A look at the state of the religion in the U.S., Europe, and the world.
Christian student in the U.K. kicked out by his university for Facebook message opposing gay marriage
- Felix Ngole, 38, expelled from Sheffield University after Facebook message
- Postgraduate father of four had been studying to become a social worker
- Set to appeal because of consequences for the ‘freedom of expression’
A Christian student has been ejected from his university course for voicing his opposition to gay marriage on Facebook.
Felix Ngole, 38, was expelled from Sheffield University after faculty staff decided he ‘may have caused offence to some individuals’.
The postgraduate father of four, who was studying to become a social worker, has been told his actions affect his fitness to practice and was ordered to hand back his student ID and library card.
Mr Ngole was reported after using his private Facebook account to express support for Kim Davis, a county clerk from Kentucky, who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licences after the introduction of same-sex unions there last September.
Mr Ngole argued that homosexual activity is against the teaching of the Bible, quoting a verse from Leviticus describing it as an ‘abomination’. Read More
UK: Manchester Councillor Pat Karney in the U.K. is seeking to crack down on street preachers, buskers and those who engage in commerce in the public streets says that preachers are wrong to talk about morality in the open air and to make their hearers feel “insecure” with their preaching.
When asked him to clarify whether the city council plans to place restrictions on street preachers as part of his goal to reduce public “nuisances.”
The Christian Institute sent a warning to the council and plan to support the street preachers’ right to address people in public spaces.
The letter says: “The Christian Institute has long supported the rights of street preachers and has funded several legal cases where local authorities or police have unlawfully interfered with those rights.”
Karney intends to silence ‘noisy’ street preachers or those who may provoke members of the public.
And said they would target street preachers who authorities feel project their voice too much or discuss issues that some members of the public may find offensive.
“Preachers do have a right to be out on the streets, but I do not think it right if they are talking about morality,” he stated. “Some talk about race or sexual orientation and that is not proper at all.”
“They’re perfectly entitled to talk about Jesus and the word of God, but not to make anyone feel insecure or threatened,” Karney stated.
While the Christian Institute has not received a written response to its correspondence, and concerned by Karney’s press statement.
“We are still no clearer about whether restrictions will be applied to street preachers in Manchester and remain concerned about potential police action,” it said in a statement. “Councillor Karney has not provided any legal grounds for this crackdown, and runs the risk of legal action being taken if the free speech rights of street preachers are interfered with.”
The article reports several street preachers have been arrested in the UK in recent years over the content of their speech. Read full report
Schools are at risk of “infringing the rights of children, parents and teachers” to practise their religious beliefs, the Christian Institute has warned.
The warning comes following an independent Christian school being told it may be rated just “adequate”, rather than its current “good” status, by Ofsted inspectors.
The school is accused of “not promoting other faiths,” deputy director of the Christian Institute, Simon Calvert, said.
“Astonishingly it was told it should invite representatives of other faith groups to lead assemblies and lessons, such as an Imam,” he added.
Calvert said this is evidence of new regulations, established in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, “requiring Ofsted inspection teams to behave in ways which do not respect the religious ethos of faith schools”.
“The wording of the regulations inevitably results in these kind of outcomes. While we obviously support attempts to address the problem of radicalisation, the current regulations fail to do this,” he said.
Nicola Harris has started a petition calling on David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to do all he can to help displaced Iraqi Christians suffering persecution at the hands of the notorious Islamic group ISIS. This brutal group has been carrying out cold blooded attacks against Christians, other minorities and even their children. They have faced rape, being sold as slaves, torture and horrific forms of execution, including beheadings.
In the past, ISIS (ISIL) now calling themselves IS were known by another name: al Qaeda in Iraq. In Syria, the relationship became strained as ISIS defied orders of al Qaeda movement leaders. With ISIS continued defianace, the well known terrorist group, al Qaeda disavowed any ties with it’s radical franchise, ISIS.
Today, ISIS and al-Qaeda compete for influence over Islamist extremist groups around the world. Some experts believe ISIS may overtake al-Qaeda as the most influential group in this area—globally.
Nicola has asked VOP to sign the petition and we are asking you to join us. Pray for them, be their VOICE and sign the petition!
Thousands of Christians have had to flee Iraq, they have been given an ultimatum by the extremist group ISIS to convert to Islam: pay a tax or face death by the sword. I would like the displaced Christians to be given refuge here in the UK.
Christian properties and belongings have been sprayed with an Arabic letter ‘N’ for Nazarine and every thing they own has been confiscated simply because of their faith.
Christians have lived side by side with Muslims in Iraq peacefully for thousands of years but now most have sought refuge in Kurdistan.
ISIS are threatening to invade parts of Europe within the next five years and make the people who live there muslims by force.
In Britain, we live respectfully side by side with people of all faiths and of no faith. We should all have the choice to follow our hearts on matters of faith and not be forced to change our minds by knife point.
I am a Christian… I am Nazarine… I am ‘N’
“David Cameron: We call on the Prime Minister to accept applications that come in from Christians being displaced by ISIS in Iraq to be dealt with in a favourable manner.”
A former Tory minister has said that in a “true democracy” people shouldn’t be forced to uphold something they don’t believe in, following news that a Christian bakery is facing legal action for refusing to produce a pro-gay marriage campaign cake.
Writing in the Daily Express, Ann Widdecombe said it “never occurred” to her that a baker might be at risk of not being able to operate if they have a conscientious objection to redefining marriage.
“If the baker had refused merely to bake a cake because the customer was gay then that would indeed have been both unpleasant and illegal but the refusal was specific to the message requested for the cake.
“Surely it is an elementary feature of true democracy that nobody should be obliged by law to affirm that which he or she does not believe”, she added.
Widdecombe highlighted the repeated reassurances given to Parliament that introducing gay marriage “would not cause discrimination against those who believed it wrong”.
“What price your assurances now, Mr Cameron?” she poses.
Marriage has not been redefined in Northern Ireland – the Assembly has voted three times in less than two years against same-sex marriage.
Widdecombe said: “In a free country the baker should be able to refuse to take part in what is effectively PR for gay marriage in the knowledge that any customers who do not like that decision are free to buy their morning loaf elsewhere.
“But then it is a long time since Britain and freedom were synonymous”, she concluded.
Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland hit the headlines this week after its Christian owners, the McArthur family, declined to produce a cake in support of gay marriage.
The manager of the business, Daniel McArthur, said they are happy to bake cakes for anyone, but could not fulfil that particular order as it clashed with the ethos of the business.
He said: “We are Christians and our Christianity reaches to every point of our lives, whether that’s at home or in the day-to-day running of the business.”
The notes from Dr. Azam’s medical journal include a crushed toe, broken fingers, missing fingernails, broken ribs, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, marks of flogging on her back and feet [and] extensive damage to her genitals.
Dutch authorities expressed shock and sadness over her execution and cut off diplomatic relations with Iran for approximately 20 days.
Roya Nobakht, 47, presently being detained as a political prisoner in Iran, may face execution for insulting Islam. She has lived in Stockport, England with her husband for the last six years and holds dual British-Iranian citizenship.
Her husband, Daryoush Taghipoor, has stated that his wife was arrested while visiting a friend at Iran’s Shiraz airport last October for comments she had made on a Facebook group calling the government of Iran “too Islamic.” According to a copy of her charge sheet seen by the UK’s Independent; she was transferred to Tehran and charged with “gathering and participation with intent to commit crimes against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities”– crimes punishable by death.
In an interview, Mr. Taghipoor told the Manchester Evening News that “his wife is not well at all…she has lost three stones [42 lbs]… and is scared that the government will kill her.” He also said that a confession had been extracted from his wife “under duress.” As is well documented, torture is systematically used by Iranian authorities to obtain confessions from political dissidents and even from some common prisoners.
Ms. Nobakht’s fears are not unfounded. Iran’s persecution of expatriates is nothing new. The first known case was that of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist who died under torture in 2003 while in custody. Ms. Zahara Bahrami, a Dutch-Iranian, was hanged in 2011. Three Canadian-Iranians; Saeed Malekpour, Hossein Derakhshan and Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, along with American Amir Hekmati, were all arbitrarily arrested while visiting relatives in Iran on vague anti-government charges. With the exception of Mr. Ghassemi-Shall, who was recently released, each one presently languishes inside Iran as political prisoners under dire conditions.
Ms Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist who had left Iran in 1974, returned in 2003 to cover a story about Iran. She was soon arrested and detained in Evin prison on charges of espionage. As Iran does not recognize dual citizenships, Ms. Kazemi was not allowed representation by Canadian authorities. She later died in custody. The Iranian officials claimed she had died as a result of a stroke but refused to return her body to Canada. In 2005, however, Dr. Shahram Azam, a doctor with the Iranian security forces who had examined Ms. Kazemi’s half-dead body, fled Iran. He testified that the victim’s body showed extensive signs of torture administered over a few days. The notes from his medical journal include a crushed toe, broken fingers, missing finger nails, broken ribs, a skull fracture, severe abdominal bruising, marks of flogging on her back and feet, extensive damage to the genitals and peculiar deep scratches on her neck. She was 52 years old and the first victim of the Islamic regime’s war of terror on Iranians holding dual citizenship. Her body has never been returned to her son in Canada. After her murder, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, diplomatic relations between Iran and Canada deteriorated significantly.
Ms Zahra Bahrami, 45, who held dual Dutch-Iranian citizenship, had travelled to Iran to visit her ailing daughter. She was arrested in 2009 for participating in anti-regime protests and taken to the dreaded Evin prison. According to eyewitnesses, Ms Bahrami was tortured so severely she could not sit or stand easily and was denied medical care for serious lung complications. On Jan 29, 2011, she was suddenly hanged at 5:00 a.m. without anyone’s knowledge. She was then hastily buried by the authorities in the absence of her children. Dutch authorities expressed shock and sadness over her execution and cut off diplomatic relations with Iran for approximately 20 days.
Mr. Amir Hekmati 31, an American born in Arizona to Iranian parents and who was visiting Iran for the first time, was arrested in 2011 and charged with “spying for the CIA.” He was tortured until he finally gave a televised confession. As a result he was sentenced to death but thanks to heavy international pressure, in 2014 his sentence was finally changed to 10 years in prison. Three Canadians — Mr. Saeed Malekpour, 39; Mr. Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, 45; and Mr. Hossein Derakhshan, 38 — were arrested while visiting relatives in Iran in 2008, on various charges. Malekpour was charged with designing software that was used in an “un-Islamic” way by third parties, whereas Ghassemi-Shall was accused of the customary espionage. Both were tortured while kept in solitary confinement for over a year and sentenced to death. Malekpour wrote from prison that his jaw had been broken while his interrogators were trying to extract his teeth with pliers, and that he had only confessed to crimes dictated to him by his interrogators under torture and threats to his family. Malekpour’s death sentence was eventually commuted to life in prison, while Mr. Ghassemi-Shall, was released in September 2013 — both due to successful campaigns by various international human rights organizations.
Derakhshan — nicknamed the “blogfather” — is best known for introducing blogging to Iran in 2001. He was sentenced for the contents of his blogs to 19.5 years in prison — the heaviest sentence ever handed down to a blogger.
The Islamic Republic of Iran does not recognize dual citizenships and considers all those who were born in Iran or to Iranian parents as Iranian citizens subject to its deadly Islamic penal code. One hundred and thirty-one offenses are punishable by death including theft, adultery, homosexuality, political dissidence, drug possession and blasphemy. It would be fair to conclude that travelling to Iran with any citizenship carries a risk. One enters a lawless and unaccountable country that lacks any degree of human rights, and where torture and hangings are an integral part of its government’s rule and survival.
By Shadi Paveh for Gatestone Institute
Shadi Paveh is a human rights activist for Iran who works with many international human rights organizations. She is also known for co-translating a key interview which exposed Iran’s regime dubious activities in Canada, as well as for translating and relaying many documents and letters from prisoners of conscience to the EU Parliament.
Tony Miano, a US preacher and a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, was arrested yesterday (8th January) and remanded in custody to appear before Dundee Sheriff Court at 10am today.
He was part of a street preaching team holding a week-long mission in Scotland.
He was the second of the street pastors to address lunchtime shoppers in Dundee High Street. He talked about the nature of sin; about the different sins that Jesus had come to save people from when a woman began to shout at him. He was preaching about sin in general and when he mentioned sexual sin including adultery, promiscuity and homosexual practice, the woman shouted that her son was gay.
Mr. Miano’s colleague, Pastor Josh Williamson of the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, who was present at the incident explains: “Tony wasn’t focussing just on homosexual practice – it was about all sin. A woman was yelling at him and her friend noticed we were filming the preaching, so she ran up to me and tried to smash my camera.”
He says the first woman then appeared to be calling the police on her mobile just as a council warden came along and said that while we were doing nothing wrong, and had the right to free speech, we should move on.
Mr. Miano finished his preaching in a few minutes and as the street preachers packed up two police officers arrived. At this point Pastor Williamson says the women shouted that they would get the preachers arrested.
“The female officer saw we had a camera and lunged for it and then the male policeman grabbed it and threw it in the police van,” says Pastor Williamson.
He says the male officer interviewed the women and then immediately arrested Mr. Miano, but did not question him or explain why he was being arrested.
“After Tony was put in the police van I asked why he was being arrested and was told it was for a breach of the peace and for using homophobic language,” says Josh Williamson.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, says the incident raises serious questions about police procedure and understanding of the law in dealing with such incidents.
“This appears to be an overzealous reaction by the police. The incident, adds to the number of arrests of Christian street evangelists for preaching from the Bible. It is indicative of the suppression of the freedom to speak and live out the words of Jesus Christ in public and present the teachings of the Bible,” says Andrea.
She adds that the Christian Legal Centre is ready to serve anyone who is challenged for expressing their Christian beliefs.
“At the Christian Legal Centre we are committed to helping people to continue to preach the Gospel in our nation.”
Tony Miano was arrested in July last year, in London, for alleged ‘homophobic’ comments. The case was dropped.
He has been remanded in custody to appear before Dundee Sheriff’s Court today (9th January) at 10am.