Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christian Pregnant Woman Beaten In Pakistan Jail Granted Bail

It makes me happy to know that my brethren in Christ Jesus are standing strong in the faith. It makes me even more happier that they got granted bail for the theft for which they were falsely accused :).

12/30/2011 Pakistan (CDN)-A judge this month granted bail to a Christian woman falsely charged with theft in Abbottabad after police failed to produce evidence incriminating her, she said. Salma Emmanuel, 30, was freed on bail on Dec. 8. She and her husband were severely beaten for three days when they refused to confess, and she was taken to a hospital in critical condition on Nov. 7, the life of her unborn child also threatened (see, “Police in Pakistan Beat Pregnant Christian, Husband for 3 Days,” Nov. 29).

Emanuel told Compass by phone from Abottabad, 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of Islamabad in the Hazara region of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, that the judge granted bail after police failed to produce evidence against her. Her husband, 30-year-old TV repairman Emmanuel Rasheed, had been freed on bail on Nov. 17. Rasheed said that as he was mercilessly beaten, police tried to convert him to Islam.
Emmanuel said that her faith in God was strong from the beginning of her ordeal in the Muslim-majority country, where Christians are routinely denied legal rights.

“Both of us knew we were innocent, and that they would not be able to find anything against us,” she said. “We had complete faith in the Lord that He will not forsake us, and our bails are a testimony to the fact.”
Emmanuel said that police had discriminated against the couple from the outset.

“The police tortured both of us, and despite our hue and cry that we were not thieves, they continued with their harsh treatment,” she said. “Now they have included the other servants in the investigation, but not once have they even touched them. They have just been questioned.”

The couple lost their life savings – gold ornaments of 100 grams – and both have lost their jobs as a result of the false charges and are depending on relatives to cover their living expenses, she said.

“My husband goes out every day to find work but has been unsuccessful so far,” she said. “This Christmas we didn’t have money to buy clothes for our children, and neither did we have any explanation to make them understand why we were so helpless. But we have witnessed the mercy of the Lord and have faith that this time shall pass, too.”

The couple has three children – the oldest 12, the youngest 5.

Emmanuel’s case was highlighted in Pakistan’s broadcast and print media when she was brought to the hospital in critical condition five months pregnant. Ghazala Riaz, who employed Emmanuel as a maid in her house a year ago, on Oct. 30 accused the couple of theft, alleging that they had stolen a laptop, 900,000 rupees (US$10,095) and 300 grams of gold ornaments, including Emmanuel’s own jewelry, which Emmanuel had given to Riaz for safekeeping the same day.

Police who beat Emmanuel and her husband threatened to kill her unborn child, but the Christian couple refused to confess a false allegation, they said. Emmanuel, who was also working as a child-minder in a local school besides working as domestic help, has lost both her jobs. When Rasheed was jailed, his employer immediately found a replacement(Source).

Boko Haram Attacks Prompt Nigeria State Of Emergency

I pray that my Nigerian brethren in Christ Jesus stay strong during this wave of persecution that has come upon them:

12/31/2011 Nigeria (BBC News)-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in areas worst affected by attacks from the Islamist group Boko Haram.Borders would be closed temporarily in the north-eastern states of Yobe and Borno, and central state of Plateau. Mr Jonathan vowed to "crush" Boko Haram, which killed dozens in attacks across the country on Christmas Day. Speaking at a church in the capital, Abuja, where 37 people died, he described Boko Haram as "cancerous".

Boko Haram is thought to be responsible for a string of major attacks across Nigeria this year.
Sectarian fears
It bombed the headquarters of the UN in August 2011, leaving at least 21 dead and has targeted police as well. It has also in the past targeted Muslim leaders. At least 42 people died in the Christmas Day bombings of churches and other targets. Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in Maiduguri in Borno State, as well as other cities.

"Nigeria being the body, they want to kill it," Me Jonathan added. "But nobody will allow them to do that."
While offering his condolences to victims' relatives at St Theresa's Church in Abuja the president said: "We will crush the terrorists. If there are institutions... which are harbouring terrorists, we will deal with them."

Boko Haram, which originated in Maiduguri, wants to impose strict Sharia law across Nigeria. Earlier this week, Nigeria's main Christian group warned that the community might have to defend itself if the security forces could not protect it. Analysts said the move raised the spectre of communal clashes in Africa's most populous nation, which is divided between a largely Muslim north and a mainly Christian and animist south(Source).

Chinese Authorities Use Tear Gas To Break Up Christmas Worship Service

The norm for authorities during the Christmas season: Attack my brothers and sisters in Christ they celebrate the Incarnation of the risen Savior.

12/27/11 China (China Aid) - Police in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan fired tear-gas canisters at worshipers at a mass outdoor unofficial Christmas service, and moved to detain other members of “house” churches who tried to organize Christian worship elsewhere in the country, according to participants and rights groups.

Sichuan-based church member Li Ming, who attended the Christmas service on a public square in Langzhong city, said police had raided the gathering and detained three people.

“[On Christmas] morning at about 8.00 a.m. our church was holding a Christmas activity on Binjiang Road in Langzhong city,” Li said in an interview on Monday.

“There were around 20-30 police officers, and they used tear-gas canisters,” he said. “My eyes were so swollen I couldn’t see at all.”

Li said police had confiscated the group’s musical instruments and sound system. “They detained three of our people,” he said. “They haven’t released them yet.”

The move follows the detention of a number of unofficial “house” church members ahead of planned Christmas gatherings across China(Source).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Muslim Extremists In Uganda Throw Acid On Bishop

I'm really amazed that this man escaped without being killed because the Hadith literature says that people who leave Islam should be killed:

Sahih al-Bukhari 6922—Allah’s Messenger said, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”

12/28/2011 Uganda (CDN)-Islamic extremists threw acid on a church leader on Christmas Eve shortly after a seven-day revival at his church, leaving him with severe burns that have blinded one eye and threaten sight in the other.  Bishop Umar Mulinde, 37, a sheikh (Islamic teacher) before his conversion to Christianity, was attacked on Saturday night (Dec. 24) outside his Gospel Life Church International building in Namasuba, about 10 kilometers (six miles) outside of Kampala. From his hospital bed in Kampala, he told Compass that he was on his way back to the site for a party with the entire congregation and hundreds of new converts to Christianity when a man who claimed to be a Christian approached him.

“I heard him say in a loud voice, ‘Pastor, pastor,’ and as I made a turn and looked at him, he poured the liquid onto my face as others poured more liquid on my back and then fled away shouting, ‘Allahu akbar [God is greater],’” Mulinde said, still visibly traumatized two days after the assault.  A neighbor and church members rushed him to a hospital in the Mengo area of Kampala, and he was then transferred to International Hospital Kampala.  

“I have to continue fighting this pain – it is too much,” Mulinde said. “My entire body is in pain. Most of the night I miss sleep.”  

His face, neck and arms bore deep black scars from the acid, and his lips were swollen.
“The burn caused by the acid is so severe that there is an urgent need for specialized treatment,” said area Christian Musa Baluku Symutsangira. “I suggest that he be flown outside the country as soon as possible; otherwise Mulinde might lose both of his eyes, coupled with the spread of the burns. The burns seemed to spread and go very deep. He might need some plastic surgery.”

A doctor told Compass that acid burns cover about 30 percent of his face and has cost him sight in one eye.
“We are doing all we can to save his other remaining eye and to contain the acid from spreading to other parts of the body,” the doctor said. Mulinde’s shirt, tie and suit were in tatters after the attack.

Mulinde said his father, Id Wasswa, was a local prayer leader or imam.
“I was born into a Muslim family, and although I decided to become a Christian, I have been financially assisting many Muslims, as well as my relatives who are Muslims,” he said. “I have been conducting a peaceful evangelism campaign.” 

Mulinde said Muslim extremists opposed to his conversion from Islam and his outspoken opposition of sharia (Islamic law) courts in Uganda, known in East Africa as Kadhi courts, attacked him. On Oct. 15, area Muslim leaders declared a fatwa against him demanding his death.

“I have been receiving several threats for a long time, and this last one is the worst of all,” Mulinde said. “I have bore the marks of Jesus.”

Mulinde is known for debates locally and internationally in which he often challenges Muslims regarding their religion. His extensive knowledge and quotation of the Quran in his preaching has won him enemies and friends. Often criticizing Islam, he has relied on police protection during revival campaigns throughout Uganda.  

“Mulinde poses a big threat to those who cannot take the challenge as he engages the Muslims in debate,” said Dr. Joseph Serwadda, an area church leader.

A church guard who was away on the day of the attack said he felt responsible. 
“I feel bad,” he said. “I feel I have failed in my duty as a guard.”

Mulinde is married and has six children ages 14, 12, 8, 6 and twins who are 3.  Police have reportedly arrested one suspect, whom they have declined to name. A divisional commander at Katwa police station identified only as Kateebe would say only that an investigation was underway.

The hospital charges 350,000 Uganda shillings (US$140 dollars) per day, a steep amount in Uganda.  
“We appeal for our brothers and sisters wherever they are to assist the life of Bishop Umar Mulinde,” said Symutsangira.

Several Attacks
Mulinde, who lives and pastors in Namasuba outside of Kampala, in April led religious leaders in petitioning the Ugandan Parliament to refrain from amending the constitution to introduce Kadhi courts.
He collected 360,000 signatures from former Muslims who have converted to Christianity, he said, and managed to temporarily stop parliament from proposing the constitutional change. When Compass met with Mulinde in November, however, he said there was new momentum to revive the Kadhi courts issue.

In May he was attacked by suspected Muslim extremists after a series of campaigns against Kadhi courts in Namasuba. After presenting his case against the Kadhi courts, he narrowly escaped a kidnap attempt when his vehicle was blocked at eight kilometers (five miles) outside of Kampala at Ndege, two kilometers from his home in Namasuba. Muslim extremists jumped out of the vehicle and shot at the fleeing Mulinde but missed him. He reported the case at the Katwa police station.  Mulinde has faced several injuries and attacks from Muslims since his conversion to Christianity in 1993, including having stones thrown at him after debates in 1998 and 2002.  

After Kenya maintained Kadhi courts in its new constitution last year, the attorney general of Uganda wanted to insert Kadhi courts – which presumably would deal only with marriage and family issues for Muslims – into the Ugandan constitution. But Mulinde argued that there would be two judicial systems governing one country (Keep reading).

For more on Apostasy in Islam see this video:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

North Korea Begins New Day With Old Regime

The old emperor of North Korea Kim Jong-Il died a few days ago and our Korean brethren in Christ are still being persecuted. They will be in my prayers.

12/28/2011 North Korea (MNN) - North Korea sent off their "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-Il in a massive ceremonial farewell Tuesday. At the same time, North Korea moved to strengthen a new personality cult around Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong-Un.

It's usually the unknown that has people on edge, wondering what changes will be coming with a successor. However, there's good and bad news on that front. Todd Nettleton is a spokesman for The Voice of the Martyrs USA. "I spoke the night after the announcement of Kim Jong-Il's death with one of our VOM workers who works on the Korean peninsula, and his message was, 'Don't look for any significant changes, at least in the short-term.'"

It's widely thought that Kim Jong-Il had been ill for some time, so the likelihood that whoever was running the country in his absence will continue to do so under the name of Kim Jong-Un. "There were people who were making the decisions and keeping things going on his behalf. It is believed that those same people will now be in charge behind the scenes for Kim Jong-Un, maintain his authority, maintain his power."

The country has been known for its disregard for human and religious rights. North Korea's policies and practices that persecute believers have kept it atop the Open Doors World Watch List for over four years. It is estimated that between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians suffer in prison camps because of their faith. People rarely get out of alive.

Despite that, the reclusive nation claims they have freedom of religion. Nettleton explains, "If you acknowledge Kim Jong-Il as a divine being, if you pray to Kim Il Sung--the founder of North Korea, and expect him to provide blessings and provisions in your life, then there is religious freedom for you."
In practice, there is no freedom to build churches or to worship in homes. An estimated 400,000 Christians practice their faith in underground networks. Possession of a Bible or Christian material is illegal and punishable by death.

Two years ago, authorities stepped up their surveillance of Christians, and house searches are said to be more rigorous than in the past. Why the overkill response to Christians? Nettleton says believers are viewed as "a danger to society."

"Locking people in concentration camps--not just the people who are assumed to be guilty of this crime but their parents and their children as well"-- is not an unusual response. "Three generations to try to rid the country of this Christian philosophy that undermines not only the religion of Juche and the religion of the Kim's as divine beings, but it undermines the legitimacy of the government itself(Source)."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fear Grips Nigeria After Christmas Attacks Kill 40

My prayer is that my Nigerian brethren in Christ Jesus do "not lose heart" (2 Cor. 4:16) in light of what's happening to them and that they respond bravely to their persecution.

12/26/2011 Nigeria (AFP)-Fear gripped Nigeria on Monday after a wave of Christmas bombings blamed on Islamists killed at least 40, including worshippers who were left begging for mercy as they exited a church.
Hundreds of residents sought to flee the violence-torn city of Damaturu on Monday fearing further attacks and clashes between Islamists and police, while some 30 Christian shops were burnt in the nearby city of Potiskum late Sunday.

 At the damaged Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near the capital Abuja where the bloodiest attack took place, a special mass was held in memory of the 35 victims there despite splattered blood still visible on the outside.

"I have never cried before," Father Isaac Achi told the audience of several hundred which included bishops and priests from the region as well as the Vatican's representative to Nigeria.

"Yesterday I cried. This morning I cried. But with all of you around today, I will not cry again. Seeing you coming to say this mass, I'm telling you, I will not cry again."
The blast struck as the service was ending and worshippers were filing out.

Some of the wounded, including one man with a horrific stomach wound, ran toward a priest for final blessings. Some were burnt in their cars.

Nigeria has seen scores of attacks claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram, but some analysts said the bombings marked a dangerous escalation in a country divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

The government in Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and its largest oil producer, blamed Islamist sect Boko Haram for three attacks on Sunday. In the central city of Jos, a church was targeted and a policeman was killed in a resulting shootout. A suicide blast also occurred in the restive northeastern city of Damaturu when the bomber sought to ram into a military convoy in front of a secret police office, killing himself and three security agents.

A third church was targeted in the northeast on Christmas Eve, but no one was reported killed. Residents reported another explosion near a church in the northeastern city of Maiduguri late Sunday, but an army spokesman denied it. In Damaturu on Monday, hundreds of residents sought to flee, lining up at taxi and bus stands amid momentary calm.

"The situation in the city is frightening," said a 42-year-old trader with his wife and three young children as he waited along the roadside. "You never can tell where will be the next target. My house was burnt in the attacks."

In the nearby city of Potiskum, residents and a police source said about 30 Christian shops burned on Sunday night, while a supermarket and the home of a local Christian leader were also set ablaze.

Describing the bombing, National Security Adviser Owoye Azazi said attackers threw improvised explosive devices from a moving vehicle, adding that "two of the criminals had been apprehended, caught in action."
Oguche said no one was arrested and the blast occurred after a minibus pulled up near the church. He added that three police officers were among those killed(Source).

China: Christian Human Rights Lawyer Given Three Year Prison Sentence

12/20/2011 China (CSW) - Gao Zhisheng, the Christian human rights lawyer, has been given a three-year prison sentence for “violating the terms of his probation”, despite having been missing since April 2010.
News of the sentence was reported in Chinese State Media on Friday 16 December. The sentence relates to his 2006 probationary sentence (three years’ imprisonment and five years’ probation) for “subversion of state power” that is due to expire next week.

Gao has not yet appeared in public and there are concerns that he has been severely tortured while missing, as has happened in prior detention. Gao’s brother in China and his wife in the US have not been informed formally about Gao’s return to prison. There has been no news of his whereabouts, condition or health since April 2010 and Chinese authorities have repeatedly avoided questions from the international community about his case.

The prominent self-taught lawyer, twice-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, first went missing on 4 February 2009. Following a brief reappearance in March 2010, Gao went missing again on 20 April as he travelled home to Beijing after visiting relatives in Xinjiang province. He reported being subject to severe torture in detention and there are grave concerns for his health and wellbeing. Gao’s wife and two children fled from China and are now living in the US.

Gao, who was once named one of China’s Top Ten Lawyers by the Ministry of Justice, attracted attention from authorities for defending cases of religious persecution, including house church leaders and Falun Gong practitioners. In 2007 he wrote an open letter to US Congress highlighting the use of torture by Chinese authorities(Source).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Eight Lao Christians In Prison For Christmas

My Lao brothers and sisters in Christ are in my prayers.

12/22/2011 Laos (Asia News) - Eight Lao Christian leaders arrested on 16 December for “organising” a Christmas visit with 200 Church members are still in jail, this according to human rights activists who say that police travelled on Boukham village in Savannakhet Province, site of the incident, to meet local officials in order to decide what to do with the detainees.

Quoted by Compass Direct News, Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom (HRWLRF) reported that the leaders had permission for Friday's event from Boukham's village chief.
However, village security forces entered the building, isolated the eight leaders, blindfolded and handcuffed some before marching them off to Boukham government headquarters, where they were detained without charge. “It is quite clear that they were arrested for gathering people for worship," an HRWLRF spokesman told Compass.

On Sunday, Lao Evangelical Church representatives managed to negotiate the release of one of the detainees, who goes by the name of Kingnamosorn, after paying a fine of 1 million kip (US$ 123) to the village chief. By comparison, the average monthly wage for an unskilled labourer in the province is close to US $40.

The content of the discussion between village leaders and police remains unknown, but when police left the village, the chief ordered the unrestrained detainees to be handcuffed as well. Most people in Communist Laos are Buddhist (67 per cent). Out of a population of 6 million, 0.7 per cent is Catholic, often victims of persecution and restrictions on their religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia: Security forces jail dozens attending prayer meeting

Spiritually speaking, Saudi Arabia has to be among one of the darkest places in the world. If you try to tell a Muslim about Jesus Christ (the real Jesus who is God Incarnate, not the psuedo-Jesus described in the Muslim holy book, the Quran) you face the danger of being put to death or imprisoned by the police. I pray that my Ethiopian brethren in Christ will be bold enough to give some Muslim there the gospel.

12/23/2011 Saudi Arabia (World Net Daily) – Saudi Arabian security forces have arrested and detained 35 members of an Ethiopian Christian prayer group in the western city of Jeddah, according to ministries that monitor religious persecution in the restricted Islamic nation. International Christian Concern says their sources tell them the Ethiopian immigrants were beaten and threatened by Saudi security forces before being taken into custody.

The present location of the Ethiopian Christians is unknown.
ICC Middle East analyst Jonathan Racho said the treatment of the Ethiopian Christians is ironic, because Islam's prophet, Muhammad, sent his followers to Ethiopia for refuge when they were persecuted by pagans in Saudi Arabia in the seventh century.

"He said, 'Go to Ethiopia. There is a Christian king in Ethiopia who will give you refuge," Racho said. "So Islam survived because of the hospitality of the Christians in Ethiopia. Now look what they're doing to Christians who are going to Saudi Arabia."

Racho reported that the 35 Christians assembled Dec. 15 for their regular Thursday night worship service.
"As they were gathered, the Saudi officials came in and arrested them. And, they've been imprisoned. It's very outrageous," he said.

Saudi Arabia forbids any religious expression except for Islam, and the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam is the only officially recognized religion.

"Christians in that country are immigrants from other countries who are forced to worship in their homes. That's what they were doing when they were arrested," Racho explained. Writing about the incident, a commentator at Jihad Watch said the Saudis' show of brute force reveals weakness.

"Behavior like this from the Saudis does not create the image of a strong, confident faith. Their paranoia conveys a sense of fragility and fear. Even by 'winning,' by trying to show who's boss, they lose," the commentator said(Source).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Nigerian Churches targeted by Muslims on Christmas Day

(CNN)--Bomb blasts struck at least three churches in Nigeria on Sunday as worshippers were attending Christmas Day services, stirring memories of strikes against Nigerian churches during last year's Christmas season.

The first explosion struck near a Catholic church in Madala, west of Abuja, Nigeria's capital, the National Emergency Management Agency said.

The agency said there were at least 17 bodies in the morgue at the National Hospital, and officials were still trying to confirm the total number of dead, local journalist Alkasim Abdulkadir said from Abuja.

A second attack struck the Mountain of Fire Ministries church in the city of Jos, northeast of the capital, said journalist Hassan John, who witnessed the aftermath of the two blasts that targeted the church.

No one was killed in the bombing, which John called a "miracle," but a policeman who engaged the attackers in a gun battle died of his wounds later, the journalist said, citing officials.

Another wave of bombings hit the northern town of Damaturu in Yobe state, an aid worker said, asking not to be named for security reasons.

A church, a police station and a state security building were also bombed, the aid worker said, saying there were injuries but it was not clear how many(Keep reading).

Afer Months Of Persecution Church In China To End Outdoor Services

Merry Christmas to everyone out there!!!!! Even as we celebrate the incarnation of the Savior of the world, we should still lift our persecuted brethren in Christ in prayer.

12/23/2011 China (CDN) - Key issues in Chinese religious rights are taking a pivotal turn at year’s end as the beleaguered Shouwang house church in Beijing will celebrate its last outdoor service on Christmas Day, and “disappeared” human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has ostensibly resurfaced – in an undisclosed prison.
Denied access to a building they had purchased as a worship venue, the Shouwang church has been meeting outdoors – and facing weekly arrests – since April 10. A source in Beijing told Compass that next year church leaders will renew their fight to retain the venue the government had denied the congregation.

“Shouwang’s governing committee said that this coming Christmas, which fell on a Sunday this year, would see the last outdoor worship since it began on April 10,” the source said. “They said the church would actively pursue realizing the goal of returning to meet indoors after Christmas. And they still believe the best way to resolve the issue is that the government would permit the church to enter into the space it bought.”

Shouwang held its 37th outdoor service last Sunday (Dec. 18). According to a Dec. 20 post on Shouwang’s Facebook page, as Christmas approaches the police presence has increased at the plaza where the church has been meeting. Many church members were detained at home on Saturday (Dec. 17) to prevent them from traveling to the plaza. Police detained a further 35 either on arrival or on their way to the designated venue and violently seized five church members who had gathered outside Haidian Street police station to meet with detainees. Church leaders said in the post that they are hoping for a resolution to Shouwang’s dilemma this Christmas.

“Today is the day we call all the members of our church to fast and pray for Shouwang,” the post stated. “May God have mercy on his church … and grant us the place for worshipping that he prepared for His church.”

Church leaders have issued an appeal for prayer for “the key to the space the church has bought may be given before Christmas so that the issue of worship place can be solved,” they said in a Dec. 16 statement. “Whether the key is secured or not by the end of 2011, may God provide a permanent worship venue so that the whole congregation can meet together.”

Church leaders say the landlord of their previous venue had been under mounting pressure from authorities to terminate the lease. The government also prevented the church from using the premises it had purchased in late 2009.

Shouwang had paid 27 million yuan, or about US$4 million, for the second floor of the Daheng Science and Technology Tower in northwest Beijing’s Zhongguancun area. Authorities interfered, and the property developer has refused to hand the key over to the church. Earlier this month, the church leaders said, the church paid off all the money borrowed for the space.

The members of the church’s governing committee, two pastors and three elders, and other major co-workers, have been under house arrest for the whole or much of the time since April 9. Hundreds of other people, including many Shouwang parishioners and some members of other churches in Beijing and other cities, were detained for between a few hours to two days(Source).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

NYC Says Bronx Church Can’t Rent Public Community Center

And the Christmas-related Western Persecution continues here in America:

12/22/2011 United States (The Christian Post)-New York City officials are handing a local church an eviction notice this Christmas season. The Associated Press reports that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) has asked the Bronx Bible Church to stop worship services at a public community center. The church began renting the Judge Sonia Sotomayor Community Center in September to service its growing congregation, but now is ordered to leave by Dec. 31.

"It felt like someone had punched me in the stomach when I heard the news," said the church's pastor Joseph Fletcher. "It was like someone let all the air out of our sails."

Fletcher said his church began its ministry 28 years ago at another building on its own. As attendance swelled, he said, the congregation decided they could better serve the Bronx by offering a second location more convenient for members. Given New York City's rental costs, he said his church quickly decided renting from the community center was a reasonable alternative.

"Both of our locations are in very poor locations," Fletcher said. "We're trying to minister to people most others have forgotten about. The biggest expense you have in starting a new church is renting a building. The nice thing about a public space is that it's easier to handle."

The new location started off strong, Fletcher said, with Sunday morning services in the center's community room attracting 40 to 50 people during peak services. The church’s community center location hosted a Thanksgiving food event, housed a junior church, a nursery and even a choir. But such progress is now loss after the NYCHA called Fletcher and told him his church could no longer rent the space given the result of The Bronx Household of Faith v. New York City Board of Education court case in June.

Robert Hall, co-pastor of The Bronx Household of Faith, said the decision means that any New York City public school can refuse to rent its classrooms to churches and other religious bodies. His church had previously rented a classroom for Sunday services, only for the city's Department of Education (NYCDE) to argue that any religious worship in a public institution might seem like endorsement of that worship by said institution. The NYCHA, Fletcher said, worries a similar problem could occur at its community centers.

The church's website said that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld that decision last summer, and now all churches must leave public schools by February 2012. Calls to both the NYCHA and the NYCDE were not returned by press time, and the Supreme Court declined to review the case on Dec. 5.

"Not allowing religious worship in public schools sets a dangerous precedent," Hall said. "This is separation of church and state far beyond what was intended by the original idea and could marginalize Christianity."

"I've embraced the sovereignty of God in all this," Fletcher said. "There's nothing that will happen to our church without God's approval. We haven't given up hope that we're out of there yet(Source)."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kidnappings, Shrinking Finances: Sudan’s Christians Reveal Fears

12/22/2011 Sudan (Middle East Online)-The fear of kidnappings, a dwindling number of worshippers, and shrinking church finances mar the first Christmas in Muslim-majority Sudan since the Christian South separated, church sources say.

"We are going to have a Christmas like parents without children," said one source.

Like others, he asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue -- in particular the alleged abduction of ethnic southern youth to fight in the country's southern border region or with rebels in South Sudan.

"The young people are worried about being rounded up to serve in militia on the border," another church source said. "They take them to the camp, train them for a few weeks and then they send them."

Sudanese forces in the country's South Kordofan state have since June been fighting former allies of the rebels who fought for the independence of South Sudan. The South gained independence from the mainly Arab Muslim north in July after a two-decade civil war, and an overwhelming vote to break away.
The fighting spilled into nearby Blue Nile state as Khartoum moved to assert its authority within its new boundaries. Philip Aguer, South Sudan's military spokesman, made essentially the same allegations as the church sources in Khartoum.

He said ethnic South Sudanese in Khartoum were among those particularly vulnerable to forced recruitment.
"They are sending them to the training camps of Sudan Armed Forces" and then dispatching them to areas including South Kordofan and Blue Nile, or to the forces of George Athor fighting in South Sudan's Jonglei state, Aguer said.

"Some youth are becoming a target" in the Sudanese capital, a third church source said, adding the insecurity could affect attendance at midnight services planned for Christmas Eve on Saturday, although churches are asking the authorities to provide protection. A clergyman and two others were recently held for three days in a suburban home after plainclothes men jumped from a pickup truck and surrounded them after they had left a prayer meeting, sources alleged.

They said the three were released after paying thousands of Sudanese pounds (more than $1,000).
"There is a lot of insecurity and we are afraid," one church source said.

Churches are already struggling to deal with increasingly empty pews after, according to the United Nations, almost 350,000 ethnic South Sudanese headed to the South since October last year.

"Every Sunday we set maybe 10 or 15 minutes' time to pray for those who are going," said Canon Sylvester Thomas, dean of All Saints Episcopal Cathedral in Khartoum.
"Last Sunday we had about six of them who are leaving".
Even the cemetery is emptying, as some returnees dig up the bones of their relatives to take with them, Thomas said at his church, while the evening Muslim call to prayer sounded from a neighbourhood mosque.

"As you go to the New Nation, South Sudan, go with our Love, prayers and God's blessing," it says.
The Anglican cathedral, once overflowing, has cut back its services and the Sunday morning English mass may now only draw four or five people, Sylvester says. The Arabic mass attracts a few dozen faithful. Offerings and tithes which supported children's education, medical treatment and women's training, are down 70 to 90 percent, he said.

The future is uncertain, but Christmas remains a time to celebrate their faith.
Parishioners packed the yard of All Saints last weekend for a Christmas concert beneath strands of miniature white lights. Some raised their arms in praise, and gently swayed to joyous African music. In a newly-divided country, priests said their Christmas message is one of peaceful coexistence, and reconciliation.

"When we are reconciled there is justice.. and this one leads to peace," said Dingi(Source).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pakistan Deploys Snipers To Protect Christians During Christmas

As Western Christians, we should be thankful that we get to celebrate Christmas without the threat of violence. In Muslim countries, Muslims' hatred for the Lord Jesus Christ rears its ugly head around the Christmas season as is displayed in the below article. I pray that the Lord Jesus protects my persecuted brethren in Muslim countries during this Christmas season.

12/21/2011 Pakistan (AFP)-Pakistan will deploy snipers and hundreds of extra police at churches this Christmas to prevent possible attacks on the persecuted Christian minority, police said Wednesday.
The bulk of Pakistan's tiny Christian community live in and around the eastern city of Lahore, where police said there were 433 churches.

"We will deploy 2,500 policemen, including sharp shooters, to provide security to them at Christmas," Nayab Haider, a police spokesman, told AFP. Lahore has suffered a series of attacks blamed on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, part of a nationwide campaign of violence that has killed more than 4,700 people since July 2007.

"We have placed 38 churches in category A, which are most sensitive, and among them, 20 are even more sensitive as we expect foreigners to visit these churches on Christmas Eve," Haider said.

He denied there was any specific threat to Christians at Christmas but said precautions were being taken on a "general threat perception".

Only three percent of Pakistan's 174 million people are estimated to be non-Muslim. The Vatican has said Pakistani Christians are often victims of violence and discrimination. On Tuesday, the Masihi Foundation, a human rights group, warned that a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy last year is in a "very frail" physical and mental state.

Asia Bibi, 46, was sentenced to death in November 2010 after drinking water from a well reserved for Muslims and allegedly making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Her appeal at the High Court in Lahore is ongoing(Source).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christian Are ‘Evil’ For Backing Marriage, Says Tesco R&D Boss

Tesco is a living example of Isaiah 5:20 where it is said:
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

12/16/2011 UK (The Christian Institute)-Christians are “evil” if they resist the redefinition of marriage to allow for same-sex marriage, the Head of Research and Development at has said.
The inflammatory comment came as news emerged that the supermarket giant is selling a drink degradingly called “P***y Natural Energy”, in a limited edition can exclusive to Tesco. The company has already faced criticism for dumping its support for the Cancer Research ‘Race for Life’ and sponsoring London’s gay pride festival.

If you won’t be shopping at Tesco this Christmas, tell them so on their Facebook page: or email CEO Philip Clarke:

The “evil Christians” comment was made by Nick Lansley, Head of Research and Development for the Tesco website.

He wrote: “I’m also campaigning against evil Christians (that’s not all Christians, just bad ones) who think that gay people should not lead happy lives and get married to their same-sex partners.”

Earlier this year, a Christian housing manager from Manchester was demoted and had his salary slashed by 40 per cent for posting a moderate comment on Facebook, saying churches shouldn’t be forced to host homosexual civil partnerships if they don’t want to.

Director of The Christian Institute, Colin Hart, said: “I won’t be shopping at Tesco this Christmas, and I am repeatedly hearing from other Christians who have already come to the same conclusion.
“Mr Lansley is entitled to his opinions, and Christians are entitled to choose not to shop at Tesco.
“The decision by Tesco to sell an offensively named drink shows very poor judgment, even if 5p from every can goes to Cancer Research. Come on, Tesco, you are meant to be a family-friendly store. Start acting like it.”

North Korea’s Persecution Of Christians Expected To Continue After Kim Jon Il’s Death

Yesterday the Korean Leader Kim Jong Il died. I don't think the fortunes of my Korean brethren are going to improve however.

12/19/2011 North Korea (The Huffington Post)-A day after authorities announced the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, several Christian organizations are calling for prayers for the nation's persecuted Christians, one of many so-called dissident groups that have suffered under the North Korean regime.

While Christianity has experienced immense growth throughout South Korea and other Asian countries, human rights groups estimate that there are 50,000 to 70,000 Christian prisoners in North Korea, which has routinely made the U.S. State Department's list of "countries of particular concern" when it comes to religious freedom.

"Though this brutal dictator, who was responsible for so many atrocities, has died, the future is still unknown. Some speculate that his son Kim Jong Un will be just as cruel to all dissenters. Others suggest that he may be more lenient. We simply do not know," said Carl Moeller, President an CEO of Open Doors USA, which monitors the persecution of Christians in dozens of nations.

"This is why it is vital that Christians around the world pray for North Korea during this transitional time. Pray especially for the brave Christians inside North Korea. They are fearful that they might face even more suffering," he said.

Because of the country's political and cultural isolation and government-controlled media, statistics on its religious breakdown vary. Self-reporting from the North Korean government to a United Nations Human Rights Commission in 2002 said there were 12,000 Protestants, 10,000 Buddhists, and 800 Catholics in the nation of 24 million people. South Korean and international organizations have made much higher estimates. A report on global Christianity that the Pew Forum released Monday estimates that there are 480,000 Christians in North Korea.

For eight years, North Korea has held the top spot on Open Doors' list of nations with the worst treatment of Christians. Total estimates of those imprisoned for religious and other reasons put North Korean political prisoners at 150,000 to 200,000, according to the U.S. State Department.

More common than religion is the cult of personality around the nation's founder, "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung, and his son and now late "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il. The North Korean idea of "juche," or self-reliance, is a popular motivating force that is taught in schools.

In a press release, Open Doors, which keeps discreet contact with Christians in the nation, quoted a source named "Simon" who said that religious persecution is getting worse, not better.

"Since Kim Jong Un came closer to the helm, North Korea has stepped up its attempts to uncover any religious activities. There have been more house raids, more spies trained to infiltrate religious and human rights networks and one South Korean Christian who was murdered in China because he helped refugees," said Simon.

religious organizations, such as the World Evangelical Alliance, are more optimistic about the current situation. Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, took a similar view Monday(Source).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christian Activist Killed In India

12/16/2011 India (BosNewsLife)-A prominent rights activist of India's main umbrella group of evangelical churches has been killed by suspected Hindu hardliners in the volatile state of Orissa, local Christians confirmed to BosNewsLife, Friday December 16. Rabindra Kumar Parichha of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) was reportedly killed late Thursday, December 15, in the town of Bhanjanagar in Orissa's Ganjam District.

Christians said Parichha was found with his throat cut and there were signs he had been shot in his stomach.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the killing, but missionary Markose K J, of the Catholic 'Montfort Missionaries' order, told BosNewsLife that the killing came amid threats by Hindu hardliners.
Manoj Pradhan, an Orissa legislator and leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party (BJP), and followers were seen moving into several villages. They allegedly threatened to kill all Christian leaders in Orissa's Kandhamal district, where over 100 people died in anti-Christian violence since August 2008.

There was no immediate comment from Pradhan, who has been investigated by prosecutors for his alleged involvement in arson and murder of local Christians. Paricha was one of EFI's leading advocates on behalf of Orissa Christians, including survivors of the recent violence.

Paricha was the third Christian leader to be killed in Orissa this year. Pastor Saul Pradhan of Banjamaha village was Orissa's first known Christian murdered in 2011, according to rights activists(Read More).

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pakistan: Thousands Protest Shoes Bearing Cross

1. Muslims are once again showing their hatred for the cross as Paul experienced in his day (1 Corinthians 1:18)

2. It seems like the Christmas holidays are open season on my brethren in Christ Jesus.
12/18/2011 Pakistan (UCAN)-More than three thousand angry Christians held a protest rally in Lahore yesterday condemning sale of shoes incorporating Christian crosses. Some Muslim leaders joined the protestors, who were wearing black armbands and headbands. Chanting anti government slogans, they burned tires on the road.The protest ended after pastors led hymn singing.

“This is no drama. Our Christian identity has been insulted as Christmas approaches”, said Pastor Samuel King, president of the Pakistan Minorities Movement (PMM).

The group had previously confiscated 1,200 pairs of shoes, inscribed with a cross and Christmas symbols, from a shop. Its owner was arrested on November 26 but freed by police after three days.

Kanwal Feroz, chief editor of a Christian monthly, also demanded action for blasphemy. “Deliberate or not; this action has hurt the minority community which severely bore the burnt of the blasphemy laws”, he said.
Christians say implementation of Islamic laws of apostasy and blasphemy in the constitution have victimized minorities on basis of business rivalry and personal grudges. However, debate against the controversial laws ended this year after the murder of the Catholic federal minister of minorities.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

UK Gov’t Won’t Support Persecuted Christian’s Case In Europe

It seems like the government in the United Kingdom is getting more and more hostile to Christianity:

12/16/2011 UK (The Christian Institute)-Lillian Ladele, a Christian registrar who was disciplined for her stance on civil partnerships, will not receive the backing of the UK Government when her case reaches Europe. Miss Ladele’s case is one of a quartet of religious liberty cases involving Christians that are set to appear before the European Court of Human Rights. The Government has decided not to support any of the four Christians in Europe, instead backing previous rulings from British courts.

Supporters of Miss Ladele say there were plenty of registrars at Islington Council who could have easily provided a civil partnership service without requiring her involvement.They say there could have been a ‘reasonable accommodation’ of her religious beliefs that would not have affected service delivery. Two of the other cases heading to Europe involve Christians who wanted to wear a cross at work.

Nadia Eweida wanted to wear a small cross on the outside of her uniform, but bosses at British Airways ordered her to hide it. And Shirley Chaplin was told by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust that she could not wear a cross around her neck while she worked on hospital wards. The other case involves Gary McFarlane, a Christian counsellor who was sacked because he did not want to give sex advice to homosexual couples.

The Government, in 40 pages of legal arguments, said the UK was “entitled to conclude” that “other than in limited prescribed circumstances, religious belief does not justify discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation”.

It also said that the Christians were not protected because neither wearing a cross nor following their conscience at work was a core requirement of their faith.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Somali Muslims In Kenya Attack Another Christian

12/13/2011 Somalia (CDN)-Young Muslim men of Somali descent beat a 23-year-old Somali Christian unconscious last week in Kenya, less than six weeks after a related gang attacked his older brother.
Ibrahim, 23, whose surname is withheld for security reasons, was beaten by seven Somalis born in Kenya who stopped him near his home in an undisclosed town at about 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 5, he told Compass. His family was presumably Muslim when he was born, so the gang beat him as an “apostate” even though he later had been raised as a Christian, his family said.

He had gone out to buy food for the family, but heavy rains delayed his return. When Ibrahim refused to heed their orders to stop, they began to rough him up, and he heard one of the assailants say, “This is one of the guys we have been looking for, and today we have found him – we did not succeed in killing your brother, but today we are going to kill you.” The young men began hitting him from every side, he said.

“A blunt object hit my knee, and immediately I fell down,” he said. “There were several blows that injured my left eye. While on the ground the gang continued hitting me on my head as well as my leg. From that time on I did not know what happened next. I only remember shouting and crying for help. Later I found myself at our house with the rest of the family members.”

Area residents were able to stop the beating and took him home, he later learned. When Compass met with him two days after the attack, a knee injury on one leg and bruises and swelling on the other kept him from walking. His left eye looked red, and he said he could not see well.

“I feel dizzy, and my memory has been affected,” he said. “I cannot turn my head; the pain all over my body is numbing.”

On Oct. 27 a related gang attacked Ibrahim’s brother, 25-year-old Hassan, as they had learned that the entire family had become Christian (See, “Somali Muslims Cut, Beat Christian Unconscious in Kenya,” Nov. 4). Police arrested two of the attackers, but they were released without charges after allegedly accepting a bribe of 10,000 Kenyan shillings (US$110), according to the young men’s mother. The Christian woman, whose name is withheld for security reasons, said police reported that the two suspects escaped from custody.

“We have information that the two who are alleged to have escaped from prison are in Nyeri,” a town in central Kenya near Mt. Kenya about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Nairobi, she said.

The Somali neighbors in Kenya who had attacked Hassan left him for dead, bleeding and naked, Like his younger brother, Hassan had been returning home from running errands when six young Muslim men hit him with a metal bar on his forehead and face, he said; he lost two teeth. They also wounded his hands with a knife. The attackers stripped him of his clothes as he bled and dragged him away, dumping him at the entrance of an area Presbyterian Church of East Africa(Read More).

‘Tis The Season…To Attack Christian Faith

11/30/2011 United States (The Washington Post) - It is the holidays - a time for friends and family to gather to celebrate Christmas and Thanksgiving - and it is once again time for atheist groups to roll out their latest attack on Christianity. This year’s chosen anti-Christian theme seems to be directed specifically at cross displays in the military or any vestige of Christian faith associated with honoring those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Just before Thanksgiving, the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (MAAF) launched an assault on a 13-foot cross that was erected by U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton in California to commemorate the memory of their fallen comrades - fellow heroes who died in Iraq.  MAAF’s assault this Christmas doesn’t stop with this one cross; they take aim at a whole laundry list of other symbols of sacrifice meant to honor fallen heroes. As MAAF explained, “The Camp Pendleton cross is just one of many. The Mt. Soledad Cross, the Mojave Desert Cross, the Montana Jesus statue, and the Utah state trooper crosses are all examples.”

Just a few weeks ago, it was Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) -- another atheist group opposed to any public Christian display -- that attempted to remove a World War II memorial statue of Jesus from Big Mountain in Montana, calling this nearly 60-year-old war memorial erected by members of the 10th Mountain division “a ruse and a sham.”

Now, the U.S. Army has ordered the removal of a cross from a military chapel at a base in Afghanistan - a symbol of sacrifice that soldiers at the base considered an “inspiring symbol.” American Atheists -- the group suing to stop the inclusion of the Ground Zero Cross in a 9/11 museum, saying Christians are using it to “exploit” 9/11 -- and MAAF claim that this move was required for the military to remain “neutral.” Yet, as I told Fox News, what these atheist groups truly want is to remove all the evidence of our Christian heritage from the military. Interestingly, the same individual I debated on Fox News last week regarding the cross at the Afghanistan base, who is the Vice President of American Atheists, happens to also be the founder of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers. Notice a trend?
 The founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation “estimates that about 88 percent of the U.S. military is either protestant or Catholic” and NPR reports “that 40 percent of active duty personnel are evangelical Christians.” Christians should be proud of these statistics and those activists launching attacks on any vestige of Christian symbolism in the military would be well-advised to appreciate the tremendous voluntary sacrifice the Christians who makeup the overwhelming majority of our armed forces are willing to make to protect our country.

Rather than praise the Christians who make our all volunteer military the second largest in the world, these atheists and anti-evangelical crusaders want to tear down memorial crosses, dispose of 60 year old statues, and prevent St. Augustine’s landmark Just War Theory from being used to educate adult servicemen and women(Source).

Monday, December 12, 2011

UK Gov’t Won’t Back Christians Fighting For Their Rights

12/10/2011 UK (Mail Online)-The Government was slammed last night for refusing to support a group of Christians fighting for their rights in the European courts. Four individuals who have been disciplined at work or lost their jobs after refusing to remove crosses or to conform to gay rights laws are attempting to overturn the decisions of British courts and tribunal.

They had hoped for support from Ministers after a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron on their behalf But the Government told the European Court of Human Rights that it backed the British judges and does not accept that the Christians have suffered discrimination.

To the dismay of Lord Carey, the Government even said that wearing a cross or a crucifix was not a ‘generally recognised’ Christian practice – even though Church leaders say it is a hugely significant symbol.
Lord Carey said: ‘I am very disappointed for the individuals concerned who have simply followed their conscience.

‘Such is the result of a liberal establishment that has become deeply illiberal.’

In landmark hearings, the court in Strasbourg is to consider the cases of Shirley Chaplin, a Devon nurse banned from working on the wards after she failed to hide a cross she had worn since the age of 16, and Nadia Eweida, a check-in clerk for British Airways who was told to remove her small crucifix at work.

The European judges will also examine the cases of Relate counsellor Gary MacFarlane, who was sacked after suggesting he would refuse to provide sexual therapy to gay couples, and registrar Lilian Ladele, who was disciplined by Islington council in North London after refusing to officiate at civil partnership ceremonies.

Even the Government’s own watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has told the European Court that the British courts have failed to protect the rights of some believers.
Christian lawyers say the rights of the four to express their beliefs at work should be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, which allows individuals to ‘manifest’ their faith in public.
But the Government, in 40 pages of legal arguments drawn up by the Foreign Office, said they were not protected because neither wearing a cross nor following their conscience at work was a core requirement of their faith.
It said that even if the European Court did decide that Ms Eweida and Mrs Chaplin could wear crosses, employers could overrule this because of health and safety rules banning jewellery at work. It also denied that the rights of Ms Lidele and Mr MacFarlane had been breached, arguing that they could have resigned rather than stay in jobs where they had to carry out tasks that were against their beliefs. The Government added: ‘The UK is entitled to conclude ... that other than in limited prescribed circumstances, religious belief does not justify discriminating on grounds of sexual orientation.’

But the Christian Legal Centre, backed by Lord Carey and former Anglican Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, says the visible wearing of the cross or crucifix is ‘clearly an aspect’ of the practice of the Christian religion. The centre’s head Andrea Williams said: ‘Sharing faith in the public square goes to the centre, the heart, of a Christian’s life and belief – it’s who they are(Source).

My Coptic brethren in Christ brace themselves for domination of Sharia in Egypt

Fears and worries murmur like prayers beneath the hammered crosses of the Church of the Virgin Mary.

"The whole country will collapse," says Shenouda Nasri.

"I'm trying to get my family out," says Samir Ramsis.

"This is the Islamists' time," says George Saied.

A caretaker sweeps the stones, a woman slips into a pew. But these days Egypt's minority Coptic Christians are finding little serenity. Islamist political candidates, including puritanical Salafis, are dominating parliamentary elections. Sectarianism is intensifying and the patriotic veneer that unified Egyptians in overthrowing longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak is threatened by ultraconservative Muslim clerics whose divisive voices had been suppressed by the state for decades.

"Our goal is to achieve an Islamic caliphate with Islamic sharia rules," Mohamed Zoghbi, a hard-line Salafi preacher, said this year on TV. "If Egypt becomes a caliphate, then the Middle East and Arab countries will follow our path. All Muslim youth should strive and die to build this caliphate even over their own bodies."

Copts are now anxiously watching a theological and political battle sharpen between Muslim parties that are expected to win at least 60% of parliamentary seats after the final round of elections in January. The struggle between the Salafis and the more moderate and popular Muslim Brotherhood will define an emerging political Islam and how deeply religion will be ingrained in public life.

That unresolved question is one of the most contentious in Islam. It has been energized as uprisings across the region have upended despots, leaving fertile ground for untested political voices that would have been unimaginable just months ago. It is a seminal moment for an Arab world that appears, at least for now, determined to reinvent failed secular governments through what clerics regard as the purifying prism of Islam.

"The Islamists have been unleashed," says Nasri, a pharmacist hoping to follow the lead of tens of thousands of Copts who have left Egypt this year. "You're talking about no rights for women. No rights for Coptic Christians. They'll make us more of a minority. It'll be like living centuries ago." (Read more)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Persecution of Iraqi Christians Likely to Intensify Amid Christmas Season

12/7/2011 Iraq (Christian Post) – The life of Iraqi Christians has not been easy. Since a siege directed against Christians in Baghdad in October 2010 killed 52 people, the situation of the followers of Christ in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation has grown worse. About 500,000 Christians remain in Iraq, down from an estimated 800,000 to 1.4 million in 2003, according to a report by Minority Rights Group International, a research body. Persecution makes the Christian community smaller each year, with churches as well as households being targeted and causing worshippers to flee.

The Christmas holiday season has rarely been a happy one for Christians in the Middle East, where they are often not allowed to raise church buildings and house churches often experience raids and harassment. Experts on the region say the Christmas season is a particularly dangerous period for the Christian minority, when numerous acts of violence and vandalism take place. The most recent of such attacks in Iraq occurred on Dec. 2, when at least 25 people, many of them Christian, were wounded in an attack carried out by a group of Kurds in the Dohuk Governate in the north of the country.

Dozens of young Kurds – men who reportedly had been "instigated" by Muslim clerics – attacked several small businesses in Zakho, a city that at various times served as a checkpoint on the border with Turkey, according to a CNN report. The news network claims the attackers were targeting "a number of tourist facilities, especially facilities owned by ... Christians and Yazidis." (Yazidis are one of Iraq's smallest religious minorities, their beliefs draw from Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.)

A local Kurdish leader reportedly said that authorities made "a major effort" to prevent the "acts of sabotage, but they could not." Several police officers were among those wounded.

"I denounce these inhumane and illegal acts, and I call on the people of Kurdistan to respect the national, religious and sectarian coexistence and take it as a basic goal for them to live together peacefully," Massoud Barzani, the president of the Iraq's Kurdistan autonomous region, told CNN at the time. The Wall Street Journal reported on the situation of Christians from Iraq in a Monday feature, calling the public's attention to another factor that is stirring the situation in the region – the democratic uprisings spreading across the Middle East.

“With the Arab Spring now bringing political turbulence to many other countries in the region, Christians throughout the Middle East are worried that what happened in Iraq may be a harbinger of misfortune to come in their own communities. While many remain supporters of the uprisings, others fear that the toppling of their autocratic rulers could uncork sectarian violence against Christians and other minority groups in their own nations," the WSJ's Sam Dagher wrote.

Iraqi Christians are caught amidst political brawls between the majority Shiite Muslims, the Sunni Muslims and the Kurds (in the north) who are predominantly Muslim, experts say. At least 54 Iraqi churches have been bombed and at least 905 Christians killed in various acts of violence since the U.S. invasion toppled Hussein in 2003, WSJ reported(Source).

Muslim Mob Burns Down Church Targeted By Police In Ethiopia

The Quran commands Muslims to persecute Christians:

Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.  Sura 9:29

O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them, their abode is Hell, - and worst indeed is that destination. Sura 9:73

Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah's Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. Sura 9:111

 Muhammad (SAW) is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. Sura 48:29

Sahih Muslim 33- It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat and if they do it, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah

Sahih Muslim 30- It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah

Therefore we shouldn't be surprise when Muslims burn down churches as we see in this article:
12/09/2011 Ethiopia (The Christian Post)-A recently erected church was burned in southern Ethiopia on Nov. 29 by a group of over 500 Muslim students allegedly supported by local police, four days after local Muslim authorities ordered demolition of the building, human rights watchdog International Christian Concern (ICC) reported Thursday.

The Saint Arsema Orthodox Church in the village of Qoto Baloso in Silte Province found itself entangled in conflict between the Muslim population, predominant in the region, and the minority Christians community.
On Nov. 25, police tore down the church’s roof, following a dispute started by a Muslim businessman who claimed he owned the piece of land, ICC's regional manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, told The Christian Post Friday.

The Christian community has been using the land for holding service for the past 60 years, and in a recent decision, the Supreme Court of the South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) (a counterpart of a state supreme court) ruled the community had a right to build its temple there.
However, a local court ruled that the building was erected without proper authorization, head of police in Silte Province told ICC.

Chief of Qebet district police, Hassan Shomolo, has a reputation for anti-Christian attitude, the agency said. So does Judge Daro Jamal, who reportedly issued the order for the police chief to deploy 30 officers on the night of Nov. 25 to demolish the church. The law enforcement only managed to damage the roof, as local Christians began protesting. On Nov. 29, a group of more than 500 Muslim students poured gasoline on the building and burned it in broad daylight, Racho said. The police chief told ICC the incident is being investigated.

Statistically, Christians are a majority in Ethiopia. The country population consists of 43.5 percent of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians and 18.6 percent of Protestants, with a significant minority of 33.9 percent Muslims, according to data from the U.S. Department of State. However, the particular region where Saint Arsema Orthodox Church is located is dominated by the followers of Islam.

“All the government officials in the area are Muslims. The Islamic religion has become the state religion in our region,” a local member of the Christian community told ICC. “The non-Muslims in the area live and worship in fear. How could we say there is a rule of law when the police come into a church in the middle of the night and demolish it?”

In June, an Ethiopian court sentenced 579 Muslim extremists to between three and 18 months in prison for violence against Christians that lasted an entire week beginning March 2, 2011, which included church burnings and personal assaults.

Racho told CP that the recent incident is proof of growing Islamization of Ethiopia, resulting from an influx of Wahhabi Muslims, a branch of Islam coming from Saudi Arabia, who have been violent not only against Christians, but even other Muslims(Source).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christian Employee Fired By Macy’s After Refusing To Comply With “Transgender” Policy

And the American persecution of my brethren in Christ continues:

12/5/2011 United States (Liberty Counsel) - A young woman was fired from the Macy's San Antonio Rivercenter department store in Texas for refusing to violate her religious beliefs by permitting a young man dressed as a woman from entering the women’s dressing room.

Natalie Johnson claims she saw the young man walk out of the women’s fitting room and politely told him that he could not go back in because it was for women only. The cross-dressing young man claimed that he is a “female.” Johnson said that he was wearing make-up and girl’s clothing, but clearly he was a male. The cross-dresser was accompanied by five other individuals. The group argued with expletives that Macy’s is LGBT-friendly, to which Johnson replied that Macy’s is also non-discriminatory toward religion, and that it would go against her religious beliefs to lie that he was a woman or compromise with homosexuality. The group then demanded to speak with a manager.

 When Johnson was confronted by her employer, she explained that she could not allow a male to change in a female’s fitting room. Johnson’s boss referred her to Macy’s LGBT policy which allows “transgender” people to change in any dressing room they want.

However, Johnson pointed out that the same policy also protects against religious discrimination and, in this case, it protects her right to her beliefs that were being violated. The manager demanded that she comply with the LGBT policies or lose her job. Johnson refused to go against her sincerely held religious beliefs and was terminated from her job(Source).

I praise the Lord Jesus Christ for my sister-in-Christ willingness to stick by her religious convictions.  I pray that the Lord Jesus gives us the same strength as well if we are faced with a similar situation.

Family Of Convert In Pakistan Seeks To Track Him Down

The Hadith commands Muslims to kill those who leave Islam:

 Sahih al-Bukhari 6922Allah’s Messenger said, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”

Therefore we should be unsurprised when this man's family is trying to kill him for turning to the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior
12/08/2011 Pakistan (CDN)-When Malik Pauloos of Bhakkar district, Punjab Province finally decided to trust a close relative with the secret that he had left Islam for Christianity, there was no question in his relative’s mind that Pauloos’ relationship with the family was over.

The family had been custodian of an Islamic shrine, the Pir Syed Karamat Shah in Kot Islam, for three generations. Though Pauloos had moved to Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province, 20 years ago to start a scrap business, he had continued fulfilling his duty to prepare the shrine for annual pilgrimages – but after he withdrew from it over time upon his conversion, shrine leaders were asking pointed questions about his adherence to Islam.

“I told him [the relative] to get the shrine people off my back, because I did not want to keep any point of contact with my past life,” Pauloos, 36, told Compass. “Although shocked, my relative said that he would first try and make my family understand the situation, and then they could figure out a way of letting me walk away peacefully.”

Pauloos did not realize that, beyond disowning him, his family would file a police complaint against him because – as a murtad or apostate deserving death – he was said to have committed “blasphemy.” With authorities’ help, family members are trying to track him down, he said.

Days before his baptism in September, a Pashtun scrap dealer heard about his conversion. A couple of Christians the dealer and Pauloos knew were sitting at the dealer’s shop when they started discussing the United States, whose relations with Pakistan have hit new lows in the past few months.

“The Pashtun man proudly claimed that many Americans were converting to Islam, but he was in for a big surprise when the Christians told him that I, a [formerly] devout Muslim, have been actively participating in church activities and had recently converted,” Pauloos said.

The Pashtun trader immediately conveyed the information to Pauloos’ family, and he received a call from one of his cousins, an engineer, who asked him to return to Punjab and explain.

“I told him I could not come back because of my business in Karachi, but he kept insisting that I should return to Bhakkar and deny reports that I had converted,” Pauloos said. “He then started threatening me that if I didn’t return home within three days, they would spread the news and even put the police after me on blasphemy charges. I told him that the threats were meaningless to me. He put down the phone, but before doing so he said that I would be responsible for the consequences.”

The next day his father put up a notice in local newspapers disowning him, he said.

“I called my cousin and told him that now that they had disowned me, they should know that I had indeed become a Christian and would not renounce Christ even if they killed me,” he said. Pauloos said that he left his business last month and came to Punjab, where he has been traveling from one city to another sharing his experience of Christ.

Baptized in September after spending more than 10 years learning about the Christian faith, Pauloos said he does not regret trusting in Christ as Savior even though he has lost a comfortable life and a successful business and his Muslim family and friends are in hot pursuit to “kill the apostate.” Family members had begun to grow suspicious when they heard that he was regularly seen in the company of
Christian pastors and was avoiding the Islamic shrine and its spiritual head, Baba Raees.

“In fact, Raees had also expressed concern over my lack of interest in the shrine’s activities over the years and had asked one of my cousins to investigate why I wasn’t taking his calls,” Pauloos said. “Fearing that my disclosure would imperil the lives of all Christians connected with me, I told my family that I was keeping contact with the Christians to understand their faith, and that this was merely an education for me. I did not want my family to know that I had lost confidence in Islam and wanted to walk away from the faith of my elders.”

In an attempt to dispel the impression that he had become “murtad,” he visited the shrine one final time in 2010.
“Raees and other people made repeated attempts to judge whether I was still a Muslim or had renounced my faith, but I gave them the same reason that I had given to my family,” he said. “In September this year, I got baptized in Faisalabad. The whole affair was kept a secret because of the security situation in Pakistan.”

A relative told him that his family and Muslims associated with the shrine were using their influence to send the police after him, he said. “They have publicly announced that I would have to pay for my ‘crime,’ but even death will not deter me from giving up my Christian walk,” he said.

When he told his Christian friends of the threats on his life, many suggested that he relocate to another country, he said, but he told them he would neither leave Pakistan nor yield to the demands of hostile Muslims.

“I will serve the Lord in my country even if it means putting my life on the line,” he said(Keep reading).

If you want to learn more about apostasy and Islam, here's a video from a brother in Christ Jesus concerning it:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ethiopian Police And Muslim Students Demolish Church

The Quran commands Muslims to persecute Christians:

Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.  Sura 9:29

O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Strive hard against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be harsh against them, their abode is Hell, - and worst indeed is that destination. Sura 9:73

Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah's Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed. Sura 9:111

 Muhammad (SAW) is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. Sura 48:29

Sahih Muslim 33- It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat and if they do it, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah

Sahih Muslim 30- It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah

Therefore we should be unsurprised when Muslims commit atrocities against our Ethiopian brethren in Christ Jesus as seen in the article below. What surprising is that the Police are joining in on helping these Muslims.

Washington, D.C. (December 8, 2011) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on November 29 more than 500 Muslim students, accompanied by Muslim police officials, burned down a church in the village of Qoto Baloso, Silte province, Ethiopia. The church was burned down after the police destroyed its roof four days earlier. The Muslim students screamed, “Allahu Akbar!” and “Jihad!” as they poured gasoline and burned the Saint Arsema Orthodox Church.

The head of police in Silte Province, Inspector Mustefa Bashir, told ICC, “The police demolished the church’s roof after a court ruled that the church was built without proper authorization and therefore had to be demolished. Concerning the burning of the church by the students, we are investigating to determine those who are responsible for the attack.”

A source reported to ICC that Hassan Shomolo, a chief of Qebet district police, deployed more than 30 police officers to destroy the church. The police managed to only demolish the roof of the church because Christians in the area protested. The source reported that the police received the order for demolishing the church from Judge Daro Jamal, the Muslim president of Qebet district court. According to the source, Hassan Shomolo and Daro Jamal are known for their anti-Christian bias.

The church is built on land that the Christian community has used to conduct ceremonies for over 60 years. The Supreme Court of the South Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPRS) had previously ruled in favor of the church when a Muslim businessman claimed ownership of the land.

All the government officials in the area are Muslims. The Islamic religion has become the state religion in our region. The non-Muslims in the area live and worship in fear. How could we say that there is a rule of law when the police come into a church in the middle of the night and demolish it?” said a Christian who lives in the area of the attack.

ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, Jonathan Racho, said, “The actions of the Muslim police as well as the Muslim students show the growing Islamization of Ethiopia. We urge the Ethiopian government to stop gross violations of the rights of Christian minorities in areas of the country dominated by Muslims.”

Please call the Ethiopian embassy in your country and ask the officials to bring the responsible police officials and Muslim students to justice. Ethiopian Embassies: USA (202) 364-1200, Canada 416 482 6637, Germany 030-77-20-60, UK 020 78383897/020 7838 3898 (Source)