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Kyiv Diary: European leaders bear witness to war’s horror

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Kyiv Diary: European leaders bear witness to war’s horror

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Before the ceremony and the serious meetings about war, the European leaders witnessed the devastation wrought by Russia. A must. To understand Ukraine’s fight for survival, they had to see it themselves, with their own eyes.

The blown up buildings. The smashed cars. And a message of hope spray-painted on a damaged building despite mounting Ukrainian deaths.

French President Emmanuel Macron spotted it immediately amid the ruins Thursday.

“Look at that, ‘Make Europe, not war,’” Macron said, pointing and reading the words out loud in English. “It’s very moving to see that.”

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The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania had a walking tour of Irpin, a small city which bore the full brunt of Russia’s failed assault on the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in the first weeks of the war. The tour preceded a meeting in Kyiv with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who met them wearing army green pants, a matching T-shirt and sneakers.

If the four hadn’t fully grasped the scale of the horrors inflicted by the Russian invasion, ravages like the ones visited across much of Europe during World War I and World War II, then Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italian Premier Mario Draghi and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis have no excuses now.

The leaders traveled by overnight train to the Ukrainian capital because flights aren’t possible in the wartime airspace where missiles, drones, fighter jets and helicopters have rained down death and destruction. Iohannis, whose country has been a key destination for Ukrainian refugees, traveled separately from the others.

Standing out in their suits and ties amid the heavily armed soldiers guarding them, they heard from a Ukrainian government minister how Russian soldiers fired indiscriminately at families in cars and how the blowing up of bridges had blocked escape routes, locking people in a furnace of death and fighting.

“How many cities do you have in such a situation?” Macron asked.

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“Hundreds,” Oleksiy Chernyshov, Ukraine’s minister for communities and territories development, replied.

“They were shooting into the families, children, women” as they tried to flee the fighting, the minister said. ”They were just deliberately killing people inside the cars.”

Macron wanted to understand how troops could do such things.

“How do you explain this?” he asked.

Chernyshov explained that some of the killers appeared to have been ordinary young soldiers and others appeared to have been special forces from the Caucasus region, which lies between the Black and Caspian seas. Moscow has deployed fighters from Chechnya, known for their ferocity, to Ukraine.

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“We have hundreds of these cases, I am sorry to say. They are still going on,” he said.

The devastated buildings with their innards blown out that the chancellor, the premier and the presidents walked past are just a fraction of the destruction in Ukraine after nearly four months of fighting.

The official said more than 12,000 apartment buildings have been destroyed so far. Add to that electricity substations, heating plants, roads, bridges, schools, churches.

“You name it,” the minister said. “A lot of things to be rebuilt.”

The leaders wanted to know more.

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How was the Russian advance going now? Scholz asked.

Macron wanted to know whether additional forces were being massed in Belarus, posing another possible threat to Ukraine.

“We think yes,” Chernyshov said.

Macron was clearly moved. He called Irpin, which Ukrainian forces retook as Russian troops retreated from around Kyiv, “a heroic town.”

“This is where the Ukrainians stopped the Russian army,” he said.

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The French leader said Irpin bore “the traces of barbary.”

“Massacres were carried out.” he said. “We have the first traces of what are war crimes.”

So now they know: With their own eyes.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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President Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill into Law

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President Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill into Law

On Saturday, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun control bill into law.

According to USA Today, the law, called the Safer Communities Act, urges states to create “red flag” laws that would prevent people deemed dangerous from being able to legally obtain a firearm. It further eliminates the “boyfriend loophole” by adding “dating partners” to the list of violent domestic abusers banned from purchasing a gun and increases background checks of 18 to 21-years-olds seeking to buy a firearm.

Additionally, it includes “the first-ever federal law that makes gun trafficking and straw purchases distinct federal crimes.”

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“At a time when it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential,” Biden said at the White House.

“While this bill doesn’t do everything I want, it does include actions I’ve long called for that are going to save lives,” he added before calling the bill the “most significant [gun control] law to be passed” over “the last 30 years.”

Noting that people have been calling on lawmakers to do something since the Columbine mass shooting in 1999, Biden said their cries have now been answered.

“From Columbine to Sandy Hook, to Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, El Paso, Atlanta, Buffalo, Uvalde, and for the shootings that happen every day in the streets that are mass shootings — and we don’t even hear about them, the number of people killed every day in the streets — their message to us was: ‘Do something.’ How many times have we heard that? ‘Just do something,’” he said. “Well, today, we did.”

The new law came after a string of deadly mass shootings last month, including a shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults were killed, and another at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket where 10 were killed, and three were wounded.

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As Christian Headlines previously reported last Thursday, the Senate voted 64 to 34 in favor of the bill. The House then passed the bill on Friday with a 234 to 193 vote, sending it to Biden’s desk.

Fourteen Republican representatives joined all House Democrats in passing the bill.

Related:

U.S. Senate Pushes Forward Bipartisan Gun Control Bill

Bipartisan Group of Senators Reach Agreement on Framework for New Gun Control Legislation

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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/jirkaejc


Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.

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‘Just an Innocent Man’: Texas Pastor Shot, Killed in Suspected Road Rage Incident

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‘Just an Innocent Man’: Texas Pastor Shot, Killed in Suspected Road Rage Incident

A beloved pastor in Houston, Texas, was shot and killed in a suspected road rage incident on Friday afternoon.

The Reverend Dr. Ronald K. Mouton Sr., who led East Bethel Missionary Baptist Church for 30 years, was shot and killed by another driver at around 4:19 pm while he was driving on the Gulf Freeway.

Rep. Sheila Jackson, R-Texas, and Crime Stoppers of Houston have released a $5,000 reward regarding information leading to an arrest of the suspected shooter, who remains at large as of Monday. According to Click 2 Houston, police say the suspect was believed to be driving a black sedan.

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Surveillance video from Pusch and Nguyen Injury Lawyers showed what happened before Mouton was killed.

As reported by The Christian Post, Mouton’s church and friends are aggrieved over his death.

“Dr. Mouton was known and loved by many. If you knew him, you would know him to be a gracious servant, a leader, and a friend. As we begin to cope with the reality of his passing, we ask that you would respect our family’s privacy during this time,” East Bethel Missionary Baptist Church wrote on Facebook.

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Pastor Mouton. I got to know him when he worked with my late husband, Lonal Robinson, as he developed youth sports programs in the ’90s. His benevolence was meaningful to the children of the community,” one church member wrote.

Lee, a longtime friend of Mouton, remembered the reverend as a loving man who loved to serve others.

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“This was just an innocent man traveling on a road near his church where he worked all the time,” the congresswomen said. “He loves ministry. He was just doing the work of a pastor.”

Mouton, a graduate of Baylor University and Stephen F. Austin State University, leaves behind his wife of nearly 40 years, four children, 10 grandchildren, a twin brother, and other siblings.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stephen Barnes


Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.

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Christian Leaders Celebrate the Overturning of Roe but Caution: ‘Our Work Is Just Beginning’

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Christian Leaders Celebrate the Overturning of Roe but Caution: ‘Our Work Is Just Beginning’

Christian leaders across the denominational spectrum on Friday celebrated the overturning of Roe v. Wade but cautioned that much work – in states and in local communities – remains to be done.

The court’s overruling of Roe sends the issue back to the respective 50 states, where legislatures and governors now will decide – and in some instances already have decided – what to do.   

Here are how seven Christian leaders reacted to Friday’s opinion:

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Lila Rose, President and Founder of Live Action

Roe v. Wade is over. Children will live because of this decision to overturn the constitutional fiction of Roe v. Wade,” Rose said. “… This decision is an important step forward for the protection of innocent life in our nation, but the work of the pro-life movement is just getting started. While overruling Roe is a necessary first step, giving states the prerogative to regulate abortion is not a final victory. While this decision will give states the right to protect their youngest citizens, many of our nation’s largest states, such as California, Illinois, and New York will still legalize and even subsidize the killing of our youngest children. We will not have true justice until the Supreme Court acknowledges the truth that under our Constitution, every American – born or preborn – has an inherent right to life protected by the 14th Amendment. 

“Science conclusively proves that a unique and biologically distinct human life begins at the moment of fertilization,” Rose added. “Every child regardless of their age, should be protected from the horrors of abortion and the abortion industry. Going forward, the pro-life movement must advocate for the Supreme Court to grant equal protection under the law to all humans, even from the very beginning of every human’s life. Starting today, every single state in our nation must act swiftly to codify protections for preborn children into state law and resource mothers and fathers to ensure the American family is healthy and ready to flourish without the grave violence of abortion.”

Rose wrote in a tweet, “Our work is just beginning.”

Our work is just beginning

— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) June 24, 2022

Roland Warren, President and CEO of Care Net

“For all who value the sanctity of human life, today marks a monumental day in our efforts to protect the unborn. In upholding Mississippi’s pro-life law and overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has paved the way for states to make laws regulating abortion based on the values of their own citizens,” Warren said. “But changed laws don’t equal changed hearts, and the Supreme Court can’t outlaw unplanned, unexpected, and unexpectedly complicated pregnancies. Accordingly, regardless of how the laws of our land play out over the next several years, women and men will continue to face tough pregnancy decisions. In an environment in which abortion is more difficult to access, Care Net’s work has become more critical than ever.

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“Care Net will continue to support our network of more than 1,200 affiliated pregnancy centers, a national hotline, and a growing network of churches in their irreplaceable efforts to offer compassion, hope, and help to women and men at risk for abortion.”

Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

“Roe v. Wade, passed 49 years ago, has resulted in the deaths of over 63 million innocent children in this country. Sadly, this decision is not an end to abortion — it pushes the battle back to the states,” Graham said.

“My prayer is that every state will enact protections for children in the womb and that our nation will value life and recognize the rights of our most vulnerable,” Graham said.

Karen Swallow Prior, Author and Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Our work now is just starting: we must help and support moms, dads, and babies. Love them all – and in so doing making abortion unimaginable,” Prior said.

Our work now is just starting: we must help and support moms, dads, and babies. Love them all—and in so doing making abortion unimaginable. #RoeVsWade

— Karen Swallow Prior (Notorious KSP) (@KSPrior) June 24, 2022

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Bart Barber, President of the Southern Baptist Convention

“Southern Baptists rejoice at the ruling that the United States Supreme Court has delivered today in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” Barber said. “Since 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention has passed more than 20 resolutions on the question of abortion. 

“… As we stated just days ago in a resolution at our 2022 Annual Meeting, in a post-Roe United States, ‘We commit to stand with and pray for abortion-vulnerable women, to eliminate any perceived need for the horror of abortion, and to oppose Planned Parenthood and other predatory organizations or institutions who exploit vulnerable women for profit.’ State-by-state, mother-by-mother, heart-by-heart, we will continue our sacred work toward this goal.”

Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats For Life of America

“DFLA is excited about the political opportunities this decision creates for pro-life Democrats,” Day said. “We have made significant contributions to advancing justice for the preborn and their mothers, and will continue to do so. Today is a wonderful day and we enthusiastically recommit ourselves to the mission of protecting all human life from womb to tomb.”

Day urged states to assist women facing an unplanned pregnancy. 

“What are they going to do to support those women who no longer can [have an] abortion in those states?” Day told NBC. “How are we going to provide them with the opportunity and the support to parent, feed their families, keep their jobs and … have affordable health, health care, affordable childcare? … Let’s put women and children first and let’s provide the support, compassion to help them with a real choice to become parents.” 

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A news release said Democrats for Life “celebrates” the overturning of Roe.

Roe Overturned!!! Read the DFLA Press Release here! https://t.co/7Ist7G15PN

— Kristen Day (@ProLifeDem) June 24, 2022

Alveda King, Founder of Speak for Life and Niece of the late Martin Luther King Jr. 

“For 49 years, ‘we the people’ have had to endure a flawed and unconstitutional ruling from the Supreme Court that allowed unelected judges to create a national right to abortion that ultimately led to extreme actions, like late-term abortions, against the unborn,” King said. “Today, the Supreme Court has rightfully overturned that decision, sending the power to regulate abortion back to the elected officials at the state level. I have longed for and prayed for this day. And I will continue to fight for human dignity for everyone – from the womb to the tomb.”

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Pool


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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