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Federal Court rules World War I ‘Peace Cross’ Memorial must be torn down

(PHOTO: LIBERTY INSTITUTE)

Back in 1925, the American Legion erected a memorial in Bladensburg, Md., to honor the memory of 49 men who perished during World War I.

The 40-foot tall memorial became known as the “Peace Cross.”

In 2014, the American Humanist Association — a group that believes in “being good without a god” — filed a lawsuit alleging the cross-shaped memorial is unconstitutional and demanding it be demolished, altered, or removed.

They alleged the cross carries “an inherently religious message and creates the unmistakable appearance of honoring only Christian servicemen.”

On Wednesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ruled the historic memorial must be torn down — all because the Bladensburg Memorial is in the shape of a cross.

The Fourth Circuit said the memorial excessively entangles the government in religion because the cross is the “core symbol of Christianity” and “breaches” the wall separating church and state. read the ruling

Writing separately, Chief Judge Gregory wrote, “This Memorial stands in witness to the VALOR, ENDURANCE, COURAGE, and DEVOTION of the forty-nine residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland ‘who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world.’  I cannot agree that a monument so conceived and dedicated and that bears such witness violates the letter or spirit of the very Constitution these heroes died to defend.”

The American Legion could appeal directly to the Supreme Court. Read More

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#KeepPrayerFree & stop T-Mobile from charging callers for prayer on free conference lines

HELP stop the #profiteering by T-Moble that attacks your right to #pray for free! What can you do right now. SIGN and share this petition not only because it affects our mission’s prayer call for the persecuted, but your ability to join a prayer line without being charged a fee.

Prayer should never come with a cost.

The right to pray for free is under attack by T-Mobile. Despite its aggressive advertising campaign – including Super Bowl spots – positioning the company as the #Uncarrier for offering the “first unlimited subscription” void of surcharges, bogus fees and assorted taxes, the mobile conglomerate is waging a war on prayer. T-Mobile is blatantly, but surreptitiously charging an additional $0.01 per minute to customers who call prayer lines using free conference call services. One such service that has been affected is FreeConferenceCall.com, of which tens of thousands of prayer line callers have been affected by these charges and have taken to social media to voice their opinions about T-Mobile.

Many T-Mobile customers call into prayer lines multiple times a week to pray with others for long periods of time, resulting in hundreds of dollars a year added to their service plan costs. By forcing them to pay additional fees for these calls, T-Mobile is effectively cutting off a spiritual lifeline for its loyal customers who cannot afford these charges.

We are asking for your help to take action to prevent T-Mobile and any other greedy cellphone carriers who follow suit from gouging and targeting prayer customers with unnecessary and unfair costs. We strongly urge everyone interested in maintaining religious liberty to support the right of all people to pray together, free of costs and other barriers. Please call upon T-Mobile and any other corporations considering similar action to stop charging customers unfair, punitive and discriminatory fees that were designed to prevent faithful people of all religions from praying for free. Help the millions of individuals who utilize these services for prayer by signing and sharing this petition.

#AttackonPrayer #KeepPrayerFree

CLICK TO SIGN

“It’s a War on Christians”: Muslim Persecution of Christians, April 2017

 

As in former years, Easter was under attack in various Muslim nations, most spectacularly in Egypt. On April 9, two Coptic Christian Orthodox churches packed with worshippers for Palm Sunday Mass, which initiates Easter holy week, were attacked by Islamic suicide bombers. Twenty-seven people—mostly children—were killed in St. George’s in Tanta, northern Egypt. “Where is the government?” an angry Christian there asked AP reporters. “There is no government! There was a clear lapse in security, which must be tightened from now on to save lives.” Less than two hours later, 17 people were killed in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Since the original building, founded by the Evangelist Mark in the first century, was burned to the ground during the seventh century Muslim invasions of Egypt, the church has been the historic seat of Coptic Christianity. Pope Tawadros, who was present—and apparently targeted—emerged unharmed. About 50 Christians were killed in the two bombings, 126 wounded and many mutilated. (Graphic images/video of aftermath here.)

A few days earlier, on April 1, 3,000 fatwas [opinions by Islamic authorities] inciting the destruction of churches in Egypt had been circulated throughout Egypt. A number of Egyptian Christians interviewed after the twin bombings said that government-funded mosques regularly incite hatred and violence for Christians over their loudspeakers. In other mosques, according to Michael, a middle-aged Christian, “there are prayers to harm Christians. They incite to violence, youths are being filled with hatred against us and acting on it. It concerns us all. It leads to terrorism and to Christians being targeted.” Separately a Christian woman said, “The problem starts at school where children are treated differently. In school some refused to speak to me because I was a Christian.”

In Nigeria, Muslim Fulani herdsmen randomly opened fire on a Christian village. According to Bishop Bagobiri, “The attack came when the people were in the church for the Easter Vigil celebration.” The Muslim gunmen killed “at least 12 persons on the spot, with many injured,” including women and children. Instead of celebrating Easter Sunday, the bishop and a local priest presided over the burial of “at least ten Catholics.” The bishop publicly accused the local governor, a Muslim, of complicity with the perpetrators and bias against their victims.

In Pakistan, a “major terrorist attack” targeting Christians during Easter celebrations was foiled, according to the nation’s military. An Islamic militant was killed and four soldiers injured during the raid. Among the Muslim terrorists arrested was a female second-year medical student who said she was preparing to “martyr” herself as part of a suicide attack on a church during Easter Sunday. Last year in Lahore, an Easter Day Islamic attack left more than 70 people dead.

In Indonesia, 300 Christians from two churches that remain sealed by authorities in West Java, celebrated their fifth Easter by protesting outside the presidential palace in hopes that the president lifts a banning order preventing them from holding services in their own houses of worship. Both churches are legally registered but “are being persecuted by local authorities who refuse to allow them to worship in (more…)

Detroit judge blocks deportation of Iraqi immigrants for 90 days

A woman holds a sign and cross as members of the local Chaldean community demonstrate June 16 outside the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building to protest the arrest and detention of more than 100 Chaldean Christians from the Detroit area. (CNS photo/Jim West) See CHALDEAN-PROTESTS June 19, 2017.

Detroit (Agenzia Fides) – A judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit has temporarily halted the deportations of Chaldean Christians and other Iraqi immigrants ordered last June by virtue of the new immigration rules implemented by the Trump Administration. The measure had already been temporarily blocked by the same judge for shorter periods, and all the suspensions ended yesterday, Monday 24 July. Yesterday’s new ruling by Judge Goldsmith also took note of Iraqi citizens who referred of the risk of being subjected to violence and persecution once back in the country of origin. Goldsmith also pointed out that the criminal and judicial cases weighing on many of the Iraqis threatened with deportation were actually “dormant” cases. The judge declared that the constitutional rights of Iraqi immigrants, many of whom have long been resident in the United States, have been violated, and that guarantees for the protection of fundamental freedoms can be suspended only in rare cas es of foreign invasion or internal insurgence.

The Iraqis already arrested on June 12 at the disposition of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE, US Federal Agency responsible for border control and immigration) were 114, but potential expulsion measures threatened about 1,400 immigrants from Iraq. Most of the Iraqis already arrested (see Fides 11/7/2017) lived in the area of Detroit and belonged to Chaldean Christian families. The operation was implemented after the agreement between the United States and Iraq with which the government of Baghdad had agreed to host a number of Iraqi citizens subjected to the expulsion order, while being removed from the black list of affected nations from the so-called “Muslim ban”, wanted by President Donald Trump to prevent access to the United States for citizens from six Muslim majority countries considered as potential “exporters” of terrorists. Even some of the arrested Christians had in the past had problems with justice.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako also intervened on the case: in a letter to Chaldean Bishop Frank Kalabat, at the head of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Detroit, the Primate of the Chaldean Church expressed solidarity and closeness to Iraqi families affected by the provisions of expulsion, and hoped for an adequate solution to the humanitarian emergency caused by the expulsion measures, also directed against family men with small children.

Now Iraqi immigrants, at risk of deportation, have three months to arrange their legal strategy with their lawyers to render ineffective the expulsion orders issued by the ICE. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 25/7/2017)

In June, protesters against federal agents’ rounding up more than 100 Iraqi-American immigrants told local media that those who were detained had no prior warning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be arresting them.

The report shared that U.S. Democratic Reps. Sander Levin and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan joined members of the Chaldean Christian community gathered in front of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building. They held up signs, crosses and American flags, venting their frustration against federal authorities who detained their father, brothers and uncles, many of whom have been in the community for decades.

Late June 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington released a letter that conference officials sent to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, urging him from a moral perspective to defer deportation of the individuals apprehended by ICE, particularly Christians and Chaldean Catholics, “who pose no threat to U.S. public safety” and would be sent back to a region where the persecution of religious minorities continues.

VOP note: Please speak out and pray for our Iraqi brothers and sisters to remain safe in our country.

Former Egyptian-Muslim converts to Christianity

This is the story of Amani Mustafa, a Egyptian women who left her country and moved to the US. In this video she explains the danger and abuse she was faced with in Egypt and about her conversion to Christianity.

Secularist Group complains to Mississippi university about religious tweets by football coach

Hugh Freeze OM Football coach

The Oxford Eagle reported that a secularist legal organization that seeks to separate church and state has complained to Ole Miss that head football coach Hugh Freeze and an assistant football coach are wrongly using Twitter to promote religious beliefs.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter this week to Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter questioning what it calls “overly religious social media postings of football coaches at the University of Mississippi.”

“A concerned citizen reported to FFRF that University of Mississippi head football coach Hugh Freeze regularly promotes religion on his Twitter page,” the foundation attorney wrote in a letter sent to Chancellor Vitter.

“Recently, Freeze has tweeted statements such as ‘Lead us by your truth and teach us 2day, for you are the God who saves us! All day long I put my hope in you. Ps 25:5 – be a blessing 2day’ and ‘Here’s the best news ever, your eternal standing with God doesn’t depend on your goodness, but on God’s unshakable faithfulness’ via his twitter handle @CoachHughFreeze. Read more

The Oxford Eagle also wrote an opinion piece encouraging the coach to keep on tweeting.

If Chip and Joanna Gaines are bigots, then Jesus was, too – Christian leader

Christian couple Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of HGTV's highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.

Christian couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines are the hosts of HGTV’s highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.

DALLAS (Christian Examiner) – Christian leaders are pushing back against a Buzzfeed article that questioned HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines for attending a church that opposes same-sex marriage. The Gaines are the hosts of HGTV’s highest-rated program, Fixer Upper.

The Nov. 29 story quickly was labeled a “hit piece” by critics, who questioned why it was newsworthy that a famous couple’s church holds to traditional beliefs that have been affirmed by Christians for 2,000 years.

The story carried the headline: “Chip And Joanna Gaines’ Church Is Firmly Against Same-Sex Marriage” and said in a subhead: “whether the Fixer Upper couple agrees is unclear.” It has been read more than 500,000 times.

Glenn T. Stanton, director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, said such accusations should be answered “bluntly.” READ MORE

URGENT UPDATE: Serious Concerns for American Christian Couple Detained in Turkey

andrew-norine-99-96

(Voice of the Persecuted) received an update on American Christians, Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine’s situation as of late Friday, October 21.  Turkish officials arrested and detained the couple on October 7 in the coastal city of Izmir on grounds of conducting activities constituted as “national security risks”.

Norine and Andrew have been living in Turkey for 23 years, running a church with the full knowledge of the local authorities.  They were summoned to the police department on Friday, October 7, for what they assumed would be questions about their recent residency application.  Upon their arrival they were presented with a letter from Ankara labeling them a threat to national security and ordering their deportation.  They were immediately detained, their phones were confiscated, and they were completely isolated from the outside world.

The authorities denied repeated requests from their lawyers, the US State Department, and friends to see them or communicate with them in any way.  They were explicitly forbidden from having a Bible, and were not allowed to receive books or any change of clothes.  Andrew’s glasses and watch were taken away.  They were told that their government had forgotten about them and that “hopefully” they would be deported, suggesting that they might simply disappear and never be heard from again.

Norine was released after 12 days (Oct. 19) and verbally told that all charges against her were dropped, but her lawyer has told her that is almost certainly not true given that nothing was put in writing.  She was allowed to see Andrew for half an hour on October 20, but was denied any access on October 21.  Apart from Norine, Andrew has had no contact with the outside world since October 7.

Norine and Andrew explicitly waived their right to protest the deportation, and yet there has been no deportation to date.  The right to legal counsel is guaranteed under Turkish law, and the right of the US State Department to visit detained US citizens is guaranteed by 36(1)(c) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which Turkey has ratified.  Both of these rights have clearly been violated.

At this point, the priority is to get Norine and Andrew safely out of Turkey, something entirely in keeping with the deportation order.  Norine’s current visa expires on November 10, and though she might be forced to leave at any time, she really does not want to leave the country without Andrew.  Norine is also concerned that her husband might be transferred from the current immigration center to a prison.  Prison in that environment is entirely different from prison in the United States, and often includes people disappearing and without ever being heard from again.

There are far more serious charges supposedly brought against them, but none of it in writing, and none of it with any semblance of transparency or accountability.  Those charges cannot be discussed openly, but Norine indicates that it’s difficult to overstate how dangerous the situation is.

The new objective is to see Norine and Andrew safely released from Turkey.  They are willing and ready to comply with the deportation order, and yet the authorities continue to hold Andrew.  Very little progress has been made through normal channels, so we will now start pressing the issue through Congress, through the media, and through the Turkish embassy.

It is time to press Turkey for Norine and Andrew’s rights to be restored.  If the objective was to deport them, why detain them and deny them rights guaranteed under both Turkish and international law?  Where are they being held and why have the charges not been stated in writing?  Why hold them in isolation and confiscate things like Andrew’s glasses?

As always, your continued prayers are much appreciated, and we know that God will cause good to come from this.

ACT NOW by

PRAYING and sharing this urgent prayer request:

  • Pray that Andrew would be released from detention
  • Pray that the authorities would not discriminate against Christians in Turkey;
  • Pray for religious freedom in Turkey.

 

(11/11/16 UPDATE:) At this time, due to ongoing negotiations, we are only sharing that Turkish authorities have released Norine Brunson. We request that prayer and fasting continue for her husband, Andrew who is still being detained. The Brunsons have been residents of Turkey for the past 20 years. Pastor Andrew Brunson had been leading the Izmir Resurrection Church, a small Protestant congregation averaging 30 to 40 worshipers, in Turkey. We will share further updates, including how you can get involved if further action becomes necessary.

As always, your continued love, concern and prayers are much appreciated. We know that God will cause good to come from this. Andrew’s wife, Norine told Voice of the Persecuted that she is tremendously blessed to hear that a large network of prayer warriors are lifting her and husband in prayer, each day.

“Amazing.  Humbling.  Please pass on our gratefulness,” she added.

Your prayers are such an encouragement and make a difference to those suffering for Christ. Please continue to press in for this couple and their family.

  • Pray for Andrew and peace for his wife, Norine.
  • Pray the authorities would not discriminate against Christians in Turkey.
  • Pray for religious freedom in Turkey.

 

UPDATE (Dec. 15, 2016) American Pastor Andrew Brunson Wrongfully Imprisoned In Turkey

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