It's time for this week's faith recap — our biggest and most important stories about religion and culture that you won't want to miss.
To begin, Iraq’s prime minister recently spoke out against extremist attacks on Christians in areas controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” he said.
Iraqi Christians leave Saint-Joseph church after a mass on July 20, 2014 in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)
And now ISIS is reportedly demanding that stores cover up mannequins' faces, among other restrictive policies.
At least one historian criticized the West’s silence on the issue, with His Beatitude Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III Younan, overseer of Assyrian Christians around the globe, also calling on the U.S. to help the Iraqi Christians who are being driven from their homes.
And Iraq isn’t the only place where Christians are being horrifically treated. The Sudanese government is facing criticism for reportedly refusing to grant Christians new permits to build churches in the country.
“We are citizens and the constitution says there is freedom of religion and worship so we are using this to get our rights,” said one Sudanese reverend.
But there’s some good news coming out of Sudan as well: Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was previously detained and sentenced to death because of her faith, has safely arrived in Italy. Ibrahim and her family left the country and met with Pope Francis in Italy Thursday.
On the entertainment front, singer Tom Petty recently had some tough words for Christians. Read about how one professor is taking aim at his claim that “religion seems … to be at the base of all wars.”
The birth control battle is still raging, as Wheaton College and other faith-based organizations continue to challenge a government form that exempts them from providing birth control coverage.
And a nurse is suing a Florida health center for allegedly refusing to hire her based on opposition to certain forms of birth control and standing membership in a pro-life organization.
Tom Petty performs on Day 4 of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, June 16, 2013 in Manchester, Tenn. (Wade Payne/Wade Payne/Invision/AP)
“Federal and state law make it clear that being pro-abortion cannot be a prerequisite for employment, nor can federally funded facilities force nurses to assist with practices that could lead to an abortion,” said senior legal counsel Matt Bowman in a press release earlier this month.
Live Action, a pro-life organization, has released the third video in a series seeking to expose the dangerous sex advice that Planned Parenthood staff members are giving to teenagers.
Also, read about how this newspaper editor was fired after expressing his views on homosexuality in a personal blog post, and his fight to clear his name.
Tim Tebow (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
On a lighter note, Tim Tebow is hoping to return to playing professional football. While the future is unclear, the football player famous in part for his Christian faith said that, “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.’”
And finally, be sure to check out this Kickstarter campaign aimed at printing the Bible in a way that makes it easier for people to consume it as great literature.
“Today, our contemporary bibles are ubiquitously dense, numerical and encyclopedic in format; very different from how we experience other classic & foundational literature, and completely foreign to how the original authors conceived of their work,” reads the Kickstarter page.