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Assault on Christian Leader in Nepal Reflects Growing Threat

Pastor Sagar Baizu of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal. (Morning Star News)

(Morning Star News) – Pastor Sagar Baizu, 46, had finished one meeting and had an hour before the next one, so he decided to stop at a café on a major thoroughfare in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, on July 19.

As he was about to sip a coffee in the crowded café at 2 p.m., six to eight men suddenly attacked the spokesperson and co-general secretary of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal (FNCN) from behind.

“They beat me for a minute and a half and suddenly fled the site,” Pastor Baizu told Morning Star News. “They said, ‘We will blast your church and all the churches with bombs and shoot you and all your leaders.’”

He became dizzy from many blows to his head by two of the assailants and could not see the faces of any of them, he said.

“I just could not understand what was happening to me for about 10 minutes after the assault,” the pastor said.

After cafeteria staff members helped him regain his bearings, Pastor Baizu informed police, who arrived in about 20 minutes.

Though he sustained no visible injuries, he received immediate medical attention, and doctors advised him to wear a neck brace for a week and to rest his head as much as possible.

Pastor Baizu, who has headed Anugrah Vijay Church (Grace Victory Church) in Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu District, for 23 years, filed a report on the assault with police, and the chief district officer has taken it seriously, he said.

Police registered a case against six to eight unidentified men under “attempt to murder” and “threat of bomb blast,” he said. The chief district officer instructed Kathmandu Valley police to provide security to the pastor, and policemen have been deployed outside his church building and residence. They told him to inform security personnel whenever he leaves home.

High Profile

Pastor Baizu has been advocating on behalf of Nepali Christians for more than 10 years.

“I am the official spokesperson of the Federation of National Christians in Nepal and have been speaking about the rights of the church for many years now,” he said. “This is not the first time that I have received threats.”

Asked if the attack could have resulted from personal animosity, Pastor Baizu said he had no personal enemies, and that he had no doubt he was assaulted for his boldness to “stand for the church and with the church.”

“This is persecution that came because of my Christian activism,” he said. “They spoke about bombing the church and killing the Christian leaders. Otherwise they would have never spoken like this.”

He was a high-profile advocate for Tupek Church in Kathmadu after a bulldozer arrived to demolish its building about four months ago. The pastor also recalled how four Christians were jailed for a week after a mob of Hindu extremists assaulted them for singing Christian songs on a roadside.

The hard-line Hindus held the young Christian men until police arrived, and officers arrested the four Christians and set the assailants free, he said. A case was registered against the four Christians, who were released on bail.

The assault on Pastor Baizu comes amid a rash of anti-Christian hostilities this year. He said increased threats on the Christian community in Nepal is a matter of great concern.

“Every day we hear about one or the other incident in Nepal,” he said, adding that the government is not doing enough to protect the rights of Christians, and that radical organizations are taking advantage of this laxity.

A team of Christian delegates recently met with Nepal’s home minister but were disappointed with the cold response, he said.

Turkey Turns On Its Christians

The ultra-nationalist Islamist group Alperen Hearths staged a forced conversion of Santa Claus to Islam, putting a gun to the head of an actor dressed as Santa Claus. This photograph was then posted on Twitter.

(Middle East Forum) While Christians make up less than half a percent of Turkey’s population, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Reconciliation Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) depict them as a grave threat to the stability of the nation. With Erdoğan’s jihadist rhetoric often stereotyping Christian Turkish citizens as not real Turks but rather as Western stooges and collaborators, many Turks seem to be tilting toward an “eliminationist anti-Christian mentality,” to use historian Daniel Goldhagen’s term. Small wonder that the recent launch of an official online genealogy service allowing Turks to trace their ancestry has kindled a tidal xenophobic wave on the social media welcoming the fresh possibility to expose “Crypto-Armenians, Greeks, and Jews” mascarading as true Turks. [1]

“The Mosques Are Our Barracks”

Persecution of Turkey’s Christian minority has long predated Erdoğan and the AKP. As it stood on the verge of extinction, the Ottoman Empire engaged in mass deportations and massacres that culminated in the Armenian genocide. The end of World War I saw the expulsion of more than a million Greeks,[2] and the position of the dwindling Christian community only somewhat improved in Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s secularist republic. Yet while Kemalist Turkey paid lip service to the equality of its non-Muslim minorities, the AKP unabashedly excludes these groups from Turkey’s increasingly Islamist national ethos.[3]

An ominous indication of what lay in store for the religious minorities was afforded as early as December 1998 when Erdoğan, then mayor of Istanbul and an opposition politician, announced that the “mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers,” quoting a line from a poem by the nineteenth-century nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp underscoring the Islamist foundation of Turkish identity. And while this recitation landed Erdoğan in prison for inciting religion-based hatred,[4] once at the helm, he steadily realized this vision, systematically undoing Atatürk’s secularist legacy and Islamizing Turkey’s public space through such means as the government-operated Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), which pays the salaries of the country’s 110,000 imams and controls the content of their Friday sermons.

Things came to a head during the July 15, 2016 abortive coup when the regime ordered the imams to go to their mosques and urge the faithful to take to the streets to quash the attempted revolt.[5] Not surprisingly, this Islamist-nationalist reassertion was accompanied by numerous Christophobic manifestations (in Ayyan Hirsi Ali’s words),[6] notably attacks on churches throughout the country.[7] In Malatya, for example, a gang chanting “Allahu Akbar” broke the glass panels of the front door of a Protestant church while, in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, rioters smashed the windows of the Santa Maria Catholic church. Witnesses said the attackers used hammers to break down the door of the church before Muslim neighbors drove them away.[8] As Istanbul pastor Yüce Kabakçı lamented:

The reality is that Turkey is neither a democracy nor a secular republic. There is no division between government affairs and religious affairs. There’s no doubt that the government uses the mosques to get its message across to its grassroots supporters. There is an atmosphere in Turkey right now that anyone who isn’t Sunni is a threat to the stability of the nation. Even the educated classes here don’t associate personally with Jews or Christians. It’s more than suspicion. It’s a case of let’s get rid of anyone who isn’t Sunni.[9]

Anti-Christmas Campaigns… [Full Story]

Please pray for Christians in Turkey and for our brother, Andrew Brunson, an American imprisoned for his faith and awaiting the next session of his trial on July 18th.

INDIA – Justice denied to the Christian victims in Orissa

(Agenzia Fides) – “There are many little-known and never recounted incidents which occurred in the district of Kandhamal. Justice was denied to the most vulnerable and marginalized people such as Adivasi and Dalit Christians. The poor and the marginalized do not receive justice: this is a serious matter of concern for all of us if we want to save the Indian Constitution. The old saying is really true: Justice delayed is justice denied”: This is what A.P. Saha, a judge of the High Court of Delhi told Fides, presenting a new research on anti-Christian massacres that occurred in Orissa in 2008. The research, signed and published by two authors, lawyers Vrinda Grover and Saumya Uma, offers unusual and unpublished stories, revealing the shortcomings in managing justice to the victims.

Commenting on the publication, John Rebeka, activist for human rights, recalls the extent and the consequences of that campaign of violence: “Violence in Kandhamal severely affected women and children, obstructing the path of education. 600 villages were destroyed, 5,600 houses were looted, 295 churches and other places of worship, 13 schools, and homes for leprosy patients were destroyed. About 56,000 Christians of Kandhamal became homeless. The faithful were told that the condition in order to stay in that district was to become Hindus. This is the reality of the tragedy of Kandhamal”. “The judicial system is slow in ensuring justice for the minorities in the country”, said lawyer Ramachandran, invoking the “right to freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution”.

Speaking of her own research, lawyer Saumya Uma tells Fides: “Hindu fundamentalists have intimidated witnesses in courts, threatening them with death. There was no conducive atmosphere to release her testimony. As a result all the more severe cases, or with the highest number of defendants have been resolved with dismissal or aquittal. Currently the defendants move freely, while the innocent victims live in fear and hiddeness. This is the real situation in Kandhamal, nine years after the incident. Among Hindus and Christians in local communities we are yet to restore confidence and brotherhood”.

Lawyer Vrinda Grover, another author of the research, told Fides: “I have investigated the violence in Kandhamal: there are the responsibilities of the civil and judicial administration. The district administration was paralyzed for three or four days. No relief was brought to the victims. The victims, who fled into the forests, were deprived of minimum services, such as food and water”. The authors speak from a perspective that is not sectarian or communitarian, claiming to act “for human beings and humanity”. The two legal experts are launching the appeal to do justice, “re-opening the court cases on the victims of Orissa”.

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

INDIA – Intolerance and violence against Pentecostal Christians

Indian Christians

(Agenzia Fides) – “There is growing intolerance and hostility toward small Pentecostal Christian communities, that are not allowed to do what is guaranteed by constitutional guarantees”: says to Agenzia Fides Sajan K. George, president of the global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), recalling the recent episodes of violence suffered by Protestant Pentecostal Pastors.

On August 20, Pastor Roy of the “Sharon Fellowship Church Town” was pelted with stones by extremists in Kodungallur, in the state of Kerala. Pastor Roy explained that, over the last five years, during the Sunday liturgies there have always been tension due to the presence of fanatical Hindus militants who want to stop the celebrations.

In another recent incident, in Bangalore, Karnataka, on August 18, a 26-year-old evangelist Christian leader of the Thadou Christian Fellowship Church was attacked and punched by five men, after paying a visit to his friend to lead a prayer meeting.
According to the Pentecostal communities, these attacks are on the rise. Speaking to Fides, Sajan K. George said: “Pastors are not doing anything illegal, or causing problems of public order or security. It is the militants who carry out gratuitous violence on innocent Christians. It is up to the state to give an institutional response, to stop the violence, ensure the rule of law”.

 

EUROPE: Report claims one in eight Christian refugees are attacked for their faith

 

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We have been warning of the persecution Christians are facing in refugee centers in Europe, Markus Rode head of Open Doors Germany said, the figures show “fear and panic” among Christians migrants.

Christian refugees have fled refugees centers after extreme intimidation and at times physical violence by Muslim refugees.

“Discrimination and violence against people of different beliefs exist in refugee centres much more extensively than authorities want to believe,” Rode said. “Converts are most exposed. They are seen as traitors by radical Muslims.”

231 Christian migrants residing in Germany were interviewed. The majority being  from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. 42 percent have reported insults, 37 percent said they suffered a physical injury, and 32 percent allegedly received death threats.

According to the survey, 88% said they’ve been targeted by other migrants because of their religion.Nearly half surveyed accused guards of discriminating against religious minorities or harassing them. In Germany’s refugee housing, both the migrants and the security are mostly Muslim.

The L’OBSERVATOIRE DE LA CHRISTIANOPHOBIE reported Cardinal Rainer Woelki said at an ecumenical meeting in Düsseldorf Saturday 13 February, “The fear increases that politicians and the authorities do not take seriously enough such threats [against Christians in refugee centers]. The persecution of Christians is not a thing of past ages.”  He demanded that Germany defend greater religious freedom. For his part, Pastor Gottfried Martens said the “harassment” against the Christian migrants in refugee centers in Germany has increased. He affirmed that Christians were forced to watch beheading videos, were banned from the common kitchen because  they were”unclean”, beaten and Christian necklaces torn from their necks. The pastor suggested Christians and Muslims needed to be housed in separate shelters. “When I talk to politicians, they tell me that the churches do not consider that necessary accommodations are separated and I look ridiculous (…) Our efforts to be tolerant, which is in itself praiseworthy, are not so far allow us to let Christians become a kind of guinea pigs. ”

World Watch Monitor reported Christians among the thousands of Middle Eastern migrants who have fled to Europe have discovered that a familiar burden has followed them: religious harassment.

Voice of the Persecuted shared last August how Christian refugees moved from asylum accommodation after threats by Islamists in Sweden. The Christians feared for their safety after it was demanded that they stop wearing Christian symbols, like crosses around their necks. And that they were not welcome in common areas when the aggressive Muslim group was there. After receiving no help when the atmosphere became intimidating, the Christian refugees dared not stay and decided it would be safer to find other accommodations.

Many Christians have left their homelands fleeing persecution and discrimination. They are already traumatized by their experiences. Imagine what it’s like to realize you will suffer the same discrimination and hate in a place of refuge.

Discrimination follows Christians not only from the Middle East, but those from Asia. Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in Thailand are living through extreme hardships in the UNHCR process which takes years, painstakingly long. Unable to legally work, send their children to school, constant fear of arrest and without a program to aid their basic survival and medical needs. They are trapped in a system that often fails them. Remember the horrific atrocities Nigerian Christians are facing. A staggering amount of Nigerian Christians suffer as internal refugees. They too face extreme discrimination from Muslims in the camps.  Let us shine as the Body of Christ and do more for them. Please consider partnering with us to care for those detained with their children in Immigration Detention Center and in refugee camps. To support those without means to care for their families. To give hope that they have not been forgotten by their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

 

Churches razed and burned to the ground, Authorities now threaten to tear down worship tents of Indonesian Christians

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INDONESIA: (Voice of the Persecuted) Christians in Aceh Singkil are targets of rising intolerance and violence. A large number were forced to flee during recent attacks and threats from radicals. To add to their heartbreak, Aceh authorities continued the destruction by dismantling more churches on the grounds they had not been registered. See photos an read our Oct report covering the attack and destruction.

Churches in Indonesia have seen imposed closures by local officials and attacks by fundamentalists groups since 1998. However, this issue is aggravated in Aceh, Indonesia’s only province where Sharia law is applied.

President Jokowi promised a safe Christmas celebration throughout Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Out of more than 30 churches nationally which were torched, destroyed, or forced to shut down in 2015—ten churches were destroyed in Singkil in October alone. In all, 11 churches were demolished.

According to World Watch Monitor, the Aceh Singkil Regency Chief, or Bupati, banned Christmas services on 25th – affecting more than 2,000 Christians from the destroyed churches. They were only allowed and promised security by the authorities (Bupati, police and military) if they held services on Dec 23rd.

The recently-established Aceh Singkil Churches’ Communication Forum (Forsicas) met on 23rdDec. and decided to hold services on the 25th at all the sites where their demolished churches used to stand. This was in direct defiance of the authority’s directives to either have the Christmas services on the 23rd or hold them on 25th outside Singkil’s border.

Since October, the majority of the Singkil congregants have been unable to share in corporate worship. Around 1,000 churchless believers were prohibited from raising temporary tents to hold Sunday worship services – for “security reasons” – and advised to go to churches in other villages.

In Aceh, church leaders must obtain permission from the local government if they want to hold Sunday services in tents. One of the torched churches, the Indonesian Christian Church (HKI), has recently been given a permit to do so.

Christians’ reaction

A general sentiment of despair and disbelief looms over the Singkil villagers in Aceh. One of the Christians whose church was demolished on 19 Oct. said: “The church had been here for such a long time. Our government should have paid attention to churches with large congregations. Where will we go for services now?”

“I have lost my hope for a better Indonesia,” said a Muslim woman, who converted to Islam from Christianity after she married a Muslim, and wished to remain anonymous. “They who call themselves government and religious organisations have destroyed one beautiful thing: the garuda,” she said referring to the country’s symbol of harmony in diversity in the form of a mythical bird called “garuda”.

She said Christians and Muslims had lived in harmony for decades and respected each other’s faiths before the incident.

“But now, everything’s different,” she said. “Muslim neighbours wouldn’t pass by the church debris or even glance at their Christian neighbours. I don’t know if our relationship could ever go back to the way it used to be.”

Today, our Indonesian contacts shared with Voice of the Persecuted,

After the goverment of Aceh singkil demolished churches 2 months ago, Christians tried to build blue tents so they can still do Sunday services and to pray to God. Today, Aceh singkil government also want to tear down these blue tents. Dear friends, please help pray for christians in Aceh..the decision is tomorrow.

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In 2006, the controversial Joint Rules set by the Minister of Religious Affairs and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 8 and No. 9, demands states churches cannot be built without providing authorities with a list of names and signatures of 90 congregation members along with written support from at least 60 local residents and a village chief.

This has made it nearly impossible, if at all, for religious minorities to collect the signatures of 60 people required for the permit, particularly if the signatures are needed from citizens whose religion differs from their own.

In October, a radical Muslim youth group, Aceh Youth Concerned for Islam held protests demanding alleged unlicensed churches be torn down by authorities. Many believe the government’s decision to destroy ten Christian churches came by pressure of Muslim fundamentalists. But Impatiently, Muslim extremists took actions into their own hands and instigated mob violence to destroy Christian buildings and threaten Indonesian believers. Police were deployed but unable to stop the violence as one authority reported they were outnumbered by a mob of 500-800 strong.

When hatred flared, more than 5000 Christians fled their communities and were displaced as internal refugees. Upon their return, they were pressured to agree with decisions and rules made by Muslims and the government of Aceh Singkil to receive protection.

It is the government’s duty to help in the registration for houses of worship. Note: Many Mosques are not registered, but are overlooked.

Despite growing intolerance and escalating persecution in the world’s largest Muslim-populated nation, the Church in Indonesia continues to grow.

PLEASE pray for our Indonesian brothers and sisters facing persecution.

Yonge-Dundas Square concert ban Christian bigotry

Yonge-Dundas-Square-Toronto

Yonge-Dundas Square, Toronto Ontario Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Canada. Let’s call it like it is: Our society views some cultures and creeds as more equal than others. Simply put: Christians are fair game for unfair treatment.

The latest case of unabashed anti-Christian bigotry hails from the heart of our nation’s most populous city. A Christian concert has literally been banned from Toronto’s public square.

Voices of the Nations (VOTN) has been using city property since 2006 for their annual multi-denominational event that celebrates Christianity through peaceful praise and worship. While the group used Yonge-Dundas Square for the past five years without issue, the City of Toronto is refusing to grant VOTN a permit for next year’s music festival. Read More

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