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On MSNBC’s “Hugh Hewitt” last Saturday, well-known Harvard professor Steven Pinker asked where was God during the massacre that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.

Pinker was on the show to discuss his new book, Enlightenment Now. When defending his book, he stated: “It is not against religion. It is certainly against the belief that God interferes with the laws of the universe and that by praying to him we can make the world better. I think that is a dangerous belief because it’s not true. If we want to make the world better, we have to figure out how to do it ourselves. If we want to cure disease, we have to come up with antibiotics and vaccines and not prayer. If we want to stave off global warming, we can’t assume God won’t let bad things happen.”

Pinker continued and discussed the Florida shooting, which he stated “Cast doubt on the idea that there is a benevolent shepherd who looks out for human welfare. What was the benevolent shepherd doing while the teenager was massacring his classmates?”

He added, “If you’re counting on God to make the world a better place you are probably going to make the world a worse place because he is not listening and we saw that yesterday.”

Christians everywhere were offended by Pinker’s comments, and disagreed with his analysis. Many spoke up saying that we should not be blaming God for the work of Satan. Others cited that God has been readily pushed out of society, for example no prayers in schools, and therefore we are suffering from the consequences of these actions.

Why God allows suffering is a hot topic that has been debated in Christian circles since the beginning of the religion. Pastors understand that after tragedy, they have to find a way to properly address doubts felt by their congregations.

Jamie Aten, founder and executive director of The Humanitarian Disaster Institute, stated:”People will be turning to Christian leaders for guidance in the aftermath of the senseless violence that happened yesterday…One of the biggest challenges pastors will face is the pressure to explain why someone would do something like this. Yet, no answer will take away the pain and heartache. What will be most helpful to those struggling is to meet them in their suffering by creating space for lament, providing comfort, encouraging community, and reminding others of the hope we have in Christ.”

One way that Christians can come together during tragedies is through volunteer efforts. Despite many that criticize the Christian faith, there are still organizations that mobilize after tragedies of this stature. Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association arrived in Flordia within hours of the shooting and are trained to provide emotional and spiritual support amid crises. The team partnered up with Parkridge Church to host a vigil for the victims.

Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, said in a statement “So many lives have been forever changed by this evil act. As we pray for the students, faculty, and families, we know God can bring hope and comfort, in Jesus Christ, in the darkest hours.”

These statements are very different from Pinker’s claims, and these organizations believe we should focus on God after tragedy’s like this. Scripture promises that God never leaves us, and that evil is going to be a part of our world due to incredible sin.

“He’s the only hope we have. He’s the only thing that provides a future. He’s the only one who can bring peace where there is nothing but lostness and struggle and anger and fury and confusion…We just want to see Christ in the forefront of all of this,” Pastor Eddie Bevill of Parkridge Church stated in an interview.

Group_of_Women_Wearing_BurkasDenmark is set to ban the Islamic full-face coverings, the burqa and niqab. Several other European countries already have bans in place due in part to the security risk that comes with allowing people to completely conceal their face in public. Should Denmark’s new law pass, anyone who covers their face in public would be fined 1,000 kroner. Repeat offenders could face fines of up to 10,000 kroner.

The proposed ban is, unsurprisingly, very controversial. Some people claim that the ban is discriminatory against Muslims. Proponents, however, site both the security concerns that come with being unable to see another person’s face as well as the prevailing, if unspoken, rules of Danish culture. Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen said, “It is incompatible with the values of the Danish society or the respect for the community to keep the face hidden when meeting each other in the public space…With a ban, we draw a line in the sand and establish that here in Denmark we show each other trust and respect by meeting each other face to face.”

The ban is led by the Danish People’s Party, and the minority ruling coalition government depends on this party to push the legislation through. The ban would only apply to the niqab which covers the whole face with only a small slit for a woman’s eyes, and the burqa which covers the whole face and conceals the eyes behind a mesh screen. The hijab, amira, shayla and other Islamic headgear will continue to be allowed so long as the face can be seen.

Similar bans to the one proposed in Denmark already exist in several European countries. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria all have restrictions on face-concealing veils. Switzerland is also considering banning the full face covering gear in public. Nearly 100,000 Swiss people signed a petition calling for a ban. In response, the government set the matter to a public referendum.

Austria also passed a law banning full-face coverings in 2017. The Anti-Face-Veiling Act prohibits face coverings in all public places and buildings such as courts, schools and public transportation. The ban will apply to balaclavas, Islamic veils and surgical masks. Under this law, police can issue fines on the spot to men and women whose faces are “hidden or concealed by clothes or other objects in such a way that they are no longer recognizable….You must uncover your face on the spot when asked to….If ultimately you continue engaging in the offence by refusing to uncover the face…or your identity is impossible to determine, you might have to accompany the police agent to the police station.”

The bill that would ban burqas and niqabs is currently set to be voted on in the spring. It is expected that the legislation will pass.

Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock.com

Christopher Halloran/Shutterstock.com

President Trump spoke about the link between faith in God and national greatness at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. He also declared that the United States of America will be a great nation provided its citizens remain open to the grace of God.

“As long as we can open our eyes to God’s grace and open our hearts to God’s love, then America will forever be the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a light to all nations,” said Trump.

“When Americans are able to live by their convictions to speak openly of their faith and to teach their children what is right, our families thrive, our communities flourish, and our nation can achieve anything at all.”

Trump also spoke on the religious heritage of the United States, pointing to the national motto “In God We Trust” on money and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, adding that “throughout our history, we see the story of God’s providence.”

“Our rights are not given to us by man, our rights come from our Creator. No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away,” Trump said.

Trump’s statements were part of the annual National Prayer Breakfast, a major DC-area event that features several members of Congress, world leaders, religious leaders and other honored guests.

The National Prayer breakfast is a massive ecumenical gathering put on annually by a group of Christians who want to focus on a shared admiration of Jesus. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has attended the event, which draws several thousand people from around the world, especially evangelicals, who have proved strong supporters of the Trump administration.

Trump also referenced the Bible at least twice in his address, mentioning Jesus both times.

One group that was not thrilled with his remarks? Atheists. They are calling foul after Trump only referenced Christianity, and specifically Jesus Christ, in his remarks on Thursday.

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said the president excluded Americans who practice other faiths or no faith at all.

“Trump has taken these government-endorsed prayer breakfasts to a new low, demonstrating his ignorance and disdain for the growing diversity of faiths and philosophies found in the country he’s supposed to be leading,” Speckhardt said in a statement.

The group compared his speech unfavorably to those previous presidents who acknowledge faith traditions other than Christianity. In his 2010 remarks President Obama called on “Americans of every faith, and no faith,” to unite “around a common purpose,” specifically mentioning Hindus and Sikhs, as wells as Jews, Catholics and Protestants.

While some groups felt Trump ignored the 33 percent of Americans that are not Christian, other groups are praising Trump for strongly declaring God’s place in our nation.

Trump’s message was clear – that God has a uniquely Christian purpose for the United States.

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Daily Mail reported on Friday that Google Home wasn’t responding when users were asking the speaker “Who is Jesus?” Instead, the device would respond with “I’m not sure how to help you with that.”

Users of the voice-activated digital assistant shared their confusion and anger after discovering the device had been programmed to answer questions about Muhammad, Satan and Buddha.

This started a public outcry that has ultimately led the company to disable devices from answering any questions about religious figures. Customers began posting videos on social media showing the personal assistant struggling to answer the questions.

Google released in a statement that until the issue is fixed all responses for questions about religious figures would be temporarily unavailable.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison, tweeted about the situation on Friday. “The reason the Google Assistant didn’t respond with information about ‘Who is Jesus’ or ‘Who is Jesus Christ’ wasn’t out of disrespect but instead to ensure respect,” it stated. “Some of the Assistant’s spoken responses come from the web, and for certain topics, this content can be more vulnerable to vandalism and spam.”

Google Home’s reliance on “featured snippets” — the blurb information that appears at the top of a page of search results — has been an issue before. Sometimes inaccurate, false and offensive information can find it’s way into featured snippets. In 2017, Google Home was parroting conspiracy theories about the former president Barack Obama.

Other personal assistant devices didn’t have the same issues. Amazon’s Alexa offers an answer for “who is Jesus?” according to posts of people testing it on social media and Youtube. Ask similar questions to the iPhone assistant Siri and she will direct you to websites related to Jesus Christ. Though, if you simply tell her, “Jesus,” on an iPhone, she might answer like this: “I would ask that you address your spiritual questions to someone more qualified to comment. Ideally, a human.” Sometimes, in response to the word, “Jesus,” she says this: “Humans have religion. I just have silicon.”

When users are asking the question to their Google phones, however, it does direct the user to a list of top websites on Jesus Christ. Only time will tell how Google will handle the situation when it comes to their home assistant device.