Sunday, August 31, 2008

INDIA: Government “aided” attacks on India’s Christians

CHRISTIANS in India have demanded the immediate dismissal of the Orissa state government following the second spate of attacks on Christians in eight months. In a strongly-worded statement sent to the President of India, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) went on to demand a public investigation into possible acts of violence against Christians orchestrated by regional governments, which they accuse of being infiltrated by Hindu extremists. The council singled out for criticism the local government of Chhattisgarh, the state neighbouring Orissa, accusing it of having “aided and abetted in sending militants to carry out attacks against Christians”. The violence erupted on Monday (25th August) in Orissa, where at least a dozen people were killed amid widespread violence. People fled for their lives amid attacks on churches and other Christian buildings. The riots were sparked by the death two days earlier of Laxmanananda Saraswati, a senior member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad party (VHP), and four others. In response to the violence, the GCIC appealed for the introduction of ‘President’s rule’ whereby the local authorities in Orissa would be swept aside to enable central Government to take direct control of the state, a measure applicable in times of emergency. The GCIC, an ecumenical body established to address the concerns of Christians, said the drastic measure was necessary “to ensure the security and safety of the minority community”. In the GCIC’s statement, a copy of which was sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the council’s president, Dr Sajan K George states: “Global Council of Indian Christians is deeply anguished and tormented by the mindless and macabre events taking place against Christians in Orissa and elsewhere in India.” The council go on to catalogue a total of 92 incidents of violence towards Christians which have taken place over the past week. They include:
• Four Christians were chased down and killed with daggers and swords wielded by up to 1,000 members of Hindu nationalist movement Sangh Parivar who descended on Tiangia village in Kandhamal district. The Christians had been attempting to protect their church which the radicals were trying to set ablaze.
• Handicapped Christian Rasananda Pradhan was burnt alive in the village of Rupa gaon. He was trying to escape to the nearby forest when he was caught. The whole village was attacked and people’s homes were torched.
• Two Sisters were publicly gang-raped in separate incidents. One was Sister Mina Barua, from a pastoral centre in Kanjamindi and the other was working at the Social Service Centre in Kandhamal.
• Also at the Kanjamindi, the pastoral centre’s director, Father Thomas, was seriously beaten before being stripped naked and publicly paraded. Petrol was poured over him, but his captors could not set him ablaze because it was raining heavily and the matches would not light.
• Countless numbers of houses, churches, convents schools, and shops have been attacked and/or burnt down. In Mandakia and Batingia villages, the Christian communities were bombed, destroying them completely. Meantime, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has written to the President and government of India, appealing for the protection for victims of the violence, and demanding a full enquiry. Hindu extremists have targeted Christians in Orissa before. In Christmas 2007, 70 churches and other Christian institutions were attacked and 600 Christian homes were destroyed. Aid to the Church in Need provided help for the Church in India following the riots last December, and is standing by to offer assistance as the present emergency unfolds.
By John Pontifex and John Newton
As in the days of Noah...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Church trashed as India religious riots spread

A vehicle burns inside a church in Nuagoan village in the Kandhamal district of the eastern Indian state of Orissa, August 25, 2008.
REUTERS/Sanjib Mukherjee
A video grab shows a Christian orphanage which was torched by a mob in Bargah town, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, August 25, 2008.
REUTERS/ANI via Reuters TV

A video grab shows the interior of a Christian orphanage which was torched by a mob in Bargah town, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, August 25, 2008.
REUTERS/ANI via Reuters TV
BHUBANESWAR, India-Hindu mobs ransacked a church and clashed with Christian villagers in eastern India on Thursday, police said, as Italy said it would summon India's ambassador to demand "incisive action" to prevent more attacks.Indian authorities have struggled to control spiraling religious violence in the eastern state of Orissa.Hindu mobs have destroyed more than a dozen churches and attacked Christians this week after the murder of a Hindu leader in Kandhamal, a tribal area where Christian missionaries have been active for years. Shoot-on-sight orders have failed to end clashes that have killed at least 11 people, mainly in Kandhamal district.Police deployed more than 3,000 personnel in the streets on Thursday but they could not stop the ransacking of at least one church. Local media said as many as four churches were attacked."Police are marching in several areas now," Orissa police chief Gopal Chandra Nanda told Reuters.Television pictures showed mobs armed with rods putting up road blocks on Thursday and others attacking churches.Other mobs armed with bows and arrows and axes have attacked Christian homes, dragging out women and children. Hundreds have fled to forests and nearby hills, officials said."Moments after we passed by a Christian village, people set it on fire and everything was over within minutes," a senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said from Kandhamal, the worst-hit district.India's constitution is secular, but most of its billion-plus citizens are Hindu. About 2.5 percent of Indians are Christians. But around the Kandhamal area, home to around 650,000 people, more than 20 percent of the mainly tribal inhabitants are Christian converts.Religious violence has troubled tribal regions of Orissa for years, with Hindus and Christians fighting over conversions.While Hindu groups accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to change their faith, the Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape a complex Hindu caste system.
The killings have drawn international reaction. Pope Benedict has condemned the violence against Christians in Orissa but also deplored the killing of the Hindu leader.On Thursday, Italy's foreign ministry said it will summon India's ambassador to demand "incisive action" to prevent further attacks against Christians.A statement issued after a cabinet meeting also said Italy would ask France, the current EU president, to take up the issue at a future meeting of foreign ministers.The Indian ambassador would be told of Rome's "strong expectations" for "an incisive, preventive and repressive action by Indian authorities regarding such unacceptable acts of violence," the Italian statement said.In Orissa, peace committees were set up in villages and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh discussed the violence with a delegation of bishops in the capital, New Delhi.But Christians in many villages said attacks were worse than the government has said.
As in the days of Noah....

Thursday, August 28, 2008


House churches asked not to meet during Games; new crackdown planned for October....
DUBLIN-As the Olympics draw to a close, new evidence of religious freedom abuses offers a stark contrast to China’s efforts to provide religious services for athletes and visitors during the Games.China hired religious clerics to provide these services and published a special bilingual edition of the Bible for distribution to athletes and official churches during the event. Simultaneously,officials asked house church leaders in Beijing to sign documents agreeing not to hold services during the Games, the China Aid Association (CAA) reported on August 13.More ominously, China has planned a new crackdown on four “troublesome elements,” including house church leaders, for October, when most Olympic athletes, tourists and journalists will have left the country, CAA reported on Monday (August 18).
Positive Steps
A British-based Christian charity, the Bible Society, provided funding for a special bilingual Olympic edition of 30,000 full Bibles and 10,000 New Testaments for distribution in the Olympic Village and to registered churches in the Olympic cities, the Catholic News Agency reported in June.The Amity Printing Press, China’s only government-approved Bible publisher, printed the books in a new multimillion dollar facility that opened in Nanjing in May.The Chinese government claims that Amity produces more than enough Bibles to meet the needs of the Chinese church, a claim many religious freedom organizations dispute. Amity also prints Bibles for export internationally.A report circulating before the Games declared that China had banned Bibles from the Olympic Village, but this report proved false.Officials also hired religious clerics from the five government-approved faiths to provide services for athletes and tourists during the Games. The five groups are Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, Protestants and Catholics; each one answers to a specific religious institution appointed to oversee their activities.
Restrictions in Place
In the lead-up to the Games, officials asked a number of house church pastors to sign a document agreeing to forego any activities at “Christian gathering sites” or meeting points while the Games took place, according to CAA.Under this agreement, house churches were banned from gathering from July 15 to October 15, a total of 17 weeks. Those who broke the agreement would face “disciplinary action.”The agreement asked that house churches “refrain from organizing and joining illegal gatherings and refrain from receiving donations, sermons and preaching from overseas religious organizations and groups that have a purpose.”The Union of Catholic Asian News confirmed in a report on August 7 that officials had forbidden bishops and priests in unregistered Catholic churches to administer sacraments or do pastoral work during the Games.Officials placed several underground bishops under house arrest and forbade them to contact their priests, the report added.In Wuqiu village of Jinxian county, Hebei, police erected a small “house” in front of the cathedral presided over by underground Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo in order to provide a facility for 24-hour monitoring of the bishop.Additionally, Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar in northeast China received phone calls from government officials asking if he planned to hold any religious gatherings during the Olympics. Wei said he would stay at home and pray for the success of the Games.Prior to the Games, police banned several Christians from meeting with visiting U.S. government officials and asked others to leave Beijing for the duration of the event.Police in July repeatedly asked house church pastor Zhang Mingxuan and his wife Xie Fenlang to leave Beijing. When they refused, police on July 18 entered a guesthouse where they were staying and drove them to Yanjiao in neighboring Hebei province.When Zhang granted an interview to BBC journalist John Simpson, police detained Zhang and Xie before the interview could take place. (See Compass Direct News, “Chinese House Church Pastor Detained,” August 7.)On August 10, police seized house church pastor and activist Hua Huiqi when he attempted to participate in a service at the government-approved Juanjie Protestant church in Beijing, where U.S. President George Bush was scheduled to appear.Hua, still in hiding, wrote a letter to Bush later that day, pleading for prayer for his personal safety and for freedom of belief for all Chinese people. (See Compass Direct News, “Chinese Christians Plead for Relief as Olympics Continue,” August 13.)
October Crackdown
More prayer may be requested in coming months. China’s Communist Party (CPC) will launch a nationwide crackdown on four “unstable social elements” in October, CAA reported on Monday (August 18).These elements were listed as illegal Christian house church leaders, petitioners, human rights defenders and political dissidents.Outlined in a secret government directive passed to CAA, the crackdown is designed to coincide with a new campaign for “20 more years of political and social stability” in China.In a speech on June 16, Zhou Yongkang, head of the Political and Legal Committee of the Central Committee of the CPC, called for “extraordinary measures” to be taken against these elements in order to protect the CPC’s continuous rule and reform programs.The Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau has also begun a new citizen informant initiative, requiring ordinary citizens to report individuals and organizations posing a threat to national security, including those who “engage in activities that endanger state security by utilizing religions,” according to CAA.

As in the days of Noah.....

"By God's Grace I Am Still Alive":"But I do not know what will happen tonight"

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC)
been monitoring the situation in Orissa and receiving status reports from those affected by this massive outpouring of hate. This first-hand report comes from a believer in hiding in Kandhamal District, Orissa, India and contradicts the claims of the Indian government that the situation is under control. Yesterday, ICC spoke with a Christian taking shelter in the middle of an area where Hindus are on a rampage against Christians.When ICC asked him how he was doing,he responded, "By God's grace I am still alive, but I do not know what will happen tonight." According to this eyewitness account, the last three days of violence have resulted in the deaths of 18 Christians that he knew of alone, including pastors, nuns, and Catholic priests. In addition, he said that Hindu radicals have demolished at least 75 churches and hundreds of houses belonging to Christians.While the Indian government maintains that the situation is under control, our eyewitness says it is anything but. The main towns have received additional police protection, but in the rural areas there is nothing to stop Hindu mobs from looting, killing, raping, and destroying. In addition, the police have had their hands tied. The local government has prohibited them from firing on any mobs.ICC spoke with this source at about 9:30pm local time (in India). At that moment, everything was quiet, but he said that the Hindus usually attack between 11pm and 4am. Their only defense against another rampage is divine assistance. Samuel Wallace, ICC's Regional Manager for South Asia, said, "It looks like the only defense these Christians have is God himself, because the Indian government has proved itself unable to stop the violence."ICC is calling on all concerned Christians to:
1.Urgently pray for the Christians taking shelter from the attacks of Hindu mobs.
2.Contact Indian politicians in Orissa to stop the violence.
Shri Naveen Patnaik
Chief Minister
General Administration,Home Affairs
Naveen Nivas, Aerodrome Road,P.O.-
Bhubaneswar, District-Khurda Pin-751001 (Orissa)
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
South Block, Raisina Hill,
New Delhi,
India-110 011
As in the days of Noah...

At least 1,500 flee Hindu-Christian clashes in India

At least 1,500 people have fled their homes for shelters in eastern India after days of violent clashes between Hindus and Christians that have killed at least 10, officials said Thursday.
Hundreds of houses have been burned to the ground and police have been ordered to shoot on sight after the killing of a popular Hindu holy leader on Saturday sparked riots that have drawn the condemnation of the pope."There are around 1,500 people from both the communities who have been rescued by the police," local civil administrator Satyabrata Sahu told AFP."We have started running shelter homes with food provisions for the people who have fled their homes," he said.Witnesses in eastern Orissa state estimated the same number again were hiding in forests or camping out at police stations in fear for their lives, although this could not be confirmed."Over 300 people fled our village and have taken shelter in the forest," Kanu Chandra Nayek told the Indian Express newspaper after his village was attacked by a Hindu mob."Here we have almost nothing to eat, there's a constant downpour, our children are sick."State officials said 167 people had been arrested after rioters torched nearly 500 houses as well as Christian prayer halls and vehicles in Orissa.Orissa authorities say 10 people have died, but government officials speaking on condition of anonymity have put the toll at 16.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, a coordinating body for the Catholic church in India, put the toll at 13 late Wednesday based on reports compiled by the local archdiocese.The body has called for Catholic schools to shut down Friday and for peaceful rallies across the country in protest of the violence.
However administrator Sahu insisted Thursday the situation was "tense but under control."
Some 2,000 federal and state police have been sent to the worst-hit Kandhamal area in the last three days, senior district official Kishan Kumar said.Italy said Thursday it would summon India's ambassador to stress the need for "decisive action" against what it called "unacceptable violence."Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday "firmly condemned" the violence in Orissa, where Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons were burnt alive in 1999-a crime for which a Hindu man is serving life in jail.Hindu-Christian clashes erupt periodically in India where 2.3 percent of the more than 1.1 billion population are Christians.Hardline Hindus accuse missionaries of "bribing" poor tribals and low-caste Hindus, who often face strong discrimination, to convert by offering education and health care.A spokesman for the Catholic bishops' body said caste prejudice was also spurring the sectarian violence, with most of the converts in the riot-hit areas Dalits-those on the lowest rung of the ancient Hindu caste hierarchy-or tribals."Absolutely the element of caste clash is there," said Father Babu Joseph."They have been progressing these years with better education into the services and also established their own small businesses. All their small businesses were the first targeted."Police initially blamed the death of Saraswati, who had campaigned against the so-called "forced conversions," on Maoist guerrillas.But Hindus in the area have accused Christians of responsibility for his death.Four people have been arrested in connection with the death, police have said, without providing details.
As in the days of Noah...

Church burns as Indian religious riots spread

BHUBANESWAR, India-Hindu mobs ransacked a church and clashed with Christian villagers in eastern India on Thursday, police said, as authorities struggled to control spiraling religious violence in the region.Hindu mobs have destroyed more than a dozen churches and attacked Christians in eastern Orissa state this week after the murder of a Hindu leader in Kandhamal district, a tribal area where Christian missionaries have been active for years.Shoot-on-sight orders and curfews to control violence have so far failed to end clashes that have killed at least 11 people.Police deployed more than 3,000 personnel in the streets on Thursday but they could not stop the ransacking of at least one church. Local media said as many as four churches were attacked."Police are marching in several areas now," Orissa police chief Gopal Chandra Nanda told Reuters.Television pictures showed mobs armed with rods putting up road blocks on Thursday and others attacking churches.Other mobs armed with bows and arrows and axes have attacked Christian homes, dragging out women and children. Hundreds have fled to forests and nearby hills, officials said."Moments after we passed by a Christian village, people set it on fire and everything was over within minutes," a senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said from Kandhamal, the worst-hit district.
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Six killed in India religious riots

BHUBANESWAR, India-Six people were killed when Hindu and Christian mobs clashed on Tuesday in eastern India, where dozens of churches have been vandalized in spiraling religious violence. Authorities imposed a curfew in nine towns of Orissa's rural Kandhamal district in an effort to end two days of violence in which a Christian orphanage was also torched by suspected Hindu mobs angry over the murder of their leader.
Orissa officials said at least four people, including a woman, were killed in Kandhamal's Barakhama village when Hindus and Christians clashed and shot at each other."Police broke up the two groups and brought the situation under control," said Satyabrata Sahoo, a top administrative official said.Two more bodies were found in a separate village in the district late on Tuesday, both killed a day earlier, Kishan Kumar, administrative head of Kandhamal district said.The deaths took the toll from two days of violence to eight, also including two people burned to death inside houses torched by Hindu crowds. More than a dozen churches have been damaged.Violence erupted after armed men killed a Hindu leader linked to the main opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and four others last week, an attack Hindus blamed on Christians.The leader had been heading a local campaign to reconvert Hindus and tribal people from Christianity.Local TV stations showed an angry mob vandalizing a church, throwing away furniture and setting it on fire.Villagers blocked roads with logs and boulders to stop police from entering the trouble spots.Police said Hindus attacked Christians and set their homes on fire in Kandhamal's Patingia and Matingia villages. A church was also damaged in the same district."A mob tried to torch a school bus but police chased them away," Pradeep Kapoor, police inspector general, told Reuters.

The Vatican condemned the attacks, calling for "an end to all bullying" and a return to dialogue.
"It expresses its solidarity with local churches and the religious orders involved, and condemns these actions, which are an affront to dignity, peoples' freedom, and endanger peaceful civil coexistence," a Vatican statement said.Separately, the Rome-based Italian missionary agency Misna said it had received reports that two Jesuit priests had been abducted in the area but had no further details.A top body of Indian bishops counted 32 incidents of violence against Christians in Orissa over the past two days. In protest, it said some 25,000 Catholic schools and colleges in India would be closed on Friday."People are totally harassed, driven away from their homes, beaten up and institutions destroyed," Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi told a press conference. India's constitution is secular, but most of its billion-plus citizens are Hindu. About 2.5 percent of Indians are Christians.The remote and forested Kandhamal region is rife with religious tension. Hardline Hindus accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to change their faith.Christian groups say lower-caste Hindus who convert do so willingly to escape the highly stratified and oppressive Hindu caste system.There have been attacks on Christians in Orissa and other parts of India in previous years. In 1999, a Hindu mob killed Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two children by burning them in their car in Orissa.Christians in eastern India have condemned this week's killing of the Hindu leader.Police blamed the killings on local Maoist rebels taking sides in a controversy over religious conversions, but Hindus say Christians were to blame.Police say by attacking Hindus the Maoists were trying to win support among the region's poor tribes, most of whom had converted to Christianity.

As in the days of Noah...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Retaliatory Killings in India Follow Hindu Leader’s Murder

NEW DELHI-The remote, destitute state of Orissa, marred for years by Hindu versus Christian violence, has erupted in retaliatory killings after the murder of a Hindu leader led a mob to burn small Christian churches, prayer halls and an orphanage that had housed 21 children.The police said a woman’s body, charred beyond recognition, was found inside the orphanage on Monday. The church’s pastor, whom police did not identify and was injured in the fire, told the authorities that the body was that of a nun working there. No children were injured.The attack on the orphanage, in an isolated district called Bargarh, came after the killing Saturday of a Hindu leader who had been associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, and who was leading a drive to wean local villagers from Christianity. Radical Hindu groups like the council are vehemently opposed to conversions to Christianity, which in India tend to focus on traditionally downtrodden lower-caste and indigenous groups, and have lately taken to conducting mass ceremonies to reconvert them to Hinduism.The Hindu leader who was killed, Laxmanananda Saraswati, was among five people slain by unidentified armed men who stormed a Hindu school in the nearby district of Kandhamal. The police blamed the killing on Maoist insurgents who prevail in the area. Mr. Saraswati’s followers, however, blamed it on Christians, and called for a statewide strike on Monday. The state government ordered all schools closed.The Press Trust of India reported that Hindu activists, defying an official curfew in the area, paraded through the streets, attacking Christian churches and homes.Orissa has a history of Christian-Hindu strife. Fights broke out last Christmas Eve, when one person was killed and churches and temples damaged. In 1999, a Hindu mob burned alive an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two children while they slept inside their car. A Hindu has been sentenced to life imprisonment in their deaths. Eleven others who had been convicted were freed by an appeals court in 2005 because of insufficient evidence. Mr. Staines ran a hospital and clinics for leprosy patients.
As in the days of Noah...

Orphanage Torched In India,Nun Dies:Hindu Extremists Suspected In Blaze Aimed At Christian Missionaries In Eastern India

Police personnel stand guard in front of a church in Bhubaneswar, India, Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 during a strike called by the World Hindu Council to protest the killing of a Hindu religious leader and four others by suspected communist rebels in another district of the state (AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout)
BHUBANESHWAR, India-Suspected Hindu hard-liners set an orphanage run by Christian missionaries on fire in eastern India on Monday, killing one nun and seriously injuring a priest, police said. The attack occurred in Khuntapali, a village in Orissa state, during a strike called by the World Hindu Council to protest Saturday's killing of a Hindu religious leader and four others by suspected communist rebels in another district of the state, Ashok Biswal, superintendent of police, told The Associated Press. Khuntapali is nearly 250 miles west of Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state. In the past Hindu extremists in Orissa state have attacked Christian missionaries. In 1999 an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two sons were killed by a Hindu mob that set their car on fire. On Monday, a group of Hindu hard-liners converged on the orphanage and asked nearly 20 residents to leave the complex, Biswal said. They then set the orphanage on fire with the nun and the priest locked inside, the police officer said. The nun died and the priest was hospitalized with serious burns, Biswal said. The region is marked by religious tensions between Christian missionaries who work with mostly poor tribes in the region and hard-line Hindu groups that claim the Christians are forcing or bribing people to convert. Churches have denied that residents have been pressured or bribed to change their religious beliefs. Indian law accepts missionaries but bars forced conversions. Nevertheless, any missionary activity generally provokes controversy. Hindus account for 84 percent of India's more than 1.2 billion population and Christians about 2.4 percent.
As in the days of Noah...

Guatemala plane crash

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Cops kill free speech at 'gay' event: Christians file suit over orders to remove shirt, stop talking about Bible

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed suit against the City of Elmira, N.Y., after police threatened to arrest three Christians if they did not remove a shirt and stop sharing biblical messages during a "gay" pride event at a public park.John Barnes wore a shirt with the message "Liberated from sin by the blood of Jesus" to the Southern Tier Pride 2008 at Wisner Park – a June 14 event promoted as a celebration of homosexual, bisexual and transgender lifestyles.According to the complaint filed in a U.S. district court, Elmira police Capt. Michael Marrone ordered Barnes to remove his shirt to prevent a "negative atmosphere" at the event and arouse discomfort in other attendees.Barnes obeyed the officer and took off his shirt so he could remain at the park without facing arrest.Another Christian, Julian Raven, carried a Christian newsletter to the event called the Elmira Protestor. Marrone threatened to arrest Raven if he distributed the letter, saying it contained obscene or illegal material, according to the complaint. Raven complied with the order.Capt. James Wandell and Sgt. Sharon Moyer threatened a third Christian, James DeFerio, with arrest for holding a sign on a public sidewalk adjacent to the park. The sign read: "Thousands of ex-homosexuals have experienced the life-changing love of Jesus Christ" and listed websites for more information about ministry to ex-"gays."DeFario complied with their demands. However, according to the complaint, officers then told him he was not allowed to talk to anyone at the event about the Bible. Police ordered DeFario to leave the event where Elmira Mayor John Tonello was scheduled to speak about democracy, telling him to cross the street."Christians shouldn't be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs," ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster said in a statement."Police cannot threaten to arrest Christians at a city park for sharing their viewpoint at an event open to the general public. Respecting their free speech rights is not optional."The men are claiming officers violated their constitutional rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and equal protection under the law. They are requesting a permanent injunction prohibiting police from "arresting them, forcibly removing them, or otherwise restricting their speech in traditional public fora due to the content and viewpoint of such speech, or because of their religious beliefs."Oster said police harassed the men primarily because of their Christian beliefs."Exercising your First Amendment rights is not a crime," Oster said. "Threatening to arrest Christians simply because they have opposing views and choose to exercise their free speech rights at a public place is unconstitutional."

As in the days of Noah....

American Aid Workers Die In Plane Crash

GUATEMALA CITY-A small plane carrying U.S. humanitarian workers crashed in a field in eastern Guatemala on Sunday, killing 10 people, including five Americans, an aviation official and a survivor said.The Cessna Caravan 208 crashed about 60 miles east of Guatemala City. The pilot called in engine trouble about 45 minutes after takeoff and tried to make an emergency landing, Civil Aviation director Jose Carlos said.Eight passengers were killed, along with the Guatemalan pilot and co-pilot,Carlos said.He said five of the passengers killed were Americans, but the nationalities of the other three had not been determined. Four other Americans on board were injured and were being airlifted to a hospital in the capital.Sarah Jensen, a 19-year-old who survived the crash with minor cuts and bruises, said she and her family were headed to a village in the area of El Estor to build homes for CHOICE Humanitarian, a group based in West Jordan, Utah.Her brother and father were killed in the crash, and her mother had serious burns and contusions. The family is from Amery, Wisconsin, Jensen told The Associated Press in a brief interview at the hospital.Amery is a small town about 30 miles east of the Minnesota state line.It was unclear if the other Americans were also with CHOICE Humanitarian.The group did not return calls Sunday afternoon.Aero Ruta Maya, the airline operating the plane, said only 12 people were on the plane, including the pilots, a discrepancy that could not immediately be resolved.Joanne de Bickford, who said she was the daughter of the airline's owner and was helping manage the crisis,confirmed there were Americans on board.She said the airline did not know how many people died.The army provided a list of passengers, but the names appeared to be garbled. The U.S. Embassy did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
As in the days of Noah...

Wild Crossdresser Heckles Preacher:"WARNING GRAPHIC!!!!!!!!!"

Wild crossdresser heckles Michael Marcavage as he open-air preaches at Pride in the Park 2008 in Allentown, Pennsylvania...
WARNING:GRAPHIC language and behaviour.....!!!!!!!

Source:Repent America
PS:Dear friends:This is the state of America TODAY--as many other nations around the world--WE ARE IN THE DAYS OF NOAH...Nothing has changed much since then...there were homosexuals then...there are homosexuals now.
These lost people we watch in this video taunting Michael--are the same to the ones we read in the Bible in Sodom and Gomorrah....UNREPENTANT SINNERS,that love their lusts more than God....That's why the cities were destroyed and there is nothing left of them as of today--except for balls of sulfur....
Let's pray BELIEVING that the ministry of people like Michael will be used with pwoer by God and that conviction thru the Holy Ghost will come to each one of these souls in the video.
PRAY for Michael and his team,and ministry.
These people in the video taunting Michael are hell bound and need JESUS desperately.
Let's pray for them....
As in the days of Noah....

Indian Maoists kill Hindus over Christian conversions

BHUBANESWAR, India-Suspected Maoists killed a senior Hindu leader and four others in a remote eastern Indian village, an attack that police said may be linked to a controversy over religious conversions in the area.Armed men raided a Hindu school in Orissa's rural Kandhamal district on Saturday and killed five people, including an octogenarian leader linked to India's main opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).The remote, forested region is a hotbed of religious tensions between hardline Hindus who accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribespeople and low-caste Hindus to change their faith.Christian groups say lower-caste Hindus who convert do so willingly to escape the highly stratified and oppressive Hindu caste system.Tensions came to a head on Christmas Eve last year when fights broke out in which one person was killed and churches and temples were damaged.The region is a stronghold of Maoist rebels and police say they have evidence to link the guerrillas to Saturday's attack."We have found a letter from the spot which indicates that it may be a Maoists attack," Kishan Kumar, the area's top government official, told Reuters, adding the automatic rifles used in the attack were similar to the ones used by the Maoists.Police say by attacking Hindus the Maoists were trying to garner support among the region's poor tribes, most of which had converted to Christianity. "There are instances where the rebels have threatened Hindu temples here," said Satish Gajbhiye, a senior police official.The murdered Hindu leader was leading a local campaign to reconvert Hindus and tribal people from Christianity.Saturday's killings have sparked tension in the area with hundreds of Hindus blocking roads and stopping trains. Thousands of policemen were deployed to maintain peace. Reports said one church was burned down by Hindu crowds.India's constitution is secular, but most of its billion-plus citizens are Hindu. About 2.5 percent of Indians are Christians.There have been attacks on Christians in the past in Orissa and other parts of India. In 1999, a Hindu mob killed Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two children by burning them in their car in Orissa.

As in the days of Noah...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Christian Theology Students Forced off Campus by Mob of Islamic Hard-liners

JAKARTA, Indonesia-Hundreds of Christian theology students have been living in tents since a mob of angry Muslim neighbors stormed their campus last month wielding bamboo spears and hurling Molotov cocktails.The incident comes amid growing concern that Indonesia's tradition of religious tolerance is under threat from Islamic hard-liners.In talks since the attack, the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology has reluctantly agreed to shut its 20-year-old campus in east Jakarta, accepting an offer this week to move to a small office building on the other side of the Indonesian capital."Why should we be forced from our house while our attackers can walk freely?" asked the Rev. Matheus Mangentang, chairman of the 1,400-student school.The government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, is struggling to balance deep Islamic traditions and a secular constitution. With elections coming next April, the government seems unwilling to defend religious minorities, lest it be portrayed as anti-Islamic in what is the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.The July 25 attack, which injured 18 students, was the culmination of years of simmering tensions between the school and residents of the Kampung Pulo neighborhood.Senny Manave, a spokesman for the Christian school, said complaints were received from neighbors about prayers and the singing of hymns, which they considered disturbing evangelical activity.
Several neighbors refused to comment, saying they feared that could further strain relations. A prominent banner, signed by scores of people, has been hung over an entrance to the neighborhood."We the community of Kampung Pulo demand the campus be closed and dissolved," it says.The assault began around midnight, when students woke to the crash of stones falling on their dormitory roof as a voice over a loudspeaker at a nearby mosque cried "Allah Akbar," or "God is great" in Arabic.The unidentified speaker urged residents to rise up against their "unwanted neighbors," said Sairin, the head of campus security, who goes by a single name.The attack followed a claim that a student had broken into a resident's house, but police dismissed the charge.Uneasy relations date to 2003, when neighbors began to protest the school's presence. Last year, residents set fire to shelters for construction workers to try to stop the campus from expanding deeper into the neighborhood. Some also questioned the legality of the school's permit.Christian lawmaker Karol Daniel Kadang accused property speculators of provoking last month's incident to clear the land for more profitable use, after the school refused to sell out.He also blamed the government for failing to build interfaith relations, which he and others believe are beginning to fray."People are still tolerant, but there is a growing suspicion among Muslims of others," said Prof. Franz Magnis-Suseno, a Jesuit priest who has lived in Indonesia for half a century.He added that the police have failed to prevent both attacks on minorities and the forced closure of Christian churches and nontraditional mosques by mobs incited by radical Muslims."The state has some responsibility for this growing intolerance, namely by not upholding the law," he said.A mob stormed a church service last Sunday in another east Jakarta neighborhood, forcing dozens of Christian worshippers to flee, said Jakarta Police Chief Col. Carlo Tewu. No arrests have been made.Since being driven from campus, nearly 600 female students have been sleeping under suspended tarps at a nearby scout camp, where they had to dig trenches to keep water out during downpours. Classes are held with megaphones in the sweltering summer heat, under trees or the tarps. A similar number of male students live in a guesthouse.The remainder have returned to their families. Food, water and school supplies are donated by church groups and community charities."We feel like refugees in our own country," said Dessy Nope, 19, a second-year student majoring in education. "How can you study here? I only followed 20 percent of my last lesson. It's difficult to concentrate."Christians have not been the only targets for Muslim hard-liners, who this year set fire to mosques of a Muslim sect, Ahmadiyah, that they consider heretical.In June, the government ordered members of the sect to return to mainstream Islam, sparking concern among activists who fear the state is interfering in matters of faith and caving in to the demands of radicals."We're living in a country where there are many religions, but the government cannot prevent the actions of fundamentalist groups," said Manave, the school spokesman. "The government cannot protect minorities."

As in the days of Noah...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Foreign Missionaries Defy Ban During Olympics

Young Christian missionaries visit the Olympic green outside the National stadium, also known as "Bird's nest" in Beijing , China, Wednesday, Aug.20, 2008.
BEIJING-Christian groups who flouted a Chinese ban on foreign missionaries are calling their underground evangelizing during the Olympic Games a success.Drawn to a nation of 1.3 billion people under atheist rule, the groups prepared for years for what the Southern Baptists once called "a spiritual harvest unlike any other.""We did see some conversions," said Christian missionary Mark Taylor of Pensacola, Fla.For Taylor, planning began four years ago with a lunch at the Athens Games among his Florida-based Awaken Generation ministry and ones from other countries. In the ensuing years, they came to China as tourists, making contacts among local Chinese.Taylor-who leaves China on Friday-said 115 people from 12 countries gathered in Thailand for orientation before scattering throughout China,from Tibet through the far northeast.Two groups worked in Beijing, he said, though he would not give details.Other larger efforts were carried out by the U.S.-based Southern Baptist Convention and the international ministry Youth With A Mission, Christian groups told The Associated Press. Neither ministry could say how many people were sent in.China tried to keep out foreign missionaries before the Olympics. It kicked out more than 100 suspected missionaries last summer, according to a U.S. monitoring group, the China Aid Association. China's intelligence services made lists of potentially troublesome evangelical Christians, and authorities tightened visa measures ahead of the games.Even the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, said during a visit to China this year that he did not support illegal missionary work during the Olympics.Taylor and other groups knew the risks."It's very difficult," said the 27-year-old Taylor, who on Wednesday explored the Olympic Green with six other team members, one as young as 15, after finishing their mission. "It's got to be through relationships. Handing out (religious) tracts would not go over well at all. That would be like me walking around with a 'Free Tibet' flag."Instead, the Christians came in on tourist visas and said they were involved in sports or cultural activities, which China allows. Taylor's group renovated a school in Yunnan province.Members then reached out to Chinese in one-on-one conversations.In response to a phone request by the AP, China's religious affairs administration office issued a statement Thursday referring to Chinese law."If foreigners do such things in China, they violate the law, and local religious departments and other departments should stop them,"the statement said.It did not say how many foreigners had been caught doing missionary work during the Olympics.Olympics efforts among Christian groups were coordinated in 2006, when major ministries held a conference in Thailand, said the Rev. Johnny Li, minister-at-large for Open Doors, an advocacy group for persecuted Christians. He said a DVD was distributed encouraging cooperation among groups.One of the most active ministries during the Olympics was Youth With A Mission, or YWAM, which sent in groups from around the world.One group of Thai Christians went to Yunnan province this month and danced to Thai-language Christian music in coffee shops and restaurants."They looked for opportunities to talk to the locals and share about their faith," said Sam Sarvis, YWAM's national director in Thailand. After the first week, authorities told the group there was a ban on performances by foreigners, so the Thais went to nearby villages and met people one-on-one."Our goal was wanting to communicate the love of God to people, not be overt," Sarvis said.One Christian group made headlines this week when Chinese authorities confiscated 315 Chinese-language Bibles found in their checked luggage when they arrived in the southwestern city of Kunming from Thailand.A member of the Wyoming-based Vision Beyond Borders group said they wanted to give the Bibles to their "brothers and sisters." Chinese law forbids bringing in religious products for more than personal use."It was almost like they were treating us like criminals," member Pat Klein said by telephone as the group prepared to return to Thailand with the Bibles. He said the group was followed during its stay in China. "We thought we'd stay away from Beijing. We honestly didn't come here to cause trouble."The subject of Olympics outreach was touchy for some groups."No comment," said a woman who answered the phone at Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of the Campus Crusade for Christ. She then hung up.However, a spokesman for the Missouri-based Fellowship of Christian Athletes was happy to talk about outreach efforts within the Olympic Village by its athletes, including American marathon runner Ryan Hall.Athletes stepped up to lead their own prayer groups or Bible studies after the Chinese said they would assign chaplains to the village's religious services center instead of allowing teams to bring in their own, said Dan Britton, the fellowship's senior vice president of ministries."It's a very unique situation," he said. "When you assign a chaplain, it's almost like saying, `We're bringing a team to China and assigning the coach.' Well, the coach doesn't know the players and only knows the sport. We feel the spiritual realm is the same way."One outreach success came ahead of the Olympics, when a U.S. team was in China for an exhibition match. The U.S. team and the Chinese team—Britton wouldn't name the sport—gathered in a hotel room the night before the match for a 30-minute prayer meeting arranged by a foreigner who had access to the Chinese team."It was very powerful," said Britton, who said he had seen photos of the meeting, where members of both teams prayed and sang. "God pulled it together."
As in the days of Noah..

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

U.S. Christians Get Bibles Back from Chinese Officials

BEIJING - A group of American Christians who had more than 300 Bibles confiscated by Chinese customs officials said they got them back when they returned to the airport Wednesday to leave the country.Members of Vision Beyond Borders had refused to leave the airport in the southwestern city of Kunming for 26 hours after arriving on Sunday, but finally left after realizing that the communist authorities would not relent.The group said Monday that the U.S. Embassy told them the Chinese would abide by a law that forbids bringing religious products into the communist nation for more than personal use.Officials gave back the group's 315 Bibles when they returned to Kunming airport Wednesday, then escorted them to immigration, group representative Pat Klein told The Associated Press by telephone from the airport."They were nice, but you could tell they wanted us to leave," Klein said.He said the group had planned to distribute the Chinese-language Bibles to Christian contacts in China.China's officially atheistic government prohibits proselytizing and is worried that if the spread of religion goes unchecked, believers might ultimately challenge the Communist Party's authority.The Sheridan, Wyoming-based group distributes Bibles and Christian teaching materials around the world.China faces routine criticism for human rights violations and repression of religious freedom.Religious practice is heavily regulated, with worship allowed only in party-controlled churches, temples and mosques, while those gathering outside risk harassment, arrest and terms in labor camps or prison.In China, Bibles are printed at just one plant, run by a government-backed Christian association for use in officially sanctioned churches. Though they can be purchased in some bookstores, they're hard to find.A fax from the customs officials in Kunming to the AP earlier this week said that foreigners can only bring in one to three copies of religious products for personal use. For more than that, a letter of authority must be obtained from the religious affairs office. The policy was explained to the Americans, the fax said.The Vision Beyond Borders group were leaving China for Thailand.

As in the days of Noah...

Tensions between Russia and Georgia take toll on the church

Georgia-Russia is slowly beginning a pullout of Georgia.Humanitarian aid trucks are going in, but residents are still very jittery.In fact, many fear the tinderbox situation could reignite into war.Both Russia and Georgia have been accusing each other of genocide and ethnic cleansing during the five-day war in the Caucasus.Even as they are hopeful of returning home soon, Russia's presence means once neighborly Ossetians and Georgians are now enemies.With international pressure mounting, President Dmitry Medvedev says withdrawal from Georgia would be completed within three days. However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says contrary to that report, there's still no proof that it's being carried out.Jonathon Shibley with Global Advance says their ministry was scheduled for a conference in Georgia this week. With all of the military action taking place, there were obvious security concerns."Our team was at the border of Armenia and Georgia, having just completed a pastors' gathering in Armenia. They received some news at the border, coming from within Georgia, that really made them decide that this would not be an appropriate time to go in for safety concerns, both for their sake and for the gathering of leaders."While the Frontline Shepherd's Conference was called off, Shibley says it's not a total loss. The events are catalysts for church planting and indigenous mission efforts. And yet, because there was already a body of Christians gathered anticipating the training, "It could potentially be an opportunity for these pastors still to come together and just use this as a strategic time of prayer and intercession for the nation. This was going to be a multi-denominational gathering of pastors and leaders of various churches, and we hope that somehow they'll still be able to convene."
--Pray that these church leaders would remain safe as they gather and intercede for the nation.
--Ask God to speak to the hearts of those in contact with the church.
As in the days of Noah...

Pakistan’s Christians Face Uncertain Future after Musharraf Resignation

The future for Pakistan's minority Christian community is uncertain after the resignation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf this week, says Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada.“Even Christians in Pakistan are somewhat mixed in their response,” he said, according to Mission Network News.“There are those that are quite glad to see a return to civilian government, and there are others that are also concerned with, I think, the uncertainty of what is going to happen now for the future.”Musharraf ended his nine-year reign as Pakistan’s army chief when he stepped down on Monday to avoid impeachment.Discussions on the new president already ran into trouble on Tuesday when coalition leaders came to blows over the re-appointment of 60 judges who were purged by Musharraf last year because they opposed his election for a second presidential term.Musharraf was a key U.S. ally in its campaign against terrorism. Now rights groups are anxious to see whether his departure will lead to tighter controls on non-Muslim religions under the largely Islamic coalition government.Stability took a further knock on Tuesday when a suicide bomb in the compound of a hospital in northwest Pakistan killed 20.Penner said there was an urgent need for Christian leaders in Pakistan to “help Christians in the country know how to be good citizens at a time when Pakistan needs good citizens.”“They need people who are concerned about their country and who are going to be able to make a positive impact."
By Anne Thomas
As in the days of Noah....

China's Bible Problem

Amid the medal-bedecked pageantry of the Beijing Olympics, it’s easy to forget that China holds another, less savory distinction: It maintains one of the more repressive regimes of religious persecution. As the recent travails of one missionary group demonstrate, even with the world watching, the host country remains as intolerant of religious freedom as ever. On Sunday, August 17, members of the Sheridan, Wyoming, mission group Vision Beyond Borders arrived at Kunming Airport in Yunnan province with 315 Bibles they planned to give out to Chinese Christians. (Similar Bibles can sell on the black market in China for the equivalent of six months' salary.) The group’s leader, Pat Klein, told reporters that customs officials seized the Bibles even though they were printed according to strict Chinese requirements."The authorities at the airport kept asking us to leave and producing pieces of paper which they said proved that bringing more than one Bible per person into the country was illegal," Klein said. "But it all looked bogus to us."So Klein and his two traveling companions staged a sit-in at the airport in protest. They were videotaped and awakened during the night. The next day, Klein was told their Bibles would be returned to them when they left the country, but the group didn’t believe these assurances and abandoned their protest empty handed.Ironically, last year China denounced “false rumors” that Bibles would be banned from the Olympic Games, insisting that 10,000 Bibles would be distributed in the Olympic Village. However, there are no subsequent reports confirming they went through with their promise.And so, the airport standoff between American Christians and Chinese officials has ended, having lasted only 30 hours. Chinese Christians, on the other hand, struggle day in and day out to observe their faith under tyrannical Communist rule. Unlike their American brethren, persecuted Chinese Christians don’t have a free nation they can return to.With this eposide, therefore, the Beijing Olympics have helped cast international focus on a serious and much ignored issue: the plight of Chinese Christians and other religious believers in the People's Republic. Indeed, not even the presence of George W. Bush prevented the Communists from arresting well known underground church pastor Hua Huiqi on his way to a church service with the President on August 10. Hua was beaten unconscious last year for trying to assist residents whose property had been seized to make way for Olympic construction, and then served six months in jail.The President took the opportunity during the service to call for greater religious freedom in the Communist country. (Ironically, at virtually the same moment, three American Christian activists were being arrested in Tiananmen Square, during a protest against the Chinese policy of forced abortion in Tiananmen Square. The group carried a banner reading “Jesus Christ is King” in English and Mandarin.)
The Beijing church Bush attended, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, is one of the three officially sanctioned Christian churches in China. However, millions of Chinese attend underground “house churches” like Pastor Hua’s instead, at great risk to themselves.A 2006 United Nations investigation found widespread government torture in China, with particular abuse inflicted on house church worshipers as well as Tibetan Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and members of the Falun Gong.According to Ashley Dingler of the East Asian for International Christian Concern, the months leading up to the Beijing Olympics witnessed a marked increase in Communist crackdowns on believers:
"We've seen a huge increase in the numbers of house churches that are being raided, especially the leaders of the house churches are being taken into custody. In early March, there were 70 [leaders] taken at one time."
A report issued by Dingler’s group explains that many cheap consumer goods for sale in the U.S. are produced by slave labor, by workers whose only crime is their faith. Ironically, one of the products manufactured this way are decorative Christmas lights:
"Their fingers bleed, but they press on, for if they don't make the day's quota – 5,000 bulbs – they are beaten. Inmates like these often make the Christmas lights that decorate the trees of Christian believers around the world. Their crime? Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. House church pastors are sent to work camps after their arrest, and in some respects, these are the lucky ones, for they survived the standard interrogations that greet most Christian leaders after they are detained; several are killed or 'disappear,' never to be seen or heard from again.”
This persecution is nothing new, of course. Religious faith of any kind is anathema to China’s Communist Party, which began persecuting the nation’s faithful even before taking power in 1949. Over the years, this persecution has waxed and waned depending upon who was in charge of the country and what kind of face they wanted to present to the world. Relative freedom in the 1970s was followed by thousands of arrests, which continue to this day.However, Christian groups in the West insist that, as in ancient Roman times, their faith is actually thriving under state persecution.A recent survey on religion concluded that the number of Chinese who describe themselves as religious is three times more than the official estimate. The figures are astonishing: an East China Normal University study estimates that 31.4 percent of Chinese – approximately 300 million -- are religious. “About 200 million are Buddhists, Taoists or worshippers of legendary figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune, and 40 million are Christian,” according to 2006 Pew Global Attitudes Project.This makes the news coming out of China both heartening and depressing. Not surprisingly, Rev. Rick Warren raised the topic during his “Saddleback” conversations with both Presidential candidates earlier this week.Asked what the U.S. should do to end religious persecution in China, Iraq and other nations, Senator Barak Obama replied that, “one thing that I think is very important for us to do on all these issues is to lead by example. That’s why I think it’s so important for us to have religious tolerance here in the United States. That’s why it’s so important for us, when we are criticizing other countries about rule of law, to make sure that we’re abiding by rule of law and habeas corpus and we’re not engaging in torture because that gives us a moral standing to talk about these other issues.”Responding to the same question, Senator John McCain asserted that he would use the “presidential bully pulpit” to pressure oppressive countries to halt religious persecution.McCain evoked the example of President Ronald Reagan:
"He said to those people who were then captive nations: The day will come when you will know freedom and democracy and the fundamental rights of man. Our Judeo-Christian principles dictate that we do what we can to help people who are oppressed throughout the world. And I'd like to tell you that I still think that even in the worst places in the world today and the darkest corners, little countries like Belarus, they still harbor this hope and dream someday to be like us."
Perhaps such words will inspire China’s millions of believers to hope and pray for a more peaceful future. Assuming, that is, they are allowed to read and hear them.
A blogger since 2000, Kathy Shaidle runs Her new e-book Acoustic Ladyland has been called a "must read" by Mark Steyn.
As in the days of Noah...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SRI LANKA:Attacks on Churches on the Rise Again

The church and furniture in Talahena, Malabe, damaged by mobs on July 6 (inset) Ven. Ellawela Medhananda Thero and Ven. Galagodatta Gnasasara Thero
Lawyer chased out by mob inside police station...
Abeygunawardene asks church to stop Sunday Service...
Gotabaya concerned church attacks will lead to international repercussions...
A worried Basil moves to mediate...
Champika says Christians would not dare build churches in Muslim areas...
Attacks on Christian places of worship are on the rise again this time the flash point being Kalutara with Buddhist monk-led mobs allegedly issuing death threats to pastors.
On the morning of August 3, as pastor Stanley Royston of the Assembly of God Church in Kalutara held his Sunday morning service Buddhist monks tried to storm the church with a mob. As the police tried to hold back the marauders Nation Building Minister and Kalutara MP Rohitha Abeygunawardena's Secretary arrived on the scene. He dispersed the crowd requesting Pastor Royston to either meet at the temple or the Minister's house. Pastor Royston however requested a neutral spot and the next day, August 4, they met at the Town Hall.Minister Abeygunawardena was present with the OIC of the area, other police officers and the government agent.The Minister however did not grant the pastor a hearing merely telling him he would have to shut down his church if he could not show registration papers with the Municipality and the Cultural Ministry.Cultural Affairs Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena however already denied to The Sunday Leader that any such regulation concerning his Ministry existed regarding any place of worship.Meanwhile earlier in July, Buddhist monks in the area had protested, calling for the closure of the church. The threats prompted Pastor Royston to lodge a complaint with the Kalutara North Police. On July 31, he was summoned to the police station for an inquiry and he went accompanied by his lawyer Prasanna Sandanayake.The duo were met by a host of Buddhist monks and an unruly mob inside the police station even as Buddhist monks manhandled the lawyer and chased him away. They also allegedly threatened the pastor with death as Acting OIC Bopitiya and other police officers watched helplessly.The monks threatened the pastor not to conduct any more Sunday services and to close down the church the very next day. When the pastor tried to speak about his right to minister to the congregation they whipped out a letter from the Municipality stating the church was not registered with them.With the situation becoming untenable the AOG church was compelled to retain legal counsel and on August 5, Denzil Gunaratne PC together with senior lawyer Asoka Weerasuriya were to make legal representations to the Attorney General, C.R. De Silva on behalf of the church.Ironically the church had been in existence for as long as independent Sri Lanka, since 1948. The current pastor who heads the church, Pastor Stanley Royston had pastored the church since 1995. According to the written submissions made to the AG, the Assembly of God church is an internationally recognised entity since 1921 and incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1948.The letter called for the Attorney General to instruct the police, DIG Chandana Wickremaratne and the SSP Kalutara to ensure that the right of worship of the pastor and the congregation is upheld, especially for the Sunday service of August 10.On Sunday 10, a mob was to proceed towards the church with intent to create havoc but the service went deliberately undisturbed as police protection had by this time been provided following representations made to the Attorney General.Thereafter, throughout the week demonstrations had been held against the church up until the time of writing.It is learnt that churches are now also seeking the advice of other senior counsel such as Faisz Musthapha in order to counter through the law of the land a wave of rights abuse that is set to take place in the near future.With the attacks increasing in intensity and frequency and an environment of oppression prevalent, many of these churches have been compelled to take up their case in courts of law while others have appealed to the Attorney General to take action and petitioned President Mahinda Rajapakse.
President Rajapakse's wife is a devout Catholic and his three sons have been educated at one of the most prominent Anglican schools in the country, S. Thomas' College.The latest modus operandi for oppression say sources, is multi pronged.First there are allegations of churches harbouring LTTE terrorists. The second is trotting out little known or non existent rules and regulations at Municipality level in order to curtail religious freedom.For instance say sources, churches seeking to expand their building are told by the UDA that no expansion whatsoever can be carried out unless 66% of the local population approves of it. With only 7% Christians in the country, such an approval rating, given the enmity and insecurity that has been fuelled by a nationalistic government, would be nigh impossible.
By Sonali Samarasinghe
To read more go to:
As in the days of Noah...

SRI LANKA:Attack on my Friends church

Dear friends and visitors:
A couple of minutes ago I received this email from Sri Lanka.
Please read the letter and pray for them.
The situation for christians is very difficult and it seems to have worsened in the past few months, along with the increase in violence in the country.
If you would like to know more about the current situation with christian persecution in Sri Lanka, look for the Sri Lanka flag icon on the left of my blog page and click on it and it will take you to a page with extensive latest information on the situation our brothers and sisters are facing daily in that nation.
If you would like to personally contact the people mentioned in the following letter,you can email me,and I will get back with you as soon as possible.
Thank you and God Bless You...!!!!!!!!
As in the days of Noah...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 11:57 PM
Subject: Attack on my Friends church
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we mentioned earlier the attack on churches is increasing and recently last Sunday my best friend's church in Norocholai which is in the Puttalam District of North Western Province was attacked by a small group of thugs and the church was completely burnt down. On 17th of this month while the pastor and his wife having their lunch a group of people had come and man handled and threatened him to close down the church saying that area belong to one religion and they do not want any other church coming up. The same night the thugs had come and burnt church. The Pastor Gnanasunderam and his wife had been serving in this area for the last five years. Pastor Gnanasunderam had been working in the secular field for many years and retired prematurely and took up this ministry. Fortunately his children were not with him as they are now adults and married. Please uphold him in your prayers.
Also give a link to a paper article which appeared last Sunday for your information. http://www.thesunda 20080817/ spotlight. htm
We are leaving for Hambantota to conduct a VBS for 150 children who were affected by the last Tsunami.
Please pray for us.
God bless you.
Abraham and Mercy P.

Residents Outraged by Mayor’s Move to Replace Prayer With Silence at Meetings

"I would suggest we're not really stopping prayer. We're just having a different kind of opportunity for prayer."

Haiti ministry feels gnawing hunger keenly

Haiti-Haiti is in the middle of its fourth month without a fully-functioning government.This follows the firing of Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis and his government in the wake of deadly food riots.While the government is sorting itself out, Haitians are paying dearly for it. Public transportation and gas prices have risen, as has unemployement. Revenues have fallen, and a tangled mess of red tape at the docks is delaying rations at the government ports. Some of the donated rations may never make it to the people they were intended for.A shipment of emergency food aid made it to Haiti, but Eva DeHart with For Haiti With Love says it vanished."Three complete ships of food were supposed to have arrived in Port au Prince on June; no one has a clue what happened to the food. It was not distributed."As a result, people are starving en masse, and they're resorting to eating mud cakes. These are cookies made of dirt, salt and margarine. They have some calcium and essentially stop the hunger.Meanwhile, rice is nearly non-existent. If it can be found, the price is exorbitant for those who might be able to earn $2 a day. For example, DeHart says a bag of rice is almost $640G (Haitian Gourdes), which translates to roughly $100USD or about $8 per cup.For ministries with feeding programs, DeHart says it's heartbreaking because they can't help everyone. "It gets really difficult when people are standing at the gate begging and you cannot expand the food program to include everybody because you don't know when the next food is coming in."The food problem will also extend into the classroom. Many poor parents are having to choose between feeding the family on the money they have versus paying tuition for an education.DeHart expects the crisis will be most visible in the fall, when schoolyards remain silent for lack of students.Ministry is growing complicated for staff of For Haiti. "They need God's guidance on how to deal with this, because people can't hear the Gospel message over a growling tummy. But we're in a situation where we can't feed all the tummies that are growling." --Pray for wisdom for the team as they act as the hands and feet of Christ in the region.
--Pray that God would intervene and enable For Haiti access to the food stuffs tied up on the docks, and that those they help would be open to the hope of Christ.
As in the days of Noah...

China confiscates 300 Bibles

China-Chinese government officials confiscated 300 Bibles from a Vision Beyond Borders (VBB) team from the U.S. on Sunday August 17 at China's Kunming International Airport. It seems a stark contrast to the image China has tried to project, says VBB representative Dyann Romeijn."I think this portrays the heart of the government.They want an image that says that they have religious freedom, but in all practice, whenever you try to practice that religious freedom, it's not there."Each member of the team of four, led by VBB founder and director Patrick Klein, was fined $400 U.S. for their overweight luggage. Officials told the team they were taking the Bibles as "illegal religious literature."The team slept in the airport Sunday night, knowing that if they left customs, there would be no way of getting the Bibles returned. Airport officials tried to get the VBB team to leave for food and to visit an official's office in the city.The team chose to fast in order to remain in the airport.On Monday, Klein and his team left the airport to find lodging after it was clear the Chinese authorities would not return the Bibles.They are praying for God's guidance and wisdom.Thus far, the VBB the team is doing well and has remained unified. As an answer to prayer, Klein's cell phone has remained charged so that he can stay in contact with the U.S. office.All this for 300 pastors' study Bibles-Bibles that on the Chinese black market sell for as much as six month's to a year's salary, said Romeijn."They're just very difficult to find, and they also are very, very expensive. So even though they say there are Bibles in China, they keep so few that an ordinary person cannot afford those Bibles. So many pastors in China are without Bibles." Only a limited number of Bibles are allowed into the country and then only sold at officially-sanctioned churches. They are prohibited in public book stores.The VBB team is still unsure whether or not the Bibles will be returned. If they are, they will be distributed to VBB's church contacts in the country. Klein's priority in this "is that God is glorified in all of this and that people learn that there is still persecution out there. We need to stand in prayer for our brothers and sisters in China."
--Pray that the situation will not be about the organization or anything other than bringing God's Word to people who want and need it.
--Pray that the Bibles are returned as a testimony to God's sovereignty and provision.
--Pray also for the safety of the VBB team and for a safe return from China.
As in the days of Noah...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

China Confiscates Bibles From American Christians

BEIJING-A group of American Christians who had more than 300 Bibles confiscated by Chinese officials when they arrived in China is refusing to leave the airport until they get the books back, their leader said Monday.Pat Klein said he and three others from his Vision Beyond Borders group spent Sunday night at the airport in the southwestern city of Kunming after customs officers took the Bibles from their checked luggage."I heard that there's freedom of religion in China, so why is there a problem for us to bring Bibles?" said Klein, whose Sheridan, Wyoming-based group distributes Bibles and Christian teaching materials around the world.The Bibles were printed in Chinese, he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.The move comes as China hosts the Olympics in Beijing, where false media reports last year claimed Bibles would be banned from the games. The state-run China Daily reported last month that 10,000 bilingual copies of the Bible would be distributed in the Olympic Village, which houses athletes and media.In China, Bibles are legally printed at just one plant — the world's largest — run by a communist government-backed Christian association, and are available in many bookstores. But the officially atheistic government prohibits proselytizing and is worried that if the spread of religion goes unchecked, believers might ultimately challenge the Communist Party's authority.A woman on duty at Kunming airport's customs office confirmed over the telephone late Sunday that 315 Bibles were found in the passengers' checked baggage.The officer, who would only give her last name, Xiao, denied confiscating the Bibles. She said authorities were just "taking care" of them and provided no further details. She later said she was not authorized to speak to the media and referred questions to the national customs headquarters in Beijing, which did not answer phones on Sunday.On Monday morning, Klein said Chinese officials had shown the group what they said were regulations that banned bringing Bibles into China, but that the documents were in Chinese."We are waiting for them to come back with the law in English," he said.Chinese officials had asked the Christians to leave the room at the airport where they spent the night, but Klein told the officials they did not want to go without the Bibles.Klein said the customs officers had told him that they could each have one Bible for personal use, but no more than that. He said the officers had videotaped them and were insisting that they leave the airport."We don't want to go without taking those books. It cost us a lot of money to bring them here," Klein said. "They're saying that it's illegal to bring the Bibles in and that if we wanted to, we had to apply ahead of time for permission."China faces routine criticism for human rights violations and repression of religious freedom. Religious practice is heavily regulated by the Communist Party, with worship allowed only in party-controlled churches, temples and mosques, while those gathering outside risk harassment, arrest and terms in labor camps or prison.A Chinese Christian activist was detained Aug. 10, the opening weekend of the Olympics, on his way to a church service attended by U.S. President George W. Bush in Beijing. A rights group said later that the activist, Hua Huiqi, a leader of the unofficial Protestant church in Beijing, had escaped from police and was in hiding.Police have denied any involvement in Hua's disappearance.

As in the days of Noah...