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What the CNN report on Jesus says about us

'Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery' aired on CNN on Sunday night, March 1, 2105, featuring the Shroud of Turin. (Credit: CNN) Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery. is a new series that began Sunday night on CNN.  Based on the book by the same title, the episodes will report on various Christian relics and their significance.  Future episodes will focus on a relic believed to be a bone from the finger of John the Baptist, an ancient manuscript relating to Judas, a burial box purported to belong to Jesus' half-brother, pieces of the cross, and ancient texts regarding Mary Magdalene.

Sunday's episode focused on the Shroud of Turin, a cloth believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus.  According to one of the narrators, discovering that the shroud is authentic "is the most significant moment in human history."

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Putin's approval rating and the nature of popularity

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he watches the launch of the newest heavy-class Angara-A5 rocket at Plesetsk cosmodrome in Arkhangelsk region, via a video link at the Russian Presidential Situation center at the Kremlin in Moscow, December 23, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Alexei Druzhinin) According to a recent Levada-Center Poll, Russian President Vladimir Putin's approval rating is remaining strong at 86% despite a faltering economy and denouncements from the leadership of many Western nations. However, that mark is not an anomaly. In fact, his approval rating has hovered around the mid 80's since last May, which happens to be the time that the conflict in the Ukraine began to escalate.

Some doubt that the high number should be taken seriously though. Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and out of Love with Vladimir Putin, argues that you can't get an accurate read on Putin's approval rating because Russians are not free to express negative opinions of their president. He believes that people are saying "yes" when asked if they are happy with Putin simply because they are afraid to say "no." Judah points to the protests in 2011, where a growing middle class attempted to bring about change, noting that they were put down with a combination of propaganda, arrests, and exile. They serve as a still lingering reminder to the people of what will happen should they seek to alter the political landscape.

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Christian response to persecution in Iraq

A Kurdish protester holds a sign against Islamic State militants during a demonstration in Frankfurt, September 22, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Ralph Orlowski)Earlier this month, the leadership team of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative (WI) traveled to Northern Iraq in order to visit with religious, political, and military leaders in the area. A partner organization of the Denison Forum, WI met with these leaders in order to investigate the heinous acts being committed against Jews, Christians, and Yezidis by ISIS.

Currently controlling one third of Iraq and Syria, ISIS is wreacking havoc and causing destruction throughout the region. This is all done in an attempt to "purify the world" for the sake of Islam. This was epitomized Sunday with the release of a video depicting the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians. With significant financial backing and quality message dissemination, members of ISIS see themselves as the central characters in the purification process.

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