PORTLAND, Ore. – The city of Portland has to fork over more than $19,000 to a city employee and part of it is because of the phrase “God bless you.” Kellymarie Griffin said she was being harassed for being Christian. She sued and won.
In her lawsuit, Griffin said that a co-worker had chided her at one point, saying she prayed to a God who was simply a figment of her imagination. But a federal jury decided the harassment Griffin suffered was all too real.
The drama played out inside the Parks Bureau offices at the Mount Tabor maintenance yard during the past four years. Griffin was transferred here in October 2009 and said her co-worker, Theresa Lareau, almost immediately started harassing her because of her Christian beliefs.
According to the federal lawsuit, Griffin contends Lareau said, “I’m tired of your Christian attitude.”
The lawsuit also contends Lareau added,
“I’m going to file a complaint against you the next time I sneeze and you say ‘bless you.’ You’re just doing it for the attention; you wear it on your sleeve like a badge and I’m sick of it. It offends me.”
There were a series of complaints and meetings involving two separate parks bureau supervisors.
Meanwhile, Lareau filed paperwork of her own, seeking a civil stalking order against Griffin in March of last year. Lareau went through five attorneys before finally representing herself. She never got the stalking order.
A federal jury last week sided with Griffin.
It awarded her just over $5,000 in economic damages and $14,000 in noneconomic damages, deciding her workplace became a hostile work environment based on her religion.
The federal jury also decided Lareau may have thought she was right to file for a stalking order against Griffin, but that Lareau also went way too far in trying to get one over and over and over again.
They also found Lareau wasn’t totally honest with her attorneys in seeking that stalking order.
The Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) on Wednesday raised the alarm over alleged continued killings of Christians in the North by the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
The association, in a communiqué at the end of its Special Meeting in Abuja by its General Secretary, Dr. Musa Asake, expressed worries that despite the state of emergency declared in the North-Eastern part of the country to curtail insurgency, the attacks on Christians had continued unabated.
Giving the chronicles of the new spate of killings, it said suspected Boko Haram members attacked Ngoshe village in Gwoza Local Government area of Borno State on November 3 and killed eight Christians. CAN further alleged that several churches had been burnt since the killings were carried out without any of the attackers being arrested.
The communique reads in part: “On the 3rd of this month at about 8pm, Boko Haram members attacked Ngoshe village in Gwoza local government area of Borno state and killed 8 Christians: Baba Ayuba, Baba Bitrus and Baba Isa Biyabra, the security guard and four others whose names we are yet to get.
“They burnt 11 houses owned by the Christians and three churches: EYN church, Deeper Life Bible church and the Redeemed Christian Church of God. We were informed that when the Christian community sought to meet the state governor on this issue, he said, “He does not have the time to see them until February next year.”
This is the conclusion reached by Sajan George, president of Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) following certain statements made by Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who said that that he likes Karnataka’s “saffron wave”. Saffron is the colour of radical Hindus, and the state has one of the worst records in terms of the persecution of religious minorities.
Mumbai ( AsiaNews) – If Narendra Modi comes to power “religious freedom in India will be in danger,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians ( GCIC ) as he spoke to AsiaNews about the latest statements made by Gujarat’s chief minister, who is also the prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I can see saffron waves rising from across the region. It is a delightful sight,” Modi said at a rally in Bangalore (Karnataka) yesterday. He was referring to supporters of Hindutva (Hindu fundamentalist ideology), whose symbol is the colour ‘Saffron’ (orange). In Karnataka, they have often attacked members of ethnic and religious minorities.
Narendra Modi is a former militant with the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS), one of India’s most active and violent radical Hindu organizations.
The BJP, which is known for its open support to groups such as the RSS, as well as for backing a state that is “100 per cent Hindu“, picked him as candidate for the post of prime minister, ahead of next year’s general elections.
Modi is very popular among BJP supporters. He is appreciated for making Gujarat one of the richest states in the country. In turn, he has often stressed the need to give back a “Hindu identity” to India.
At the same time however, he has not been spared criticism (even by some of his fellow party members); in particular, for his ambiguous role in the 2002 violence between Hindus and Muslims, which has been blamed on him.
For Sajan George, “these comments are an alarm bell”. The rise of anti-Christian attacks in Karnataka confirms the resurgence of Hindu nationalism in the country. India is a secular country, not one based on Hindutva.”
The persecution against religious minorities in Karnataka is among the worst in India, especially after five years of BJP government.
Last 5 May, the Congress (which is in power at the federal level) won state elections by a wide margin.
“The BJP lost control of the state but made up for the defeat with more attacks,” the GCIC president told AsiaNews.
According to GCIC data, “in the last three years there have been 150 incidents against minorities: 49 cases of violence and hostility against Christians in 2011; 41 incidents in 2012. Since the start of 2013, we have had more than 40 cases.”
“These figures refer only to destroyed churches and to believers who have been attacked or imprisoned,” Sajan George noted. “If we take into account every episode of intimidation, persecution, insult or temporary detention, the numbers would be much higher.”
by Nirmala Carvalho for AsiaNewsit.
Under President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel, the military is increasingly hostile to Christians.
Mandatory briefings warn soldiers against joining evangelical groups.
The Pentagon consults with a known anti-Christian bigot.
Soldiers are told not to give money to conservative organizations.
Enough is enough. Sign the petition to stop this anti-Christian propaganda.
Recently, VOP was at a church taking SAVE SAEED pictures of church members. One member did not allow us to take his picture, because he is in the military. He is very concerned for Pastor Saeed and was disappointed he could not take part in the campaign! Pray for Christians in the military!
President Obama and Secretary of Defense Hagel,
It is unconstitutional to single out Christianity as “extreme” and warn our nation’s soldiers away from evangelical or conservative groups. Anti-Christian bigotry has no place in our Armed Forces. Defend religious liberty in the military.
SIGN THE PETITION HERE
Church services disrupted= Golathwaye Church Galmuruwa (Puttalam District)
13th October 2013- At approximately 09.45a.m. while the Sunday worship service was in progress, 2 Buddhist monks together with another youth from the village forcibly entered the premises where the worship service was being held. The Buddhist monks together with the youth shouted “Christianity is a western religion, stop all prayer meetings”. The Buddhist monk threatened the pastor and the congregation of serious consequences which they will face in the event the worship service activities are not stopped with immediate effect.
14th October 2013- A police officer visited the pastor’s premises and informed him to meet the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the area police station. The OIC informed the pastor that a police complaint has been lodged against him claiming that Buddhist statues have been desecrated by him in the village. The pastor denied the false accusations which were lodged against him and explained that he has not done any act of that nature. The OIC informed the pastor that an investigation will be conducted looking into the complaint filed and instructed the pastor to stop all worship service activities. However, the pastor explained to the OIC his Fundamental Rights to practice and observe his belief.
Villagers complain against the Church Church of Glory Kegalle (Kegalle District)
11th October 2013 A complaint against the pastor was made by a neighboring villager to the Municipal Council stating that an unauthorized church had been founded in the village. The mayor informed the pastor that he would be visiting his premises and to ensure that the church is closed down.
Pastors premises attacked Gospel Power Mission Church Kandalama (Matale District)
6th October 2013- At approximately 10:45pm, once the pastor and his family had fallen asleep, an unidentified group of persons began to pelt stones at the pastors’ residence. Some of the stones caused damage to the glass windows of the premises.
A police complaint was lodged, holding complaint number 61/88/CID 2.
4th November 2013- At approximately 10:45pm, a group of unidentified persons began to attack the pastors’ premises by pelting stones at his house. The attack continued until 11.30pm, the police officers were informed, upon their arrival the attack ceased. The pastor was informed to lodge a police complaint. Once the police officers left the premises, around 1:15am, the attackers once again began to pelt stones at the premises which continued until 1.30am. A police complaint was lodged, holding number CID 1-149/71. The pastor has an ongoing case filed in the Magistrate Courts claiming his church as an unauthorized place of worship. Fearing further attacks, the pastor is holding prayer meetings in various different locations. A congregation of 127 members attend the church.
Buddhist monks and villagers degraded a Christian member at a meeting Four Square Church Sevanagala (Monaragala District)
12th October 2013- A meeting was organized by the village Buddhist monks together with the villagers of Sevanagala. The Christian member was informed to be present at the Buddhist temple in the village. Upon the pastors arrival, around 20 villagers together with the Buddhist monks who were gathered together began to use derogatory language against the Christian member. The villagers shouted “Don’t bring Christianity to this village” and “This is a Buddhist village; you have no right to be here; you don’t belong here”. The Christian member left the meeting stating his right to belief, explaining that he has caused no harm to the village.
14th October 2013- Offence of arson committed against Christian member by unidentified group
At approximately 2 a.m., the Christian member and his family were awakened by a fire; their tractor had been set on fire by an unidentified group of persons. This tractor being the only source of the members livelihood, they attempted in vain to save the vehicle. However, it was completely damaged by the fire. The police authorities were immediately informed of this incident. Whilst inspecting the premises, the police officers found a petrol can and traces of petrol within the premises. They further noted that an attempt had also been made to burn down the house with the Christian family inside. A police complaint was lodged following which the police officers warned the villagers and spoke against this offence. However, no arrests have been made to date with regard to this offence.
Buddhist monks threaten a Christian member to stop prayer meetings Anuradhapura (Anuradhapura District)
30th September 2013- At approximately 10 a.m., a mob led by 15 Buddhist monks and 15 other villagers forcibly entered a Christian members premises. The mob began shouting threats stating “We will demolish this house if you don’t stop conducting prayer meetings”. The mob gave an ultimatum to the Christian member to stop prayer meetings conducted in the premises within 3 days, declaring that they would destroy the premises if the prayer meetings continued.
1st October 2013- By phone, police requested the Christian member to be present at the police station for an inquiry at 9.30 a.m. However, shortly after the call, a police vehicle arrived at the Christian’s premises and without prior notice instructed her to come with them to the police station. At the police station, 7 Buddhist monks together with some other villagers were also gathered. The police officer instructed her to stop all prayer meetings conducted at her premises. The police officer further threatened her of arrest under the Emergency Regulations in the event more than 5 people gather at her premises. The Emergency Regulations were only in force in Sri Lanka during the time of the ethnic war and it was used against possible terrorist suspects.
The police officer together with the Buddhist monks forced the Christian to sign a document which stated that she will discontinue all prayer meetings held in her premises with immediate effect.
For the first time since he was abruptly transferred from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison earlier this month, American Pastor Saeed Abedini was allowed visitation with his Iranian family.
This is a positive sign that international pressure continues to work to keep Pastor Saeed alive. Pastor Saeed’s Iranian family has, for the past two weeks since his transfer, been prevented from visiting him – something they had previously been permitted to do once a week during his imprisonment in Evin Prison.
It is also the first physical confirmation of Pastor Saeed’s condition and life since his transfer to the brutal prison.
Pastor Saeed remains in the violent criminal ward – Ward 3 – of Rajai Shahr, sharing a 3 meter by 3 meter cell with other prisoners. This particular ward of the deadly prison holds some of the worst criminals in Iran – murderers and rapists.
International human rights organizations have reported that prisoner on prisoner violence, including murder, is routine at Rajai Shahr Prison.
Pastor Saeed’s situation remains dire. However, we are encouraged that his Iranian family was allowed visitation – and that his Iranian family was able to see him face-to-face and communicate with him. Pastor Saeed, however, has yet to receive the medication he has been prescribed for internal injuries suffered at the hands of his captors.
We believe that prayer and strong international pressure – the outcry of hundreds of thousands of people around the world – are keeping Pastor Saeed alive.
Last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the release of this U.S. citizen and key members of the European Parliament wrote a letter raising Pastor Saeed’s case.
A similar resolution is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has announced that it will take up the resolution (H. Res. 147) this Wednesday. These statements, resolutions, and letters from U.S. and international government leaders are key to Pastor Saeed’s case.
We must not allow him to be forgotten. We must not allow him to disappear.
We continue to urge President Obama – who has previously directly spoken out about Pastor Saeed’s case – and the U.S. State Department to reengage this issue at the highest levels. As international negotiations continue with Iran regarding its nuclear program, Pastor Saeed’s freedom must be a chief concern. Human rights and specifically religious freedom – the first freedom – is a critical step forward for any nation on the world stage.
The time is NOW for Iran to release Pastor Saeed.
It is far too easy for American Christians to hear of the imprisonment and brutal treatment of Pastor Saeed Abedini in Iran and just be complacent about it. After all, we are not being imprisoned for our faith, and shouldn’t Pastor Saeed have known that Iran is a dangerous place to begin with?
Attitudes like that will betray a brand of “Christianity” that is shaped more by lifestyle than by worldview, more by culture than by God’s Word.
The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us, “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (13:3). Our thoughts and prayers are to be with our brothers and sisters suffering in prison for their faith as if we were right there beside them. Why? Because we are a part of the same body, the Body of Christ. And the Apostle Paul makes it clear that when one part of the body hurts it effects the entire body, even if halfway around the earth (1 Corinthians 12:26).
When Peter was imprisoned in the early days of the church, Luke tells us, “So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.” (Acts 12:5). Peter was imprisoned for the single fact that he was preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was sharing good news that would change the hearts and lives of men and women if they would believe. But that was seen as a threat to the “security” of the existing authorities, both religious and civil.
The church did not merely go into a helpless mode when Peter was kept in prison, but rather they became very active in prayer. Luke says the church “fervently prayed to God” on Peter’s behalf. The church believed that they served a God who is greater than Herod and that their God could deliver Peter if He so willed.
That is the call and challenge to the church in the United States and around the world today. We must be in “fervent” prayer on behalf of Pastor Saeed. He is a part of our body. He is our brother in Christ, and if he is hurting then the whole body is to hurt with him and hold him up to our Heavenly Father.
Pastor Saeed was working with orphans in Iran. Granted this work was because he is a follower of Jesus and seeking to obey Him, but it was also for the good of the Iranian people, not to undercut them in any way. It is somewhat ironic that the charges against him are for “attempting to undermine the national security of Iran by gathering with fellow Christians in private homes.”
There are several things that we need to be praying for in this situation.
- Pray that God will bring about the release of Pastor Saeed. Whether he does this in the miraculous way He did with Peter in Acts 12, or through the efforts of the ACLJ and diplomatic channels, is not the issue. But we have to realize that God’s ways are not our ways and His are always best and right! As Paul says, “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.” (Romans 11:33).
- Pray that, while imprisoned, Pastor Saeed will bring glory to God through his suffering. The Bible teaches us that we are to seek God’s glory in every place we find ourselves. In extraordinary circumstances like this but also in everyday, even mundane, things like eating and drinking (1st Corinthians 10:31)
- Pray that God will use Pastor Saeed’s circumstances to see many come to know Jesus Christ as Lord. Paul saw this happen while imprisoned in Rome. Paul tells the church at Philippi that “ Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,” (Philippians 1:12-13) God uses situations that we see as negative to spread the gospel.
So perhaps God is going to use this horrible situation for the Abedini family to awaken the church in America to the real persecution and attacks that exist against Christianity in other parts of the world. Perhaps God is wanting to wake us from our slumber, our comfort, and be challenged to intercede and be involved with other parts of our “body” in very different and very dangerous parts of the world.
God was not caught off guard by Pastor Saeed’s circumstances; and God is not helpless to use these for Saeed’s good and for the good of the church, and for His own glory.
May we Christians be sensitive to all that God is doing, and may we be obedient to His call to strengthen the body of Christ, the church, to face the spiritual warfare that is very real in our world. And may we stand in His grace, His truth, and wear the spiritual armor that Paul spoke about in Ephesians 6:10-20.
Let’s do battle in prayer for Pastor Saeed and the Abedini family and for God’s church around the world.
This article was written by Bill Haynes, Sr. Pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Somerset KY.