‘Violating Freedom’: CA Lawmakers Vote Again to Stop Churches from Helping Gays

breaking us news

(Worthy News) – The California Senate has passed a bill that would inhibit the church’s ability to teach on sexuality and anyone seeking counseling to change their same-sex attraction. It does that by outlawing sexual orientation change efforts.

The bill (AB2943) now heads back to the California Assembly for a “concurrence” vote where it’s expected to pass. The assembly previously passed the bill in the spring.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Evan Low, says the bill will stop what he considers to be fraudulent counseling. “We as legislators have a responsibility to protect Californians from harmful and deceptive practices,” he said Thursday. “All Californians should be celebrated, cherished and loved for who they are.” [ Source: CBN News (Read More…) ]

Survey: ‘No-fault divorce may make people take marriage less seriously’

Almost three-quarters of divorced people believe a ‘no-fault’ divorce system could make married couples less concerned about going back on their vows.

In a survey of over 1,000 divorcees, a law firm which backs such a change found that over 70 per cent believe people may become “more blasé”.

A pro-marriage campaign group warned no-fault divorce would leave people at the mercy of abusive partners.

‘Out of love’

In England and Wales, a couple must prove their marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’.

Divorce claimants must cite adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation when the divorce is consensual or five years’ separation otherwise.

Law firm Slater and Gordon ran the survey, which it claimed showed support for introducing no-fault divorce.

It backed giving people who had “simply fallen out of love” the option to divorce.

Blasé

The firm also reported that “72 percent said the option may make couples more blasé about getting a divorce”.

Responding, Thomas Pascoe of the Coalition for Marriage said: “No-fault divorce would further diminish the status of marriage and leave some men and women at the mercy of cheating or controlling partners.”

In July, the UK Supreme Court ruled against a woman, Tini Owens, who was seeking to divorce her husband on the grounds that she is unhappy.

Damage

A judgment in Mrs Owen’s favour would have effectively introduced no-fault divorce by the back door.

Director of The Christian Institute Colin Hart has stressed that: “Society has an interest in trying to keep marriages together”, and warned that no-fault divorce would damage families.

 

What We Lose When Hymnbooks Disappear

What We Lose When Hymnbooks Disappear

hen I was in Sunday school in third grade, my teacher seemed ancient. Each Sunday, with hair a bit askew, he’d pump our hands as we walked in the door because he was so glad to see us. We’d earn full-size Snickers bars for Bible memorization, and he’d take us on a fishing trip at the end of the year. His wife would sit down next to a tinny classroom piano, and we’d sing hymns at the close of each class.

But the crowning glory of that year was receiving a hymnal of our very own, with gold embossed lettering, to continue our Christian education at home. It became a coveted object, one valued for its history. It signified our growing belonging to the church. Yet once in my possession, it simply sat atop the piano only my mother could play.

We are formed by the hymns and songs we sing. We are (perhaps more than we realize) formed, too, by the tangible objects of our faith. We are people of the book—not just people of the Word of God, but also people who have been corporately, theologically, devotionally, and socially formed by hymnbooks.

It is this history that Christopher N. Phillips artfully articulates in The Hymnal: A Reading History. This book is the only large-scale history and literary reading of hymnals, those “small companion[s]” that traveled with parishioners from church, home, and school. Phillips leads us like an artful detective through the early reading practices and religious life of the 18th and 19th centuries, in America and across the Atlantic.

Creating a Visible Identity

From our modern vantage point, perhaps we might see hymnals as outdated accessories of a worship service. But hymnbooks have served (and still may serve) a larger purpose. These books were the way children learned to read, the way illiterate congregants were able to apply a sermon, the way families instructed their children (and paved the way for children’s literature), the way poetic careers began, and the way that disparate individuals became the worshiping people of God.

Hymnbooks helped to bind the people of God together. Because “readers can be both individual and corporate,” writes Phillips, hymnbooks in worship nurtured the “achievement of corporate personhood.” For new religious groups or fringe groups (the ones Phillips examines are African Methodists, Reform Jews, and Latter-day Saints), hymnbooks were one of the first acts of creating a visible identity. For denominations, too, hymnbooks were used to wage war or create peace by what was included, what was excluded, and how the books were published and circulated.

Phillips traces the history of the genre and its use in three sacred spaces: the church, school, and home. Hymnbooks traveled with parishioners as personal devotional objects, aided in the emergence of the private self within a larger body (whether family or church), and even offered a handy tool for passing notes or disciplining children talking during a worship service. Hymnbooks were a sort of grocery sack for the growing American self—they held together different aspects of the experience of faith and provided familiar contours of religious and literary expression.

Phillips helps us see accomplished hymn writers like Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, and William Cowper in the context of their times. More broadly, he reimagines for his Christian reader how the methods and practices of our reading form our loves and attention. It is not simply the content of hymns sung, read, gifted, or memorized that informs our thinking and spiritual appetites. The books themselves—and how they’re read, circulated, used, and travel—shape us. To put it quite simply, we are formed not only by what we read but by how (and with whom) we read.

Phillips reminds us that books have lives too, and for the modern-day reader, we must consider what we’ve lost personally and collectively by neglecting the hymnal as a tangible object. The Bible of course, like the hymnal, “straddle[s] the worlds of literary and religious reading, of song and private reflection.” But what is our experience of worship: Are we being formed in our bodies into the family of God? With the Bible on our phones and words on the screen in most evangelical churches, are we being molded into the church by the objects we touch, hold, and memorize? Or is it too easy to be a group of loosely networked individuals, where devotional practices and worship are experienced in an individualized manner?

Hymnbooks were so well-worn prior to 1820 that many haven’t survived—they were touched, held close, and their covers, spines, and bindings show what Phillips, quoting another scholar, calls “hand piety.” The hand piety we exhibit most often today manifests in sore pinkies from holding our phones and hunched backs from staring at screens. It might seem easy to harken back to a “golden age” of hymnals or pews, but for the time period Phillips chronicles, hymnbooks were innovative and divisive. Instead, believers today should begin to consider, through Phillips’s history, larger questions about how our reading informs us. After all, the form an object takes is never neutral: It always creates meaning.

And for those of us who read hymn and song lyrics projected onto screens each Sunday morning, have we lost something? If hymnbooks helped to form marginal groups into a people with a distinct identity, then what forms of corporate and private worship can bring us together as God’s people today?

The Furniture of Worshipping Christians

This summer, with my family, I visited a small mining town in Colorado without a single stoplight. Sunday morning, we stepped into the little stone Episcopal church off the main street. Though our own weekly Sunday liturgical practice is less formal than that of the church we visited, my children easily adapted to the readings and the prayers—because the words were familiar. The creeds, the hymns, and the Scripture readings aligned with what they knew church to be.

Yet, as I flipped between the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, and the hymnal in the pew, I wondered what it would look like to be formed by books like these so thoroughly, so consistently. Would the prayers, hymns, and responsive readings grow repetitive and rote? Or would they create a texture and tapestry to faith that grew in resonance the more we returned to them? How would the weekly flipping of pages, with a “small brick of a book” (Phillips’s words) nestled in one’s palm, inform my spiritual practices? Would faith feel more solid with a book in my hand? These books, Phillips writes, were the “furniture of worshipping Christians” a century or two ago. What have we lost and what have we gained by trading out our furniture?

For those of us today who are apt to pick up our phones as a source of “virtual community,” The Hymnaltells an important story: a story of formation by books, traced through families and religious groups and across racial, socio-economic, and national lines. It’s a story I hope will help us to begin to recover our sense of being spiritually formed people—as families and as the family of God from every tribe, tongue, and nation.

     

Report Reveals that Belgium Euthanized Three Children

Report Reveals that Belgium Euthanized Three Children

The Telegraph reports that Belgium has authorized and completed the euthanasia of three children ages nine, 11, and 17.

According to The Telegraph these deaths took place in 2016 and 2017 via lethal injection and have just recently come to light because of the release of a report from the CFCEE; the commission that regulates euthanasia in Belgium.

Belgium is the only country in the world that offers euthanasia as an option for children dealing with terminal illnesses that cause, what the CFCEE deems, “unbearable suffering.”

According to The Telegraph, in 2014 Belgium amended its euthanasia law to make it legal for doctors to terminate the life of a child no matter how young the requestor. The only requirements are that the patient must be judged to have the mental capacity to make the weighty decision and that their parents’ consent.

The report that was released by the CFCEE on July 17, reportedly notes that thousands of people along with the three youth died from euthanasia between January 2016 and December 2017 in Belgium.

The Telegraph reports that Belgium’s clergy has spoken out on this issue saying the law is “a step too far.”

A professor and child cancer specialist, Professor Stefaan Van Gool responded to this news saying, “There is, in fact, no objective tool today available that really can help you say, ‘this child has the full competence or capacity to give with full understanding informed consent’.”

Some doctors, like neurologist Dr. Ludo Vanopdenbosch, have even resigned from their posts in protests of the euthanasia program. In 2017, Dr. Vanopdenbosch resigned from the CFCEE because a dementia patient’s life was ended via euthanasia without her prior consent. 

According to The Telegraph, Dr. Vanopdenbosch’s resignation led to the signing of a petition by 360 Belgian doctors which called for stricter control on euthanasia with psychiatric patients.

Though the legislation has received some backlash it has also gained widespread backing and euthanasia is actually on the rise in Belgium. According to The Telegraph the annual number of euthanasia cases have multiplied five-fold in the last ten year.

St Lawrence died telling a joke

Escorial

WikipediaThe Escorial monastery and palace in Spain is laid out in a gridiron pattern in memory of St Lawrence.

Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of Rome who were martyred in the persecution ordered by the Emperor Valerian. At the beginning of August 258, the emperor ordered all the Christians bishops, priests and deacons to be put to death. However, the prefect of Rome demanded that before he was executed he should hand over all the riches of the church. Lawrence asked for three days to collect them all, but spent the time distributing the money to the poor and needy.

On this day in 258, he was martyred. Legend has it that the prefect had a huge gridiron prepared over hot coals, that Lawrence’s arms were dislocated and that he was roasted alive. After being tormented for a while, he said: ‘I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!’According to St Ambrose, Lawrence then presented himself to the prefect with a collection of poor, blind and needy people. ‘Behold in these poor persons the treasures which I promised to show you; to which I will add pearls and precious stones, those widows and consecrated virgins, which are the Church’s crown,’ he said.

Scholars question whether this account is correct, pointing out that the emperor actually commanded clerics to be decapitated, and the truth may never be known. But Lawrence’s is an inspiring story and, like many Christians in those dangerous days, he kept the faith and died for it.

St Lawrence, for obvious reasons, is the patron saint of cooks – and comedians.

Doctors wanted to Abort Baby

Born with a severe disability, no one thought she would be able to sit up, much less graduate from college, marry, and bear children.

But Melissa Davert’s strong faith in God and his plans for her life proved all the doubters wrong.

“If I ever started to feel down or sad or sorry for myself my parents would say, ‘Look, there’s a reason and a purpose for your disability,” Melissa says on a Facebook video. “’You might not know what it is now, but you will someday. You just have to have faith and trust in God and His plan.’”

Melissa grew up in a Christian home in Bay City, Michigan, one of seven children. She was born with a disability known as osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. It results in bones that break easily, short height, loose joints, hearing loss, heart and breathing problems.

Melissa on skateboard

Doctors prepared Melissa’s parents for the possibility that she would never sit up on her own. But to their surprise, Melissa not only sat up, she found a skateboard and used her arms to move throughout the house before she got a wheelchair.

“My parents didn’t set any limits on me and I didn’t set any limits either,” she notes on the video. “My entire family made sure I grew up self-determined, not to feel sorry for myself, with a good sense of humor and strong faith.

As a child she heard about God, but one evening she experienced Him in a personal way.

“One night I had a broken bone and I was laying in bed and prayed to God please help it be better. In the morning it was (better). It was a lot better. From then I realized He is here with me. Times will be tough but He will be here with me.”

Melissa graduated from Bay City Central High School and then attended Northwood University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Melissa’s graduation from college (Facebook screen grab from Faith Video)

Later, as an advocate for the disabled, she hosted a weekly TV program, Access Mid-Michigan, which aired on community television. She hosted the program while serving as the director of the Center for Independent Living in Midland, a position she held for more than 10 years.

Melissa and Ken

She met and married her husband, Ken Davert, in 1992. Ken was born with cerebral palsy.

They never planned to have children because Melissa thought she could not conceive. Then they were surprised and excited to discover she was pregnant, but lost the baby at 12 weeks for unknown reasons.

They decided to try again. “The second time we found out we were going to have twins,” she says.

Melissa’s doctors, however, were less than enthusiastic. Medical books had no cases where a woman Melissa’s size – two-feet eleven inches – had ever delivered twins. One significant concern was that the twins might grow up into Melissa’s heart and lungs, causing her to suffocate.

Melissa carrying twins

Several doctors proposed that Melissa abort one of the babies. They suggested a test to determine if either baby had Melissa’s disability. They advised her to abort (kill) the baby with the disability.

“Not only was it horrifying to even think that we would make a decision like that…it was insulting to me that we would make a decision based on whether one or the other had a disability because I’ve had a disability all my life and I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone,” she said.

“We needed something beyond science to help,” she added. That extra-special “something” was her profound faith in God.

Melissa and Ken visited a pro-life maternal fetal medical specialist at Covenant Health Care in Saginaw, Michigan, Dr. Daniel Wechter.

Dr. Wechter performed tests on Melissa and determined that both babies carried the same disability as Melissa.

But as they prayerfully considered their options, Melissa concluded: “Who else would take better care of them than I could?” After all, she was an expert on the condition.

Melissa decided she would walk around as much as she could during the pregnancy in the hope that the babies would grow down instead of up into her lungs.

“That’s what happened — we let gravity do its thing.”

After 32-weeks, Melissa gave birth to the twins: Michaela and Austin.

“It was the greatest joy I’ve ever felt, knowing that they were in my womb and then they were here, to begin their life,” she said.

Melissa with twins

Ken watched the birth. “It was so awesome to be in the delivery room and hear them cry when they came out and it just happened so fast. It was the greatest day of my life,” he exclaimed.

Michaela Davert

Currently, Austin and Michaela, 17, are enrolled at Davenport University. Michaela is studying marketing and also hosts her own YouTube channel where she discusses makeup and fashion. She is followed by nearly 30,000 people.

Austin has an interest in medicine and is studying health information management and volunteering at a hospital.

“We are so blessed,” Ken said. “Don’t have pity on us. We

Florida Member of The Satanic Temple Convicted of Trespassing for Disrupting Government Meeting

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida member of The Satanic Temple who is known for his objections to the promotion of Christianity by the government has been convicted of trespassing after disrupting a government meeting by standing in front of the dais and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, refusing to sit down or stop talking until the meeting was called to order.

David Suhor, a member of the West Florida Chapter of The Satanic Temple, was sentenced on Monday to three months probation, 25 hours of community service, and a fine after being found guilty of trespassing and resisting arrest. He was was arrested in February during the incident at an Emerald Coast Utilities Authority meeting in Pensacola.

According to video footage recorded by Suhor and others, Suhor stood at the dais and repeated the Lord’s Prayer aloud, which disturbed Chairwoman Lois Benson, who was attempting to “gather the people.” She warned Suhor that he was interrupting the meeting, along with other members of the board.

The chairwoman is trying to conduct business, sir,” attorney Bradley Odom called out.

Suhor, who noted that the meeting had not yet been called to order, then said that he would pray silently.

“You may pray silently. Thank you,” Benson said.

However, Suhor continued to recite the Lord’s Prayer out loud, and Benson called for him to be removed.

“You’re creating a disturbance in a public space,” she said.

“If she’s called the meeting to order, I’ll be happy to sit down,” Suhor told the security guard and police officer who approached him.

Authorities asked Suhor to leave the building, but said that he was engaging in “passive resistance” as he had dropped to the floor,  repeatedly inquiring if the meeting had been called to order. Suhor was arrested moments later and dragged out of the building, as he stated that he wanted to “make clear” that he was being “dragged out of the meeting for praying before it’s called to order.”

“If you’re not silent during our prayer before the meeting is called to order, before any of it’s official or recorded or anything, we can have you arrested,” Suhor told the Pensacola News Journal. “To me, that’s a blatant violation of my free speech.”

Benson says that the Authority had changed its prayer practice to present the invocation before the meeting is called to order specifically because Suhor had expressed objection.

“That way anyone who does not want to hear a Christian prayer or any other prayer offered by the board does not miss any of our meeting,” Benson outlined. “I started that simply out of sensitivity to him.”

However, the adjustment was not sufficient for Suhor.

As previously reported, Suhor had delivered an invocation before the Pensacola City Council in 2016, wearing a black hooded robe and belting out a song that ended with “Hail Satan.” A number of those in objection to his presentation began reciting the Lord’s Prayer to drown him out.

Suhor acknowledged that he had a reason for the spectacle: his objection to what he called “Christian privilege” in the government.

“Adopt some [expletive] rules. Stop pandering for votes. Quit pushing Christian privilege as we’ve seen with the Bayview cross and so many other issues and instead go to a moment of silence, that lets everybody pray or not according to their own conscience,” he said, angrily smacking his notebook on the podium.

Suhor was also a plaintiff in the legal challenge against the aforementioned 25-foot cross erected in Bayview Park, which was ordered in June 2017 by a Reagan-appointed judge to be removed—albeit with reluctance.

“Mr. Suhor objects to the government’s display of the Christian cross because he believes it is an endorsement of Christianity, placed primarily for religious purposes, including aggrandizing Easter Sunday services,” the filing read. “As a non-Christian, Mr. Suhor is personally offended and feels excluded by this governmental message. He opposes this appearance of governmental favoritism for religion and for a particular religion, Christianity.”

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson outlined in his ruling that he believes there is a difference between the original intent of the Founding Fathers regarding the Establishment Clause and the various case law that he felt bound to follow. He said that the cross would be deemed legal if viewed through the lens of what the nation’s founders intended.

Evangelism: Just Do Something

Evangelism: Just Do Something

Image: via Creative Commons

Sometimes, when people read the word evangelism, they stop reading. They think it doesn’t matter to them and they move on to doing something else with their day.

Below I want to highlight a few things to help you, especially if you are a pastor or church leader, to find new, intentional ways to prioritize evangelism in the life of your church and ministry, as well as in your own personal life.

Decline in Evangelism

The major problem with evangelism today is that we have seen a bottoming out of interest on the subject. There are a few reasons for that. Reason number one is that older methods of evangelism have lost credibility. That’s not always a good thing. I can see how people might think a different method would work better, and that’s great—if you’re actually doing it. But what I hear is people more likely to make fun of evangelistic methods than engage in evangelism.

What we have today is that most of the old evangelism methods, such as Spring and Fall revivals for evangelism or door-to-door visitation evenings, are not being used as much today. People say they’re too obtrusive or ineffective. Again, I’m not 100% sure that’s helpful. I’m for any means of evangelism where the gospel is shared.

Instead of people replacing older evangelistic strategies with new strategies that they feel better fit our time and cultural context, we seem to have replaced these old strategies with a new level of angst.

Ultimately, that means evangelism doesn’t get done.

For example, evidence of lessening interest in evangelism can be seen in the huge decline in the number of evangelism conferences that are hosted and attended. We just finished hosting the Amplify Conference, which is now the largest evangelism conference in North America focused on outreach and evangelism.

Such conferences used to fill huge venues. So much has changed. People like to explain away the decline by saying people have turned to online tools. But we all know that they’re not all engaged in evangelism training online either.

What Should We Do?

Given this situation, what should we do? Some people are throwing up their hands in the air and saying, “Well, we can’t do evangelism anymore.” That’s the wrong answer. Since I’m serving at Moody Church, I need to use a D.L. Moody reference. So the story goes, a woman came up to Moody and said, “I don’t like the way you do evangelism.” He asked her how she did evangelism, and when she answered that she didn’t, he replied, “I like the way I do evangelism better than the way you don’t do evangelism.”

People (including me) share that quote a lot, and for good reason. The solution to our problem is notto stop evangelizing.

That tells us what we should not do, but what should we do? The first step is to figure out what the best approach for your church is. Let me point out that this means you are going to find a way to prioritize evangelism at your church. It’s not I want to, but I will.

Taking church assessments are good, but only if they lead to action and change.

Remember, between his resurrection and his ascension, Jesus gives four commissions. I wrote an article about evangelism for the Washington Post a few years ago when I changed jobs. In it, I wrote “Jesus’ last words should be our first priority.” I was writing that to a secular audience. This should be plain, basic stuff to the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ last words should be our first priority.

I wrote another article for CNN, “Why Do Christians Keep Inviting You to Church?” It was one of the most read articles that Easter weekend; it had over a million reads. I was trying to explain why Christians keep inviting people to church and also trying to motivate Christians to invite their friends to church. I hoped that by seeing in CNN an article about why Christians keep inviting people to church, believers would think Oh, I should be doing that.

So, I had the privilege of writing in the Washington Post and in CNN about why Christians evangelize. But honestly, I felt like I ought to be writing about what Christians shouldbe doing, not what we aredoing. The saying, “Talk is cheap” is quite appropriate in this context. Are we really sharing the gospel? Am I? Are you?

So What?

Here’s what it boils down to: Find a way to start to share your faith. When I was a kid, luggage didn’t have wheels. The wheels help you carry your luggage around, right? People seem to need luggage wheels so they can use the luggage of evangelism, because sometimes evangelism can be a challenge to handle. So, look for resources that will help you, and your congregation, engage in evangelism.

There are many different resources you could choose from. At Our Gospel Story, we have a list of resources for evangelism. We have even created a helpful curriculum to get you started. They are all really helpful.

What’s the right resource for you? The one that you will use. It should be theologically sound, orthodox, and gospel driven. Beyond that, the right evangelistic strategy for your church is one that you will do.

I’m not saying these new resources are better or worse than the older methods, like revivals and evangelistic visitations. I don’t know what the “best” method is. But I do know that you should do something. And if these new resources are something you haven’t tried yet, then that’s a great way to begin.

Maybe this is a moment where we need to take Shia LaBeouf’s advice for a second and “just do it.”

Just do something. It’s high time we started sharing the gospel with the people around us.

 

 

The Winds of Megiddo by [Duke, George C]

ARE YOU VOTING FOR SHARIA LAW?

iF YOU ARE A TRUMP HATER YOU MIGHT BE?
Muslim candidates running in record numbers face backlash
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (July 16, 2018) — A liberal woman of color with zero name recognition and little funding takes down a powerful, long serving congressman from her own political party.

When Tahirah Amatul-Wadud heard about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset over U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic primary last month, the first-time candidate saw parallels with her own longshot campaign for Congress in western Massachusetts.

The 44-year-old Muslim, African-American civil rights lawyer, who is taking on a 30-year congressman and ranking Democrat on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, says she wasn’t alone, as encouragement, volunteers and donations started pouring in.

“We could barely stay on top of the residual love,” says Amatul-Wadud, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal’s lone challenger in the state’s Sept. 4 Democratic primary. “It sent a message to all of our volunteers, voters and supporters that winning is very possible.”

From Congress to state legislatures and school boards, Muslim Americans spurred to action by the anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric of President Donald Trump and his supporters are running for elected offices in numbers not seen since before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, say Muslim groups and political observers.

Many, like Amatul-Wadud, hope to ride the surge of progressive activism within the Democratic Party that delivered Ocasio-Cortez’s unlikely win and could help propel the Democrats back to power in November.

Still, the path to victory can be tougher for a Muslim American. Some promising campaigns already have fizzled out while many more face strong anti-Muslim backlash.

In Michigan, Democrat candidate for governor Abdul El-Sayed continues to face unfounded claims from a GOP rival that he has ties to the controversial Muslim Brotherhood, even though Republican and Democratic politicians alike have denounced the accusations as “conspiracy theories.”

In Rochester, Minnesota, mayoral candidate Regina Mustafa has notified authorities of at least two instances where anti-Muslim threats were posted on her social media accounts.

And in Arizona, U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud received a torrent of Islamophobic attacks on Facebook last July that prompted outgoing U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, the Republican lawmaker Abboud is hoping to replace, to come to her defense on Twitter.

“I’m a strong believer that we have to face this rhetoric,” said Abboud, who has also had right-wing militant groups the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights and the Proud Boys stage armed protests her campaign events. “We can’t ignore it or pretend like it’s a fringe element anymore. We have to let the ugly face show so that we can decide if that is us.”

There were as many as 90 Muslim-Americans running for national or statewide offices this election cycle, a number that Muslim groups say was unprecedented, at least in the post-9/11 era.

But recent primaries have whittled the field down to around 50, a number that still far exceeds the dozen or so that ran in 2016, said Shaun Kennedy, co-founder of Jetpac, a Massachusetts nonprofit that helps train Muslim-American candidates.

Among the candidates to fall short were California physician Asif Mahmood, who placed third in last month’s primary for state insurance commissioner, despite raising more than $1 million. And in Texas, wealthy businessman Tahir Javed finished a distant second in his Democratic primary for Congress, despite an endorsement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Nine candidates for Congress are still in the running, according to Jetpac’s tally. At least 18 others are campaigning for state legislature and 10 more seek major statewide and local offices, such as governor, mayor and city council. Even more are running for more modest offices like local planning board and school committee.

The next critical stretch of primaries is in August.

In Michigan, at least seven Muslim Americans are on the Aug. 7 ballot, including El-Sayed, who could become the nation’s first Muslim governor.

In Minnesota, the decision by Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, to run for state attorney general has set off a political frenzy for his congressional seat that includes two Muslim candidates, both Democrats: Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American state lawmaker, and Jamal Abdulahi, a Somali-American activist.

But historic wins in those and other races are far from assured, cautions Geoffrey Skelley, an associate editor at Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan political analysis website run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

Omar’s chances of emerging from a field of five Democratic candidates in Minnesota’s Aug. 14 primary was bolstered by a recent endorsement from the state Democratic Party, but El-Sayed is an underdog in his gubernatorial race, he said.

Other Muslim-American candidates might fare better in Michigan, which has one of the nation’s largest Arab-American populations, Skelley added.

There, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has raised more money than her Democratic rivals in the race to succeed Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Former Obama administration official Fayrouz Saad is also running as a Democrat in the wide open race to succeed Republican Rep. David Trott, who isn’t seeking re-election.

Either could become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, which has only ever had two Muslim members: outgoing Ellison and Rep. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat seeking re-election.

Saad, who served most recently as director of Detroit’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, recognizes the importance of representing her community in an era of rising Islamophobia.

The 35-year-old broke from the conservative Republican politics of her Lebanese immigrant parents following the 9/11 attacks because she felt Arabs and Muslims were unfairly targeted.

“I felt the way to push back against that was to be at the table,” said Saad, adding that her parents’ political leanings have also since moved to the left. “We have to step up and be voices for our communities and not wait for others to speak on behalf of us.”

But not all Muslim candidates feel that way.

In San Diego, California, 36-year-old Republican congressional candidate Omar Qudrat declined to comment on how Islamophobia has impacted his campaign, including instances when his faith have been called into question by members of his own political party.

Instead, the 37-year old political newcomer, who is one of at least three Muslim Republicans running nationwide this year, provided a statement touting his main campaign issues as faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Scott Peters in November: addressing San Diego’s high number of homeless military veterans, improving public education and expanding economic opportunities for city residents.

“Running for public office is about advancing the interests of your constituents and the American people,” Qudrat’s statement reads. “Nothing else.”

Drug deaths reach record high in Scotland

Drug-related deaths reached another record high in Scotland last year, according to new figures.

There were 934 drug-related deaths in 2017, an eight per cent rise on 2016.

Scotland’s drug-death rate is two and a half times more per capita than England and Wales and higher than any other EU country.

10,000 deaths

Campaign group Scottish Families Affected By Drugs and Alcohol have called for a public health emergency to be declared.

David Liddell, the Director of Scottish Drugs Forum, pointed out that since figures started to be collected, there has been 10,000 drug deaths in the country, the equivalent of the population of Fort William.

The official statistics were released in a report by the National Records of Scotland.

Opiates

Drugs including heroin, morphine and methadone were implicated in the overwhelming majority of deaths.

Three-quarters of the deaths were among people over the age of 35.

The NHS Board areas with most of the drug-related deaths were: Greater Glasgow & Clyde (30 per cent), Lothian (15 per cent) and Lanarkshire (11 per cent).

New public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick MSP offered his “deepest condolences to the families and friends who have lost loved ones over the last year”.

Drug rooms

Earlier this year, the UK Government blocked a proposal by Glasgow City Council to open an official ‘drug room’.

But three police and crime commissioners from outside Scotland are claiming it would be a positive move.

Ron Hogg (Durham), Arfon Jones (North Wales) and David Jamieson (West Midlands) sent a joint letter to Home Office minister Victoria Atkins setting out their support for so-called fix rooms.