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Kenyan Clergy Joins Battle Against Deadly Homemade Brews
Clerics in Kenya are backing a presidential decree banning homemade brews, largely blamed for a recent spate of deaths in the East African nation.
The homemade alcoholic drinks, popularly dubbed chang’aa (“kill me quick”) or Kumi Kumi (ten-ten shillings), are popular with the poor, who cannot afford commercially brewed bottled beer, which is heavily taxed.
Until recently, most Kenyan homemade brews were safe and were consumed at traditional parties, but unscrupulous brewers in the last few years have been introducing industrial chemicals such as methanol to make the drinks stronger and to quicken the brewing process, turning the drinks into poisons.
Two Pastors Facing Death Sentences Freed in Sudan
After international outcry, two South Sudanese Presbyterian Evangelical Church pastors who faced a possible death sentence in Sudan have been set free after a court hearing Aug. 5.
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Reith were on trial in Khartoum on criminal charges of undermining the constitutional system, espionage, promoting hatred among sects, breach of public peace, and offenses relating to insulting religious beliefs. The first two charges are punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Christian Teachers in Northern Kenya Stage Walkout Because of Terrorist Fears
Recent attacks by Somalia’s al-Shabab Muslim militant group have forced the closure of dozens of schools in Kenya’s north, as Christian teachers refuse to work because of security fears.
The crisis follows the massacre of 148 Christian students at the Garissa University College in April. The predominantly Muslim region relies on Christian teachers for its schools, but those teachers have been singled out by the terrorist group because of their faith.
“Teachers left and did not report back, so some schools have since closed down,” said Roman Catholic Joseph Alessandro of the Garissa Diocese.
As Nigeria Prepares to Install New President, Female Suicide Bombings Spike
Nigeria’s newly elected president, Muhammadu Buhari, promised during his campaign that he would tackle the militant terrorist group Boko Haram.
On May 29, he will be sworn into office, just as the extremist group is ramping up its use of female suicide bombers.
Buhari, who is Muslim, replaces Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the country’s south. Both Christians and Muslims voted for Buhari in April, convinced he could stop the terrorist rampage.
Nigerians fear violence may escalate if female terrorists are deployed because they can hide explosives under their long Muslim abayas, or gowns.
One Year After Meriam Ibrahim’s Release, Two Christians Face Possible Death Penalty in Sudan
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.
World Vision Suspends Operations in South Sudan State over Escalating Violence
Amid killings, rapes and abductions, the international evangelical humanitarian agency World Vision indefinitely suspended its operations in South Sudan’s Unity State over the escalating conflict.
Multiple other aid agencies, including Doctors Without Borders, have taken similar action.
Liberia’s United Methodists Keep Ban on Divorced Clergy Becoming Bishops
In the United States, United Methodists are fighting about whether to allow clergy to marry gay couples. In Liberia, divorce is on the line.
The United Methodist Church in Liberia recently voted to uphold a long-standing provision barring divorced clergy from running for the office of the bishop.
The church’s leaders say the ban brings moral credibility to the office and guides the conduct of those who want to be bishop.
Congo-Brazzaville Bans Muslim Women from Wearing Full-Face Veils, Citing Terrorism Prevention
Although Congo-Brazzaville has not witnessed violence like neighboring Cameroon, it is now the first country in the region to ban the veils.
In Cameroon, Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency has carried out deadly attacks in villages and towns. Female suicide bombers in veils have committed some of Boko Haram’s attacks.
“Muslim women can now only wear the full veil at home and in places of worship, but not in public places,” El Hadj Abdoulaye Djibril Bopaka, the head of Islamic Supreme Council of Congo-Brazzaville told Agence France-Presse.
LGBT Kenyans Gain the Right to Organize
Kenyan law bans homosexuality, and many clergy regularly preach against it as sin before God. But the ruling means that LGBT Kenyans will have an official platform from which to fight for their rights and freedoms.
“This is what we have been crying for,” said the Rev. Michael Kimindu, a former Anglican priest and now president of Other Sheep-Africa, a gay rights organization.
“It is the beginning of the journey towards freedom. We will now start asking: What happens when two people who are gay want to have a baby or want to go to church to marry?”
Anglican Communion’s New Secretary General Draws Praise from Africa, Condemnation Elsewhere
African Anglicans welcomed the appointment of a Nigerian bishop as the next secretary general of the 85 million-member Anglican Communion, even as others criticized the appointment because of his anti-gay comments.
Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon beat other applicants from Oceania, Asia, Europe, and the Americas and will assume the mostly ambassador-type post at a time when the worldwide communion remains estranged over homosexuality and same-sex marriages, especially in Africa.
“He is articulate and very well educated,” said Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa, Kenya, diocese.
“His position on traditional Anglicanism is very firm. This is good for us.”
Kalu said the appointment had come at the right time, when African Anglicans needed a bigger voice within the communion.
“The church is growing fastest here,” said Kalu.
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