Monday, July 27, 2015

Persecution: Intensifying As Anti-Christian Hatred Sweeps The Entire World

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 

Matthew 24:9-13

There is very little that the entire world seems to agree upon, but there is one very frightening trend that is now taking hold literally all over the globe. A passionate hatred of Christianity is sweeping across the planet, and very few global leaders have been willing to step forward and speak out against this rising persecution of Christians. In many parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, believers are being relentlessly attacked by extremists, churches are being destroyed, and laws are being passed to try to prevent the spread of the Christian faith.

 In some areas, the violence has become so extreme that Christians knowingly risk their own lives just to go to church services each week. Would you risk your life to go to church? In North America and Europe, the persecution is often more subtle. Even though violent attacks are still fairly rare, Christian beliefs are being undermined by new laws, comedians and television shows regularly mock the Christian faith, and many employers will immediately mentally disqualify a potential candidate for a job if they discover that an individual is a Bible-believing Christian. Sadly, this is just the beginning. In the years ahead, those that choose to be followers of Jesus Christ will face even greater persecution than we have seen already.

When most people think of “Christian persecution”, they immediately think of what is happening in the Middle East. And without a doubt, what ISIS is doing to Christians in Iraq and Syria is beyond horrifying. But that is only part of the story. In this article, I am going to share with you 10 examples that show how the persecution of Christians is intensifying as anti-Christian hatred sweeps the world, and most of them are from outside the Middle East. I have specifically done this to show that this is truly a global phenomenon.
But to start off this list, let’s begin with how ISIS has been treating Christians in areas that they have conquered…

#1 Iraq
Eliza Griswold is the author of “The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam“, and he has spent a great deal of time examining the demise of the Christian faith in the heart of the Middle East. The following is an excerpt from a recent piece that he did for the New York Times

Recently, ISIS posted videos delineating the second-class status of Christians in the caliphate. Those unwilling to pay the jizya tax or to convert would be destroyed, the narrator warned, as the videos culminated in the now-­infamous scenes of Egyptian and Ethiopian Christians in Libya being marched onto the beach and beheaded, their blood running into the surf.
The future of Christianity in the region of its birth is now uncertain. ‘‘How much longer can we flee before we and other minorities become a story in a history book?’’ says Nuri Kino, a journalist and founder of the advocacy group Demand for Action. According to a Pew study, more Christians are now faced with religious persecution than at any time since their early history. ‘‘ISIL has put a spotlight on the issue,’’ says Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, whose parents are from the region and who advocates on behalf of Eastern Christians. ‘‘Christianity is under an existential threat.’’

#2 Kenya
As I discussed above, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East is only part of the story. What is getting much less coverage is the horrific persecution that is going on in many parts of Africa. The following is from a recent CNN piece about the ongoing persecution of Christians in Kenya…

In April this year, hundreds of students at Garissa University in northern Kenya came under attack when Al-Shabaab militants from across the border in Somalia raided dormitories at the college. Separating Christian students from their Muslim classmates, the raiders killed 147 and wounded dozens more. Today, the university stands empty.
Christians in North Eastern Kenya have come under repeated attacks by Al-Shabaab militants.
At Sunday Mass in Garissa’s Cathedral, Our Lady of Consolation, the benches are full. The congregation is praying under armed guard but they’re praying nonetheless.
Each Sunday brings with it new threats from Al-Shabaab. Garissa’s Christians are told that if you worship here, you’ll die. One of those attending Sunday Mass, Patrick Gitau tell us that despite the risks: “Every Sunday I’m here it’s my cathedral. Yeah I’m here I was baptized in this church.”

#3 India
It isn’t just Muslims that are viciously persecuting Christians. In India, radical Hindus are regularly conducting violent attacks against Christians and churches. The following is just one recent example

The Evangelical Fellowship of India has reported a violent attack against Christians in the country that was committed earlier this month when over 200 Hindu radicals stormed a Protestant church in the town of Attingal, Kerela, beating up the pastor and some of the worshipers, and breaking the altar.
EFI shared the news with Fides News Agency, reporting that the attack took place on June 14. The radicals apparently shouted slogans like “Bharat Mathaki Jai” (“Hail Mother India”) during the attack, which was broken up after police arrived.

#4 Pakistan
Some of the most vicious attacks against Christians in recent years have happened in Pakistan. Sadly, the authorities often willingly ignore these attacks. The following are just a few of the incidents that have happened recently

On Sunday, May 24, a Christian man in the Sanda neighborhood of Lahore was accused of blasphemy when some Muslims saw him burning newspapers that reportedly contained Arabic verses from the Koran. After the accusation, a Muslim mob caught the Christian, severely beat him, and even attempted to set him on fire. A few months earlier, another Muslim mob burned a Christian couple alive inside a kiln after they, too, were accused of insulting Islam. The Christian youth — named Humayun Masih, said to be “mentally unstable” — was imprisoned and charged under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, which prohibits the desecration of the Koran. After the attack on the Christian youth, the Muslim mob, reportedly thousands, rampaged through the neighborhood and set fire to Christian homes and a church. Christians in the region were attacked, and most fled the region; some of the mob was armed and gunshots were heard.

#5 Nigeria
Did you know that Islamic terrorists in Nigeria have killed more than 2,000 people (most of them Christians) so far in 2015? Why isn’t this getting much more attention from the global media?…

#6 China
The Chinese government has been brutally persecuting Bible-believing Christians for decades, but this year things have been taken to an entirely new level. The following is an excerpt from a recent Washington Free Beacon article

The CCP considers the rising popularity of Christianity as a threat to its dominance, China Aid said, and has used aggressive measures to intimidate members.
“The Chinese government’s persecution campaign included forced demolition of churches and crosses, the detention and imprisonment of pastors and church members on criminal charges, forcing churches into bankruptcy by confiscating church property and imposing fines, and manipulating state-run media to label house churches as ‘cult’ organizations,” the report said.
A local police force—including 600 SWAT officers and government agents—demolished the cross last year at Salvation Church, a Christian house church in the eastern coastal city of Wenzhou. The officers attacked 14 church members on July 21 and seriously injured five, according to the report.
Zhang Shaojie, former pastor at the Nanle County Christian Church in central China, was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined after being convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order” and “fraud.” Zhang mobilized his congregation to petition the government in Beijing after local authorities seized property that the church had set aside for a new building. Local officials responded by detaining some church members and barring their travel to Beijing.

#7 Nepal
In Nepal, churches cannot buy property, and the new constitution actually bans people from converting to Christianity

The largely Hindu nation of Nepal has published a draft of a new constitution that would ban religious conversion. Father Silas Bogati, vicar general of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal, told Catholic News Service that “Christianity is not recognized as a religion here, unlike Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam.” “Hence, churches cannot be registered as a legal body, and we cannot buy property,” he added. “We are severely handicapped by this.”

#8 Italy
Normally you wouldn’t think of Italy as a place where Christians would be persecuted, but thanks to Islamic immigration this is rapidly changing

Accounts of Muslim immigrants taunting and even assaulting Christians in Italy are increasing. Earlier this year, a crucifix was violently destroyed in close proximity to a populated mosque, and a statue of the Virgin Mary was destroyed and urinated on by a group of North Africans in Italy.

#9 Canada
Canada is becoming increasingly hostile to Bible-believing Christians, and attacks on churches are becoming more common. Just check out this recent example

On May 26, a 22-year-old man of Muslim background was charged with alleged hate crimes committed against the St. Catherine of Siena Church and its neighboring elementary school in Mississauga, Ontario. Iqbal Hessan faces five counts of mischief, and over $5,000 in fines. On May 20, the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue that stands in front of the church was covered in black paint and the fingers of its outstretched arms were broken off. Behind the church, graffiti with the words “There is no Jew God” was scrawled across the brick wall along with a drawing of a face labelled “Jewsus.” That vandalism was the fourth time the church was targeted.

#10 The United States
If Christians stay in their homes and don’t say anything, normally they don’t get physically persecuted in this country. But in recent years there have been an increasing number of incidents where street preachers and others that do try to actively influence the culture have been violently assaulted. The following is one recent example that happened in Seattle

Two street preachers were brutally beaten—punched and kicked—by a crowd at a gay pride festival in Seattle and the entire melee was captured on video.
The preachers were holding signs reading “Repent or Else” and “Jesus Saves From Sin.” The video shows a group of people initially screaming and threatening the men during Pridefest at the Seattle Space Needle.
Television station KOMO reported that some of the attackers belonged to a group called NOH8.
A group of women tried to steal their signs but were unsuccessful. The video then shows a group of men grabbing onto one of the preacher’s signs and dragging him to the ground. At some point he was punched in the back of the head a number of times while others can be seen kicking the man.

Of course all of this is just the beginning.
In the years ahead, hatred toward Christians is going to continue to increase, and many believers are going to be faced with some extremely difficult choices.
What would you do if you were forced to choose between your job and your relationship with Jesus Christ?
What would you do if you were forced to choose between your life and your relationship with Jesus Christ?
Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus told us that his followers would be hated and persecuted. So none of this should be any surprise to us. Consider what Jesus had to say in John chapter 15…
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My words, they will keep yours also.

Just like we saw during the times of the early church, sometimes the fire of persecution provides the perfect fuel for the growth of the kingdom of God. And sometimes the persecutors end up becoming extremely radical believers themselves. The following is one particularly miraculous example

“One of our YWAM workers in the Middle East was contacted by a friend earlier this year and they met up and he was introduced to an ISIS fighter who had killed many Christians already. I mean that’s a horrible situation, and admittedly, he was probably on guard,” Gina Fadely, director of Youth With A Mission Frontier Missions, Inc. (YWAM), said during a recent appearance on The Voice of the Martyrs Radio Network.
YWAM, a nonprofit missionary organization active since 1960, describes itself as “a global movement of Christians from many cultures, age groups, and Christian traditions, dedicated to serving Jesus throughout the world.” The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) is another nonprofit that draws attention to Christians facing persecution around the world.
Fadely, who appeared on the VOM radio program along with Kevin Sutter, another YWAM leader, went on to share that this Islamic State jihadi confessed not only to killing Christians but “that he had actually enjoyed doing so.”
“He told this YWAM leader that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ And he started to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing,” Fadely continued. “The fighter said just before he killed one Christian, the man said, ‘I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible.’ The Christian was killed and this ISIS fighter actually took the Bible and began to read it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he was now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled.”

[Just a few of the many examples are given below - read the entire article to see each instance of persecution in various regions]

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
During the height of one of the most brutal months of Muslim persecution of Christians, the U.S. State Department exposed its double standards against persecuted Christian minorities.
Sister Diana, an influential Iraqi Christian leader, who was scheduled to visit the U.S. to advocate for persecuted Christians in the Mideast, was denied a visa by the U.S. State Department even though she had visited the U.S. before, most recently in 2012.
She was to be one of a delegation of religious leaders from Iraq — including Sunni, Shia and Yazidi, among others — to visit Washington, D.C., to describe the situation of their people. Every religious leader from this delegation to Washington D.C. was granted a visa — except for the only Christian representative, Sister Diana.
After this refusal became public, many Americans protested, some writing to their congressmen. Discussing the nun’s visa denial, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said:
This is an administration which never seems to find a good enough excuse to help Christians, but always finds an excuse to apologize for terrorists … I hope that as it gets attention that Secretary Kerry will reverse it. If he doesn’t, Congress has to investigate, and the person who made this decision ought to be fired.

This is not the first time the U.S. State Department has not granted a visa to a Christian leader coming from a Muslim region. Last year, after the United States Institute for Peace brought together the governors of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang.

According to a Nigerian human rights lawyer based in Washington D.C., Emmanuel Ogebe, the Christian governor’s “visa problems” were due to anti-Christian bias in the U.S. government:

The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram. It also claims that Christians discriminate against Muslims in Plateau, which is one of the few Christian majority states in the north. After the [Christian governor] told them [U.S. authorities] that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems…. The question remains — why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?
The testimony of another nun, Sister Hatune Dogan, also made in May, indicates why the State Department may not want to hear such testimonials: they go against the paradigm that “Islam is peace.” According to Sister Hatune:

What is going on there [Islamic State territories], what I was hearing, is the highest barbarism on earth in the history until today… The mission of Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please. Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this is, he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS… We know that in Islam, there is no democracy. Islam and democracy are opposite, like black and white. And I hope America will understand. America today has the power that they can stop this disaster on the earth, with other Western countries.

The rest of May’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed by theme.
Pakistan: Three separate incidents involved attacks on churches:
1) On May 28, in the city of Chakwal, south of Lahore, Muslim men destroyed a Protestant church and beat six Christians, including the pastor. Some of those wounded had to be hospitalized. A few days earlier, Pastor Suhail Masih and his companions had been accused by local Muslims of carrying out “proselytism and conversions of Muslims,” according to a preliminary report.
2) Javed David, head of Hope for the Light Ministries in Lahore, and his associates, have been receiving death threats since February. The latest incident occurred in April, but became public knowledge only in May. According to Dav

3) On May 29 in Faisalabad, around 2 a.m., a gang of Muslims on motorcycles attacked a church near the Sadar police station. They opened fire on the church and set its main gate on fire, damaging its windows. According to church cleric Dilawar Masih, “Though no human loss was reported in this incident, attackers gave a clear-cut message that Christians and their places of worship are not safe and they may be attacked any time by the terrorists.”
Egypt: Two churches were attacked:
1) On May 16, a homemade explosive device planted next to a Coptic Christian church was detonated around sunset. As the St. George Church in Tamiya (Fayum governorate) was mostly empty at the time, there were no casualties. However, the church’s administrative offices and second floor windows were shattered, creating chaos and panic in the area. Church security cameras captured the two men on a motorcycle, who stopped at the church. One of the men dismounted and placed a bag containing the bomb next to the church, and they then sped off.
2) On Sunday morning, May 31 in Senoras city, Fayum, masked men on motorcycles opened fire on an Evangelical church. Security forces guarding the church briefly exchanged fire with the masked men before they fled on their motorcycles. No one was reported hurt.

AlgeriaAccording to Abdel Fattah Zarawi, the Muslim leader of the Salafi party, also known as the Free Front of Algeria, any and all Christian churches remaining in the North African nation must be closed and reopened as mosques. 
Launched on social media and networks, the Salafi campaign against Algerian churches even calls for the transformation of the nation’s most important churches into mosques — including the Church of Notre Dame d’Afrique in Algiers, the Church of St. Augustine in Annaba, and the Church of Santa Cruz in Oran — since “they have no relation whatsoever to the religion of Algerian Muslims,” in the words of the Free Front.
Saudi Arabia: Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani, former Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca and current prayer leader of Muhaisin Mosque in Riyadh, issued a tweet from his personal Twitter account, saying, “My beloved nation: It suffices me that you shelter me from hearing church bells ringing in you.” Due to his importance, the New York Times once issued an entire spread about al-Kalbani. The “hopeful” theme is how al-Kalbani managed to rise to the top in Saudi Arabia by becoming the first black Imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. No word in any English language media, however, about his abhorrence for Christian churches and their bells.
Turkey: A 900-year-old Christian church in Turkey is to be renovated into a functioning mosque — despite previous governmental assurances that it would be renovated into a museum. Enez’s Hagia Sophia, the name of the ancient church, is located inside the city of Ainos, along the border with Greece and stationed atop a hill, visible to all. Another centuries-old church, Hagia Sophia in Trabzon, along the Black Sea, was reopened in 2013 as a mosque, although it was a museum for many years. Meanwhile, a majority of Turks await there-transformation of the greatest Hagia Sophia (Constantinople’s) into a mosque.
YemenA Catholic church was seriously damaged during a Saudi bombing raid around mid-May. The church of the Immaculate Conception in Aden had earlier been occupied by Houthi rebels who had vandalized its interior. The airstrike by Saudi bombers — in support of the Yemeni government in its struggle with the rebels — did further damage to the structure. Only one Catholic priest remains in Yemen. Two priests fled the country to escape the violence, while another, who was out of the country when the fighting began, has been unable to return. Twenty members of the Missionaries of Charities have chosen to remain in the war-torn country, tending to the sick and the poor.

The state of Kentucky has begun imposing a religious test on volunteer pastor counselors in its youth division, insisting that they refrain from calling homosexuality “sinful” and dismissing those who cannot bend their religious faith to accommodate the state requirements.
The policy was uncovered by Liberty Counsel, which has sent a letter to Bob Hayter, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, demanding that the state religious test be dropped and that a dismissed counselor be reinstated.

“Liberty Counsel writes regarding the blatantly unconstitutional revocation of volunteer prison minister status of ordained Christian minister David Wells, who has provided voluntary spiritual counseling and mentorship to juvenile inmates under the control of the Department of Juvenile Justice. … This revocation was issued by Warren County Regional Juvenile Detention Center on the basis of the April 4, 2014, DJJ Policy 912, which mandates full DJJ support of homosexuality and transvestism.

“With no evidence of any violation of DJJ policy on Mr. Wells’ part, his volunteer status was revoked by the Warren RJDC superintendent because he could not sign a state-mandated statement that homosexuality was not ‘sinful,’ among other things,” the letter said.

The policy states that DJJ staff, volunteers and others “shall not imply or tell LGBTQI juveniles that they are abnormal, deviant, sinful or that they can or should change their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
WND requested a comment from the state agency, but there was no immediate response.
The state agency was told in the letter it has until July 31 to reinstate Wells’ volunteer visitor credentials.
“Many juveniles are in DJJ custody because of sexual crimes,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Pastor Wells must be able to discuss what the Bible says about matters of sexuality with the juveniles he is trying to help. To remove the Bible from a pastor’s hands is like removing a scalpel from a surgeon’s hands. Without it, they cannot provide healing.”

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1 comment:

Caver said...

If interested, there is an outstanding sermon on our obligations in times such as these as relating to the 2nd Amendment and subsequent actions.

This pulls it all together better than anything I've seen so far.