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2 Arkansans at 3-day gathering

WASHINGTON -- Two of the Arkansas co-founders of the International Christian Foundation for Democracy attended a recent State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom gathering.

Henry Jones, the foundation's president, and Chris Powell, its vice president, participated in the meetings, which included appearances by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The three-day gathering "brings together leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges facing religious freedom, identify means to address religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, and promote greater respect and preservation of religious liberty for all."

The U.S. State Department has declared that religious liberty is a "fundamental right."

For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have shared their faith, sometimes at great cost.

Early church histories detail stonings, burnings, beheadings and crucifixions. There are accounts of martyrs torn apart by vicious beasts in Rome's Colosseum, their deaths providing entertainment for the bloodthirsty throngs.

After Christianity became the state religion, non-Christians and nonconforming Christians became targets.

The violence has ebbed and flowed over the centuries, but it has never stopped.

"The reality is that more persecution goes on now than at any time [in] history," Powell said. "It would shock your conscience to know the full extent of what happens to some of these people."

C-SPAN resources free for teachers

With school resuming and the 2020 presidential primaries about to begin, C-SPAN has plenty of free resources available to help social studies, history and government teachers.

The Washington-based organization, launched by the nation's cable television industry four decades ago, offers online teacher training, while also hosting summer educators' conferences.

Information is available at www.c-span.org/classroom/.

Last month, two Arkansans were selected for the in-person training: Tammy Cullins, a teacher at Little Rock's Joe T. Robinson Middle School, and Tracie Slattery, who teaches at Fayetteville's Holt Middle School.

The agenda included presentations by C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, President Susan Swain and other officials.

C-SPAN's education foundation sponsored the event. Hotels, meals and airfare to Washington were provided, the organization said.

Participants were shown how to access C-SPAN materials, including more than 250,000 hours of programming, as well as 5,000 "existing C-SPAN Classroom lessons, bell ringers and other resources," officials said.

Applications for the 2020 sessions will be posted this fall.

C-SPAN broadcasts Capitol Hill events live, but is independent of the government. The cable and satellite industry provides the funding.

In 1979, when the television broadcasts began, only the House would permit its proceedings to be broadcast. The Senate followed in 1986.

The original channel, C-SPAN, still provides live gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House. C-SPAN2 tracks Senate proceedings. C-SPAN 3 airs congressional hearings, various events, as well as historical material.

Huckabee: Spiritual ebb, gunfire linked

The nation's spiritual decline is a key factor behind last weekend's mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, as well as a string of gun deaths in Chicago, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said last week.

Some Republican politicians have drawn criticism for promising "thoughts and prayers," instead of legislative solutions, every time there's a shooting.

In his email, Huckabee suggested that those critics have it wrong.

"In fact, amid all the finger-pointing and blame-laying and repulsive attempts to turn these tragedies to political advantage before the bodies are even cold, I would posit that the lack of thought and prayers is probably the single biggest factor in what is behind them," he stated.

Huckabee, who hosts a program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, has previously portrayed gun violence as a spiritual problem.

Addressing a pastor's conference in Salt Lake City on the eve of the 1998 Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, Huckabee said a spate of deadly school shootings, including one near Jonesboro, had been driven "by the winds of spiritual change in a nation that has forgotten its God."

Other evangelical leaders have also seen a link between declining spirituality and a rising tide of violence.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, televangelist Jerry Falwell blamed secularism and a host of other foes for the al-Qaida strikes.

"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen."'

After criticism from then-President George W. Bush and others, Falwell backtracked, telling CNN: "I would never blame any human being except the terrorists, and if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (202) 662-7690 or flockwood@arkansasonline.com. Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

A Section on 08/11/2019

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