YouTube admits mistake and reinstates pro-life channel

YouTube has apologised to a pro-life organisation for suspending its channel over content.

The suspension was placed on Heartbeat International’s Abortion Pill Reversal channel last month, after it had posted four videos showing how a baby can still be saved if the mother has taken an abortion pill.

But after an appeal, the censorship has been ended.

Successful appeal

Jor-El Godsey, President of Heartbeat International, said: “We commend YouTube for acknowledging their mistake and promptly resolving it.”

“No woman should ever be censored for sharing her testimony simply because she chose life – even at the last minute. Nor should vital life-saving information be censored from the public”, she added.

The successful appeal was launched with the support of pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List.

Censorship

Mallory Quigley, Vice President of Communications for SBA List, said censorship of pro-life views is becoming increasingly common.

“Big social media companies have a track record of arbitrarily banning content from pro-life groups who then have to jump through hoops to have it reinstated, while organisations like Planned Parenthood are allowed to promote abortion on demand.”

“Social media is a great equalizer for pro-lifers standing up to the well-funded abortion lobby and its massive PR machine.

“We will continue to assert our rights and fight the censorship of pro-life views”, she added.

Bomb making

One of the videos that the Abortion Pill Reversal channel had posted featured a doctor explaining the process from a medical perspective, while three others showed mothers recounting their experiences of having ‘reversed’ their abortion.

YouTube had explained that it “doesn’t allow content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death”.

Other videos such as “instructional bomb making, choking games, hard drug use, or other acts where serious injury may result” fall into this category.

 

Christians Arrested at Wedding Site on ‘Forcible Conversion’ Charge in India, Relatives Say

Location of Simdega District in Jharkhand state, eastern India. (Wikipedia)

HYDERABADIndia (Morning Star News) – Two weeks ago a Christian couple in eastern India was about to get married, not knowing the bride’s father had filed a false complaint of forcible conversion against them, relatives said.

As they were preparing for the wedding on May 28, police in Jharkhand state arrived at the site of the ceremony and arrested the bride and groom, along with pastor Sudarshan Manjhi, who was to officiate, and a Christian woman invited to attend, they said.

In his complaint, the bride’s father, Somaru Manjhi, alleged that Christians beat him and threatened to kill him if he did not convert to Christianity, allegations which his 18-year-old daughter, Tripti, said were false.

Bolba police in Simdega District registered a First Information Report on May 30, charging the Christians with forcible conversion under Jharkhand state’s new anti-conversion act.

“My father was drugged with alcohol that day, and the Sarna tribals, including the village president, abetted him to submit the false complaint in the police station pending the wedding so there won’t be a Christian wedding in the village,” Tripti told Morning Star News.

“He [Somaru Manjhi] is now repentant for what he has done, but it is too late.”

Everybody in her family of six (four children) put their faith in Christ except her father, she said. Her sister, Sumanti Kumari, the bride, was baptized in 2012 and could never think of marrying a non-Christian in the Sarna tradition, Tripti said.

Though her father wanted Sumanti Kumari to marry a tribal Sarna, she refused, and the rest of the family supported her, Tripti said. Her marriage to 28-year-old Rupesh Manjhi was decided after discussions with elders in the family and church in the presence of Pastor Manjhi, she said.

The pastor’s wife, Biyari Devi, told Morning Star News that the wedding was decided according to the bride and groom’s wishes.

“They both come from Sarna families but have accepted Christ, and it is obvious that they would want a holy matrimony,” Devi said. “Somaru Manjhi is my uncle also in relation. He has always been against Christ and the church since the house church was established in 2008. But he never became violent or aggressive with us until the question was about his daughter’s marriage.”

Rupesh Manjhi, the groom, was ostracized by his family after he came to Christ, Devi told Morning Star News.

Tripti said her family has been pleading with her father to drop the charges.

“We have been pleading with my father to testify in the court that he was instigated by the Sarnas, and that the allegations are false,” she said. “My younger brother and I keep asking him, ‘How can you go against your own daughter? She is in jail because of you. Why are you doing this?’”

Her father responded that he had filed the complaint on the command of the village president and elders, and that he would ask them for help to free only his daughter, Tripti said. Completely in their control, he had only signed the complaint they wrote, she said.

“They have used him to falsely frame the pastor and the couple,” Tripti told Morning Star News.

An attorney representing the Christians told Morning Star News that a family dispute has turned into a nonbailable offense by the “draconian” anti-conversion act.

“The fact that an irrelevant law has been pulled in needlessly in a family dispute that could have simply arisen from difference of opinions between the members is unfortunate and must be condemned,” the attorney said on the condition of anonymity. “It is very unfortunate police registered the FIR without enquiring or verifying into the matter under a law that contains harsh provisions.”

A bail petition was rejected by the chief judicial magistrate. The attorney said a decision on another bail petition before the district sessions judge is awaited.

“They are just a young couple who wanted to be married, and two other people, the pastor and a female believer who were present at the venue, also have been arrested,” the attorney said.

Section 4 of the Jharkhand’s anti-conversion law, ironically titled a “Freedom of Religion Act,” punishes a person guilty of forcible conversion of a minor, woman or a person belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by imprisonment of four years and fine up to 100,000 rupees (US$1,480).

In 2017, six Christians from a Simdega village were falsely charged with hurting religious beliefsafter the villagers attacked them for praying for a sick woman.

11 Christians Arrested

In neighboring West Singhbum District, 11 Christians in Mohanpur have been charged with forcible conversion, including a politician who ran in state Legislative Assembly elections in 2014.

Indrajeet Samad, 53, leader of Adivasi Ho Samaj Mahasabha Prakhand Samiti, a movement launched by indigenous tribes, submitted a complaint to Mohanpur police against the Christians, sources said.

Samad alleged that the Christians who visit his village often entice tribal people with money in order to convert them to Christianity. The May 12 complaint, translated from Hindi, accuses Christians Ajay Champiya, as well as Suman Champiya and his family, of being influenced by Christianity and conducting prayers at their residence with the 11 Christians.

He also claimed that the Christians threatened his group, alleging that they warned that if Samad’s party resisted their conversion efforts, they would have Maoists kill him and his colleagues.

“These are false allegations,” one of the accused told Morning Star News. “Eleven are booked in one case, and there is no connection between us. I belong to CNI [Church of North India], others are Pentecostal or Baptist.”

In 2016, villagers ostracized Suman Champiya’s family after they were baptized, and they have been under pressure since then, said a source who requested anonymity.

On April 9, Ajay Champiya and his wife, Suman Champiya, filed a complaint with Mohanpur police that villagers had ostracized them for more than two years, and that Samad and his colleagues had made it difficult for Christians to live in the village.

“They told us that they work for [Hindu extremist group] RSS, and that all the Christians should be put to death,” the Christians said in the complaint. “Inderjeet Samad passed an order that the Christians water supply must be disconnected, and that they should not be allowed to excrete in fields.”

Mohanpur police refused to register a First Information Report (FIR) based on the two-page complaint, filing an FIR only after tribal leader Samad filed a complaint. Only Samad’s complaint made its way into the FIR. Police charged the Christians with criminal intimidation and Section 4 of the anti-conversion act.

“We moved a petition before the district’s sessions judge with the help of a Christian attorney and are waiting for anticipatory bail,” another accused Christian told Morning Star News.

An attorney representing the Christians said the complaint randomly accuses them of saying certain people have come to know Christ.

“The accusations do not seem specific to any particular person, and the Christian family in question were converted 10 years ago,” the attorney told Morning Star News. “Eleven individuals who have no connection with each other are booked under the draconian act merely because they identify themselves as Christians.”

Samad is a front-runner as the Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for the Legislative Assembly from Mohanpur in elections to be held in 2020, said another source.

Religious freedom advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India has recorded 76 incidents of violence against Christians in India in the first four months of 2018, a rate of 20 per month, as recorded on its United Christian Forum helpline (1-800-208-4545).

ADF-India’s records show 15 Christians have been booked under Section 4 of Jharkhand’s anti-conversion act since it became a law in February 2018.

According to the 2011 Jharkhand Religion Census, only 4.3 percent of the state’s population practices Christianity.

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.

Two Christians Ambushed, Killed in Central Nigeria

Peace Joseph, 6, slain in attack in Miango, Nigeria on March 8. (Morning Star News)

JOSNigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Sunday (June 10) killed two Christians and seriously wounded another in central Nigeria as they made their way home from a church service, local sources said.

Ibrahim Weyi, 45, and Larry More, 53, were said to be hacked to death when herdsmen ambushed them at 7:40 p.m. as the Christians were going home on a motorcycle from an evening worship service in Plateau state’s Kwall village, in the Bassa area, Patience Moses told Morning Star News.

A third Christian, 23-year-old Samuel Weyi, was wounded in the attack, the local resident said. All three belong to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Kwall, another resident, Lawerence Zango, told Morning  Star News. Weyi is receiving treatment at an Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Jos, he said.

“Fulani herdsmen have continued to kill innocent Christians in our villages, yet the Nigerian government has not taken proactive measures to end the onslaught,” Zango said.

A spokesman for the Plateau State Command, Mathias Tyopev, confirmed the attack and told Morning Star News that an investigation is underway.

Herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in the Bassa area intensified late last year and have continued in spite of the presence of military personnel, sources said. Since February, 11 Christians have lost their lives in the area at the hands of Muslim Fulani herdsmen, including the two killed on Sunday, said the Rev. Sunday Zibeh, pastor of the ECWA church in Nzharuvo, Miango.

“In these cases, the victims were either ambushed and killed by the herdsmen or attacked in their homes at night,” Pastor Zibeh told Morning Star News. “The sad reality is that the Nigerian government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, himself a Muslim and a Fulani man, has not acted in any way to end these attacks.”

He gave the names of those killed as Adam Sunday, 38; Jatau Akus, 39; Chohu Awarhai and Marcus Mali, 22, all of Jebbu-Miango village. They were ambushed and killed by the herdsmen on April 18.

“The four victims were construction workers working on site when they were attacked,” he said.

In March two other Christians, 17-year-old Lumumbah Chayi and Joseph Alli, 23, were killed in Jebbu-Miango and Rotsu villages, he said.

“Joseph was attacked and beheaded at about 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 15 in Rotsu village, while Chayi, a high school student, was murdered on Monday, March 12, at about 7 p.m. by the Fulani herdsmen in Kwall village,” he said.

In February three other Christians were killed and two injured in an ambush by herdsmen near Zanwra village, Pastor Zibeh said. John Esije was 32; Monday Nzwe was 38; and Saku Giyeri was 41. The wounded survivors are Sunday Bala, 33, and, Gudu Gara, 25, he said, adding that all the victims were members of ECWA church.

Zango, a church youth leader in Miango, which is part of the Bassa Local Government Area, told Morning Star News that since the beginning of 2017, 99 Christians in the Miango area have been killed in attacks on at least 26 villages, with another 44 Christians injured and 863 houses razed.

Among them were three children of an ECWA church member in Nzharuvo village, Miango. Joseph Gah Nze said Muslim Fulani herdsmen broke into his house on at 10 p.m. on March 8 and killed his three children – 12-year-old twins Christopher and Emmanuel, and 6-year Peace Joseph – and 18-year-old nephew Henry Audu.

In addition, Zango said more than 23,000 Christians have been displaced from their Miango area homes, thousands of dollars of farm produce have been destroyed and 15 motorbikes and a bus have been burned. At least 24 irrigation water pumps have been destroyed, he added.

The Irigwe Development Association, an umbrella community organization for Irigwe ethnic peoples, who are predominantly Christian, in April decried the incessant killings. Sunday Abdu, president of the association, said at a press conference in Jos on April 24 that between Jan. 25 and March 12, more than 70 Christians were killed by armed Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

“The Irigwe nation feels compelled to once more raise the alarm over the continuous loss of lives from attacks on innocent villages,” Abdu said. “You are aware that we buried 25 people on the day we had set out to bury four out of the five that were killed on the night of the president’s visit to the state, this is in addition to the ones we have buried from series of attacks since January, not to mention the number of homes we have lost from such attacks and the destruction of farmlands which has ensured a looming hunger.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Burkina Faso: Kidnappers Release Pastor and His family after Four Days

Burkina Faso: Kidnappers Release Pastor and His family after Four Days

The Christian pastor who was abducted on Sunday with his family in Burkina Faso’s north-eastern province of Soum has been released.

Local sources told national broadcaster Omega Radio that Pastor Pierre Boena, his son David and his daughter-in-law, Ami Sawadogo were released yesterday (7 June).

The report does not specifically mention the two granddaughters, Fasne-wendé Ouédraogo and Pélagie Sawadogo, who were also abducted during the raid on Sunday, but does state that the pastor was released “with all the other members of his family in Malian territory”.

The reason for their release is not known, nor is it known whether a ransom was paid.

Pierre Boena, a pastor with an Assembly of God church, was kidnapped on Sunday evening in his village of Bilhore, near the border with Mali.

At the time of the attack he was at home with four family members and a church member, Pauline Sawadogo, who was visiting with her two daughters, Sanata and Zoenabou, local sources told World Watch Monitor.

These sources suggested that Pauline and her daughters may have been kidnapped along with Pastor Boena’s family on Sunday. Speaking on Thursday they said the whereabouts of Pauline and her daughters remain unknown.

Meanwhile there has still been no news regarding catechist Basnéré Mathieu Sawadogo, and his wife Alizeta, who were abducted two weeks earlier. Mathieu serves as a catechist at their parish, Notre Dame des Apôtres (Our Lady of the Apostles) in Arbinda, 100km from Djibo.

Kidnappers have previously targeted Djibo. Eighteen months ago an Australian couple were taken hostage from the city by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Ken and Jocelyn Elliott had run a 120-bed clinic for 40 years until their abduction in January 2016. Jocelyn was released a month later, but her husband remains in captivity.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the recent kidnappings but World Watch Monitor understands that the perpetrators are believed to be members of the Fulani ethnic group.

Some relatives have been able to speak over the phone with the hostages, who told their family that they were in good health and were being treated well by their abductors.

The kidnappings could be the result of acts of violence against Fulani communities by security forces which, it was said, had angered them.

The Fulani and the Tuareg are the two main nomadic ethnic groups in northern Burkina Faso, and in neighbouring Mali and Niger.

Access to grazing land and water have caused tensions between the two communities. Militant members of the two communities are also fighting alongside numerous Islamist groups active in the Sahel region.

Police in Pakistan Kill Young Christian Man in Raid, Relatives Say

Body of Waqas Masih. (Morning Star News)

LAHOREPakistan (Morning Star News) – Poor Christians in Pakistan commonly see police target them for extortion on false charges, and last week such a case ended in the death of a 24-year-old Christian, relatives said.

On the assumption that Christians with few legal resources can be targeted with impunity in the 96-percent Muslim country, policemen on May 29 killed Waqas Masih when his uncle refused their demand for money after they threatened to file false charges, the relatives said. Police are now pressuring the family to drop the murder case, they said.

The slain young man’s mother, a widow who belongs to a Pentecostal church, told Morning Star News that three policemen forced their way into the home of her brother, rickshaw driver Saleem Masih, in in Punjab Province’s Haider Colony, Gujrat District. Saleem Masih had recruited Waqas Masih and other relatives to help him with a construction project at his residence.

“Around 6 p.m., I was informed that three policemen had beaten my son to death,” Khalida Bibi, a sweeper at a hospital, told Morning Star News. “The police are now mounting pressure on us to ‘reconcile’ with their accused colleagues. They were initially reluctant to even arrest the accused, but eventually they had to take them into custody when we threatened to launch protests.”

Saleem Masih’s son, Emmanuel Saleem, told Morning Star News that he and other relatives were sitting in the courtyard of their home when three officers identified only as Shoaib, Shehbaz and Saqib forced their way in around 5:15 p.m.

“We asked them what they wanted, to which they said that they had information that we are drug peddlers and that they had raided the house to recover the narcotics,” he said, adding that the allegation was frivolous as the three policemen were notorious for blackmailing poor people in the area.

“We are poor Christians, but we earn our livelihood with honesty and integrity,” Emmanuel Saleem said. “We knew that the policemen were there for extorting money, but since we had done nothing wrong, my father chose to confront them rather than succumb to their blackmail.”

A heated argument ensued between his father and the police, and they began threatening to file false charges against him and other family members, he said.

“This must have panicked Waqas, who ran outside the house,” Emmanuel Saleem said. “The three cops ran after him, as did my other cousins, Qaiser and Dawood. The cops got hold of Waqas soon after and started hitting him mercilessly with punches, kicks and gun butts. Qaiser and Dawood tried to save Waqas from the police torture, but they were pushed back and warned not to intervene in the beating.”

His two cousins had returned to the house to tell his father what had happened when the policemen arrived and told them to check on Waqas Masih, saying he was “feigning illness,” Emmanuel Saleem said.

“We immediately rushed toward Waqas and saw him lying on the street, motionless,” he said, adding that he had already died by the time they arrived.

Waqas Masih worked as an assistant gardener at a government-run, rural health center. Asked why he had run from the house, Emmanuel Saleem said police often target poor Christians for extortion and file fake charges against them when they don’t have anything to pay. He said this was not the first time local police had illegally entered a home and beat Christians.

“Waqas was a very honest and hard-working young man who had no criminal history,” he said. “I guess he got frightened after the policemen threatened to implicate the cousins in fake cases.”

He confirmed that officials were pressuring the family to “pardon” the accused and give statements in their favor.

“We have even been offered money, besides threats to withdraw the FIR [First Information Report], but we have decided to hold our ground,” he said.

Police Denial

Gujrat District Police Officer (DPO) Jehanzeb Nazeer, however, denied that the accused officers were pressuring the family.

“I immediately ordered the registration of the FIR, and the three accused officials were taken into custody within 72 hours of the incident,” he said, but he added that the officers have not been formally charged with murder as the initial post-mortem report did not reveal the cause of death.

“The initial post-mortem report does not state any injury marks on the deceased’s body or the cause of death, therefore we are now waiting for a full report from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency [PFSA] before reaching a final conclusion about the incident,” he said.

Initial investigation showed the three officers raided the house on a tip that drug peddlers were present, he said.

“Waqas fled when the officials sought to frisk him, resulting in a chase,” he said. “The boy reportedly fell on the road, and one constable claims that he only kicked him twice in anger. The boy died on the spot, and the officials fled the scene.”

When asked if the deceased had any criminal record, the police chief said that they had not found any case registered against him.

Nazeer denied that the three accused officers extorted money from citizens.

“Since the matter involves a minority community, I took immediate action so that no one tries to exploit the situation for their ulterior motives,” he said. “Action will be taken in accordance with the law if the PFSA report points to police high-handedness.”

The three officders were taken into custody so that they could not influence the investigation or fabricate evidence against the victim, he added.

Pakistan is ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 Word Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

CITY’S BAN ON CHRISTIAN CHURCH ‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL’

Cross

The action was filed this week by the Alliance Defending Freedom over the action by the city of Monroe, North Carolina, to not allow a church to have worship services at its newly rented and renovated building.

That’s even though another church had been in that space previously.

What happened was that the city adopted a new, and “unconstitutional” zoning code that bars the group called “At the Cross Fellowship Baptist Church.”

If the church were a library, it would be allowed there. Or a museum. Or another nonprofit group.

“The government can’t discriminate against churches simply because they are religious,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erik Stanley, director of the ADF Center for Christian Ministries. “At the Cross Fellowship Baptist Church is being told they are unwelcome – in the same part of the community where city officials would allow a library, art gallery, or museum. Zoning laws like Monroe’s are unconstitutional and violate federal law.”

The background is that the church’s leaders visited the site, at 1617 W. Roosevelt Blvd., with a goal of finding a location they could use.

“The property owner informed them that another church had occupied space in the same building in the recent past. In January 2018, the church entered into an agreement to rent the 1,500-square-foot property and proceeded to renovate it,” ADF reported.

But when it asked for a certificate of occupancy, the city said the rules had been changed and no church would be allowed in that location.

The regulations allow for “education, training, or resources of a public, nonprofit, or charitable nature,” the ADF said.

But it identifies churches as not allowed.

The action by the ADF attorneys that now has been filed is At the Cross Fellowship Baptist Church v. City of Monroe in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

“The city has treated the church on less than equal terms with similarly situationed nonreligious assemblies and institutions, substantially burdened the church’s free exercise of religion, and infringed on the church’s rights to free speech, peaceable assembly, and equal protection,” the complaint states.

WND’s attempt to obtain a comment from the city because it was closed.

“The city’s unequal treatment and discrimination against the church, through ordinance O-2017-13 and its officers, agents, servants, employees, or persons ating at their behest or direction, has caused the church to suffer damages,” the complaint explains.

The lawsuit asserts the city is violation the church’s equal terms rights, nondiscrimination requirements, the Free Exercise Clause, free speech, and other constitutional provisions.

It asks that the city be told to treat the church fairly and equally.


Four Iranian Christians Set to Begin Ten-year Prison Sentences

Four Iranian Christians Set to Begin Ten-year Prison Sentences

The four Iranian Christians who saw their ten-year prison sentences upheld by an appeal court earlier this month are expecting to have to report to prison any day now.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and fellow Church of Iran members Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mohammad Reza Omidi could receive a call within the next 24 hours to report at the prison gate in their home city of Rasht, Mansour Borji from the London-based advocacy organisation Article 18 told World Watch Monitor.

The four Christians were convicted of “promoting Zionist Christianity” and running house churches and appealed their sentences before the Revolutionary Court on 14 December last year but were unsuccessful.

Nadarkhani and Omidi, in addition to their jail terms, were also sentenced to two years’ internal exile, which they are to serve in the south of Iran, on the opposite side of the country from their homes near the Caspian Sea.

 

Four other Christians who also received lengthy sentences are still waiting the outcome of their own appeals, which were heard in the Revolutionary Court by the same judge, Judge Hassan Babaee, who, according to Article 18, “doesn’t have a good track record in dealing with Christians arrested for their Christian activities”.

Borji said this is partly because judges can’t be independent, as sentences are dictated by intelligence officials.

“Iranian Christians are concerned about the unjust verdicts issued against Pastor Victor Bet-Tamraz, and three other Christians who were sentenced alongside him, Amin Afshar Naderi, Kaviyan Fallah Mohammadi and Hadi Asgari“, Borji said

“We are following the appeal process closely and ask all Christians worldwide, and the key members of the international community to join us in calling for these convictions to be overturned. The Iranian government has to be reminded of its obligations under international law and its own constitution, to end its harassment of peaceful Christian community”, he added.

Pastor Bet-Tamraz was sentenced to ten years in jail in July last year for “acting against national security by organising and conducting house-churches”. The three converts were also given ten years, though Amin Afshar-Naderi was given an additional five years for “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy).

Shamiram Isavi Khabizeh, the wife of Victor Bet-Tamraz, was given a five-year sentence of her own in January, while their son, Ramil, is also facing charges.

Miles Windsor from Middle East Concern recently said prison terms are getting longer for Iranian Christians.

“Whilst Christians have consistently been put in prison for their faith in Iran in considerable numbers, the length of the sentence has seemed to have increased in the recent year or so,” he said.

‘ONGOING VIOLATIONS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM’

Although Iran’s constitution acknowledges Christians (excluding converts from Islam) as one of the recognised religious minorities allowed to operate in the country “within the limits of the law’, in practice the government continues to harass and imprison Christians and other religious minorities, noted the US State Department’s 2017 International Religious freedom report, which was released last month.

It is illegal for Muslim citizens of the Islamic republic to change or renounce their religious beliefs.

The country has been on the State Department’s list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) since 1999, “for having engaged in, or tolerated, systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

In 2017, over a dozen Christians – most of them converts to Christianity – were given prison sentences of between 10 and 15 years for “acting against national security”.

Iran is 10th on the 2018 Open Doors World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

India: 2017 saw 20% increase in atrocities against Christians,

Tehmina Arora addresses conference (World Watch Monitor)

Amid growing extreme Hindu nationalism in India, dozens of speakers have called for concerted action to uphold the country’s constitution and fundamental rights, at a conference to mark four years of government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“There is a grave threat to plurality,” Professor Ganesh Narayan Devy, a scholar on India’s religious and linguistic diversity, told the 25-27 May ‘Citizens’ Conclave’ on ‘Building an Inclusive India’ in New Delhi, attended by over 800 delegates from across the country.

“They [Hindu nationalists] demonise and attack us: 2017 saw a 20 per cent increase in the number of atrocities against Christians,” Tehmina Arora, a lawyer and director of rights group ADF India, told the conference.“We are living at a time when you are questioned about the food you eat, about the god you worship and branded as anti-national for expressing a different view [contrary to Hindu nationalism],” said Devy.

On the status of Christian minorities, she added: “When you go to police, they hardly cooperate and often refuse to register complaints. There is a growing culture of impunity. We could file only 25 criminal cases, as against the 240+ incidents reported in the year.”

Instead, she said that anyone who is accused of converting Hindus “will be beaten up”. “You [can be] taken to a police station when you pray!” she added.

A pastor having a birthday party was recently arrested and accused of converting Hindus in southern Karnataka state, even though it is not a state which has an ‘anti-conversion law’ in place.

“Even I could be accused of ‘conversion’ for addressing this house [with many non-Christians],” Arora said, pointing to the “worsening intolerant atmosphere” during the government under the BJP, known for pursuing a Hindu-nationalist agenda.

She cited the instance of more than 50 villages in central Chhattisgarh state passing resolutions banning the Christian faith soon after the BJP government assumed office on 26 May, 2014.

Archbishop lambasted for call to prayer 

“Look at the fuss over the [Delhi] archbishop’s call for prayer for the nation. Churches are for prayer and, if the Christians cannot pray, what can they do?” Arora asked.

Indian media has been gripped by a vicious debate on the “patriotism” of Christians after Catholic archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi sent out a pastoral letter to his community to launch “prayer for the nation”. Not even half a per cent of New Delhi’s 20 million population are Catholics.

“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere, which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation. It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time, but all the more so when we approach the General Elections [in 2019],” wrote Archbishop Couto.

“Let us begin a prayer campaign for our country from 13 May, 2018,” said the letter, encouraging Christians to fast and pray every Friday by “foregoing at least one meal … and offering penance and sacrifices for our spiritual renewal and that of our nation”.

Some major media networks responded by accusing the archbishop, and Christians in general, of being “against Modi”.

Asserting that “minorities are safe in India”, Rajnath Singh, home minister of the country, cautioned on 21 May that “no-one should speak to mobilise the people of the country on the basis of religion”.

But journalist Teesta Setalvad said the media “have an agenda”. “The archbishop’s letter is discussed for hours in the media. What crime has he committed?” she asked.

“There is deprivation in the media. The archbishop is portrayed as anti-national,” added Rajdeep Sardesai, one of the pioneers of TV journalism in India.

“Space for dissent is shrinking”, Sardesai said, adding that many of those “waging such campaigns” were “taught in Christian schools by priests and nuns”.

“The silent majority has been silent for too long. We must speak out and often. Silent majority is not an option any more… You have to challenge them and debate them. We need new alliances,” he said.

‘Politics of hatred’

Modi was the Gujarat Chief Minister during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots, when more than 1,000 people were killed. Harsh Mandar, who quit the elite Indian Administrative Service to protest at the BJP government’s alleged connivance in the 2002 attacks, pointed out that violence against religious minorities has since been “getting worse”.

“Your identity is a source of great fear – for the minorities,” said Mandar.

Anti-minority violence is “based on hatred”, said Ram Puniyani, columnist and social activist. After he visited Kandhamal, in Odisha state, scene of the worst case of anti-Christian violence in India’s history, he returned to the state capital, Bhubaneswar, where he said some Hindus told him “it is good that Christians have been taught a lesson”. “This is the politics of hatred,” he told the conference.

Shabnam Hashmi, co-ordinator of the Conclave of over 50 speakers from across the country, pleaded with delegates to take its message to the far corners of the nation: “The challenge before us is clear. We have to speak up and take the message to the masses.”

The conference discussion about Indian media coincided with a report by the BBC’s South Asia correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, noting that a sting operation by a news organisation called Cobrapost “claims to have revealed a deeply engrained bias towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) within many of India’s leading media groups, as well as a willingness among some of the country’s most senior media executives and journalists to take money in return for pushing a political agenda”.

Cobrapost alleged that some of the country’s leading news organisations were willing to “not only cause communal disharmony among citizens, but also tilt the electoral outcome in favour of a particular party – and all in return for cash”, Rowlatt wrote. However, he warned that “undercover stings of this kind are notoriously unreliable. The footage can easily be taken out of context or edited to change the meaning of a conversation or misrepresent its real nature”.

Satanists Declare War Against Spirit-Filled Senator

Sen. Jason Rapert, left, with Franklin Graham, center.

Senator Jason Rapert spoke with Charisma News recently about an uptick in spiritual warfare against his family since he started bringing God back into the public square. Here’s part of his story.

What is your specific involvement with the Ten Commandments statue?

I was the original sponsor of ACT 1231 the Arkansas Ten Commandments Monument Act. I filed the legislation in 2015 when it was originally passed by the Arkansas legislature and signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. After the bill became law, I formed the American History & Heritage Foundation, installed a board of directors and we began raising private money to pay for the monument and installation as the law required. After the monument was destroyed, I vowed to raise the money again to ensure the monument was re-installed. You can read more here: www.americanhistoryandheritage.org

How were you attacked for your involvement?

From the beginning, I started receiving hostile e-mails, threatening messages and hate mail. I endured public ridicule by the atheist community, extreme liberals and even by organized satanic organizations.

There is no question the American public has been successfully confused about the Judeo-Christian history and heritage of our nation by secular humanist organizations over the past few decades. The ignorance present in our country about the Ten Commandments as a historical and moral influence on the development of American jurisprudence has fueled the intensity of organizations that seek to undermine any reference to God in the public square.

If a public display of the Ten Commandments is good enough for the United States Supreme Court to have carved on the doors leading into the court chamber, then it is appropriate and good for every state, county and city in our nation to honor the Ten Commandments as well.

How has your faith been strengthened throughout the ordeal?

Psalm 56:11 has been one of my favorite verses—I put my trust in God; what can any man do to me as I stand up for truth? The Word says “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matt. 5:11). No one likes to have people talk bad about them, attack their business, their ministry and seek to defame their name.

We have definitely endured public persecution by those who hate the things of God in our country, but I am revolved to stand up for what is right, advocate righteousness in the public square and do my best to ensure our nation lives up to our national motto “In God We Trust.”

I was ordained into the ministry before ever entering into politics. I was also a businessman, raising my daughters and enjoying life with my wife, just like many people reading this article today. Our family has been active in evangelism and mission work through our ministry, holyghostministries.org, since 2002.

But in 2009, God began to deal with me about what was going on in our nation and I found myself stirred to run for elected office and do my part to help turn our nation around. This struggle about staying focused purely on our ministry which was our heartbeat—building water wells in Ghana, West Africa; conducting village feedings; funding scholarships for African pastors to spread the gospel in their own country; preaching and teaching on the power of God to transform lives and helping those who cannot help themselves—or actually running for political office was a tough one at first.

I prayed and fasted for God to clearly direct me on what He wanted me to do. I will never forget the clear answer God gave me in early 2010 during my prayer time. He actually posed a question to me, “Why are you not willing to sacrifice to serve at “home” at the same level you have sacrificed to serve overseas in mission work when it is your country that is now in trouble?” I realized that America was in terrible spiritual decline, and if I did not stand up and do something, the nation would continue to dishonor God and the future of our nation was in jeopardy.

Just like so many reading this article today, I have a strong faith in God. History shows that most of our Founding Fathers had a strong faith in God as well. The Pilgrims set their hand to a contract asking for God’s blessings on this nation during their first voyage to the New World when they executed the Mayflower Compact.

Decades later when the Declaration of Independence was drafted, our Founding Fathers made sure to incorporate references to God as our “Creator”, “Supreme Judge of the World” and “Divine Providence” throughout the founding document of our nation. American history is full of references to God in our public and private lives.

The recognition of this history and my dedication to a biblical worldview has always led me to take stands honoring God and the influence of the Bible whether it be sponsoring the nation’s first successful heartbeat bill in 2013 when we passed the Arkansas Heartbeat Protection Act; passing resolutions to honor Israel; sponsoring resolutions to defend marriage between one man and one woman; honoring George Washington and the Washington Cruiser Flag, which includes the phrase “An Appeal To Heaven” or sponsoring the Ten Commandments Monument Act which honors the historical and moral foundation of law in our country.

These bold stands have resulted in vicious personal attacks by the liberal media, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the American Atheists, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Satanic Temple and other extreme liberal activists. My work against abortion and advocating for the Ten Commandments have made national news, and this publicity has drawn tremendous attacks against our family—from death threats in 2013 for my work on the Arkansas Heartbeat Bill to false police reports being filed against me by a liberal activist who came to our community just this year who has been dispatched to “bring me down.”

That man was arrested, he has been charged and is being prosecuted for his false police report against me.

I have given everything I have to be a voice for what is right in our state and our nation. Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world. Genesis 1:26-28 is a clear directive to all who serve God—we have been given dominion and authority over everything in the earth.

God meant for His people to subdue and influence the entire world and every aspect of life—this passage is the foundation of that notion. We need Christians all over this nation to pray and ask God if He would have them serve on school boards, city councils, county quorum courts, state legislative offices and Congress. Regardless of the false accusations, the personal attacks and the plans meant to silence my voice—I remain committed to upholding the United States Constitution and being a voice for Judeo-Christian principles in our nation.

What sort of spiritual warfare have you encountered over the last year or so with the project?

Over the years, I have come to recognize the rise in spiritual warfare surrounding struggles in the political arena in our nation. I happen to believe we are in a very critical time in our country. Spiritual warfare is manifesting into the physical realm—school shootings, the nearly 60 million killed in our nation by abortion, crumbling marriages, opioid abuse, the rise in youth suicides and churches’ struggle with apostasy in their pulpits because of ordaining homosexuals and more. The country and the church are under spiritual attack. We must stand up and be strong, earnestly contending for the faith as Jude commands (Jude 20).

On a personal level, our family depends upon prayer and fasting to endure the personal attacks that have come against us. God’s Word sustains us, as it says in Isaiah 54:17: “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment, you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me, says the Lord” (Isa. 54:17).

Baptist Church Decides to Remove Jesus Statue That’s ‘Too Catholic’

Baptist Church Decides to Remove Jesus Statue That’s ‘Too Catholic’

(Editors Note- So many today are ignorant of the history of the RCC. For an update why not study the attributes of the Antechrist in my book, “Winds of Megiddo”.)

A Baptist church’s decision to remove a statue of Jesus it deems “too Catholic” has divided Christians on social media.

The 7-foot-tall statue has stood at Red Bank Baptist Church in South Carolina since 2007, The State newspaper reported.

“We have discovered that there are people that view the art as Catholic in nature. We understand that this is not a Catholic icon, however, people perceive it in these terms,” read a letter to the artist from church pastor Jeff Wright and Mike Dennis, the church’s chairman of deacons.

Bert Baker Jr. is the artist who carved the statue. He is a former member of the church.

“I’m not interested in stirring the pot, but people not liking it because it looked too Catholic is crazy, man. It’s been up there for 11 years,” Baker told The State. “I don’t agree with the letter, it bothers me.”

On Facebook, Christians were split on the church’s move.

“Heaven won’t be divided by Lutherans, Methodists, Baptist or Catholics,” Jill Rogers wrote on The State’s Facebook issue. “It seems they are pulling out from Christianity all together. Did someone make them worship this statue. I think not. Seems they need to be worrying about souls as statues. It’s a sad day for Christianity.”

Another person, Deborah Lynn, wrote, “Why do y’all hate Catholics so much? Do I look too Catholic because I have red hair? If I wanted to go to your church would I be removed because of my Catholic looking red hair? Stop pretending the Baptist church isn’t anti-Catholic.”

But some said the issue is a church issue and shouldn’t be in the news.

“Since the Current membership voted to remove the statue this is not much of a news issue,” Benjamin Cliatt wrote. “I see it as a media attempt to create news as opposed to reporting it. Stir the pot to create an issue from a church membership decision.”

Wrote Douglas Baer, “Must have been a slow news day.”