CHR Comment: Early in 2015 Coptic Christians were martyred by ISIS militants. Religious tensions in Egypt and elsewhere around the Middle East remain high. Here is a positive example of how one government official in a predominantly Muslim country is attempting to ease tensions.
Images from around the world as Orthodox Christians partake in festive traditions to celebrate their Christmas Day on 7 January.
CHR Comment: The BBC provides a one minute, high-quality video including various still shots and moving pictures about how Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas. The second link is likewise about Orthodox Christmas and its video lasts 1:45 minutes. Take a minute or two to learn more about how a few hundred million brothers and sisters in Christ celebrate Christmas.
A gas tanker truck ignited an inferno at a crowded industrial gas plant in Nigeria, killing scores of people lining up to refill their cooking gas cylinders.
CHR Comment: Member of the Nnewi community were lined up to refill their gas cooking cylinders so they could cook their Christmas meals when the truck exploded. More than 100 people died. Nnewi is in southeastern Nigeria.
A Philippine military spokeswoman says Christmas attacks by Muslim rebels against Christian communities in the country’s volatile south have left at least 14 people dead.
CHR Comment: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters killed nine Christians in attacks on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Government forces learned that an attack was coming and repelled about 200 rebels in eight different attacks during the two days of fighting. The Philippine population is largely Roman Catholic but they have had continued conflict with Muslim terrorists on some Islands.
Somalia’s government bans the celebration of Christmas, warning that such Christian festivities could threaten the nation’s Muslim faith.
CHR Comment: Somalia is more than 99% Muslim, operating under Sharia law. So this decision is not too surprising. According to the article, the ban applied to public observances that might take place in hotel lobbies (e.g., putting up a tree). Christians could observe the holiday in their homes.
CHR Comment: National Geographic briefly describes two theories about the relationship between the winter solstice and the date of Christmas. A prevailing view is that Christians chose December 25 as the date to celebrate Jesus’ birth to offer a Christian alternative to celebrating the pagan Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) holiday that was timed with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. A more common Christian explanation is that the day was chosen since it is nine months after the day when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would miraculously have a child who would be the Savior (Annunciation Day, March 25; Luke 1:26-37).
CHR Comment: Omera tells a remarkable story of culture and the courage to improve her life. Along the way, she received help from a family of Indian Christians in the United Arab Emirates. They included her in their observances of Christmas and helped her learn English.
CHR Comment: Many Italians take their food and their faith seriously, but with a smile! The video shows the chocolatiers creating this beautiful nativity to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Merry Christmas indeed.
Billboards placed by an atheist group in different parts of the US are drawing strong reaction from both atheists and Christians alike.
CHR Comment: American Atheists is the group that pays for the billboards. They target Christmas as the most widely celebrated holiday by the majority religious group: Christianity. Their goal is to separate belief in charity and morality from religion.
CHR Comment: Dolores Gresham, Mike Bell, and other congressional law makers expressed disappointment that Chancellor Cheek’s instructions about diversity on campus seemed to undermine the celebration of Christmas, a Christian holiday.