In review: the five biggest stories of the week

1. The general election starting gun was fired

From the left: Natalie Bennett (Green Party), Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats), Nigel Farage (UKIP), Ed Miliband (Labour), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru), Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party) and David Cameron Conservative Party).Reuters

Britain's general election got under way with the launches of party political campaigns and a televised debate between the party leaders. It is too close to call, with the prospect of another coalition or a minority government, and smaller parties are increasingly influential and popular. Christian groups have called for a fair campaign without name-calling or personal attacks and various organisations including Christians in Politics and the Evangelical Alliance have been encouraging Christians to get out and vote. Rarely have British elections been so interesting or had so much at stake.

2. Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan loses to Muhammadu Buhari

Opposition party APC declared an election victory for former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.Reuters

Three decades after seizing power in a military coup, Muhammadu Buhari became the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box, putting him in charge of Africa's biggest economy and one of its most turbulent democracies. The smooth transistion which saw the defeat of the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, widely reviled for his failure to address the appalling Boko Haram insurgency, is a landmark for Nigeria and bodes well for the future. Buhari is fiercely anti-corruption and may be the president Nigeria needs. A Muslim, one of his many challenges will be to ensure good inter-faith relations.

3. Bangladeshi militants kill another atheist blogger

Rahman's death is one of a number of attacks on non-religious writers in Bangladesh.Mostaque Chowdhury/ Wikimedia Commons

An atheist blogger was hacked to death close to his home in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, the second in just a few weeks. Washiqur Rahman, 27, died after three men attacked him with machetes. He was killed only 500 metres from his home. Christians don't make as much noise about the murder of atheists or people of other religions as we do about the murder of other Christians. At one level this is entirely understandable, but we should: no one should suffer violence, intimidation or discrimination because of what they believe or don't believe. Yes, this is partly self-protection. But it's also a recognition of the freedom that God has given every human being. Protecting atheism is Christian.

4. Children have been taking part in Islamic State beheadings


Children in their teens were shown leading eight men to their deaths in the latest brutal beheading video released by Islamic State. The teenage boys, known as the 'Cubs of the Caliphate', were seen holding large rifles, walking the captives to an open field then ordering the men – Shi'ite Muslims – to kneel before they are beheaded by adult militants. The use of children in this way is deeply troubling. It is profoundly abusive, it socialises them into believing that murder is right, and it brings huge ethical questions about responsibility of the kind seen in Africa with the child soldiers. Islamic State is barbaric; it has to be stopped.

5. Somali militants target Christians in Kenya university attack

Around 150 died in al Shabaah's attack on Garissa University College.Reuters

An appalling attack on a university in Kenya left around 150 people dead, mainly students. The attackers from Somalia's al Shabaab movement stormed Garissa University College, near the Kenya-Somalia border, overpowering the guards and singling out Christians for killing. Kenya's president Uhuru Kenyatta struggled to defend the lack of security at the university. The attack has left families in desperate grief. However, it also highlights the pressure al Shabaab is under; Somalia's government has regained control over the main towns the militants once controlled. With Boko Haram on the back foot in Nigeria and Iraqi government forces advancing Islamist militancy worldwide is weaker than it was, though it retains the capacity for terror 'spectaculars'.

A good week for:

Spring Harvest, whose first week at Minehead concluded yesterday. Attendance is up.

A bad week for:

Pope Francis, who has been told by Vatican doctors to lay off the pizza and pasta because he's putting on weight.

The story you might not have read but ought to know about:

Islam is the world's fastest-growing religion and will equal Christianity by 2050.

And one for pure enjoyment:

The hashtag #ThingsJesusNeverSaid was trending on Twitter. Carey Lodge offers some of the best.