Padma Bhushan David Frawley points out Christian Missionaries’ assault on Hindu Dharma

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

India, September 28, 2016:  Author of ‘Shiva, the Lord of Yoga’ and thirty other books- Dr. David Frawley talks about the missionary assault on Hindu dharma in his recent article in Hindu Post. The Padma Bhushan awardee believes, Christian acceptance of religious freedom is mainly to allow their freedom to convert others and does not include any true respect for other traditions.

He says, “As a western Hindu critic of Christian theology, I have often been criticized, including by some Hindus, for my statements against Christianity, including Christian missionary efforts. I have been called a hardline or fundamentalist Hindu for questioning prime Christian dogmas like salvation by belief, Jesus as the only Son of God, or suggesting that Christian charities can be a mask for conversion activities.”

Dr. David Frawley’s perspective about Christians is criticized by liberal Hindus who believe all religions are one and they all have the same goal, so each and every religion should be honored and not criticized. Some even state that Jesus was a saint or yogi, and many exalted Christian mystics and New Age Christians believe in karma and rebirth.

But, Frawley considers the thinking to be narrow and naïve which misses the reality of missionary conversion activity that is going on in the world, especially in India.

He believes, Hindus in India are perhaps the main target of the global missionary movement and they use the money, media, and even false allures for conversation. They are well-funded missionaries from America, Catholic Church, and mainstream Protestant groups from European countries. The missionaries’ assault on other religions includes Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs.

He further said, “As long as Christians unleash their missionary warriors against Hindus, Hindus must counter them and expose their wrong beliefs. Christians cannot talk about religious harmony and respect while setting their missionary armies upon the world. Their mentality is not one of honoring the Divine in all, but of promoting a well-funded and determined conversion agenda for one point of view only.”

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit  Vamadeva Shastri) D. Litt., is a western born teacher or guru in the Vedic tradition.

– newsgram

India, one year after lynching beef still source of controversy

September 29, 2016 by  
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New Delhi, September 29, 2016: Growing intolerance of prime minister Narendra Modi’s policies; a growing number of intellectuals who are distancing themselves from the political mainstream; the defeat of the ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist) in state elections in Bihar.

But also the rise of a spontaneous movement of “cow protection vigilante groups”, willing to do everything, even using violence, to prevent the consumption or slaughter of an animal sacred to the Hindu faith. This is the situation a year after the fierce lynching of Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, where a Muslim man was beaten to death by an angry mob on suspicion of having consumed cow meat.

On September 28 last year, Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched, murdered in front of his family, arousing deep anger in much of the population. In Hinduism the cow is revered as a manifestation of the divine: it is considered a sin to kill it or eat it, and the Brahmins (priests, the highest caste – ed) shall refrain from doing so. Only the Dalits (the untouchables) – considered unclean and therefore also called “untouchables” – can eat, touch, or work with its skin.

According to government statistics, beef is the main food for most of the non-Hindu population. About 80 million Indians consume it – that is one person every 13 inhabitants – of which most are Muslims. The data, however, also reveals that Hindus are consuming it in increasing numbers: to date, more than 12 million across the country.

Only later it turned out that the meat consumed by the Akhlaq family, who now live in Delhi for security reasons, was buffalo. Apart from the findings on the nature of the flesh, the beating sparked protests and “self-preservation” movements which involved all society.

Students and intellectuals – including the famous writer Nayantara Sahgal, grandson of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru – raised their voices, many academics returned prestigious career awards underlining the importance of tolerance, diversity and pluralism.  However, the defenders of religious nationalism have refined their techniques.

In many areas of the country initiatives in defense of the sacred cow have arisen spontaneously. Among these, groups that have appointed themselves “cow protection vigilante groups”, formed by local nationalists who set themselves up as “defenders of state law” (since in many states it is forbidden to slaughter cows). But government officials are not to be outdone: the police raided the canteen of the Delhi residence of the chief minister from Kerala, triggering a veritable “political incident.”

– asianews

Unabated border killings dismay church, activists

September 29, 2016 by  
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Dhaka, September 28, 2016: A Catholic bishop has joined rights activists in condemning what they say are the unabated killings of Bangladeshi civilians by Indian border guards on the Bangladesh-India border.

Despite repeated promises by Indian authorities for “zero casualties” some 28 Bangladeshis have been shot dead so far this year by the Indian Border Security Force, according to Ain-O-Salish Kendra, a Dhaka-based rights group.

Over the last three years the casualties have numbered 26, 33 and 46 respectively the group, said.

In the latest incident, Baharul Islam, 25, a villager from northern Kurigram district was gunned down by Indian soldiers on Sept. 25.

“The indiscriminate killing of civilians is a sin, a crime against humanity. Even if these people illegally trespassed into Indian territory or committed crimes, nothing can justify the killings,” Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi told ucanews.

Both countries should work together to raise awareness about illegal activities along the border. India needs to be more “tolerant and restrained” in dealing with border issues, the chairman of Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission said.

“Killings and abuses at the border create bitterness and enmity. As neighbors and friendly nations we must find ways to stop the killings for sake of keeping good relations,” Bishop Rozario said.

Bangladesh and India share a 4,096-kilometer land border, the world’s fifth longest.

In 2006, the Indian Border Security Force started constructing a barbed wire fence along a 3,200-km stretch of the border, in an attempt to keep out illegal migrants, smugglers and anti-government insurgents and militants.

Although, the two countries have relatively warm relations, about 1,000 civilians, mostly Bangladeshi villagers including children have been killed by Indian soldiers in the past 10 years, according a report from New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In many cases, victims were cattle smugglers — poor farmers and laborers hoping to supplement their meager livelihood through illegal cattle trading that until a year ago was rampant along the border.

Hindus who make up most of India’s population consider cows sacred while in neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh cows are slaughtered for food, and beef is considered a delicacy. Cows in Bangladesh can fetch up to five times more money than they do in India.

India does not allow the export of cows and hence any cross-border cattle trading is illegal. Moreover, the pro-Hindu Indian government is presently pushing for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and has asked its border troops to put a complete halt to the smuggling of cattle to Bangladesh.

Amid diplomatic and international pressure, Indian authorities have ordered the Border Security Force to refrain from its previously adopted “shoot-to-kill” policy and use “non-lethal” weapons at the border.

However, continued border killings despite high level talks is “saddening and worrisome,” says Nur Khan, executive director of the Ain-O-Salish Kendra rights group.

“The Indian government promised zero casualties at the border, but the killing has yet to stop,” Khan told ucanews.com.

“It seems there is a lack of effort in developing relations. Since border situation has not improved as expected, global intervention, maybe from the United Nations, could be helpful in solving the problem,” he added.

Major General Aziz Ahmed, director-general of Border Guard Bangladesh told the Bengali daily Prothom Alo on Sept. 25 that Bangladesh protests the border killings in the strongest terms.

“In the past, the Indian Border Security Force used to say they fired at Bangladeshis in self-defense, but it’s not true,” he said.

“We will strongly press for an end to the killing of Bangladeshis at the border during a meeting between the two countries’ border guard agencies in Delhi,” Ahmed was quoted as saying.

– ucan

Boko Haram slaughters christians, burns villages near Chibok where 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Nigeria, September 28, 2016: Islamic radicals from the Boko Haram terror group in Nigeria have attacked and burned the villages of Kuburumbula and Boftari in the Chibok area, killing at least two Christians.

The terrorists burned down homes and vandalized shops and a local market in the same area where 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014. The government is denying that anyone was killed.

“For the second week in a row, we are mourning the loss of Christians in Nigeria who were murdered by Boko Haram militants. This string of attacks has us deeply concerned for the safety of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Chibok area of Nigeria’s northeast,” International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said in a statement.

Stark noted that Boko Haram’s new leadership under Abu Musab al-Barnawi has vowed to increase its attacks on Christians in recent weeks, which has sparked new worry among the Christian community.

“They are living in fear,” he said of the Christians.

“ICC applauds the Nigerian government for its persistence in fighting Boko Haram, but urges greater protection for the most vulnerable populations, especially Christians living in Nigeria’s northeast.”

The Nigeria Army confirmed the attack in the Chibok area earlier this week, according to Premium Times.

Sani Usman, a spokesperson for the army, said that a manhunt is underway for the radicals.

“Troops were eventually dispatched to the area with clear orders to pursue and deal with the terrorists. They are still exploiting,” Usman said.

“The troops encountered Boko Haram terrorists ambush site shortly before Kuburmbula village. They quickly cleared the ambush and proceeded to Boftari.

“Unfortunately, the terrorists had set some houses on fire and fled. The troops put out the fire and are currently on the hunt for the terrorists,” he added.

Usman insisted that despite media reports, “no life was lost,” and the terrorists have been driven out.

ICC said in its report, however, that locals saw a Christian man in Boftari who was tied up with a rope and slaughtered in front of his wife and children by the jihadists, while another Christian man was killed in the fighting in Kuburumbula.

The villages have suffered greatly at the hands of Boko Haram. Approximately 47 of the Chibok girls that the militants kidnapped in 2014 came from Kuburumbula.

The vast majority of the schoolgirls remain unaccounted for despite the government’s efforts to find and rescue them. A new video of the hostages was released back in August, with the girls pleading with their parents to convince the government to negotiate with Boko Haram for their release.

The parents of the girls have refused to give up hope that they will see them alive again, but have also lamented the fate of their children.

“The fact is we are overwhelmed with a feeling of depression. It’s like being beaten and being stopped from crying. You helplessly watch your daughter but there is nothing you can do. It’s a real heartache. Those who are still alive — we want them back. We want them back irrespective of their condition,” Samuel Yaga, the father of one of the abducted schoolgirls, told BBC Hausa at the time.

“As ordinary men, there is nothing we [the other fathers and I] can do on our own. We are just here unable to do anything with our lives. You see your child but someone denies you from having it. They are being forcefully married and they now live in terrible conditions,” he added.

– christian post

How to recover from pornography addiction

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

The dangers of pornography to marriages, families, and the very soul of the world cannot be overestimated. I receive phone calls on a daily basis decrying the ravages of pornography and other forms of sexual addiction, and the deception that surrounds it, on marriage and the family.

In my book Breaking Everyday Addictions, I note how sexual addictions are more rampant than anyone realizes. From men who have serial affairs, to those who are addicted to pornography, sexual addictions are particularly malignant and destructive to marriages.

As with all forms of addictions, sexual addictions are secretive, fraught with denial, deception, and minimization, and are progressive. Destructive behavior continues in spite of the positive intentions of the addicted person. No longer free to fully choose their behavior, they are instead driven by secret, shameful compulsions.

When confronted about their behavior, the pornography addict rarely reveals the truth. Thus, the mate of the pornography addict now deals additionally with the shame of pornography as well as the unfathomable breach of trust. If one’s mate cannot be trusted in one matter of such vital importance, how can they be trusted in another?

An additional challenge of sexual addictions concerns the issue of “coming clean.” The spouse of the sexual addict often wants to know the full extent of the addiction, and because of the very secretive nature of the addict, that information is either not forthcoming, or is not believed. Most often the truth comes out in bits and pieces, creating phenomenal tension. The couple is left with rampant distrust.

What are some steps that can be taken when facing some aspect of sexual addiction?

First, you need to deal directly with your sexual addiction. Take whatever steps are necessary, including the possibility of an inpatient program, or a community-based program such as Sexual Addicts Anonymous or Celebrate Recovery to deal effectively with the sexual addiction. Many find some success with an accountability partner, but this is not likely enough. Consider taking dramatic steps to recover from this serious problem. Until this is done trust cannot be rebuilt.

Second, ensure that you have thorough program. It has been said that partial measures will not ensure recovery. Drastic measures are needed to deal effectively with this problem. Don’t fool yourself by believing you can solve this problem on your own. Any recovery program must encompass social, psychological, sexual and spiritual factors—in short, it must be comprehensive. Radical changes in lifestyle are often needed for recovery.

Third, once you have dealt honestly with your addiction, complete with accountability, then you can work on your marriage. Recovery cannot occur alone. Scripture tells us, “Iron sharpen iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Marriages need support as well. A marriage cannot survive ongoing violations of trust. Recovery cannot occur when there is incredible chaos, deception and destruction occurring in your home.

Fourth, there must be fearless truth-telling in all matters. Wherever there is addiction—and our homes are plagued with everyday addictions—there is deception, excuse-making, rationalizing and other forms of unhealthy communication. Addiction breeds bondage, idolatry and “crazymaking.” Any recovery process is replete with full transparency and accountability.

Finally, after you have fully faced the severity of your addiction, and taken steps toward healing, then marriage counseling is helpful to learn effective communication and conflict resolution skills. Addiction impacts everyone in the family. Both mates need to heal from the years of betrayal and develop strategies for keeping your home free from pornography in the future. Understand that it will take time for trust to be rebuilt, and both the addict and mate will need their own counseling to recover from your addiction and unhealthy patterns of communication.

– cross walk

Geologist says he found lost tomb of Jesus; If true, Christianity is a lie

September 28, 2016 by  
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U.S, September 25, 2016: Geologist Dr. Aryeh Shimron claims to have found the “lost tomb of Jesus” in Jerusalem, proclaimed the Drudge Report (9/18/16). This is known as the Talpiot Tomb, first discovered in 1980.

The implications of this claim, if it were true, are enormous — world-changing.

Writing for The Sun (UK), Hannah Farrett notes, “he apparently has proof that Jesus Christ is buried at a site in East Jerusalem. But now Aryeh has done some tests, which he says prove Jesus of Nazareth, his wife Mary Magdalene and SON Judah were laid to rest there.”

She adds, “There are nine burial boxes in the tomb, and they all have names with links to the New Testament of the Bible on them …. This was highly controversial, given Christians believe Jesus was resurrected …. Some people rubbished the claims, saying all the names etched on the boxes were so common at the time there’s no way of drawing any conclusions.”

It certainly is “highly controversial.” But is it true?

Short answer: No.

Dr. Paul L. Maier, Harvard-trained retired professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, is a best-selling author. Most of his books are non-fiction. But he once wrote a novel called, A Skeleton in God’s Closet.

The book deals with an alleged discovery of Jesus’ tomb — providing actual “proof” that Jesus had not risen from the dead — bodily, historically, physically — and that the whole Christian church in all of its manifestations was, therefore, built on a lie. Soon, the whole thing (Christianity) collapsed — as well it should — if Jesus has not indeed risen from the dead.

For this column, I reached out to some leading New Testament scholars for comments.

Dr. Maier emailed me: “It seems that sensationalizing writers about Jesus always try twice to gain public attention with their bizarre claims when their first effort fails …. Now Israeli Geologist Aryeh Shimron has done the same thing in the case of the Talpiot Tomb in Jerusalem. Virtually the same headlines were used now as when the ‘discovery’ was first announced in 2007. It was junk then, it is junk now. The current warmed-over version will receive the same reception now as nine years ago: Dead on Arrival.”

Dr. Michael Licona teaches at Houston Baptist University. The conclusion of his 700-plus page book, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, states: “Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the best historical explanation of the relevant historical bedrock” (p. 610).

He adds, “Since it fulfills all five of the criteria for the best explanation and outdistances competing hypotheses by a significant margin in their ability to fulfill the same criteria, the historian is warranted in regarding Jesus’ resurrection as an event that occurred in the past.”

Responding to this new story, Licona wrote me: “Some things in history are more certain than others. One fact that is virtually certain is Jesus’ disciples were convinced their rabbi had risen from the dead and had appeared to them. The data supporting this fact are so secure that virtually 100 percent of all historians of Jesus grant it, whether Jewish, agnostic, or atheist.”

And Licona notes, “Moreover, the earliest Christians proclaimed that Jesus had been raised bodily, leaving behind an empty grave. Dr. Shimron must explain how Jesus’s corpse went missing, then received an honorable burial without any of His disciples ever learning about it. It seems more likely that Dr. Shimron is engaged in wishful thinking and that his claim to have found the family tomb of Jesus will soon be laid to rest in the graveyard of discarded fanciful hypotheses.”

Dr. Gary Habermas of Liberty University is a walking encyclopedia on the resurrection of Jesus and has written on it voluminously. His book, The Secret of the Talpiot Tomb: Unraveling the Mystery of the Jesus Family Tomb (2008), shows why the Talpiot Tomb could not possibly contain the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth.

Habermas emailed me, “Thankfully, virtually no scholars support him [Shimron] at all.”

Finally, I also received feedback on the alleged “lost tomb of Jesus” from Dr. Darrell Bock, one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars. Bock teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary.

He emailed me, “Nothing has changed since this erroneous conclusion was originally proposed. Jesus would not be in a family tomb as his execution as a felon prevented him by Jewish tradition from being buried in a family tomb. In the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6.5 says, ‘And they did not bury [the felon] in the burial grounds of his ancestors.’ So no burial with the family.”

In short, the claim that the lost tomb of Jesus has been found is just recycled sensationalist rubble. As Maier noted: “I guess there is no end to the way these deluded sensationalists will try to whack a dead horse!”

In short, Jesus is risen indeed.

– jerry newcombe, christian post

Why Christians & Muslims are terrified for their lives

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Delhi, September 14, 2016: Fifty religious leaders from the Christian and Muslim minorities in India met together last week to discuss the religious freedom challenges facing both groups under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Christians are “facing physical, symbolic and structural violence” from Hindu extremists across the country, said Father Z. Devasagaya Raj at the conference in New Delhi on September 5-6.

This view is backed up by the recent report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission, which recorded 134 attacks on Christians or their churches in the first half of 2016 — already almost as many as the annual totals for both 2014 and 2015.

Pointing out that the cases chronicled from January 1 to June 30 were just a “fraction of the violence on the ground” (only “carefully corroborated” incidents were included), the EFI report made several recommendations to Mr. Modi’s government, including the repeal of the controversial “anti-conversion laws.”

These laws — named “Freedom of Religion Acts” — are officially there to prevent religious conversions being made by “force,” “fraud” or “allurement.” But Christians and rights groups say that in reality the laws obstruct conversions generally, as Hindu nationalists invoke them to harass Christians with spurious arrests and incarcerations. Such laws are currently in force in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh — although they have been discussed in several others, such as in Maharashtra last year.

Nearly one-fifth of the reported incidents of anti-Christian violence (25) occurred in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (India’s most populous, with over 200 million people). The second and third highest frequency of attacks took place in states with anti-conversion laws: Madhya Pradesh (17 incidents) and Chhattisgarh (15).

Tamil Nadu was the other high scorer (14). In 2002, this state passed its own “Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Bill,” but it was repealed in 2004 after the defeat of the BJP-led coalition. The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Modi’s party) is known for espousing a Hindu nationalist agenda and currently rules several states in central and western India, as well as controlling the federal government. The EFI report notes that Tamil Nadu is now governed by a Modi “ally.”

Last year, two BJP members — one in the Lower and one in the Upper House of the national Parliament — planned to introduce a Private Members’ Bill, each in their respective House, to introduce a national law against conversion from Hinduism, which would then force a debate in the Parliament.

The MP in the Upper House, Tarun Vijay, said the recently released census had indicated that, “For the first time, the population of Hindus has been reported to be less than 80 percent. We have to take measures to arrest the decline. It is very important to keep the Hindus in majority in the country.

“My argument is that religion must remain a matter of personal choice. But in India, it has become a political tool in the hands of foreign powers, who are targeting Hindus to fragment our nation again on communal lines. This has to be resisted in national interest and in the interest of all minorities in India,” he added.

The MP in the Lower House, Yogi Adityanath, a senior BJP legislator, Hindu head priest and founder of Hindu Yuva Vahini, a social, cultural and nationalist group of youths who seek to provide a right-wing Hindu platform.

In June 2015, Adityanath declared that those opposing yoga and Surya Namaskar, a Hindu salutation to the sun god within yoga, “should leave India or drown themselves in the ocean.”

‘A Worrying Trend’

Christians account for around 5 percent of India’s population, according to the World Christian Database, though the official 2011 census figure was just 2.3 percent (with Muslims at 14.2 percent and Hindus 79.8 percent).

Last month, Tomson Thomas of Persecution Relief told World Watch Monitor attacks on Christians were at an “alarming level,” with more than 30 incidents a month being reported.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum said that in 2015 attacks on Christians had been reported on an almost daily basis.

Recent figures from Christian charity Open Doors, which works on such issues, suggest an even greater number of incidents (closer to 250) occurred in the first six months of this year. But whatever the precise figure, Rolf Zeegers from Open Doors’ World Watch Research says “a worrying trend is emerging.”

“It is very alarming,” he said. “Violence against Christians in India seems to be increasing and becoming more frequent. And yet President Modi’s administration does nothing. Isn’t it about time that Western countries offer the Christian community help by using diplomatic channels to directly put pressure on the Indian government to stop these violent radicals?”

The furor surrounding Mother Theresa’s canonization on September 4 was another reminder of the difficulties faced by India’s Christian minority. A roadside crucifix in Mumbai was reportedly desecrated on the same day, while Hindu nationalists continued to accuse the Catholic nun of having forcibly converted others. MP Yogi Adityanath said in June she had been on a mission to “Christianize India.” Meanwhile, an online petition was circulated in which she was labelled a “soul harvester” who proselytized the poor.

But perhaps there is a glimmer of hope in the conciliatory language used during the recent Supreme Court ruling, in which it was concluded that Christians had received “inadequate” compensation for the worst case of anti-Christian violence in India’s history—the 2008 Kandhamal rampage, during which around 100 Christians were killed, 300 churches and 6,000 Christian homes damaged and 56,000 people displaced after the killing of a Hindu leader.

The EFI report begins with a statement made by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur during that judgment: “The minorities are as much children of the soil as the majority and the approach has been to ensure that nothing should be done, as might deprive the minorities of a sense of belonging, of a feeling of security, of a consciousness of equality and of the awareness that the conservation of their religion, culture, language and script as also the protection of their educational institutions is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution…

“It can, indeed, be said to be an index of the level of civilization and catholicity of a nation as to how far their minorities feel secure and are not subject to any discrimination or suppression.”

Yet conciliation will mean little if what the report refers to as the “ominous and all-permeating impunity and occasional complicity of the administrative and police personnel” is not addressed.

The All India People’s Forum is quoted in the report as saying: “It is evident from the testimonies that the role of the police and administration is extremely lax. On some occasions the police have openly sided with the Bajrang Dal [a militant Hindu group], refusing to protect the Christians.

“On one occasion the police and administration even failed to turn up, having convened a gathering of Hindus and Christians, and possibly informed the Bajrang Dal that they would not turn up, thus setting the scene for organized mob violence against the Christians. On the occasions where the district administration and police have intervened, it has not been to enforce the rule of law and uphold the Constitution and arrest the Bajrang Dal mischief-makers; rather the ineffectual mode of ‘dispute resolution’ has been adopted.”

– charisma news

Baby born in jungle symbolizes suffering of India’s Christians

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Mumbai, September 26, 2016: When Father Madan Singh was recently appointed the director of Jana Vikas, a grassroots organization based in the eastern Indian region of Kandhamal, the very first thing he did was to visit a young girl named “Jungle Rani,” whose mother gave birth to her in 2008 when tens of thousands of Christians took refuge in a forest during ferocious anti-Christian riots.

A project of the Indian Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, Jana Vikas works among the most marginalized communities of the country, including the Dalits, meaning the “untouchables” under the ancient caste system, and the Tribals, meaning members of India’s indigenous groups, with the aim of empowering them for economic and social progress.

Singh was appointed director of Jana Vikas Sept. 15 in Bhubaneshwar, and he shared the story of his visit to the girl whose story symbolizes the suffering that often faces the people he serves.

Rani was born in the forests of Kandhamal, where her heavily pregnant mother fled to escape murderous mobs during the worst anti-Christian riots of the early 21st century. The violence exploded in the summer of 2008, when militant nationalist Hindus attacked Christian targets, leaving more than 100 people dead, 6,500 houses burned and looted, and 350 churches, 45 health and education institutes destroyed.

Minakhee Digal, Rani’s mother, was one of the Christians caught up in the chaos, fleeing deep into a nearby forest to save her life and that of her unborn child. She says her pain and agony increased with every step, yet she had to be in the jungle in spite of heavy rain.

She delivered her first girl child in the jungle, despite having no spare clothes into which to change, and no way to clean herself up after the birth. She had no clothing for her new-born child, and no way to start a fire to warm herself and the infant.

Although her daughter’s actual name is Chinmayi Digal, everyone knows her as “Jungle Rani,” which literally means “Queen of the Forest,” because that’s where she was born.

After a day in the jungle, Digal fled to a nearby relief camp, where she again had to face both insecurity and crude facilities to take care of herself and her newborn child.  The girl survived and is now studying at Oriya Medium School in her own village.

“I have talked with her parents, and next year I will be supporting her to study at Mount Carmel Convent, Balliguda, which is 15 kilometers away from her village,” Singh said.

“Her father is a day laborer, and her mother is a housewife. Now they have two more children. They are good practicing Christians,” he said.

Prior to his new role, Singh served as assistant director at Jana Vikas since July 2012, and he says that experience has prepared him to lead the center “in service of people.”

The Christian community in Kandhamal was hit by a first wave of religiously motivated violence during Christmastime in 2007, and a far more vicious cycle in August-October 2008. Observers say the legacy of those attacks has left a deep scar among the local population.

– crux now

Ignore calls for war with Pakistan, pleads archbishop

September 28, 2016 by  
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New Delhi, September 28, 2016: A Catholic prelate has urged India’s political leaders to ignore calls for retaliatory military action against Pakistan that has been blamed for several terrorist attacks in the country.

“We should not entertain even the thoughts of revenge,” Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad told a press conference in New Delhi on September 27.

The prelate, a former Vatican diplomat, condemned the September 18 “dastardly terrorist attack” on an army camp at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir state that killed 19 soldiers. India has blamed Pakistan for this as well as several earlier attacks in various parts of the country.

Archbishop Bharanikulangara, whose diocese spreads over 950,000 square kilometers from Jammu and Kashmir to Uttar Pradesh in northern India, said he was also concerned about the strident demand from some groups in India for “instant retaliatory action against Pakistan.”

According to him, such action would exacerbate the situation and lead to “war with disastrous consequences” for India. “And that is exactly what the terrorists want,” said the 57-year-old prelate who worked as a Vatican diplomat in Iraq during war years.

Asserting that war is no solution in the 21st century, he called for dialogue and diplomacy to resolve problems between the two South Asian nations. He foresees serious economic repercussions for India in the wake of a war with Pakistan.

At the same time, the prelate wants India to fortify its borders to prevent terrorist sneaking into the country. He said recent attacks at Indian targets exposed the laxity of the country’s intelligence department and security lapse.

He asserted the need for avoiding blame and boosting the morale of the soldiers and the defence machinery.

Archbishop Bharanikulangara wants India try to isolate Pakistan internationally. “In the long run, there is no weapon more powerful than this international isolation,” says the prelate who had served the United Nations for four years as a Vatican diplomat.

He called all to pray for peace on the border and those affected by terrorism exported from across the border. He also announced that his diocese will observe October 16 as a day of prayer for peace.

– matters india

Pakistan: Christian boy facing 10 years in prison for ‘Insulting Islam’ by liking facebook post

September 28, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, September 28, 2016: A 16-year-old Christian boy from Pakistan is facing a prison sentence of up to 10 years for allegedly liking a Facebook post deemed offensive to Muslims, which has also put his family in danger of being attacked.

The boy was charged with blasphemy for “liking” a supposedly sacrilegious picture of the Kaaba, a black cube-shaped structure located at Islam’s holiest mosque in Mecca. His actions are said to have offended some of his Muslim friends, who alleged that the boy “had done a great injustice to us by badly hurting our religious feelings.”

The Organization for Legal Aid, which is the Pakistani office of the European Centre for Law and Justice, said last week that the Christian boy’s family was encouraged by police to leave their home, or else face the possibility of violent retaliation by radicals, which has happened in the past with blasphemy accusations.

Shaheryar Gill, who serves as senior litigation counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice, and also oversees the Pakistani OLA office, told The Christian Post in an email that the 16-year-old boy is still being held in prison this week, and is likely to face a trial.

The boy has been charged with sections 295 and 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, with the latter seeking to punish “malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class.”

“If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison,” Gill told CP.

He further explained that the boy’s family was “shocked to find out” about the arrest, but “perhaps not in a sense we think here in the U.S., i.e., how could someone be imprisoned for simply liking a Facebook post.”

“The concept of blasphemy under Pakistani law is very broad. Any perceived insult to Islam can be blasphemous. The alleged blasphemer doesn’t have to intend to blaspheme. Even an honest criticism of Islam during a conversation could lead to a blasphemy charge,” Gill added.

“As long as the listener (in this case the viewer) thinks the speech is insulting to Islam or its prophet(s), it is usually sufficient to convict the alleged offender. In other words, any speech that mocks or criticizes Islam can meet the standard of blasphemy under the current laws.”

What is more, Gill said he is not aware of any other Christian as young as 16 being imprisoned under the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

The OLA has said that it will be assisting the boy should his family request legal assistance.

The minority Christian population in Pakistan is regularly targeted by the blasphemy laws, which several watchdog groups, including International Christian Concern, have said are often used to settle personal scores.

One such case is that of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who was sentenced to death in 2010 after being accused of blasphemy by a group of Muslim co-workers.

While Bibi’s death sentence was suspended back in July, she faces a final appeal hearing in the second week of October before the nation’s Supreme Court, which will decide her fate.

The ACLJ has also spoken out on behalf of Bibi, and urged Christians around the world to raise their voices for the Christian mother, calling for a reversal of her death sentence. Over 452,000 people to date have signed the ACLJ petition in support of Bibi.

– christian post

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