Scottish ban on parental smacking advances

You can’t smack me or I will call the Bobbies (Police)

Plans to criminalise parents in Scotland for smacking their children have taken a step forward.

Currently, parents are permitted to discipline their children with a light smack but the Scottish Government wants to make this illegal.

The Scottish Government is backing the Bill.

Public opposition

A spokesperson for Be Reasonable, the campaign group spearheading opposition to the Bill, said the ban removes a parent’s freedom and responsibility to discipline their children.

“This Bill could see them in the dock for simply tapping their kids on the back of the hand or pulling them away from the side of the road.

“It’s no wonder the 2017 ComRes poll shows the ban remains opposed by almost 75 per cent of Scots.”

The same poll also found that two thirds say it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child.

Hypocrisy

The Member’s Bill has been put forward by John Finnie who was elected as Scottish Greens MSP for Highland and Islands in 2016.

The spokesperson said it is “astounding that the MSP behind this is trying to dictate to the vast majority while freely admitting that he smacked his own kids and they turned out ‘well rounded’”.

“Around 85 per cent of adults were smacked as children. Do they think they were subjected to ‘inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, as has been claimed by supporters of the Bill?”

They added: “Police and social workers are already overstretched.

“Criminalising loving parents for giving a light, infrequent smack for the purpose of teaching right from wrong will inevitably divert valuable resources away from children who genuinely need help.”

‘Unworkable’

The last attempt to ban smacking in 2002 was ditched after being branded ‘unworkable’ by MSPs.

The SNP then called that Bill’s demise “a victory for common sense”.

Christian Girl Attacked for Refusing to Marry Muslim

(Evangelical Focus) — A 18-year-old Christian girl from Karachi, Pakistan, almost died when her Muslim friend tried to kill her, because she refused to marry him and convert to Islam.

Binish Paul, a high school student, was being stalked by a Muslim man who was her friend, and when she said no to his petition, he got angry and after beating her, he took her to the second floor of a building and pushed her from there.

The Pakistani girl survived, but has suffered severe fractures in her spine and legs, and she will no longer be able to walk.

Right after the attempted murder, the family of the man, supported by political parties and the local Islamic community, went to see the parents of Binish Paul and ordered them not to prosecute their son legally.

Continue reading this story >>

Sweden votes in election amid heated debate on Muslim immigration

 Sweden went to the polls Sunday in a general election that is expected to be one of the most unpredictable and thrilling races in the Scandinavian country for decades amid heated debate on immigration.

The election will be Sweden’s first since the government in 2015 allowed 163,000 migrants into the country of 10 million. While far less than what Germany took in that year, it was the most per capita of any European nation.

“This election is a referendum about our welfare,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said. “It’s also about decency, about a decent democracy … and not letting the Sweden Democrats, an extremist party, a racist party, get any influence in the government.”

About 7.5 million registered voters choose from almost 6,300 candidates for a four-year term in the 349-seat Riksdag, or parliament. It’s highly unlikely that any single party will get a majority, or 175 seats.

The latest opinion poll conducted by pollster Novus for public broadcaster SVT suggested Friday that Lofven’s ruling Social Democrats would substantially lose seats, but still emerge as the party with the most votes with an estimated 24.9 percent of the ballots.

If realized, it would be a historical low for the traditional left-wing party, which has dominated Swedish politics in the post-World War II era.

The poll showed that the far-right, anti-immigration Sweden Democrats — led by Jimmie Akesson — would get 19.1 percent of the votes in what would be a major increase compared to the 13-percent support received in 2014.

The center-right Moderate Party is set to take to take third place with 17.7 percent.

With a steady rise in popularity of the Sweden Democrats, immigration has become the hot topic of the election.

The party, rooted in a neo-Nazi movement has worked to soften its image, has played a role in breaking down longstanding taboos on what Swedes could say openly about immigration and integration without being shunned as racists.

During a heated debate Friday evening of party leaders, Akesson caused a stir by blaming migrants for the difficulties they often have in finding employment and not adjusting to Sweden.

The broadcaster that aired the televised debate, SVT, afterward called his remarks degrading and against the democratic mandate of public broadcasting.

Akesson responded that state television shouldn’t take sides, and later announced that he wouldn’t take part in any of SVT’s election programs Sunday.

At the party’s rally on Saturday, he strongly criticized Lofven’s government for “prioritizing” the cause of asylum-seekers.

“This government we have had now . they have prioritised, during these four years, asylum-seekers,” Akesson said, giving an exhaustive list of things he says the government has failed to do for Swedish society because of migrants.

“Sweden needs breathing space, we need tight responsible immigration policies.”

Akesson’s strong rhetoric has shocked many Swedes since the country has a long tradition of helping those in need.

“Terrible! I just wanna cry when I think about it,” said Veronica Lundqvist, referring to the Sweden Democrats after she left a voting booth in central Stockholm.

“They say awful things. I mean of course we have a lot of refugees here, but we need to take care of them. They come from a terrible place, terrible wars. We can’t just throw them out.”

But others say the Sweden Democrats are trying to fix a historical problem.

“It’s an integration issue,” Karl Ljung said at the same voting station. “It’s not just about what happened two years ago when we had a lot of refugees. It’s more that we have had an integration issue for maybe 20 years. So we really have to solve it now.”

Mohamed Nuur, a 26-year-old Social Democratic candidate of Somali descent, told The Associated Press that he sees Akesson taking Sweden back to the past.

“For me, the Sweden that he (Jimmie Akesson) wants to see … that is not our future,” Nuur said. “That is to go back in history. For me, when he is saying that immigrants are not welcome to Sweden …he is trying to spread hate between the people. Actually, it’s the immigrants who built up this country.

Sabina Macri, voting in central Stockholm, said the current political situation has left her questioning her future in Sweden.

“We used to be very safe. We used to be a very calm nation,” she said. “And today I feel a bit insecure about the future, especially for my children.”

1,700-Year-Old Church Unearthed in Turkish Lake

Was This the Site of the Council of Nicaea?

1,700-Year-Old Church Unearthed in Turkish Lake; Was This the Site of the Council of Nicaea?

Archaeologists exploring a lake in Turkey have discovered a 1,700-year-old Christian church that may have been the location of the landmark Council of Nicaea, which was held in 325 B.C. and affirmed the deity of Christ.

Mustafa Şahin, head of archaeology at Bursa Uludağ University, told Live Science that the church was found using aerial photographs. The church is buried underneath Lake Iznik near the town of Iznik, which formerly was known as Nicaea.

“When I first saw the images of the lake, I was quite surprised to see a church structure that clearly,” Şahin told Live Science. “I was doing field surveys in Iznik [since 2006], and I hadn’t discovered such a magnificent structure like that.”

An earthquake in A.D. 740 destroyed the church, which now rests about 10 feet under the water and 160 feet from the shore, according to Live Science.

Divers discovered graves in the church housing coins dating to the reigns of Roman emperors Valens (who ruled 364-378) and Valentinian II (375 to 392), Live Science reported.

The Daily Mail quoted Sahin as saying the church could have been the site of the Council of Nicaea, which squashed a heresy known as Arianism and affirmed that Jesus was not a created being. The church may have been built on top of a pagan temple.

Sahin wants the church to be protected by the government as an underwater archaeological museum.

Hindu Extremists, Media Attack Large Church in Uttar Pradesh, India

‘To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,’ says pastor.

Police anticipating Hindu extremist threat at church service on Aug. 5 in Bhulandih village, Jaunpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Morning Star News)

Police anticipating Hindu extremist threat at church service on Aug. 5 in Bhulandih village, Jaunpur District, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Morning Star News)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Dismissing an initial investigation that cleared Christians of wrongdoing, police under pressure from Hindu extremists are pursuing false charges against a pastor and 270 others, sources said.

After appearing to halt Hindu nationalists’ efforts to shut down a large church in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state, police who had told the pastor that they turned up no evidence of fraudulent conversion are now denying the initial inquiry took place, sources said.

Hindu nationalists filed false charges of fraudulent conversion, mounted a media slander campaign and attacked congregation members trying to attend the 7,000-member Jivan Jyoti Satsang Prarthana Kendra church in Bhulandih village, Jaunpur District, where the pastor suffered police brutality last year, according to area sources.

After Hindu nationalists Brijesh Singh and Siddharth Singh filed charges of fraudulent conversion against 45-year-old pastor Durga Prasad Yadav, Hindu extremists on Aug. 5 stopped Christians en route to worship services, according to video captured by Deep Gupta, editor and chief of National TV News.

“I had placed hidden cameras all over the place,” Gupta told Morning Star News. “About 10-15 of them were stopping the three-wheelers going towards the church filled with people. They broke the vehicles and threatened the drivers to not carry passengers to church. The people were made to leave the transport.”

The Hindu extremists threatened the Christians, beat the drivers and broke the three-wheeled vehicles going in the direction of the church, Pastor Yadav told Morning Star News.

“Despite threats, people still came,” Pastor Yadav said. “Commuters who were asked to leave the public transport walked as much as four kilometers to come to church, and this went on for two weeks, even after the Aug. 5 Sunday [the church also has Tuesday services].”

Besides the pastor, the Hindu nationalists filed the charges against Kirit Rai, a Christian identified only as Jitandra and 268 others alleging conversion by fraudulent means and hurting religious feelings under section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code. Brijesh Singh and Siddharth Singh contended that the Christians “have been going about in Jaunpur and four other districts preaching against Sanatan (eternal) religion, i.e. Hinduism, alluring the poor and the downtrodden with money and converting them to Christianity.”

Dainik Jagran, a Hindi-language, national newspaper, reported on Aug. 2 that the complainants further alleged that the Christians “ridicule the worship of Sanatan religion and idols. They claim to cure incurable diseases and make the people testify of the false healing. They are made to eat the restricted food [Holy Communion] and made to shout praises to Jesus Christ and declare themselves Christians.”

The complainants also stated that such acts can lead to sectarian riots and that therefore action should be taken against them. The Christians were also accused of hurting religious sentiments.

After the complainants filed the charges, the chief magistrate ordered Chandwak police to investigate, sources said. Members of a Hindu extremist youth group founded in 2002 by present Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, the Hindu Yuva Vahini, then sought police permission to gather at the church site on Aug. 5.

Police denied their request and, anticipating an attack by the Hindu extremist group, deployed a large force in and around the village from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Expecting an attack on the church service, police from five police stations were deployed in and around the church,” said Gupta of National TV News.

As Pastor Yadav was in Allahabad that day, his daughter, 21-year-old Preeti Yadav, led the church service.

Gupta said he interviewed 500 of the 7,000 worshippers, questioning them about their faith and the allegations of “conversion by fraudulent means.”

“As many as I interviewed had stories to share about their sickness and how they got healed after Pastor Yadav prayed for them,” he told Morning Star News. “They said that they attended the church out of their own free will, and that they were not subjected to any force or allurement. They said that despite threats, they will continue to attend church.”

Gupta broadcasted his footage and investigation repudiating the allegations against Pastor Yadav and the other 270 Christians.

Police investigations also found the allegations of forceful or fraudulent conversions to be false, Pastor Yadav said.

“It was a big relief that the case was dismissed against me and my church members,” he said.

On Wednesday (Sept. 5), however, the newspaper published the same false news story with a heading stating, “A case shall be registered against 271 Christians including the pastor against the allegations of religious conversion.” It stated that a court ordered the police on Tuesday (Sept. 4) to investigate and submit a report.

Station Head Officer (SHO) Shashichand Chaudhary told Morning Star News that police received orders from the court on Wednesday (Sept. 5) to investigate the accusations. Asked about the previous investigation on Aug. 5, with a report clearing the Christians submitted by officer Mahendra Kumar Yadav on Aug. 7, he denied any prior investigations took place.

“We had provided security to Pastor Yadav and his church on Aug. 5, but no investigations were made,” Chaudhary said.

Pastor Yadav was upset at this turn.

“Their objective is nothing but to cause trouble for me,” he told Morning Star News.

National TV News editor Gupta said he fears that the previous investigation report was dismissed in order to make way for the new investigation.

“A lot of pressure is being exerted by the Hindu fundamentalist political parties over the authorities, be it judiciary or the police,” he said.

Pastor Yadav said Hindu extremists continue to threaten him nearly every other week.

“Threats kept pouring, from here-and-there,” he told Morning Star News.

The allegations were preceded by false newspaper reports. After a report by a Dainik Jagran on July 21 alleging large-scale conversions of Hindus in Dobhi block went viral, police from Chandwak police station picked up Pastor Yadav’s brother, Jai Prakash Yadav for questioning on July 23.

Police interrogated the farmer for about three hours regarding his brother’s pastoral work.

“I was very concerned for my brother,” Pastor Yadav said, “but the police let him go after rigorous enquiry about me and the church activity.”

Several articles followed portraying the pastor’s church as carrying out conversion through allurement and alleging that he demeaned other religions and their deities, leading to the Aug. 2 case registered against him and 270 others.

Gupta of National TV News said he was shocked over the newspaper’s “twisting of facts.” He told Morning Star News that some of the village names mentioned in one article did not exist. The interviews of people attending church were distorted, he said, and a police officer-in-charge denied making a statement attributed to him.

“I interviewed the same people, and they told me that they were told that their testimony of faith in Christ would be published in the newspaper and hence they testified without apprehensions,” Gupta said.

They told the reporter that the pastor had not told them to stop going to Hindu temples, and that they decided on their own to stop doing so. They told him they believe in Jesus of their own free will, and that they will continue to do so as it is their fundamental right to do what they choose, Gupta said.

June 2017 Assault

Recalling an assault by senior officers at the police station a year ago brings chills to him even today, Pastor Yadav said.

Two policemen came to his house one morning in June 2017 and told him to go with them to the police station, he said. Upon arrival, he learned that the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) had ordered the station house officer (SHO) to summon him.

The SDM soon arrived and began questioning and assaulting him, the pastor said.

“He screamed and shouted at me, blaming me that I would convert the whole of Uttar Pradesh into Christianity,” Pastor Yadav told Morning Star News. “He asked me to leave the state and go somewhere else. Whatever answer I gave, he would hit me with a patta [the belt in a police uniform].”

The SDM advised Pastor Yadav to become a Sadhu, a Hindu monk who has renounced worldly life, grown a beard and performed Hawan/Homa, Hinduism’s purification procedure, he said.

“I was physically assaulted, verbally abused and beaten badly and was told to leave the city,” the pastor said.

The SDM told the SHO to keep him in custody and register a case against him.

“Before the policemen could begin the formalities of registering a case against me, some members of my church reached the police station enquiring about me,” he said. “My well-wishers called the police station questioning my detention. Pressure was built, and the SHO decided to let me go without registering any case against me.”

This incident left him injured and frightened, he said.

“I wept bitterly one day and asked God if I should leave all of this and go away,” he said.

Looking for an answer, he opened the Bible and happened upon the Book of Jonah, he said.

“God spoke to me through it, telling me that neither the waves of the sea, nor the stomach of the fish could kill Jonah. God wanted him to remain alive to go to Nineveh, and so he did. I got this assurance that no one can kill me until the Lord allows,” he said. “And when the day comes for me to go, I will be more than happy, as, ‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain [Phil. 1:21].’”

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

Christians in Egypt Jailed for Worshipping in Unlicensed House

Muslim mobs give police ‘security’ pretext for closing church

Worshippers at house church in Al-Zeneeqa village, near Esna, in Luxor Governorate, Egypt. (Facebook Safwat Samaan)

Worshippers at house church in Al-Zeneeqa village, near Esna, in Luxor Governorate, Egypt. (Facebook Safwat Samaan)

(Morning Star News) – Authorities yesterday ordered 15 more days of jail for Christians arrested on Aug. 22 in Egypt for worshipping in a house without a permit, rights activists said.

After Muslim mobs demonstrated against the Virgin Mary and St. Mahrael church in Luxor Governorate, 435 miles south of Cairo, police accused five Coptic Catholics of worshipping without a permit, according to Coptic rights activist Safwat Samaan.

Police closed the church in Al-Zeneeqa village, in Esna, which has been holding worship services at the site for 18 years, according to Samaan. Five Muslims were also arrested, with another 10 arrested on Aug. 24 as they prepared another demonstration against the church, according to U.S.-based Catholic publications The Tablet.

The Copts were arrested even though they did not take any action against the demonstrators, the Catholic outlet reported. Besides charging the Christians with worshipping in an unlicensed venue, they charged them and the Muslims with illegal gathering, disrupting public peace and inciting sectarian strife, according to local media.

The church was the third one in Luxor closed in four months after Muslim extremists protested their existence, giving police the pretext of “security” threats for shuttering them. Hundreds of churches have submitted applications for legalization under a law passed on Sept. 28, 2016 regulating church construction, with little hope of obtaining licenses soon.

In the past 11 months, authorities approved only 220 of the 3,730 church and other ministry buildings that have applied, Watani newspaper reported on Aug. 26. Many churches have already waited 15 years for decisions on their applications for permits, and at the current rate, it will take 17 years to obtain decisions on applications from “unofficial” churches, according to Watani.

Human Rights Watch has described the 2016 law’s restrictions over construction and renovation of church buildings discriminating against Christians.

“The new law empowers provincial governors to approve church building and renovation permits, previously the domain of security services,” The Tablet reported. “However, it grants a governor the right to deny a building or renovation permit on security and public safety grounds, which allows mob violence to dictate the matter. Usually, such mob attacks serve as a pretext for closing the church, especially in upper Egypt where perpetrators act with impunity.”

In Beni Suef Governorate, a member of the security forces responsible for protecting St. George Church in Zaytoun village, some 75 miles south of Cairo, on Aug.  25 charged into their building and shouted, “You are infidels …All of you are infidels,” the Catholic outlet reported.

Muslim mobs that week reportedly demonstrated against a church in Sultan Basha, in Minya Governorate, keeping Copts from worshipping.

Egypt was ranked 17th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.