Sunday, September 30, 2012

Michigan Police to Answer in Court for “Stoning” of Christians

On the one hand this is shocking, but given that this is also the state where my brothers and my sister in Christ were arrested in 2010, it doesn't surprise me that the persecution against Christians here has gotten so bad.

09/30/2012 United States (WND) - Hundreds of angry Muslims threw chunks of concrete and eggs at a team of Christians, spraying them with urine and cursing at them – all while police stood by and then threatened the victims with “disorderly conduct.”
Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Somalia?
No. Dearborn, Michigan.

So now a team of attorneys from the American Freedom Law Center is going to court on behalf of the victims of the violent Muslim mob at the Arab International Festival last June, an attack that was captured on video. The federal civil rights complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan names as defendants officials from the Wayne County sheriff’s office who “sided with the Muslim mob intent on suppressing the Christians’ speech.”

The complaint explains authorities not only failed to protect the Christians, they ordered them to leave the Arab Festival under threat of arrest for “disorderly conduct.”

However, not one Muslim was arrested for the attack that left several members of the Christian group bloodied, the complaint states.

Among the defendants is Deputy Chief Mike Jaafar, a Muslim who was featured in the now-canceled show “All American Muslim,” which appeared on The Learning Channel.
As WND reported, the crowd can be heard chanting “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “Allah is the greatest!”– on the video.

It shows the crowd – reminiscent of a rock-throwing “intifada” scene from the Middle East – hurling a dizzying barrage of objects at the Christians standing passively with their signs, causing some injuries.

WND later learned that the Christian crowd had been carrying a pole with a pig’s head attached to the top, further angering the Muslim crowd. At the beginning of the video, Christian street preachers shout, “God is good, and God is not Allah(Source)!”

China: House Church Raided, Four Christians Detained

 09/28/2012 China (ChinaAid) - China Aid Association learned that on the afternoon of September 13, 2012, a house church in Kucha, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was raided and suppressed by the local police and agencies in charge of civil affairs, religious affairs, etc., and the church service was forced to stop. Four Christian brothers and sisters were taken to the police station; property including Bibles, Bible study material, computers, and cellphones were confiscated. Christian brothers and sisters attending the service were threatened, verbally abused, and intimidated.

According to sister Luo who attends this house church, the church has approximately thirty attendees. Some local government agencies harshly persecute house churches, making it especially difficult for believers to gather and worship God on Sundays, so they usually gather at sister Luo’s home after 4pm every Thursday to study the Bible, to preach from it, and to sing worship songs. The meeting held on Thursday afternoon September 13th caught the attention of the authorities because three teachers came in from Urumqi to teach the Bible. Less than an hour after their meeting started, about 15 to 16 people forced their way into sister Luo’s home, including officials and staff from the local Religious Affairs Bureau, the Civil Affairs Bureau, Office 610, the police station, and the community management agency.

As they forced their way into her house, they immediately declared the meeting to be illegal without showing any legal papers, and claimed that all house churches are cults and heretical. They demanded the ID cards of everyone present and took them by force. They searched the room and confiscated computers, cellphones, Bibles, Bible study materials, notebooks, hymnbooks, etc. Finally, they took four Christian brothers and sisters (including Luo) to the Civil Affairs Bureau for questioning, and kept them there until very late at night. Of all the items that had been confiscated, only three Bibles were returned.

On the next day, sister Luo went to the Civil Affairs Bureau to demand the return of the rest of the confiscated items, and was told that computers and other items were kept at the police station, so she went to the police station but only got back a few people’s cellphones, ID cards, and computers. None of the Bible commentaries, Bible study notebooks, nor hymnbooks, which were alleged to be “illegal material” were returned by the police.

After the invasion of the church at her house took place, she turned to the “Three-Self” Church for help, but the pastor and elders actively avoided her and they were too frightened to even meet with her, fearing that she would bring trouble to their church. Sister Luo had believed wholeheartedly that believers were family to one another, but when the “Three-Self” Church did not (or dared not) utter a sound while brothers and sisters of house churches were persecuted, it made her feel very disappointed and helpless(Source).

Texas Cheerleaders Banned from Using Scripture Receive Support

09/29/2012 United States (The Christian Post) - Cheerleaders of an East Texas high school, who were banned from making banners with Bible verses for the football team to run through before games, have received the backing of Attorney General Greg Abott a week after a judge temporarily lifted the censorship.

Abott, a Republican, told Kountze Independent School District in a letter that stopping the practice of running through the banners with Bible verses at games was "erroneous" and that "the Supreme Court has never ruled that religion must be 'kept out' of public schools," according to The Texas Tribune.
Abott wrote on Thursday that the Freedom From Religion Foundation's threat to sue the district for "offending" non-Christians and non-believers was "menacing and misleading."

Superintendent Kevin Weldon banned the gametime ritual after legal advisers at the Texas Association of School Boards told him that the demand of the national atheist organization was in line with legal precedent. The Wisconsin-based Foundation had asked for "immediate action to stop the religious banners from being part of school-sponsored events," claiming it is "illegal for a public school to organize, sponsor or lead religious messages at school athletic events(Source)."

Child killed in explosive attack on church in Kenya

The acting police chief in Kenya's capital says an explosive device set off in a Sunday school class killed one child and seriously wounded three. Moses Ombati said he suspects sympathizers with the Somali militant group al-Shabab were behind the attack at an Anglican church in Nairobi.

Kenya has seen a series of attacks on churches ever since Kenyan forces moved into Somalia to fight al-Shabab last year. Kenyan forces kicked the rebels out of their last stronghold, Kismayo, on Friday.
Grenades are often used in the attacks; Ombati is describing the cause of Sunday's attack as an explosive device.

One church member, Julius Macharia Maina, brought four children to the hospital. One child's head was cut open; the others had bruises. Maina described the attack "emotional and very scary(Source)."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chinese Congregation Faces Persecution but Presses On

09/25/2012 China (Baptist Press)- The first time the government had them evicted from their rented building, they worshiped outside in a blizzard. When the police started arresting them at their outdoor services, they came back faithfully each Sunday. When their leadership was placed under house arrest and some of them were pressured to quit their jobs, they endured.

They are Shouwang Church in Beijing, a congregation that has refused official registration. For years they have absorbed the abuses of a government opposed to their belief in Jesus Christ as head of the church. Shouwang now has ventured into legal efforts to secure a regular place of worship.

"The Chinese Communist Party is always afraid of any form of organization independent from the control of the central government," said Mark Shan, news analyst for ChinaAid, a group that monitors religious freedom and has chronicled Shouwang Church's struggles.

In China, only churches registered as part of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement are considered legal. But registration brings government restrictions on evangelism, Sunday School, baptizing teens and children and other activities. In addition, ChinaAid's founder and president, Bob Fu, says government-appointed leaders, many of whom are Communist Party members, are at the helm of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

Church's refusal to place itself under the yoke of government regulators has earned it and its roughly 1,000 members consistent harassment from authorities. In November 2009, according to the church, the government had the church evicted from its rented building, forcing members to worship outside twice before they received "tacit" consent to return indoors. But authorities continued to thwart efforts by the church to rent or buy a meeting place, so beginning on April 10, 2011, Shouwang decided to return to outdoor worship until they received official permission to meet indoors.

During the church's first service, police arrested more than 160 members. For 17 months since then, Shouwang has continued to worship outdoors, and police have consistently arrested and detained scores of believers.

Shan says most arrested church members are released within a few days, but some are terrorized verbally and physically by the police. During interrogations, Shouwang members have even faced representatives of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement who try to sway the church members with theological arguments.

"The church never gives in," Shan said. "Every Sunday, believers try very hard to go to the worship location, and they get arrested. They get detained, put in police stations and released. Every Sunday this kind of thing is repeated(Source)."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bibles Burned, Christians Attacked in Attempt at Forced Conversion

Stay strong my Indian brethren in Christ

09/24/2012 India ( Two new anti-Christian incidents were recorded, at a one day interval, in the state of Karnataka. In both cases, Pentecostal Christians were the victims, attacked in the privacy of their homes, when ultranationalist Hindus tried to force them to forswear their Christian faith.

For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), it is increasingly clear that the incidents "are orchestrated" because "in Karnataka and in other states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), religion and politics go hand in hand and are used to gain as many votes as possible." The ultranationalist Hindu party has been in power in the state since 2007.

The latest case was recorded yesterday in Gudadahalli Hearaghatta (north of Bangalore). Two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS ) activists infiltrated a prayer meeting held at the Pentecostal Church led by Rev Muniraju. After the start of the service, an additional eight RSS members burst into the place.
In the church, they burnt or tore up all the Bibles and religious documents found. They also slapped and beat up the clergyman.

To intimidate the community, they dragged him and his five to a Hindu temple, about a kilometre away, where they forced the couple to take part in a pooja, a Hindu rite. Before they let them go, the attacked warned them against holding more prayer services. Two days earlier, on Friday, the Bethel Prathanalaya Pentecostal Church, near Bhadravathi, Shimoga District, was attacked in the same fashion.

The community of 25 is led by Rev Kumar Hanumanthappa. On that day, the members had travelled to the neighbouring village Voddarahalli Thanda, guests of five local families. About 20 RSS and Bajrang Dal activists stormed the prayer services, telling those present they would suffer "terrible consequences" if they continued to practice Christianity.

After beating some of those present and burning some of the Bibles, the Hindus forced the entire community to walk to the nearest Hindu temple to take part in their religion's 'purification' ceremony. Once they were able to go home, some of the Christians stopped at the Holehonnur police station to file a formal complaint. However, no one has yet to be arrested in connection with the case(Source).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Christian Bed and Breakfast Owner Sued For Refusing Gay Couple

9/18/2012 United Kingddom (The Christian Institute) - A Christian bed and breakfast owner appeared in court yesterday after being sued by a homosexual couple. The case began after Susanne Wilkinson refused to let Michael Black and John Morgan share a double room at her B&B in 2010. Mrs Wilkinson, 56, says her faith is not restricted to Sundays and that it affects “every area” of her day-to-day life.

After the case first hit the headlines Mrs Wilkinson and her husband were inundated with hate mail, including a hand-delivered note threatening to torch their house. Mrs Wilkinson, whose case was heard at Reading County Court yesterday, said: “All we ever wanted was to be able to live and work in keeping with our faith.

“Christianity isn’t just something we do in church on a Sunday – it affects every area of our life, including our home and our business. Surely there is room for that in modern British life.” Mrs Wilkinson, who runs the Swiss B&B in Cookham, is being supported by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund(Source).

Earthquakes in China Opening Closed Doors to the Gospel

Let's hope my Chinese brethren take this opportunity to preach the Gospel, this could be their chance to see a huge number of people come to Christ.

09/13/2012 China (Charisma News)- Record rainfall is making a bad situation even worse in southwest China. Earthquakes hit a mountainous region late last week, killing at least 80 people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Now, massive rains are triggering flooding and landslides in the quake zone, and survivors' "trauma tolerance" might be pushed to the limit.

"After a traumatic event like this, you're always gonna have questions. You're always gonna have fears," said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response (BGR). The ministry has already sent more than $25,000 of supplies to the area. BGR teams are on the ground, pointing stressed survivors to the only One who can calm their anxiety.

"Our teams are equipped to do some trauma counseling in a way that also points them to a greater hope, which of course is in Jesus Christ," Palmer says. On Monday night, about four inches of rain fell over the course of a few hours. It reached nearly six inches in the town hit worst by last Friday's earthquakes. Flooding in the quake zone forced refugees to flee temporary shelters in droves; rescue workers evacuated 2,000 people. Flood waters have also damaged a drinking water supply pipeline and an alternative water source. BGR has water filters and filtration systems that they'll begin implementing to provide fresh, clean water for survivors.

"A big issue…is going to be water," Palmer explains. "We've already approached government officials and local communities about how to help with the water systems." Chinese officials haven't always welcomed help from Christians.

Palmer says BGR also learned important lessons from the 2008 earthquake. They began training response teams in China, enabling them to assist the government with disaster response. Having national teams allowed BGR to "hit the ground running" when earthquakes hit rural Yunnan and Guizhou last week, some of China's poorest regions. BGR teams are working diligently among survivors, providing food, temporary shelter and water.

"Within 24 hours, we were already responding in some areas," Palmer explains. "We were able to find those cracks and hidden areas with people who needed help and weren't getting help." Palmer says that recent quakes didn't just take a physical toll; they damaged other areas.

"Not only were [survivors] physically shaken, but they were spiritually and emotionally shaken, too," he says. BGR ministers to these deeper needs by pointing survivors to the hope of Christ. They'll be dealing with a lot of traumas, a lot of fears, and just trying to figure out how to put their lives back together(Source)."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

UK Deputy PM Calls Christians Bigots?

09/12/2012 UK (Virtue Online)-In using the 'B' word against opponents of same-sex marriage, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, has revealed the depth of his hostility towards Christians and others who wish to retain the current legal definition of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

And yes Mr Clegg has called us bigots because that is the word that appeared in the Cabinet Office press release he approved in advance of last night's reception marking the end of the Coalition Government's same-sex marriage consultation.

British Christians would be to wise to note the strength of Mr Clegg's moral abhorrence against those he perceives as guilty of homophobia. In 2006, the Labour Government of Tony Blair tried to pass a religious hate speech law which, according to some legal experts at that time, could have earned British Christians who criticised Islam a seven-year prison sentence. Mercifully, it was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons.

It is surely quite conceivable that a future Labour government would want to outlaw criticism of same-sex marriage as 'homophobic hate speech' with the offence carrying a custodial sentence. Given the depth of hostility against opponents of same-sex marriage within the British political establishment, why should Christians who criticised the innovation not expect to risk prison?

Jesus told his disciples in his Sermon on the Mount: "But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (Matthew 5v44 - Authorised Version).

So, however resentful one may feel at the unjust suppression of freedom of debate in our country (which I for one have no wish to see meted out on supporters of same-sex marriage), the right response as a British Christian, now and in the likely much more difficult future, is to pray for the redemption of Mr Clegg.
And to continue graciously and faithfully to uphold the biblical teaching that marriage, as God created it and as Jesus hallowed it, is exclusively between one man and one woman for life.

The above constitutes the two-fold Christian duty to God and to our country, even though the second part is perceived as bigotry by the political establishment. And may well become illegal to fulfill under the politically correct new moral order engulfing Britain. The Christian calling to pray, however, as the Apostle Paul wonderfully demonstrated in his prison epistles, is impossible to outlaw even in jail(Source).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pastor Sent to Jail for Distributing Christian Literature in India

09/11/2012 India (Christian Persecution Update) - Birmawal, Ratlam(Madhya Pradesh)- 11-09-2012: Pastor John Pargy, 26, is working with the India Gospel Church at Birmawal in Ratlam about 310 kms from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. He is married to Neelu, 23, and he has two 5 and 2 year old sons.

On 7th September 2012 Pastor John was distributing Christian literature in Birmawal village when about 25 RSS and Bajranga Dal activists pounced upon him and stopped him from distributing the Christian tracts.

They also began abusing and cursing him and levelling allegations against him that he was converting Hindus to Christianity. Though they were determined to physically assault him, something changed their minds and they took him to the Birmawal Police Station complaining that he was criticizing Hindu religion and Hindu religious practices, and also forcing them to drink cow’s blood etc(Source).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nine Christians Arrested in New Orleans for Religious Speech after Sundown

09/02/2012 United States (Christian News)- A group of nine men that attended the Southern Decadence Festival in New Orleans yesterday were arrested and jailed for violating a new city ordinance that prohibits religious and other free speech after sundown on the city’s famed Bourbon Street.

The ordinance, which was passed in October 2011, is called “Aggressive Solicitation.” While it aims to prohibit individuals from selling items or soliciting donations in an aggressive manner, it also includes one sentence that is meant to curb religious and political speech on the popular section of the French Quarter.
Subsection four of the “Aggressive Solicitation” ordinance states, “It shall be prohibited for any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.”

The Southern Decadence Festival, one of the nation’s most notorious celebrations of homosexuality in that it is often is marked by public drunkenness and open sex acts, is held in the city’s French Quarter. Bourbon Street is one of the most populated areas during the event.

Saturday’s situation began when Gary Brown of Fayetteville, North Carolina was speaking to the crowds as dusk had set in. Police immediately placed Brown and another associate under arrest for violating the ordinance. Seven other men who were holding signs had moved down the street approximately a block away. They were also taken into custody minutes later.

Not all of the names of those arrested were released, but as of press time, they included Brian Cranford, Patrick O’Connell and Larry Craft. Craft regularly speaks at homosexual events across the country much like Southern Decadence. An online video from June of this year shows Craft addressing a crowd at a pride festival in Cleveland, Ohio, who used profanity at one point while decrying a deviant act.
The men were released from jail at approximately 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Ruben Israel of Los Angeles, California was also at the festival, but was reportedly not taken into custody. Israel is most known for being among those that were pelted with stones by Muslims earlier this year at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Michigan when he brought a pig’s head on a pole to the event.
Israel said that the pig’s head was meant to ward off Muslims due to negative response that he received from attendees last year.

While some state that the statute is a blatant violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, supporters opine that in passing the law, city council “intend[ed] to recognize free speech rights for all citizens while at the same time protecting the coexistent rights for all citizens to enjoy safe and convenient travel in public spaces free from intimidation, threats and harassment that stem from certain types of aggressive solicitation.”