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News: What Evangelicals Living Under Putin Think of Trump

Protestants and Orthodox alike are mostly hopeful about Americas new president.

Russian evangelicals would have loved to listen in on the first phone call between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin this past weekend—but for opposite reasons from many Americans.

As the recent presidential campaign turned US attention to Russia—with reports of Trump’s alleged ties to the Russian president as well as alleged hacking by Russian operatives in hopes of influencing the election—Russians were following American politics too.

“The hope for a new understanding between Russia and the USA is very strong, especially for evangelicals,” said Wiliam Yoder, spokesman for the Russia Evangelical Alliance.

Russia’s evangelical minority, roughly 1 percent of its population of 143 million, finds itself living and serving in the East-West tension between its nationalistic government and the outside evangelical groups that support its gospel work in the heavily Orthodox country.

Yet Putin’s popularity spans across religious groups in Russia, and so did Trump’s. According to campaign polls, Russia was the only country among the top 20 economies in the world that favored Trump over Hillary Clinton, and evangelicals generally sided with their compatriots.

“They see [Trump’s victory] as turning back to more traditional values, and that’s a good thing,” said Sergey Rakhuba, president of Mission Eurasia and a former Ukrainian missionary to Moscow.

Russia’s Orthodox Christians and evangelicals share concerns over traditional marriage and family; they were among the harshest critics when the US legalized gay marriage in 2015. Under a regime known for fusing politics, religion, and morality, Russians viewed Trump as the family values candidate, he said.

Rakhuba ...

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Bearing Burdens After Obamacare: The Future of Christian Healthcare Sharing

The Affordable Care Act put Christian insurance alternatives on the map. What happens to them when it goes away?

Despite President Donald Trump’s executive order to begin dismantling Obamacare, a record number of Americans signed up for marketplace plans during the 2017 enrollment period, which ended Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the number of Christians taking advantage of religious exemptions to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also reached an all-time high. As of January, well over 625,000 believers belong to health care sharing ministries—more than triple as many as when the Obama administration enacted the legislative overhaul of the health insurance market in 2010.

Nashville videographer Matt Horvath joined Medi-Share last month, after leaving his employer’s plan when he started his own business. He and his wife settled on health care sharing—where fellow members pay a few hundred dollars a month to cover each other’s major medical bills—after they struggled to find major insurance carriers in their state that offered individual plans or affordable options through the ACA marketplace.

Horvath and other members of such ministries (provided the organizations have been functioning since before the year 2000) are exempt from the ACA’s individual mandate, which penalizes Americans without health insurance. Days after Trump took office, adviser Kellyanne Conway indicated that the President would not be enforcing the mandate any longer. The eventual end to the individual mandate will do away with the need for a religious exemption.

Between that announcement and Trump’s executive order urging agencies to ease ACA requirements, “it’s a pretty significant step,” said Anthony Hopp, spokesman for Samaritan Ministries. “Things are definitely in motion. But we anticipated that with Trump.” ...

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