New Reports Emerge on Religious Persecution

Cross_Darkness_(1670488216)John Stonestreet at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview has published a commentary this week highlighting the intense persecution many Christians face around the globe.

Stonestreet writes,

“North Korean secret agents have martyred a Korean Chinese pastor who lived in Chiangbai, a town on the Chinese side of the Sino-Korean border. Han Choong Yeol was active in helping North Korean refugees by giving them food, medicine, clothing and other goods they needed for survival back in North Korea.

“[On] April 30th, pastor Han left his home just after noon and was supposed to return before 5 p.m. When he didn’t come back, a search was set up. Around 8 p.m., his lifeless body was found, visibly maimed by stab and axe wounds.

“… Han was 49 and leaves behind a wife, a son and a daughter as well as the local Three Self-Church …that he pastored.”

And of course there was the Easter suicide bombing targeting Christians in Lahore, Pakistan, at a public park. The attack left 72 people dead and 341 wounded. At least 24 children were among those who died. An offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, has claimed responsibility.

This is not an isolated incident, unfortunately. He goes to identify new reports that have been published this year highlighting the countries responsible for the most religious persecution–and the type of persecution and martyrdom many Christians face.

As Stonestreet notes, religious freedom is something we all have a stake in–both at home and around the globe.

Click here to read John Stonestreet’s full commentary, or listen to it below.

[audio:http://www.breakpoint.org/images/content/breakpoint/audio/2016/051116_BP.mp3|titles=New Reports on Religious Freedom by John Stonestreet]

Photo Credit: By Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland (darkness) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Arkansas Lottery Gives Less than 20% of Revenue to Scholarships in April

Today the Arkansas Lottery released its figures for the month of April, 2016.

The report shows lottery revenue came in at around $37.5 million, and the Lottery put nearly $7.4 million toward college scholarships–about 19.7% of its total revenue for the month of April.

Sadly, 19.7% is one of the Arkansas Lottery’s better figures. So far this fiscal year we have seen months in which only 11% or 14% of the Lottery’s gross revenue went to scholarships. By contrast, the average state lottery allocates closer to 30% of gross revenue for education; our neighbors to the south in Louisiana allocate 35%.

What’s striking, however, is in looking at the report, the Arkansas Lottery actually spent $458,718.44 more than it made in the month of April in order to achieve that 19.7% figure. Had the Arkansas Lottery not spent more money than it took in over the course of the month, scholarship funding would have been about $6,934,118.56 (about 18.5% of Lottery revenue for the month).

Below is a breakdown of Lottery sales and scholarship funding for Fiscal Year 2016, which began last July and ends next month.

So far the Lottery has put about $67.5 million toward scholarships–about 17.6% of its gross revenue– since last July.

Based on these figures, we project the Arkansas Lottery will allocate somewhere around $85 million for scholarships, total, this fiscal year–once again, far less than the $100 million lottery proponents claimed time and time again a state-run lottery would provide in scholarship funding each year.

Month Gross Lottery Revenue Paid to Scholarships % Gross Revenue
July 31,665,651.14 5,784,683.09 18.3%
August 31,265,177.55 5,490,094.00 17.6%
September 36,134,389.63 6,624,967.11 18.3%
October 35,261,533.80 6,020,642.32 17.1%
November 32,226,599.28 5,725,139.09 17.8%
December 38,670,746.09 6,425,754.66 16.6%
January, 2016 58,746,249.00 13,831,359.75 23.5%
February 40,790,144.05 4,474,356.06 11.0%
March 40,579,421.05 5,758,892.84 14.2%
April 37,516,802.47 7,392,837.00 19.7%
Total $382,856,714.06 $67,528,725.92 17.6%

Target Stock Takes Hit Amid Boycott

Target_Albemarle_Rd_Charlotte,_NC_(7579989322)Recently we told you about Target’s decision to open its restrooms and fitting rooms to anyone regardless of their biological sex–meaning biological males can use the women’s restrooms and fitting rooms at Target, and vice versa.

In response, the American Family Association launched an effort calling on Americans to boycott Target.

The boycott effort has been very well received, with more than 1.2 million people pledging to boycott the store as of this morning, and now some are noting that Target’s stock has taken a hit in the past month.

Josh Enomoto at InvestorPlace.com writes,

Two weeks ago, the big box retailer announced that its guests and team members can use restrooms or fitting rooms that correspond to their gender identity. According to the Associated Press, Target became the first major retailer to publicly stand up for so-called transgender rights.

At the same time, they drew unwanted attention at a particularly sensitive time, potentially harming the Target brand and TGT stock. . . . .

The decision to weigh in so strongly on such a divisive issue has to be worrying for holders of Target stock. Since the retailer’s April 19 announcement, TGT stock has dropped 6.5%.

As Enomoto also notes, Target stock is not exactly imploding, but it does seem like more than coincidence Target’s stock would take a hit during one of the American Family Association’s most active boycotts in the organization’s history.

We encourage you to join us and more than one million other Americans in boycotting Target, if you have not already.

Also, below is a list of Target stores in Arkansas along with each store’s contact information; you can use it to make your opinion on Target’s bathroom policies known.

Bryant Target 7377 Alcoa Rd Bryant, AR 72022-6204 (501) 776-4360
Conway Target 501 Elsinger Blvd Conway, AR 72032-4717 (501) 328-5739
Fayetteville Target 3545 N Shiloh Dr Fayetteville, AR 72703-5359 (479) 443-5517
Fort Smith Target 4001 Phoenix Ave Fort Smith, AR 72903-6099 (479) 709-8940
Jonesboro Target 3000 E Highland Dr Jonesboro, AR 72401-6321 (870) 934-9661
North Little Rock Target 4000 McCain Blvd North Little Rock, AR 72116-8039 (501) 771-4220
Little Rock University Target 420 S University Ave Little Rock, AR 72205-5246 (501) 801-3412
Little Rock West Target 12700 Chenal Pkwy Little Rock, AR 72211-3360 (501) 217-0200
Rogers Target 2404 Promenade Blvd Rogers, AR 72758-9080 (479) 986-1100

Photo Credit: By Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons