Candidates appeal to Iowa voters through religion

As residents of Iowa prepare to caucus Monday, candidates race to make their last pitches, with many emphasizing religion on the campaign trail. Religious terminology permeated candidates’ stump speeches, and Marco Rubio highlighted his Catholic faith increasingly over the last week. Candidate Ted Cruz, whose father, Rafael, is an evangelical Christian preacher, told voters to ask God to “awaken the body of Christ, that we might pull back from the abyss.” Cruz finished speeches last week by asking each crowd to pray for America. And Donald Trump brought Liberty University’s Jerry Falwell Jr. on stage with him over the weekend, making the president of the largest evangelical college a prominent figure on the campaign trail.

Children killed in village attack by Boko Haram

Islamist extreme group Boko Haram continues its push across Nigeria, burning and killing 86, including young children, in a village Saturday, Jan. 30. A survivor told the Associated Press that the screams of children in Dalori, Nigeria, being burned alive rang out and three suicide bombers contributed to the chaos. Boko Haram has killed close to 20,000 people during the last six years.

Irish bakery owners reiterate their refusal for pro-gay cake ahead of this week’s appeal

An Irish couple continues to defend their bakery in a religious freedom versus gay rights case that’s testing Irish laws. Ashers Baking Company in Belfast was taken to court last year by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland after the married couple running the bakery refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay message on it. And now, bakery owners Daniel and Amy McArthur are appealing last year’s guilty decision. The McArthur’s released a statement ahead of the Wednesday, Feb. 3, appeal, standing behind their original refusal but adding that they don’t hate others who believe differently than they do.

Presidential candidate mixes up communion plate and offering plate

GOP candidate Donald Trump had a religious slip-up when he attended church in Iowa Sunday, Jan. 31.  According to an onlooker at nondenominational First Christian Orchard Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Trump momentarily thought the communion plate was the offering plate and pulled out some bills from his wallet. He quickly realized his error and took communion. Trump was visiting the church along with his wife, Melania, and some campaign staff.

Released Iranian hostage Pastor Saeed Abedini returns home to family problems

Pastor Saeed Abedini, released by Iran in January after being held for over three years, is fighting back publicly after his wife, Naghmeh, told media and supporters of their marriage troubles. Naghmeh has filed a domestic relations case in their home state of Idaho, ensuring the couple’s children cannot leave the state. Saeed told the Idaho Statesmen their marriage issues should remain private, and he loves his wife and will seek to rebuild their marriage.

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