remains intact.

Alawites appear to be highly conscious of the fact that the first signs of Alawite fracturing in the military and the state overall could lead to the near-identical conditions that led to its own rise — only this time, power would tilt back in favor of the rural Sunni masses and away from the urbanized Alawite elite.

So far, this deep-seated fear of a reversal of Alawite power is precisely what is keeping the regime standing. Considering that Alawites were second-class citizens of Syria less than century ago, that memory may be recent enough to remind Syrian Alawites of the consequences of internal dissent. The factors of regime stability outlined here are by no means static, and the stress on the regime is certainly rising. Until those legs show real signs of weakening, however, the al Assad regime has the tools it needs to fight the effects of the Arab Spring.

Read more: Making Sense of the Syrian Crisis | STRATFOR

(Author: Stratfor)

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The inevitability of regime change in Syria has very significant consequences for the stability of the whole region and the international geo-political alignments. Assad's fall is a game-changer. (Author: Stratfor / Christians Together)

Phew: Assad won’t use them on us!
The general response to Syria’s recent admission of holding chemical weapons has been one of (mock) shock and few countries are thinking beyond their own interests. Satan however is looking at the big picture. (Author: Christians Together)

New Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Paisley Philip Tartaglia has been named by the Pope to succeed Most Rev Mario Conti as the Archbishop of Glasgow. (Author: Christians Together)

Olympic security debacle: 40 years on
The humiliating and extremely serious lapse in 2012 Olympic security arrangements is not a new phenomenon. There is at least one people group which can painfully testify to that fact. (Author: Christians Together)

Russian Churches to defend British Christians
The Orthodox Church in Russia is intending to assist two British women who were forbidden to wear Christian symbols. The women are appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. (Author: Christians Together)

Tron Church quits the Church of Scotland
One of the highest-profile congregations in Scotland has quit the national church over the latter's alleged departure from the authority of God's Word. (Author: Christians Together)

Report of recent trip to Israel
David Masson has recently returned from a trip to Israel: he gives a report of his visit which belies much of the disheartening news which we see in our mass media. (Author: David Masson)

Top Saudi cleric calls for destruction of churches
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia the highest official of religious law in the Sunni Muslim kingdom has called for all churches in the Arabian peninsula to be destroyed. (Author: Catholic Herald / Christians Together)

The Perils of Global Intolerance
Simon Deng, speaking at an 'antidote' gathering to the Durban III conference which has been accused by Western governments for allegedly promoting rather than combating racism. (Author: Simon Deng)

Where is Russia headed?
With Europe politically and economically weak, uncertain and divided, and America distracted by foreign conflicts, Russia has an opportunity. (Author: Stratfor)

Chuck Colson the Prison Fellowship founder dies
Charles ‘Chuck’ Colson, the Nixon aide who became one of the “25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” in 2005, has died at the age of 80. (Author: Christians Together)

Anglicans accuse London Mayor of censorship
Boris Johnstone has stepped into a bus advertising campaign to ban a response by Anglican Mainstream to a pro-gay slogan carried on London buses. (Author: Church Times/Christian Together)

Highland International Church open for service
On a 21st-century anniversary of Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a newly-formed congregation of the International Presbyterian Church had its first meeting in an Inverness Hotel. (Author: Christians Together)

Healing on the Streets appeal ASA ruling
A Christian team operating in the city of Bath is to appeal a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority against the team's website claim that God can heal. (Author: Evangelical Alliance)

Germany moving centre-stage
Since reunification in 1990, the economic tsunami in 2008 and the Eurozone sovereign-debt crises, Germany's strategy is key to Europe and possibly the world beyond. (Author: Stratfor)

Christian Exodus from Iraq
A recent report on the flight of believers from post-war Iraq has stated: "The consequence of this flight may be the end of Christianity in Iraq." (Author: New York Times)

BBC will mock Jesus but not Mohammed
The BBC's director general said the the broadcaster would never mock Mohammed like it mocks Jesus. (Author: Christian Institute)

Christine Keeler on the 'Swinging Sixties'
Christine Keeler whose affair with a British government minister rocked the government has spoken out against the (im)morality of that period. (Author: Christians Together)

Inverness minister quits Kirk to form new church
An Inverness minister has now left the Church of Scotland and is working to set up a new church in the city linked to a separate presbyterian denomination. (Author: Christians Together)

Germany calls for 'invasion' of Greece
Germany has tabled a proposition which would effectively see Greece losing its sovereignty to the EU; with the latter taking control of the country's finances and the democratic process as the price supporting the Greek economy. (Author: Stratfor)

Nigeria: Christians killed by extremist groups
Early morning attacks in Tafawa Balewa, Bauchi state in Nigeria on Sunday (Jan. 22) left at least seven Christians dead and a church building destroyed. (Author: Obed Minchakpu)

Stratfor: Free Reports for 2012
Stratfor the respected intelligence has made available the following summary of the situation around the world as we head into 2012. (Author: Stratfor)

Military Drill or Preparation for War?
A recent report from an Israel-based Christian news source report about 'the largest joint US-Israel war game ever held' has been described by an American general as more a 'deployment' than an 'exercise. (Author: Lonnie C. Mings)

Pray for this lady; a prophet to the nation
One of the most prophetic voices in the country at the moment is an agnostic (her description) Jewish columnist for a national newspaper. Pray for this lady who champions Christian values. (Author: Christians Together)

United States plans to lock up its citizens
Recent legislation which has passed through the US Senate allows the US military to hold civilian detainees in military facilities for indefinite periods, without charges and without due process. Could it happen in the UK also? (Author: Hal Lindsey)

Evangelicals say 'No' to same-sex marriage
Over 70 of Scotland’s largest evangelical churches, attended by more than 20,000 people, have signed an open letter to First Minister Alex Salmond urging him not to redefine marriage. (Author: Christians Together)

Tain minister to leave parish
The minister in Tain Parish Church of Scotland has written to his congregation to say that he can no longer continue with them in the context of both local and national issues in relation to Kirk's stance on sexuality. (Author: Christians Together)

Syria, Ezekiel and the possible consequences
While it is tempting to think of Syria as just another part of the 'Arab Spring, the country occupies an important square on the global geo-political chess board. (Author: Christians Together)

An interview with Asia Bibi facing death penalty
A human rights activist based in Pakistan has supplied Christians Together with the transcript of an interview with Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing the death sentence for blasphemy. (Author: PJ (Pseudonym))

What to do about Greece... and everything else
Serious riots are continuing in Greece over the Eurozone financial crisis. Stratfor the global intelligence agency has produced a chart summarising the options and likely outcomes. And Woody Allen gives a view. (Author: Various)

Sharia controlled zones in London
Columnist Melanie Phillips writes on the subject of a 'parallel legal system' being introduced to communities in the UK capital which is 'creating another no-go area in Londonistan'. (Author: The Editor)

From the Med to the Hindu Kush: what next?
Global intelligence agency Stratfor presents an analysis of the current situation across the Arab world and outlines the prospects for the turbulent region which figures so prominently in end-time prophecy. (Author: Stratfor)

Kirk hosting Christian/Muslim Conference
The Church of Scotland is hosting a conference in December for a 'dynamic weekend' to find common ground between the Chistianity and Islam. (Author: Mission and Discipleship Council)

Tibetan sacred chant in Aberdeen church
Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen is offering an evening of 'Masked Dance and Sacred Chant' performed by Tibetan monks. (Author: The Editor)

Coptic Christians in escalating protests
Initially-peacefull demonstrations by Coptic Christians looking to have a demolished church rebuilt have escalated into violent clashes wti the military. (Author: Christians Together)

MSP congratulates KJV transcription effort
Skye, Lochaber an Badenoch MSP Dave Thompson has invited fellow parliamentarians to join him in congratulating the organisers of a marathon effort of transcribing all the verses of the King James Bible at its 400th anniversary. (Author: Christians Together)

US denomination ordains first gay minister
The US Presbyterian Church has ordained its first gay minister last Saturday when Scott Anderson was ordained in the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin. (Author: Christians Together)

Skye minister to leave Church of Scotland
Rev. Ivor Macdonald, the parish minister at Staffin Church of Scotland is to leave the denomination because it is 'leading further and further away from the Lordship of Christ'. (Author: Christians Together)

Police apologise to Christian café owner
Police have given a partial apology to the owner of a Christian café who was wrongly told displaying Bible verses on a TV screen was a breach of public order laws. (Author: Christian Institute)

Iranian Pastor to hang for 'thought crimes'
Please pray for an Iranian court has passed down a death sentence on a Christian pastor, who was found guilty of so-called “thought crimes. (Author: Michael Ireland / Assist News Service)

New York protesters clash with police
With thousands protesting in New York about the economy at least 700 people have been arrested, including a New York Times reporter. (Author: RT)

Episcopal Church and Interfaith event
A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Diocese covering the Grampian and Highlands and Islands regions has been a central part of a '9/11' multi-faith event in Aberdeen. (Author: )

Change of name for Ghobe Ministries
God's Healing of Broken Emotions (GHOBE) Ministries will now operate as the Mishkan Resource Centre from its base in Inverness. (Author: Sheila Cardwell)

Harvest is past; the summer has ended
The Kirk in General Assembly during May 2011 confirmed its most public and corporate act of apostasy since its formation in 1560. The result is turmoil and utter confusion. (Author: Christians Together)

To discipline or not: that is the question
St. Andrew's Presbytery of the Church of Scotland, and the Kirk itself has been put into a difficult position following the actions of a lesbian minister in Fife: it is potentially a no-win situation. (Author: Christians Together)

What in the World is happening for Heaven's sake?
David Masson looks across the world stage and offers a view of what may be lying behind the upheavals around the planet in recent days. (Author: David Masson)

Re-Examining the Arab Spring
6 months after the Tunisian uprising STRATFOR's George Friedman gives an overview and analysis of the impact and dynamic on and within the region. (Author: Stratfor)

Hope amongst 'spirits of judgement and fire
As the word of God tells us there is nothing new under the sun. The prophet Isaiah could stand in Parliament Square and preach the same message as he did two and a half millennia ago. (Author: Christians Together)

A 'Very Urgent Call'
The Manchester-based Maranatha Community has issued a call to prayer, with the view that "the current riots across the land hold up a mirror to the moral and spiritual sickness of our nation". (Author: Maranatha Community)

John Stott called home
The Revd Dr John Stott, one of the most influential evangelical leaders of the twentieth century, passed away on Wednesday afternoon at the age of 90. (Author: Christian Institute)

A letter from Afghanistan
Believers in Afghanistan are facing increasing persecution and the following letter comes to Christians Together from a Christian leader in the country. (Author: Christian leader in Afghanistan)

Still singing off different 'hymn' sheets
Since the extraordinary Plenary Assembly of last year the divisions within the Free Church of Scotland on acceptable forms of worship continue to manifest. (Author: Christians Together)

Insecurity and Unity
Current upheavals in the world of organised religion are producing some visible responses in terms of new alliances. (Author: Christians Together)

Support group hosts 'Opening Doors Evening
Reality Adventure Works team in the Highlands is inviting all who are interested in the work of supporting young people to an 'Opening Doors Evening' in their new offices. (Author: Christians Together)

Geert Wilders cleared of 'hate speech' charges
Geert Wilders the Dutch politician who speaks out against the influence of Islam on Dutch public life has been cleared for charges against him relating to incitement and hate speech. (Author: Geert Wilders/Christians Together)

The Church of Scotland 'trajectory' rejects God
Following the Church of Scotland's vote in the May 2011 General Assembly there has not been much tangible sign of any reaction. But a meeting on a wet day in Glasgow last week broke the corporate silence. (Author: Christians Together)

BBC 'Suicide' programme one-sided
The BBC is facing a storm of controversy after it aired Sir Terry Pratchett’s “very unbalanced” documentary on assisted suicide last night. (Author: The Editor)

The 'earthquake' of the Arab Spring: now Syria
With the immediate future for Syria hanging in the balance as 'a corrupt and brutal dictatorship which is now creaking under the weight of popular discontent.' Victor Mordecai gives a view on the implications for the region. (Author: Victor Mordecai)

Church of Scotland: leaders meeting planned
Since the shock decision to allow practising homosexuals to serve as ministers in the Church of Scotland, ministers and elders are planning to meet this week to consider what action to take. (Author: Christians Together)

DISSENT in the Kirk
Following the Church of Scotland General Assembly at the end of May and the decision to allow homosexual ministers to operate within the church, many are now expressing serious dissent regarding these actions. (Author: Christians Together)

Multitudes, multitudes in the Valley of Decision
Following the decision by the Church of Scotland in its General Assembly of 2011 to allow actively-homosexual clergy in its churches, it is 'make your mind up' time for all within the national church. (Author: Christians Together)

Splits in the foundations
The current problems besetting the Free Church of Scotland are symptomatic of fundamental issues which are wreaking havoc across the presbyterian world and the denominations beyond. (Author: Christians Together)

Going for Free?
With the national Kirk in turmoil over gay clergy, some ministers might make it jump for it. And the invitation might be to bring their hymn books too. (Author: Watchman)

Kirk minister ponders leaving on gay clergy issue
Following the vote and decision at the 2011 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland a West-Highland minister is now considering life beyond the national church. (Author: Christians Together)

Forthcoming General Assemblies
Three 'Church of Scotland' denominations are scheduled for the last week in May. Each is facing serious issues within its ranks. (Author: Christians Together)

Visegrad: A New European Military Force
With the rapidly-changing political and military scene a 4-nation alliance is establishing a new military group independent of NATO. (Author: Stratfor)

Muslims come to Christ as others seek violence
Rick Ridings who leads the Succat Hallel intercessory and praise ministry in Jerusalem brings news and insights into what God is doing in the Middle East. Through the turmoil in that region Muslims are coming to the Lord. (Author: Rick Riddings)

Muslim Brotherhood: a force for good?
With the present upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East many are wondering what will fill the vacuum as we see many of the 'strong men' being deposed by the uprisings of the 'Arab Spring'. (Author: Philip Wren)

The Royal Wedding; a special day indeed
Whatever the present and future significance of the Royal Wedding it will always be remembered as a special day for our family. (Author: The Editor)

David Wilkerson dies in car accident
David Wilkerson the Internationally-known author of the Cross and the Switchblade and the founder of Times Square Church NY, has died in a car accident. (Author: Christianity Today/Christias Together)

Persecution forcing Christians out of Egypt
Christians in the Middle East: further sectarian protests in Egypt and fears of mass emigration by Coptic Christians from the country. (Author: Just Journalism)

Van driver instructed to remove cross
A Christian is under investigation and faces possible disciplinary action because of his display of a small palm cross in the company van he drives. (Author: Christian Concern)

Facebook lines itself up with Biblical prophecies
In a world which is being increasingly driven and shaped by social networking and internet-based multi-media an international campaign has been launched on Facebook which falls into line with the prophesied purposes of God. (Author: Christians Together)

Orkney Bible translator killed in bus bomb attack
In a renewed surge of terrorism in Israel an Orkney woman serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators was killed in a terrorist bomb attack in Jerusalem. (Author: Christians Together)

Church wins court case over banned ad.
A Judge has ruled in favour of a Belfast church and against a decision by the Advertising Standards Authority to ban an advertisement by Sandown Free Presbyterian Church in its stand against homosexuality. (Author: Christians Together)

Israeli family slaughtered by terrorist.
A Palestinian terrorist broke into a home of young Jewish family living in the Samarian community of Itamar and brutally murdered the five members of the family as they slept. (Author: Ryan Jones)

Preservation of Historic Scottish Presbyterianism
A prominent notice was carried in newspapers during the second week of March 2011 relating to a disagreement on 'worship' within the Free Church of Scotland. (Author: Former Free Church Moderators)

Kirk minister takes issue with Prime Minister
Rev. Louis Kinsey, a Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeen, has put down a challenge to David Cameron over the Prime Minister's public comments relating to Christians fostering children. (Author: Louis Kinsey / Christians Together)

Pakistani Christians protesting recent killing
Thousands of Pakistani Christians on took part in protest rallies across Pakistan expressing anger over the brutal assassination of the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, in Islamabad. (Author: Christians Together)

God has no place in British law say judges
Despite the UK's long history of religious observance and the traditions of the churches, there is no place in British law for Christian beliefs two High Court judges have said. (Author: Christians Together)

Afganistani Christian facing death freed.
An Afghan Red Cross worker who was jailed for nine months for converting to Christianity has been released after an intense campaign by international diplomatic missions and Christian activists, an official. (Author: Christians Together)

Christchurch earthquakes: a sombre story
Behind the most recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand is a sombre story of an event which didn't happen. (Author: Andrew Strom / Christians Together)

Shimon Peres: Google, Facebook and Antichrist
According to current reports Israel’s President Shimon Peres sees Google and Facebook as the means to accomplish what the Bible tells us will be the role of the Antichrist in bringing a solution to the turmoil in the Middle East. (Author: Christians Together)

Libya: another domino falls?
The unrest (revolution) which is shaking North Africa and beyond is claiming another victim. Stratfor the intelligence agency gives its take on a situation in the Middle East which is changing by the hour. (Author: Stratfor Global Intelligence)

Civil Partnerships, Marriages and churches
A joint statement has been issued by five evangelical organisations on the subject of homosexual marriage and the registration of civil partnerships in churches. (Author: Christians Together)

Irish Evangelical Alliance backs gay 'marriage'
EA Ireland’s General Director stated: “The Government is seeking to legislate for greater justice and fairness for co-habiting couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. As Christians we should support that stance.” (Author: Christians Together)

Lord Mackay speaks out on Civil Partnerships
Lord Mackay of Clashfern who served under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major has stated that Christians should not be forced to act against their beliefs by equality laws. (Author: Christians Together)

Gay partnerships to be classed as marriages
A new law is being introduced which will class gay and lesbian partnerships as marriages with further reforms planned which will destroy the traditional view of marriage. (Author: Christians Together)

They're building a new caliphate says Israeli PM
In an important address to a policy conference of European leaders the Israeli Prime Minister warned of several serious threats to world peace and Western civilization. (Author: Christians Together)

Egypt rejects Muslim Brotherhood
An authentic testimony received from a protestor at Tahrirs Square in Cairo Egypt suggests that the internional media are portraying a distorted account of the 'anti-government' revolution. (Author: Direct from Egypt)

A Letter from Egypt
In the midst of the social and political turmoil in Egypt God has His people. This is a report from a Christian pastor speaking in the midst of a dangerous and volatile situation. (Author: Egyptian Pastor)

YWCA abandons its Christian name
In a controversial move, the YWCA in England and Wales has adopted a new name which has dropped all reference to the organisation's Christian origins. (Author: Christians Together)

Women victims in Israel targets of terror attack
Arab terrorists attacked and killed a visiting American Christian woman and badly wounded her UK-born Messianic Jewish friend south of Jerusalem on Saturday. (Author: Christians Together)

BBC to screen prime-time screening of Nativity story
A new adaptation of the Nativity Story occupies a peak-viewing slot on BBC1 this month. Producer Tony Jordan said: ""The challenge for me was to retell a story that has been told countless times before." (Author: Christians Together)

Case about 'orientation discrimination' postponed
A judge has postponed his ruling over a case relating to Christian guesthouse operators Peter and Hazelmary Bull who refused accommodation to a homosexual couple. (Author: Christians Together)

Deface the Bible but don't touch the Koran
Arrest and no action. Two similar stories illustrate remarkably different reactions from the authorities over the desecration of holy books. (Author: Christians Together)

Free Church to allow hymns and instruments
Following a special Plenary assembly the Free Church of Scotland is to allow for the singing of hymns and the use of musical instruments in its congregations. (Author: Free Church Statement)

Lennox takes on Hawking: again!
In his tireless rebuttals of the 'scientific' view that our world was created by some random process, John Lennox argues that you can't explain the universe without God. (Author: Professor John Lennox)

The BBC's obsession with sexuality
If there was ever any doubt that the term ‘diversity’ relates to ‘sexuality’ the BBC has confirmed the link in a new survey; but only at the end. (Author: Christians Together)

God at work in Pakistan amongst the dangers
Two Pakistani pastors who are working in their country to spread the Gospel amongst Muslims have sent a prayer/news update to Christians Together outlining points for praise and for prayer. (Author: B and A (pastors in Pakistan))

UK denies entry to persecuted Christian speaker
After months of effort and planning by Release International to host a series of meetings across the UK about the persecution of Christians, the speaker has been denied an entry visa. (Author: Christians Together)

Chilean miner tells Luis Palau of God at work
Jose Henriquez joined Luis Palau on stage in Chile last month to reveal that fully two-thirds, of the Chilean miners turned to Christ whilst waiting to be rescued. (Author: Christians Together)

Al-Queda launches holy war  against Christians
"All Christian centres, organizations and institutions, leaders and followers, are legitimate targets for the mujahedeen (holy warriors) wherever they can reach them." Statement by al-Qaeda group (Author: Christians Together)

A Middle East exodus of Biblical proportions
Christians are fleeing from the persecution in the Middle East with reports of violence, bloodshed and murder. (Author: NewAmerican)

Bible Society launches new Gaelic Gospel
At the National Mod in Thurso the Scottish Bible Society launched a fresh translation of John's Gospel as the first in a (Author: Christians Together)

Miracle rescue of trapped Chilean Miners
Stories from above and below ground reveal God powerfully at work during the 'miracle' rescue of the Chilean miners. Prayer were said and the Gospel was preached. (Author: Christians Together)

Tesco slow in 'Halal' refund
Tesco store reluctant to refund Irish shopper after she unknowingly purchased of Halal meat from her Belfast store. (Author: Christian Institute)

Christians called to be 'not ashamed' of Christ
A major 'Not Ashamed' campaign has just been launched inviting Christians to 'Stand Up for Jesus in Public Life'. The initiative has support from national leaders. (Author: CCFON/Christians Together)

Northern Christian Police Association news
The Northern Constabulary branch of the Christian Police Association has 're-ignited' and now extends an invitation to join with the branch's monthly prayer breakfast in the Inverness CYC/YMCA. (Author: Northern Constabulary CPA)

Roma gypsies: Germany yesterday, France today
France's expulsion of Roma Gypsies has been likened by a top EU official to that which took place under Nazi Germany during the Second World War. (Author: Christians Together)

Papal visit 460 years after the Reformation
The Pope makes a first and historic visit to the UK since the 16th century Reformation. He has been received in Scotland by the Queen who is head of the Church of England (Author: Christians Together)

Koran burning threat offensive and dangerous
Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo of the Barnabus Fund has stated that the proposal by an American pastor to burn copies of the Qu'ran is an "unnecessary, offensive and dangerous gesture”. (Author: Barnabus Fund / Christians Together)

Don't mention God: no do!
A Christian worker who was sacked under a charge of 'gross misconduct' for mentioning God has had his appeal rejected by an employment tribunal. (Author: Christian Legal Centre)

Pakistani Christians being raped and killed
A Pakistani believer and site member of Christians Together and reports of much trouble in his country. Please pray for him and other believers there. (Author: Khuram/Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

Prospect of a Gay Bishop: a Scottish response
With the controversies in both the Anglican Communion and the Church of Scotland, one Kirk member has written to another. (Author: One Kirk friend to another)

Afghan Christians urgent need of prayer
The Afghan Christian Community has just written an open letter to the body of Christ worldwide outlining the great persecution they are facing in their own land. (Author: Afghan Christian Community)

'Strathpeffer' Convention move to Inverness
The decision to move the 'Strathpeffer' Convention to Inverness has caused some eyebrows to be raised. The organisers respond to some of the questions being asked. (Author: Christians Together)

Initial report following team visit to Congo
On return from an eventful and rewarding missionary trip to the DR Congo, team leader Jim Rettie supplies an initial report. (Author: Jim Rettie)

Soldiers and their families; the cost of separation
Watching the daily news footage of the conflicts in Iran and Afghanistan it is easy to forget the price that soldiers and their families pay in terms of the worry and loss that separation brings. (Author: Christians Together)

News update of Inverness team in Congo
In spite of an alarmist headline and sensationalised report about being 'ambushed' the team are safe and well and continuing with their planned programme. (Author: Christians Together)

Congolese Macedonian call; a Highland response
As a result of a 'random' e-mail, a team from the Highlands is set to depart on a ministry trip to the Congo and to believers there amongst Pygmy tribes. (Author: Christians Together)

The Reformation: they think it's all over; it is now
The Reformation has been cancelled. A Stornoway-born and recent Church of Scotland Moderator Rev. Sheilagh Kesting has proclaimed a ‘first’ in a post-Reformation pact with the Roman Catholic Church. (Author: Christians Together)

Franklin Graham disinvited from Pentagon Prayer
An invitation to Franklin Graham to speak at the Pentagoon on the National Day of Prayer has been withdrawn following objections from a 'watchdog' group. (Author: Stars and Stripes / Christians Together)

Anti-semitism on the rise in France
The following account has come from a reliable source and lists a series of recent anti-semitic incidents in France which illustrates a continuing increase in anti-Jewish prejudice in that country. (Author: Anon)

Judges biased against Christians say churchmen
In an unprecedented move, senior Church figures are forcing a showdown over concerns that most senior judges are prejudiced against Christianity. (Author: Christian Concern for our Nation)

American evangelist jailed in Glasgow
Street preacher Shawn Holes, an American Baptist, was apprehended, jailed and fined in the course of preaching the Gospel in Glasgow (Author: Christians Together)

Haiti: three days of prayer and fasting
One month after the quake, a nation that was dedicated to Satan has been called by the Haitian president to three days of fasting and prayer to God. (Author: Jerry Miel)

Islamic scholar issues fatwa against terrorism
Pakistani-born Sufi scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has issued a fatwa denouncing terrorism and describing those involved as 'unbelievers'. (Author: Christians Together)

Amazing move of the Spirit in Algeria
Despite anti-conversion laws, Muslims are turning to Christ in an amazing move of the Spirit in Algeria. A pastor reports packed churches and 800% growth. (Author: Operation Mobilisation)

Young people coming to faith in Finland
An amazing move of the Holy Spirit is bringing many young people to faith in Christ. They then go out into their street and communities to reach out to others. (Author: Dr. Mike Story)

Healing ministry: seasonal update report
Jim Rettie gives a seasonal update report on the work of the Fellowship of Christian Healing (Highland) over the past year. (Author: Jim Rettie)

Case against Christian couple thrown out
Whilst the charges against the Christian owners of a guest house has been thrown out, the case raises serious questions about how the case ever went as far as it did. (Author: Christians Together)

Free Church pulls out of talks with Kirk
As a symptom of the confusion and division within and beyond the Church of Scotland, the Free Church has pulled out of dialogue with the Kirk. (Author: Christians Together)

Paul Moore; whistleblower for God?
Paul Moore was sacked by HBOS for criticising the company's risky lending. His wife assured him of 'God's plan' and he subsequently blew the whistle on the company's dealings. (Author: Christians Together)

Islam4uk march in support of Shari'ah Law
Islam4uk have organised marches and events in various locations around the UK for Saturday, 31 October 2009. In London stops are to be made a Westminster, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square (Author: )

South African Anglicans join in 'Confessing'
South African Anglicans have affirmed their fidelity to biblical orthodoxy by following the example of churches in Scotland, England and North America. (Author: Christians Together)

Christian minister sacked from radio station
A Pakistani-born Christian minister who was sacked by a radio station has won the right to take his case to the European courts. (Author: Christians Together)

Minister calls Kirk's Assembly to account
A senior Church of Scotland minister has circulated a searing analysis of the Kirk's handling of the sexuality issue at the May 2009 General Assembly. (Author: Christians Together)

Megrahi's release: what do you think?
An opportunity to say what you feel and think. Others from elsewhere in Scotland and from around the world will surely be interested. (Author: Christians Together)

Highland pastor's wife on the mend
Highland pastor's wife (Rev. Dr.) Sheila McLaughlan is making a recovery in a German clinic having suffered a stroke when attending a pastors' conference. (Author: Christians Together)

Increasing persecution of Pakistani Christians
A Pakistani believer who is a member of the Christians Together web site has written to outline the increasing persecution of Christians in his country and to ask for prayer for protection. (Author: Christians Together)

The Kirk in Crisis: nailing colours to the door
A current move by Church of Scotland congregations from across Scotland sets down a very significant marker in terms of a public response to the highly-controversial decisions made by the recent General Assembly. (Author: Christians Together)

The Kirk is imploding
The first appointment of an openly-gay minister reveals the extent of the Church of Scotland's sorry departure from biblical orthodoxy. (Author: Christians Together)

A bridge across an old divide?
In the wake of the Church of Scotland's failure to pronounce on gay ordination, there are signicant signs of Kirk leaders breaking ranks and entering talks with other denominations. (Author: Christians Together)

No bush has a life guarantee
An historical presence in the soil offers no guarantee for the future. Unhealthy and and unproductive bushes could find that their days are numbered. (Author: Christians Together)

Logos Hope visit to Edinburgh
Having called at Edinburgh and Belfast, the first-ever UK visit of OM’s new Logos Hope ship is at the halfway stage. (Author: Christians Together)

Gay adoption critics branded as homophobes
In a new publication giving information on gay adoption the state-funded British Association for Adoption and Fostering has branded critics of gay adoption as 'retarded homophobes'. (Author: Christians Together)

Muslim to head BBC religious broadcasting
The BBC has appointed Aaqil Ahmed as its first Muslim head of religious programming, following the agnostic Alan Bookbinder who was appointed in 2001 (Author: CCFON/Christians Together)

Credit crunch and search for ‘meaning of life’
New research out this week has revealed that three in four adults are rethinking their core values and big issues like ‘the meaning of life’. (Author: Christian Today)

Mr. Phelps you are not welcome in Scotland
A 'keep out' message to Mr. Phelps (Author: )

Fresh bid to reunite the Kirk and the Free Church
The media are often theatre; and the above headline from one Scottish daily is suggestive of either high drama or outrageous farce. (Author: Christians Together)

Beauty contestant gives 'wrong' answer
Miss California ruined her chances of becoming Miss USA by giving the 'wrong' answer to a gay competition judge who asked her opinion on gay marriage. (Author: Christians Together)

Dobson to set record straight
Dr. James Dobson has gone on air in the USA to counter a false impression given by a British newspaper and other media outlets that he has lost and given up the 'culture war'. (Author: Christians Together)

Bishop defender of the faith resigns
In the light of increasing attacks on the Christian faith in the UK, the resignation of Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali is viewed as a loss to the Christian community in the UK. (Author: Christians Together)

How to respond to Jehovah's Witnesses
It is not always easy to frame a proper response when someone comes knocking unexpectedly on the door; and it's useful to have some quick pointers. (Author: Christians Together)

Churches say Government is gambling with lives
A number of major denominations and Christian organisations have lauched a web-site to counter Government policy which they say promotes gambling addiction. (Author: Christians Together)

Scotland deports Christian workers
Reports this week cover stories of Christian workers being intercepted by immigration officials and deported back to the USA. (Author: Christians Together)

Christian Workers having to Pack their Bags
New immigration legislation is shutting doors to Christian workers from North America who wish to work in Scotland. And some who are here in the Highlands are having to leave. (Author: Christians Together)

Controversial priest declines promotion
A Roman Catholic priest who believes that Hurricane Katrina was a judgement of God has declined promotion in the face of controversy. (Author: Christians Together)

Indian Christians reaching out to Jade Goody
An Indian evangelical newspaper has asked its readership to pray for terminally-ill reality TV personality Jade Goody. Others have also been sending in their messages of support and prayer. (Author: Christians Together)

Mum faces dismissal for asking for prayer
The Archbishop of York has publicly expressed his support for a school receptionist facing dismissal because she asked her friends to pray for a situation regarding her daughter. (Author: Christians Together)

Dutch MP determined to come to Britain
A Dutch politician and party leader has been told by the British Government that he can't enter the country as he represents a "threat to social cohesion". (Author: Christians Together)

Can a Theological College Be Born in a Day?
A brief overview of the conception, founding and development of the Highland Theological College from its beginnings in Elgin through to the present. (Author: Hector Morrison)

Public trust in media sinks to a new low
Less than a third of the British public trusts the media, a new international survey reveals. And recent events have further damaged their reputation. (Author: Christian Institute)

Army chaplain fears 'God' will offend atheists
A senior army chaplain has removed a Christian Creed from Army services at Sandhurst in case it will offend minority faiths and others who do not believe in God. (Author: The Mail/Christians Together)

Grandparents forced to hand children to gay couple
Edinburgh City Council have forced a couple who wanted to look after their two young grandchildren to hand them over to a gay couple for adoption. (Author: The Scotsman/The Daily Mail/CT)

Scots schools to teach gay rights...
Scottish Government telling schools to promote ‘gay rights’ has prompted concern that parents will be denied a say in what their children learn. (Author: Christian Institute)

Scottish missionary imprisoned in The Gambia
International Christian Concern have submitted an appeal regarding the Scottish Christian missionary and his wife sentenced to a year of hard labour in The Gambia. (Author: Christians Together)

A gay minister for Queen's Cross Church
A Brechin minister who is in a 'live-in' relationship with another man has been chosen by Queens Cross Church of Scotland in Aberdeen: according to one influential minister, the matter could split the national Kirk. (Author: Christians Together)

Pope more concerned with Truth than popularity
Pope Gregory's affirmation of heterosexual marriage has created a backlash from 'Christian', homosexual and 'save the planet' groups. (Author: Christians Together)

Indian church leader speaks on Mumbai attacks
Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan expresses his grief over the Mumbai attacks but cautions about jumping to early conclusions regarding the identity of the attackers. (Author: Gospel for Asia)

Bible Illuminated - of God or the Devil?
Of God or the devil; the Bible Illustrated published by a Swedish businessman is highly provocative and leaves little scope for ambivalent views. (Author: Christians Together)

Violence against Christians in Asia
Extremists in India are now offering money for those prepared to kill Christians. "We may have lost everything, but nothing will turn us from Jesus." (Author: WorldNetDaily / Release International)

Recital of controversial poems in Welsh Assembly
The LibDem's culture spokesman has invited a militant atheist to read his controversial anti-Christian poems in the Welsh Assembly building in December. (Author: Christians Together)

Parent jailed over issue with school
A Christian father has been jailed for taking issue with the school teaching his 5-year-old about the equivalence between heterosexual and same-sex marriage (Author: Christians Together)

Auntie Beeb in crisis
The furore surrounding the BBC is perhaps God's way of exposing the catastrophic moral degradation and the collapse of standards at all levels in our once-respected institutions. (Author: Watchman)

India must protect its Christians
Scores of Christians have been murdered. Their homes, churches, presbyteries, convents and charitable institutions have been destroyed writes Bishop Nazir-Ali (Author: Bishop Michael Nazir Ali)

Christian counsellor fired by Relate
Gary McFarlane, a Christian counsellor , has been dismissed from his position at Relate after raising concerns about advising same sex couples. (Author: Christian Legal Centre)

Christian worker murdered in Afghanistan
Taliban leader states that aid worker was killed "because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity in Afghanistan". (Author: Christians Together)

Christian vicar says she was conned
Joanna Jepson says she was conned by TV producers into taking part in a programme which portrays Christians as being obsessed with the issue of sexuality. (Author: The Telegraph)

RC Church produces Bible with Hindu texts
A new Indian version of the Bible recently published by the Catholic Church includes verses from the Bhagavad Gita and references to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. (Author: Christians Together)

Crisis in Pakistan
Should an al Qaeda-type Radical gain control of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons, we could be facing an apocalyptic moment. (Author: Joel Rosenberg)

News (08/08/08) from the Christian Institute
Some news this week (08/08/08) including a survey which shows that Scots are 'ashamed' of the Scottish drinking culture. (Author: Christian Institute)

Hybrids, Abortion, Saviour Siblings, Fathers
Watch four short but powerful presentations on Animal/Human Hybrids, Abortion, Saviour Siblings and the role of the Father in IVF (Author: Christian Concern for our Nation)

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