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China: Elderly Christians told to give up faith or lose government benefits

(Bitter Winter) By Even though China’s economy has been severely affected by the coronavirus, and many residents suffer financial difficulties, the CCP threatens to take away the last means of survival from elderly believers—government-issued subsidies. To keep them, they must stop believing in God.

A Catholic from Fuzhou city in the southeastern province of Jiangxi has been receiving monthly 250 RMB (about $ 35) from the government since 2018, the year her husband died. At the end of 2019, local government officials threatened the woman, in her 60s, that the subsidy would be withdrawn unless she removes images of Jesus from her home. “Because the Communist Party feeds you,” they told the woman, “you must only believe in it, not God.” Two months later, the pension was canceled because she refused to remove the symbols.

“It has become difficult to maintain belief in God because of religious persecution,” the woman told Bitter Winter helplessly.

On April 30, community officials in Fuzhou forced to cover up a cross image in the home of an 80-plus-year-old Christian, threatening to scrap her subsistence allowance otherwise.

In late April, the Fuzhou city government intensified religious investigations through “return” inspections—visits to the places that have previously been stifled to make sure that people don’t resume practicing their faith. During one of them, Civil Affairs Bureau officials threatened a Sola Fide believer in a nursing home, who has been paralyzed for eight years, to drive him out of the residence if he continued his belief. His “five-guarantees”—government aid in the form of housing, food, clothing, medical care, and funeral expenses to people who cannot work and have no income—would also be revoked. Officials tore down images of Jesus in his room already last autumn.

“The officials said that I am supposed to believe in the Communist Party since it feeds me, or else all my social benefits would be canceled,” the believer said. “I won’t give up my faith no matter how the government pursues me. If it cancels my benefits, I will meet God earlier.”

On January 19, officials from Jiangxi’s Yingtan city deprived a local Christian of her government aid for hosting religious meetings at home, even though the woman was immobile from an illness. In March, officials from the city’s Yujiang district destroyed religious calendars in the homes of two believers who receive government benefits.

On January 23, Taian city officials in the eastern province of Shandong harassed a Catholic, in her 70s, because of religious symbols in her home. The woman told Bitter Winter that they told her to replace the tokens with portraits of Xi Jinping or Mao Zedong since “she lives on the Communist Party’s welfare,” which might be canceled if she didn’t listen to them.

“By forcing me to remove the portrait of the Lord Jesus, the government tried to stop my belief in God, but they cannot take away my belief from my heart,” she said.

In late April, officials from Heze city’s Cao county in Shandong destroyed crosses and other religious symbols in the homes of several elderly believers who were also receiving poverty alleviation subsidies. A local churchgoer said that these state representatives claimed that no poverty alleviation resources should be given to the people who have religious symbols at home; they must believe in the Communist Party to enjoy aid from the state.

 In April, officials from Kaifeng city’s Lankao county in the central province of Henan removed a religious calendar and couplets with cross images from the home of a poor Christian and scratched her poverty alleviation aid. They also ordered her to renovate the house and install a toilet ahead of an inspection by higher-ups. The demand was against poverty alleviation regulations, which stipulate that the state should cover such expenses.

“What should I do without my income? How can I reason with them? It’s just like the Cultural Revolution,” the distraught believer lamented.

China: Jiangxi province continues to intensify religious persecution after coronavirus lockdown

Numerous old Local Churches in Shangrao’s Guangfeng district had their crosses removed.

(Bitter Winter) By – Venues of the old Local Church (Laodifangjiaohui, 老地方教會)—unregistered Christian congregations that follow the teachings of the Chinese minister Watchman Nee (1903-1972)— were among many other victims of China’s religious persecution in the past few months. More than 40 churches were suppressed in four cities of the southeastern province of Jiangxi: Shangrao, Jingde, Yichun, and Fuzhou. Some were demolished, while others closed or repurposed by the government.

At least 28 venues were stifled in Shangrao city’s Guangfeng and Guangxin districts and Yugan county. A local government employee revealed to Bitter Winter that the CCP is fighting Christianity for “ideological territory and people’s hearts” in rural areas and wants to limit its development. To achieve this goal, the municipal government requires localities under its jurisdiction to strengthen atheist propaganda, demolish unregistered places of worship, and intensively “sinicize” the state-run venues.

On April 27, as local government officials oversaw the demolition of an old Local Church venue in the Guangxin district, they warned its congregation that “believing in Jesus is believing in a foreign god.” And “since the coronavirus was brought to China from abroad, believing in Jesus means going against the Party.”

“If believers protested against the demolition, they would be labeled as reactionary elements,” a local believer said helplessly. “The Communist Party is so unreasonable!”

On the morning of May 22, an old Local Church in Guangfeng district’s Hengshan town was cleared out on orders from the local government. Its chairs and tables were confiscated. [Without warning,] officials brought in a crane to remove the church’s cross.

In late April, another old Local Church meeting venue in the district’s Shatian town had its cross, the Ten Commandments, and other religious symbols removed. “The government is like a stone, and we are like an egg—we cannot defeat them!” a church preacher told Bitter Winter.

The old Local Churches in multiple areas have been shut down or emptied.

Since quarantine measures were relaxed, authorities throughout Jiangxi intensified crackdowns on Christian churches, even those administered by the state. In the past few months,  crosses were removed from at least 26 Three-Self churches in Duchang, a county in Jiujiang city. From April 18 to 30, 48 Three-Self venues were shut down in Shangrao’s Yugan county.

On May 12, an old Local Church venue in Yugan county was repurposed for an activity center for the elderly. A congregation member recalled that the government arranged people to climb over the church’s courtyard wall to remove its cross. They later used shovels to take off the venue’s signboard.

A local official revealed to Bitter Winter that the government is eliminating unregistered churches now, and state-approved Three-Self churches will soon be targeted for elimination too.

On May 17, seven police officers and village officials raided an old Local Church venue in Taqian, a town in Leping city. They tore down Biblical verses and religious symbols from the walls and burned them, as well as smashed the church’s donation box.

The church’s donation box was smashed, and religious verses removed and burned.

A congregation member told Bitter Winter that the local government pressured the church to register with the state, or the congregation would not be allowed to hold gatherings. They could even be arrested, or the venue could be destroyed.  “We won’t register,” the believer explained. “If we surrender, we’ll be controlled by the government, forced to raise the national flag, and sing the national anthem. It means believing in the Communist Party, not God. But gatherings can’t be organized unless we register. By doing so, the government aims to eliminate our faith.”

 

Turkey: Armenian church in Istanbul vandalized

ISTANBUL (Armradio) — The Surp Grigor Lusavorich (St. Gregory the Illuminator) Armenian Church in Istanbul’s Scutari district has been attacked, Ermenihaber.am reports.

According to the source, on May 23, an unknown person brutally ripped off a cross from the church door. The moment of the attack was caught on cameras.

The church leadership has issued a statement on the incident, noting that a complaint has been filed with the police.

A new cross has been placed on the gate.

Istanbul police arrested the suspect caught on video, Diken news site reported.

The incident comes weeks after an attack on an Armenian church in Istanbul’s Bakirkoy district.

Muslim Father in Uganda Burns Daughter for Becoming Christian

Some of the burns on Rehema Kyomuhendo, recovering in hospital in Mbale, Uganda. Photo: Morning Star News

(Morning Star News) – Unable to return to her home in western Uganda due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Rehema Kyomuhendo was in the eastern part of the country when she first heard about Christ.

In March she had accompanied her father, a sheikh (Muslim teacher) on a business trip from Mbarara District to Mbale District, 492 kilometers (305 miles) away, and began listening to Christian programing aired on an FM radio station. They were still at her aunt’s house in Nawuyo village, Mbale District, on May 4 when at 10 p.m. she called a business friend of her father’s whom she knew to be a Roman Catholic.

“She explained to me about Christ and the way of salvation, and I got convicted and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior,” Kyomuhendo told Morning Star News by phone. “As she was sharing Christ with me, I was so overjoyed, and my father heard my joy and woke up, came from his bedroom furiously and started beating me up with blows, slaps and kicks.”

Her father, Sheikh Hussein Byaruhanga Husain of Mbarara District, shouted at his 45-year-old sister who was sleeping in another room, telling her that his daughter had converted to Christianity and that therefore he was going to kill her, Kyomuhendo said.

He quickly broke a jerrican, lit the pieces with its remaining fuel and began burning her, a source who spoke with Kyomuhendo told Morning Star News. Kyomuhendo screamed for help, and her aunt got out of bed and shielded her from her father, the source said.

“She carried her outside of the room together with a Christian neighbor who arrived,” the source said. “The neighbor arranged for a taxi-van that took her to a hospital, and she got immediate treatment.”

Kyomuhendo is expected to remain at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital more than a month with serious burns on her leg, stomach, rib area, near her neck and on part of her back, he said.

“Please pray for Kyomuhendo for a quick recovery on her hospital bed,” the source said.

Kyomuhendo and the neighbor have not reported the assault to police for fear that her father might try kill her, he said.

The attack was the latest of many instances of persecution of Christians in Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another. Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day: Revisiting Islam’s Greatest Slaughter of Christians

A still frame from the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, which portrayed eye witnessed events from the Armenian Genocide, including stripped naked and crucified Christian girls.

Today, April 24, marks the “Great Crime,” that is, the genocide of Christians—mostly Armenians but also Assyrians and Greeks—that took place under the Islamic Ottoman Empire, throughout World War I. Then, in an attempt to wipe out as many Christians as possible, the Turks massacred approximately 1.5 million Armenians, 300,000 Assyrians, and 750,000 Greeks.

Most objective American historians who have studied the question unequivocally agree that it was a deliberate, calculated genocide:

More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse.  A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years [more than double the amount of time the invading Islamic Turks had occupied Anatolia, now known as “Turkey”] lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.  At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000….  Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.

Similarly, in 1920, U.S. Senate Resolution 359 heard testimony that included evidence of “[m]utilation, violation, torture, and death [which] have left their haunting memories in a hundred beautiful Armenian valleys, and the traveler in that region is seldom free from the evidence of this most colossal crime of all the ages.”

In her memoir, Ravished ArmeniaAurora Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (consistent with Islam’s rules of war).  Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: “Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross,” she wrote, “spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies.”  Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 documentary film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian’s memoirs.

Whereas the genocide is largely acknowledged in the West, one of its primary if not fundamental causes is habitually overlooked: religion.  The genocide is usually articulated through a singularly secular paradigm, one that factors only things that are intelligible from a secular, Western point of view—such as identity and gender politics, nationalism, and territorial disputes. Such an approach does little more than project modern Western perspectives onto vastly different civilizations and eras.

War, of course, is another factor that clouds the true face of the genocide.  Because these atrocities mostly occurred during World War I, so the argument goes, they are ultimately a reflection of just that—war, in all its chaos and destruction, and nothing more.  But as Winston Churchill, who described the massacres as an “administrative holocaust,” correctly observed, “The opportunity [WWI] presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race.”  Even Adolf Hitler had pointed out that “Turkey is taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, i.e., the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention.”

It’s worth noting that little has changed; in the context of war in Iraq, Syria, and Libya, the first to be targeted for genocide have been Christians and other minorities.

But even the most cited factor of the Armenian Genocide, “ethnic identity conflict,” while legitimate, must be understood in light of the fact that, historically, religion accounted more for a person’s identity than language or heritage. This is daily demonstrated throughout the Islamic world today, where Muslim governments and Muslim mobs persecute Christian minorities who share the same race, ethnicity, language, and culture; minorities who are indistinguishable from the majority—except, of course, for being non-Muslims, or “infidels.”

As one Armenian studies professor asks, “If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?” The same can be said about the Greeks. From a Turkish perspective, the primary thing Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks had in common was that they were all Christian “infidels.”

According to a 2017 book, Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, the “policy of ethnic cleansing was stirred up by pan-Islamism and religious fanaticism.  Christians were considered infidels (kafir).  The call to Jihad, decreed on 29 November 1914 and instigated and orchestrated for political ends, was part of the plan” to “combine and sweep over the lands of Christians and to exterminate them.”   As with Armenians and Greeks, eyewitness accounts tell of the sadistic eye-gouging of Assyrians and the gang rape of their children on church altars. According to key documents, all this was part of “an Ottoman plan to exterminate Turkey’s Christians.”

Today, from Indonesia in the east to Morocco in the west, from Central Asia in the north, to sub-Sahara Africa—that is, throughout the entire Islamic world—Muslims are, to varying degrees, persecuting, killing, raping, enslaving, torturing and dislocating Christians; where formal Islamic groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, etc., hold sway, Christians and other “infidels” are literally experiencing a genocide.  (See my book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians — or my monthly “Muslim Persecution of Christians” report — for a comprehensive and ongoing account of the “great crime” of our times.)

To understand how the historic genocide of Armenians and Assyrians is representative of the modern day plight of Christians under Islam, one need only read the following words written in 1918 by President Theodore Roosevelt; however, read “Armenian” as “Christian” and “Turkish” as  “Islamic,” as supplied in brackets:

the Armenian [Christian] massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey [the Islamic world] is to condone it… the failure to deal radically with the Turkish [Islamic] horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.

Similarly, if we “fail to deal radically” with the “horror” currently being visited upon millions of Christians around the Islamic world, we “condone it” and had better cease talking “mischievous nonsense” of a utopian world of peace and tolerance.

Put differently, silence is always the ally of those who would liquidate the “other.”  In 1915, Adolf Hitler rationalized his genocidal plans, which he implemented some three decades later, when he rhetorically asked: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

And who among today’s major politicians speaks—let alone does anything—about the ongoing annihilation of Christians by Muslims, most recently (but not singularly) seen in the Easter Sunday church bombings of Sri Lanka that left over 300 dead?

Note: Chapter 4 of the author’s recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, documents how the first “genocide” of Armenians at the hands of Turks actually began precisely one millennium ago, in the year 1019.

By Raymonfd Ibrahim

Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).

Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications. He is currently Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute; and Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

INDIA: Karnataka Christian hospital official arrested for proselytising

(AsiaNews) – Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu group, on Monday stormed the Sanjo Hospital, Mandya district (Karnataka), and beat up Simon George, a public relations officer, and Sister Nirmal Jose the hospital administrator.

The extremists claim that the two denigrated Hindu deities. Instead of helping the victims of the attack, police took Simon George into custody. He applied for bail but the court turned him down.

For Fr Josekutty Kalayil, who takes care of the hospital’s legal affairs, the incident stems from the hospitalization on Sunday of an elderly Hindu with high blood pressure.

Just before he was discharged, the man asked why there was a Bible in his room. Simon George, who was doing a routine tour, replied that he could read it if he was interested. This was followed shortly afterwards by the attack.

According to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the hospital was attacked because it is run by Christian religious, even though it serves everyone, regardless of faith or caste.

“Christian missionaries who work in the medical and educational field are targeted every day by extremists who try to discredit their altruistic work, which is to get people the ‘beneficial touch’ of Jesus,” George explained.

In his view, the charges against the Sanjo Hospital staff are false. “There is nothing criminal or illegal about keeping a Bible in a hospital room; no Hindu deity has been offended,” he noted.

The Christian community Mandya district is very small, about 9,000 people out of a population of 1.8 million, but it is under constant threat from extremist groups.

“Our Christian institutions serve mostly those who attack, abuse and assault us. May God forgive them for they know not what they do,” was George’s laconic comment.

Pastor Stephen Tong: “Pastor Wang Yi is one of the greatest men in the world.”

Stephen Tong, a reformed Chinese pastor based out of Indonesia, has influenced the Chinese house church perhaps more than any other pastor in this generation. In the video below, he shares at the KL2020 conference in Kuala Lumpur some of his thoughts about Pastor Wang Yi. To prevent him from boldly sharing the Gospel, Yi was given a 9 year prison sentence by the government. Please continue to pray for this pastor and our Chinese brothers and sisters being persecuted for their faith in Christ.

China: Eradication of Jiangxi Province’s House Churches in Full Swing

The entrance to the church was sealed off.

Holding religious meetings at home is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs.

(Bitterwinter) Throughout 2019, authorities in the southeastern province of Jiangxi forcibly demolished numerous house churches, looted their property, and arrested clergy members under the pretext of the nationwide campaign to “clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.” Bitter Winter continues to receive more reports about such CCP-organized suppression attacks to force house churches into joining the Three-Self Church.

Ever since the central government’s religious work inspection team arrived in Jiangxi’s Fuzhou city in November 2019, clampdowns on house churches noticeably increased.

On January 5, local government officials came to a house church venue in Fuzhou’s Nancheng county to close it down. They took photos of the believers who were present at the time and registered their personal information. The church’s preacher was accused of holding religious meetings at home, which is against the new Regulations on Religious Affairs, the officials said. Afterward, police officers escorted the preacher to the county’s Public Security Bureau for questioning; he was detained for five days for refusing to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

A source who talked to the preacher after he was released told Bitter Winter that during detention, officers were saying that the state is cracking down on Christianity because it worries about the rapid increase in the number of believers who might unite with foreigners against the CCP.

On December 28, a Sola Fide venue in Fuzhou’s Lean county was celebrating Christmas when several police officers stormed in and drove away all congregation members, threatening to arrest and imprison them if they gathered again. Police officers confiscated Bibles, hymnbooks, audio equipment, and other valuables, and also removed Christmas decorations. Two church directors were escorted to the local police station for questioning, where they were forced to write statements promising not to hold private meetings anymore.

A month before that, another Sola Fide venue in the county had its religious symbols destroyed, and the gate sealed off, preventing anyone from getting inside.

Between December and January, at least three house church venues in Fuzhou’s Lichuan county were closed down.

In mid-December, the Shangrao city’s government ordered to close a house church venue, which had 20 congregation members. Officials threatened the believers that their children’s future would be affected if they didn’t stop assembling. The church director was detained for 15 days for “holding illegal meetings.”

On January 10, the local government cleared out and shut down a house church venue in Dexing city. Officials threatened to demolish the venue if its director held meetings there again.

On December 11, local government officials broke into a house church venue in Jiujiang city’s Xiushui county and took down and burned the cross and other religious symbols. The same day, four other venues in the county were subjected to similar crackdowns. The host of one of them was taken to the police station for questioning and was later forced to sign a statement pledging never to host religious gatherings at home.

In December, over ten government officials raided a house church venue in the Nankang district of Ganzhou city after a community committee official reported it. The police arrested and questioned the preacher for “holding illegal meetings” and summoned the venue’s landlord, ordered him to clear out the church.

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