Does your child have nursery rhyme faith?

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Nursery Rhymes and Your Child’s Faith

Many young people today suffer from what I call “nursery rhyme faith.” We’ve given them simplistic platitudes, applauded when they parrot them back to us, and then wonder why their faith fades in high school or college.

“Jesus died on the cross for my sins,” they say.

Yes, this truth is a powerful force in the heart of a child. The words might even help them want to be baptized. But the point is not getting kids baptized at eight years old. The goal is that they walk with God when they’re eighteen and twenty-eight years old.
Nursery rhymes and textbooks

Kids learn:

  • Jesus died on the cross
  • ABCs
  • 1+1 = 2
  • George Washington was the first President of the United States

A few years later:

  • Jesus loves me, this I know
  • “i” before “e” except after “c”
  • Multiplication tables
  • The scientific method

In middle school:

  • Big Bang Theory
  • Evolution
  • Algebra
  • American government

Meanwhile, back at church:

  • Jesus died on the cross.

In high school:

  • Calculus
  • Philosophy& debate
  • Sex
  • Jesus died on the cross.

College begins:

  • World Religions
  • Politics
  • Abortion
  • And yes, Jesus died on the cross (Poor guy. Whatever happened to him?)

It’s no wonder so many young people’s worldview eclipses their faith.

Stories and Myths

Over a lifetime in church, kids hear plenty of stories (those happy animals prancing into the ark, for example). After a while, these stories seem less impressive… and less believable. (Were Adam and Eve even real?)

They may try to hold on to “Jesus died on the cross,” but if that’s all they have the expression has less meaning for their life—if it ever really did in the first place.

Faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised to become stronger. There’s a progression that builds on understanding fundamentals. Think of how kids develop an understanding of mathematics. They start with addition and subtraction, then long division, and fractions. Later comes algebra, geometry, calculus.

They move from memorization to working out problems.

The same applies to reading and writing. After kids learn to copy the alphabet, they write words, then sentences, then paragraphs, then essays, and then deep research papers.

They move from imitation to articulation.

Meanwhile at church, it’s Jesus died on the cross for me. And the expression often ends there, with young people never being challenged to ponder the deeper themes of the Christian faith.

Will God really judge mankind? Why did Jesus have to die? What kind of life will we live in heaven? How should Christians respond to social issues? Why do bad things happen to good people?

The next thing they know, they’re not really sure what they believe. And more importantly, they’re not really sure it matters. Faith isn’t concrete, after all. A vague feeling is all we can expect, right?

Parents must elevate the conversation

We must help our kids think more deeply, so they can believe more deeply.

Acquiring knowledge, and challenging kids to articulate both affirmations and questions, is not about raising the standard for salvation. It’s about raising the standard of understanding. We must challenge them to learn basic doctrine, to read books that teach entry-level theology, to think more critically about some of the deep mysteries of the faith.

Do they know the basic timeline of the Bible? (Approximately 4,000 years of Biblical history)

Do they understand the basic plot-line of the Bible? (Working out God’s promise from Genesis 3:15).

Do they have a vision for what heaven will be like?

Can they tell you what they believe and why they believe?

Instead of trying to react to an ever-changing barrage of information directed at our kids, we must be proactive and address the root cause of nursery rhyme faith: lack of honest Bible engagement.

Instead of feeding kids pat answers and slogans, they need deeper context for their faith and answers to their (mostly unasked) questions.

Resetting the table

A faith reset begins with a decision: your decision to give God a place at your family’s table. In my own life, when I’m walking closely with God, I have fresh material to share in an unforced way. When my head is in the Bible, the Bible gets in my head—and in conversations with my kids. (When I’m not, I miss opportunities to share faith in practical ways.)

It’s not that young people quit believing. Rather, they finally realize they never had enough substance to believe in.

Faith transfer requires conversation. As parents, you have what it takes to create these conversations.

- cross walk

Christians fear referendum vote will bring more violence

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Iraq, September 25, 2017: Less than a year after Mosul and the Nineveh Plains were liberated from self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), Christians in Iraq fear a new wave of violence might be about to begin.

The cause of their anxiety is the highly controversial independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq which takes place today (25 September). Iraq’s prime minister has called the referendum ‘unconstitutional’, while a ‘no for now’ movement says it’s wrong given the current fight against IS.

For their part, Christians in the disputed Nineveh Plains fear that the referendum will spark new violence in the recently liberated area.

“The Nineveh Plains are a disputed area. So in the case of a civil war this might become one of the most affected areas,” says Hannah*, a local Christian. “The Iraqi government is being very fierce in their threats against this referendum, as well as neighbouring countries.”

Iraq’s prime minister has warned he will take ‘necessary measures to preserve the unity of the country’. “My prayer is that God will turn the current situation for good and that people will not lose their trust. That there may be peace here,” says Hannah.

PLANS To RETURN ON HOLD

Although churches are continuing with their rebuilding activities and some Christians are back in their homes in the Nineveh Plain, uncertainty is making other families put their plans to return on hold.

“I hear from people that were about to return that they are awaiting the result and consequences of the referendum and remain at their place of refuge until then,” says Hannah.

The referendum for Kurdish independence comes after a long struggle for a Kurdish independent state. A ‘yes’ result is widely expected although the result is not binding.

The opinions of Christians in the region differ, “There are Christians who are in favour of the independence, they are found mostly among those living in the Kurdish area,” says Hannah. “But others are against it.”

The stances of the Christian political parties in the Kurdish parliament are also divided. Some are voting ‘no’ because they don’t agree with the inclusion of the Nineveh Plains. They fear it will only bring more conflict to the Christians who have already suffered a great deal at the hands of IS.

*Name changed for security reasons

- open doors

Christian persecution increases with North Korea top of the list

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Asia, newsletter-asia

North Korea, September 28, 2017: In the west Christians get persecuted in an underhand way, with demotion and sacking at work, not being able to adopt children because of their faith, ridiculed because they object to either Gay marriage or other gender issues and the list goes on.

However in other parts of the world, Christian are being killed, imprisoned, or on the run because of their faith.

Open Doors the Christian charity has a watch list which highlights the 50 countries where it is most difficult to live as a Christian. These are the places where followers of Christ must keep their beliefs hidden and where living the gospel means facing beatings, imprisonment, discrimination and abuse.

For the fourth year in a row, the level of overall persecution has risen, with Asia, particularly, showing a rapid rise. North Korea is still number one. As Hindu nationalists batter the churches, India climbs to its highest ever ranking of 15.

Islamic extremism continues to strangle the expression of the Christian faith, fuelling persecution in 14 out of the top 20 countries, and 35 of the top 50. Millions of Christians around the world now live their lives against varying levels of discrimination, discovery, violence and arrest.

The map shown above indicated with red being extreme persicution, orange very high and yellow high.

- the way

Euthanasia movement is weaker than it seems, expert says

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

Italy, September 27, 2017: A leading opponent of assisted suicide says that while the movement supporting euthanasia seems strong, the reality is that, at least in the United States, it has had few political victories.

“The difficulty in this issue is that the media sells us this as a tidal wave that’s coming; it’s inevitable, this is people’s rights, it’s going to happen anyway, and in fact none of this is true,” Alex Schadenberg told CNA Sept. 23.

While a handful of states in the U.S. have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, “over and over and over again [euthanasia] bills have been defeated.”

Assisted suicide became legal in the United States when Oregon approved the practice in 1998. Washington State legalized it in 2009, Vermont in 2013, and Colorado, California, and Washington, D.C. in 2016. In Montana, the practice was permitted by the state Supreme Court in 2009.

However, while the legalization of euthanasia in these states has been “tragic,” the losses for the euthanasia movement far outweigh their victories, Schadenberg said, explaining that thus far in 2017, assisted suicide bills were introduced in dozens of states, and “all of them were defeated.”

“U.S. courts have universally found that there is no right to assisted suicide,” he added. “So in the U.S. you don’t have a tidal wave.”

Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in Canada, and was a speaker during a Sept. 20-24 conference for MaterCare International in Rome.

In his comments to CNA, Schadenberg said “the [euthanasia] movement has lost more battles than probably any other movement in the history of the U.S., and yet there’s supposedly a tidal wave in favor.”

“And for a group that has the kind of money they have, they should almost be embarrassed,” he said, explaining that Americans “are not buying the news, they’re not buying their lies.”

The euthanasia mentality is built on a lie, he said, because while those supportive of legalization argue that euthanasia supports freedom and autonomy, though actual laws are focused on protecting doctors’ rights instead.

In Canada, which legalized euthanasia in 2016, laws protect doctors and nurse practitioners who assist in euthanasia from nearly any liability or error, “so long as it is reasonable error.”

By law, then, there’s essentially “no way (for) a doctor who intentionally does something, (that) you can prosecute them. The law is so tightly protecting of them,” Schadenberg said.

He noted that the American College of Physicians reiterated their stance against euthanasia and assisted suicide in a recent position-paper on topic, published September 19.

In the paper’s abstract, the college said they remain unsupportive of euthanasia because it “is problematic given the nature of the patient–physician relationship, affects trust in the relationship and in the profession, and fundamentally alters the medical profession’s role in society.”

“Furthermore, the principles at stake in this debate also underlie medicine’s responsibilities regarding other issues and the physician’s duties to provide care based on clinical judgment, evidence, and ethics,” the abstract read, and stressed the need to focus on palliative care.

“There is no tidal wave in the U.S…the doctors don’t even want this,” Schadenberg said. What actually happens in the states and counties where euthanasia has been legalized, he said, is“terribly sad, because lives are being lost and vulnerable people are being abandoned.”

“The reality is when you legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide, there is money that’s saved because you are ending the lives of people who are not always terminally ill…but might have a significant health condition, which means they are expensive,” Schadenberg said.

He condemned the “eugenics mentality” that he said drives the push for euthanasia, saying it’s a part of our culture “whether we like it or not.”

Schadenberg said that euthanasia supporters “look at certain lives as not worth living, they would look at certain conditions” and, coupled with the fact that euthanasia is money-saving and makes healthy organs available, “would be in favor of it for those reasons, they would say that’s actually a good thing.”

However, the average person who supports the euthanasia cause wouldn’t argue on these points, but rather on the prospect of eliminating suffering, Schadenberg said.

People are afraid to suffer, “and that’s a normal human reality,” he said, explaining that “we’ve got to break down the issue and talk about our normal human experience, and my experience as a human being is that when I’m going through a terrible situation, I become very emotionally upset, and that’s because that’s how we are as humans.”

“This is how we were made to be, whether you believe in God or not, we’re wired this way,” he said, adding that throwing in the idea of euthanasia when one is “emotionally and physically distraught” makes the situation worse.

Rather than freedom and autonomy, euthanasia and assisted suicide are about “abandonment,” he said. “It’s about abandoning people in a time of need, it’s not about freedom.”

- cna

Hindu extremists assault Pastor in Uttar Pradesh

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Uttar Pradesh, September 27, 2017: A pastor in Uttar Pradesh received serious injuries after Hindu extremists pulled him out of his church during Sunday worship on the pretext of taking him to the police station. Pastor Abhay Sagar, 37, was assaulted before being handed over to police in Biswan, Sitapur on Sunday 24 September, 2017.

He was conducting regular Sunday worship when a mob of Hindu extremists belonging to the Bajrang Dal (an extremist and militant Hindu organisation that forms the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) family of organisations) entered the church and disrupted the service.

“They were about 15 men who disrupted the service after about half an hour of its commencement. They took me with them insisting that they want to talk to me. Some of them stayed back and started to question my congregation and mistreat women. When they brought me out, there were more Hindu extremists waiting for me and they began to shout slogans of ‘Jai Sri Ram (Hail lord Rama)’,” said Pastor Abhay Sagar in an interview with Global Christian News.

“They started to abuse me and said that I forcefully convert people and preach this foreign religion. They insisted on taking me to the police station and I complied to talk the matter out,” added Sagar.

There were about 10-15 motorcycles that were parked in the premises. The extremists put Sagar on one of them and all of them headed towards the police station which is less than a kilometre from Sagar’s Church.

“There were a few others waiting at a sharp turn and these bikers stopped there. As soon as we stopped, someone hit me very hard from behind. I could not see who he was and neither do I know what he hit me with? I was hit on my right ear, neck and cheek. The massive hit left me dizzy and with excruciating pain in my ear. I immediately lost hearing power in my right ear and my nose began to bleed. I went into a semi-conscious state,” said Sagar.

The extremists pounced on Sagar from every side and started to hit him with hands, fists and legs. The first hit had put him in so much pain that he could not see who was hitting him and with what. He was hit on his chest because of which he is facing breathing issues now as-well-as pain in the chest.

“One of them hit me repeatedly with his leg on my private parts due to which I am in severe pain and have developed inflammation,” said Sagar who has not been given proper medical treatment until the writing of this report.

He was not sent for a medical examination (which is mandatory in such cases) until Monday afternoon till Global Christian News (India) intervened in the matter and spoke to the Superintendent of Police (Biswan).

A complaint was filed against Sagar and he was charged under Indian Penal Code sections 295A (Deliberately insulting religious beliefs of others) and 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy).

Several leaders of the Bajrang Dal and RSS came and visited Sagar until 11 same night, putting pressure on the police to take stringent action against the Pastor. “Looking at me they said, ‘Okay is this the person who carries out conversion; come let us now convert him to Hinduism’,” revealed Sagar.

The Hindu extremists shouted slogans, pressurised the police constantly and threatened the Christians waiting outside the police station by warning them that ‘jail’ is the fate of those who follow the teachings of Pastor Abhay.

Sagar reported that the Hindu extremists seized Bibles, donation box and two record books kept inside the Church, “One was a visitor register containing the record of all the members of my Church having their address, phone numbers and their personal testimonies.

“This was a record containing details of 750 members from past 9 years. The second record book contained the details of all the new members of the Church.

“The Bajrang Dal members handed over the donation box at the police station but did not surrender the record books and the Bibles,” said Sagar with much concern fearing misuse of the records of people, many of whom are yet not strong in their faith.

The Superintendent of Police (Biswan) told Global Christian News: “At first we thought that this case was of ‘forceful conversion’ but now investigations are revealing that it was a regular Church service and no ‘forceful conversion’ was taking place”.

Abhay Sagar’s wife, Francisca Sagar filed a complaint against the attackers naming four of those who led the attack against her husband. A counter-case has been registered against them under IPC section 147, 354B, 323, 504, 506 on 25 September, though no arrests have been reported yet.

Sagar testified to Global Christian News that three policemen came to Sagar privately and enquired about his faith. “They shared with me their personal problems and requested me to pray for them. I prayed for them while in police custody”.

“After the immediate intervention of Global Christian News and volunteers from the Evangelical Fellowship of India the police removed the charges against me and sent me home on 25 September,” said Sagar thanking the organisations and individuals who came forward to help him.

Sagar has been instructed by the police to suspend Church services until the matter is settled.

The Holy Family Church is conducted in one of the halls on the third floor of the BNSD Public School building and Sagar, along with his wife and children (seven-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter) live on the fourth (top) floor in the same building.

Sagar is associated with the UP Mission since the year 2000 after serving with the Campus Crusade earlier.

- global christian news

Uzhunnalil arrives in India, meets PM Modi

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, September 28, 2017: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who spent 18 months in captivity of Islamic militants in Yemen, arrived in New Delhi on September 28 .

“I thank God for giving me a day like this,” Father Uzhunnalil said soon after he arrived in the national capital by Air India that that landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport at 7:28 in the morning.

The 59-year-old Salesian priest was received at the airport by a team led by federal Minister of State for Tourism Alphons Kannanthanam. Members of Parliament K C Venugopal and Jose K Mani were also in the team.

The Indian Church was represented by Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad and heads of Salesian provinces of Delhi and Bangalore.

Father TUzhannalil later met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

“Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, who was recently rescued from captivity in Yemen met PM @narendramodi,” the Office of the Prime Minister tweeted.

Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Raveesh Kumar tweeted: “PM @narendramodi meets Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, who was recently rescued from captivity in Yemen.”

Father Uzhunnalil was released from the captivity on September 12 through the intervention of the government of Oman and the Vatican.

He was abducted on March 4, 2016, from a Mother Teresa center in Aden, a port city in southern Yemen. His captors shot dead 16 people, including four Missionaries of Charity nuns, who worked in the center.

- matters india

Rahul Gandhi is a Christian, has church inside 10 Janpath: Subramanian Swamy

September 28, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

New Delhi, September 28, 2017: Taking a jibe at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s recent tour of temples in Gujarat, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy on Thursday asked him to first prove that he is a Hindu.

“He should first declare that he is a Hindu,” Swamy quipped.

Intensifying his attack on the Congress no. 2, the firebrand BJP leader further said, “I suspect he is a Christian and has a Church inside 10 Janpath.”

The remarks from Swamy were made a day after after Rahul Gandhi wrapped up his three-day visit to Gujarat during which he visited several temples across the BJP-ruled state and offered prayers there.

Rahul Gandhi’s temple visit was seen as the young leader’s desperate bid to break his party’s anti-Hindu image.

Rahul’s visit to various temples was aimed at countering the hardline Hindutva campaign of BJP, RSS, claimed Congress.

The BJP hit back by saying that the Gandhi scion’s temple visit was just an eyewash and had nothing to do with Hindus.

He was doing so as Congress was not winning elections, the BJP said.

The Congress Vice-President kicked off his tour after offering prayers at Dwarkadhish temple on Monday.

During his Gujarat visit, Rahul Gandhi had visited Chotila temple in Surendranagar district, Khodal Dham temple in Kagvad village, Jalaram temple in Veerpur in Rajkot district.

During his visit, Rahul also made a scathing attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issues related to Goods and Services Tax (GST), demonetisation and farm loan waiver.

- zee news

7 ways to create a faith-filled workspace

September 27, 2017 by admin  
Filed under Miscellaneous, newsletter-miscellaneous

Taking time to think through and organize your office space can be a wonderful way to prepare for a new season. With the busy work days ahead, I really wanted to create a faith-filled workspace that would remind me to rely on Jesus. Whether a hectic day full of meetings and deadlines, or a quiet day of steady workflow, these 7 ways to create a faith-filled workspace can be used to regroup and rejuvenate.

1. Use Scripture wall art.

Glancing up from your desk to read a meaningful Bible verse is a wonderful way to encourage your heart in the midst of work time. When Moses passed down the commandments to the children of Israel, he told them the laws were to be on their hearts. He gave them several ideas to make this happen in Deuteronomy 6 (NIV) and I love verse 9: “Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

2. Organize with inspiring word/color combinations.

Making lists is a great way to move ideas from visions in our head to visions on paper. Using beautiful paper to write lists will add color to your space and inspiration to your heart. The This is the Moment – Desk Pad provides categories of “to do,” “to pray for,” and “to connect with.” What a wonderful way to begin each day or week having thought through and written down these simple reminders!

3. Place a Bible verse card in your drawer.

Each time you pull open your drawer, you’ll receive a powerful reminder of God’s love and care. The Confident Heart Scripture Shareables are the perfect way to recall you can do all things through Christ! (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

4. Use post-it’s for prayer reminders.

Want to remember to pray for someone having surgery this week? Write it out and post it! Need to pray for a specific event in your church or community? Then you’ll love the prayer reminder post-it’s to help you focus on the prayer needs of your family, friends, and loved ones.

calendar.

Calendars help you keep track of time and your usage of it. Why not add a verse to your daily planner or calendar routine for one more way to stay motivated and keep going through the day? Or try the perpetual calendars to begin your day with a short devotion.

6. Play praise and worship music in the background.

Not every office space allows for music, but if you can have a 5 minute praise and worship session, I can guarantee your work will experience a pick-up in pace.

7. Stick some faith-filled moments on your folders.

In the last year, I’ve rediscovered my joy in using stickers. Stickers aren’t just for kids! There are so many ways to use stickers around your office, whether on folders, binders, planners, calendars or stationery, adding a few words of cheer via stickers creates smiles and heartfelt warmth.

Taking a few moments to create a workspace with splashes of faith will brighten your workdays and spur you on to new heights! These sweet reminders will remind you to shine God’s light even when tension is high.

- cross walk

UN resolution to investigate ISIS crimes praised as step toward recognizing genocide

September 27, 2017 by admin  
Filed under lead story, newsletter-lead

U.S., September 24, 2017: As the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Thursday to help investigate ISIS crimes in Iraq, one human rights group hailed the development as a step towards U.N. recognition of genocide.

“It is incredibly encouraging to see the Security Council take such a significant step towards ensuring justice for the countless victims and their families,” Kelsey Zorsi, the U.N. Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom International, stated in response.

The resolution came as the 72nd Regular Session of the U.N. General Assembly is meeting in New York City from Sept. 12-25. It passed by unanimous vote in the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

The resolution establishes an investigative team, led by a Special Adviser, to help the government of Iraq gather and preserve evidence of crimes committed by ISIS against religious minorities there.

The human rights group ADF International hailed it as a significant development in possibly bringing ISIS criminals to justice, as well as aiding the victims of those crimes.

“We hope that the passage of this resolution reminds Christians in the Middle East that they have not been forgotten, that there is hope, that we will continue fighting for them, and that accountability is on its way,” Zorsi said.

The investigative team must work with the Iraqi government, but also with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), ADF International said.

For instance, aid and advocacy groups like the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians were critical in preparing a report documenting ISIS atrocities committed against ethnic and religious minorities, which led then Secretary of State John Kerry to declare ISIS actions a genocide.

Also, they said, “the Special Adviser should have a firm background in international law to ensure the right categories are being used for the atrocities committed.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., called the resolution “a landmark” and “a major first step towards addressing the death, suffering, and injury of the victims of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq – crimes that include genocide.”

“These victims have been Yazidis, Christians, Shia and Sunni Muslims, and many, many more,” she said.

ADF International pointed out that the Security Council “for the first time” did not discount the possibility of using the term “genocide” to describe the atrocities committed by ISIS. Human rights advocates have argued that ISIS crimes constitute a genocide according to the U.N.’s definition.

According to the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the intent to commit genocide means the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”  Genocide can be committed through killing, torture, forced sterilization, moving the children of one group elsewhere, or “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

In 2014, ISIS militants conquered large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq in an attempt to establish a caliphate based upon an extremist interpretation of Islam.

As they took over cities and towns in Syria and in Northern Iraq, ISIS killed and displaced many religious and ethnic minorities in the region, including Christians, Yezidis, Shia and Sunni Muslims, Turkmen, and Shabak. There were countless reports of murders, torture, the kidnapping and enslavement of Yezidi and Christian women and girls, evidence of mass graves, and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands.

Pope Francis used the term “genocide” to describe what was occurring in 2015. In February of 2016, the European Parliament declared that ISIS was indeed committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in the region.

In March of 2016, the U.S. Congress issued a genocide resolution, and on March 17 Secretary of State John Kerry stated that “in my judgment, Daesh [ISIS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.

“Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does,” he said, charging that the group “is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing directed at these same groups and in some cases also against Sunni Muslims, Kurds, and other minorities.”

The U.N. Security Council has not yet made a genocide declaration, however. Advocacy groups are hoping that will soon change.

- cna

Cross burns as Chinese officials remove it from church

September 27, 2017 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Hong Kong, September 27, 2017: Following the demolition of church crosses by local authorities in China’s Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces in recent years, Henan has now become the third province where this has occurred.

Even though the Holy Grace Protestant Church in Tang He county was officially registered, local authorities used a crane to demolish its cross on Sept. 20.

Video has circulated online showing the cross on fire after it was purportedly ignited by sparks during removal.

Ying Fuk-tsang, director of the Divinity School at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told ucanews that as far as he knows this was the first church in Henan to have its cross forcibly taken down.

A pattern seemed to be emerging, but it was unclear whether the removal of crosses was being ordered by the central government, he said.

Ying was unaware if prior notice was given before the latest incident.

But the targeting of crosses as religious symbols appeared to be in accord with national policies, particularly regarding major provinces where Christianity is booming such as Zhejiang and Henan.

A Protestant leader in Wenzhou prefecture told ucanews.com that authorities were becoming more cunning, acting in secretive ways and stating that workers had accidentally destroyed crosses.

The crosses of about 1,500 to 2,000 churches were demolished in Zhejiang province between 2013 and 2016.

Specific figures on the number of church crosses removed this year have been concealed, the Protestant leader said.

A church official from Henan’s Luoyang Diocese, who wanted to remain anonymous, told ucanews.com that the old town church, belonging to the underground Catholic community, was asked by local authorities more than a month ago to demolish its cross within a week.

There was a warning that if this request was not followed, the government would take it down anyway.

The Luoyang Diocese official believes the aim was to force the underground church to register as a venue for religious activities.

However, he noted that despite the deadline passing, authorities had still not carried out their threat.

Ying, from the Divinity School in Hong Kong said, time would tell as to whether cross removals have spread to more provinces.

There had yet been no such action in places such as Jiangsu and Fujian, two major provinces with sizable Christian populations.

But he added that the overall strategy of the Communist Party and the state was increasingly hostile to the practice of religion.

Ying also believed an announced tightening of regulations governing religious affairs was already having an effect, especially regarding the growth of Christianity.

Authorities in Henan province released a document in July stressing that religious organizations would not be allowed to run Sunday schools or summer camps.

Although official statistics are not available, there are indications that the Christian population in Henan province is the second highest in the country after Zhejiang province.

In 2009, the Christian population in Henan was 2.4 million, of which 300,000 were Catholics.

- ucan

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