Nigerian Senator’s Dad burned her property after she accepted Christ

April 18, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Nigeria, April 17, 2018: A Nigerian senator has reportedly shared the story of how her biological father burned all her possessions when she was a kid because she made the bold leap to follow Christ.

Sen. Binta Masi Garba of the Adamawa state detailed for constituents gathered at Praise International Church in the state’s capital of Yola on Sunday the price she has paid for her faith, according to the Nigerian daily newspaper The Punch.

The outlet reports that a thanksgiving service was held at the church to commemorate the senator’s 50th birthday. Recounting her upbringing, Garba began to shed tears as she credited the Lord for being her rock during one the hardest parts of her life.

Like many other converts to Christianity from Muslim backgrounds, Binta stated that she faced tough consequences when she accepted Christ as her savior.

“I gave my life to Christ when I was in primary school,” she was quoted as saying. “My father was infuriated and he burnt everything I had because of my decision to follow Christ. I suffered so much because of the name of Jesus. I would have been nothing if not for His grace. The rejected child, because of my faith, has become a cornerstone. I give glory to His name.”

Garba was elected to the Senate in 2015 after previously serving in Nigeria’s Federal House of Assembly from 1999 until 2011. She is also the chairperson of the Nigerian Senate’s Committee on Women Affairs.

The thanksgiving service was also attended by Nigeria’s Christian vice president, Yemi Osinbajo. It was also attended by Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha, and Senator Nelson Effiong.

As Nigeria is ranked by Open Doors USA as the 14th-worst nation in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, Osinbajo called on attendees to pray for the Christians who have been elected to public office.

“The truth of the matter is that in the government of today, we have some of the most erudite Christians, some of the best Christians occupying positions in government. Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, who is a pastor; the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita; and, of course I, the vice president, are all Christians.”

However, Osinbajo warned that just having Christians in public office is “not enough.”

“It is never enough. If you look through the scriptures whether it was Joseph, Daniel or Esther, every person who made an impact in governance in the scripture that we see was supported by the prayers of the people of God,” the vice president asserted. “God is not moved unless we move His hands in the place of prayers. We are in a period in history when God wants to do something that is why some of us are in government. The opportunity must not be lost, your prayers to God will make that difference.”

At the National Conscience Conference held last September, Garba called on Christians to become more active in Nigerian politics.

“In spite of the challenges encountered in politics, Christians should not be discouraged,” Vanguard quoted the senator as saying. “Once you have God by your side, everything will pave way.”

– christian post

Third priest shot dead in DR Congo; Bishop cries out ‘We are in total chaos, abandoned by all’

April 13, 2018 by  
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Democratic Republic of Congo, April 13, 2018: A third Roman Catholic priest has been shot dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo as tribal violence continues escalating in the country, with a bishop crying out that the people have been “abandoned by everyone.”

Agenzia Fides reported that Fr. Étienne Sengiyumva, parish priest of Kitchanga, was murdered on Sunday, not long after celebrating mass.

“Around 3 p.m., after celebrating mass in Kyahemba, a circumscription of his parish, Fr. Étienne had gathered his collaborators, when an armed man, accompanied by other people, entered the meeting room and killed the priest,” said Mgr. Théophile Kaboy Ruboneka, bishop of Goma, capital of North Kivu.

Mgr. Louis de Gonzague Nzabanita Sebakara, vicar general of Goma, said the Maï-Maï Nyatura militant group is behind the killing, though Ruboneka told Fides that “it is difficult to say who was responsible of this terrible act.”

“There are different armed groups in our region, at least 15, which cannot be dismantled despite the presence of the regular army and the Blue Helmets of MONUSCO,” he added, referring to the United Nations Mission in the DRC.

The Goma bishop said that three priests have now been killed in the area, expressing his frustrations that investigations into the attackers come up empty-handed.

“On our behalf, we will do everything to identify Fr. Étienne’s murderers. In these cases, the witnesses fear for their lives and that of their loved ones and hardly offer useful information,” he said.

Ruboneka pointed out that so many armed groups are battling one another in the region that it’s difficult to discern who is carrying out the killings.

“Here in North Kivu we live in total chaos. The situation in my diocese of Goma, like that of Butembo-Beni, is incredible. We are completely abandoned by everyone; we live only thanks to Providence. I ask the faithful of the universal Church to pray for our region so that they can rediscover peace,” he pleaded.

Another priest, Father Celestin Nagango, was kidnapped from his church in eastern Congo by armed men earlier this month.

The National Episcopal Conference of Congo said last week that the unknown assailants are asking a very high sum for the clergyman.

“His kidnappers have contacted the St. Paul of Karambi parish to demand $500,000 in ransom for his release,” the church officials explained.

AFP added that two Catholic priests, the Rev. Charles Kapasa and the Rev. Jean Pierre Akilimali, who were both kidnapped from the Parish of Notre Dame in the Butembo-Beni Diocese in July 2016, haven’t been seen since.

Still missing are three other priests from the Assumptionist Order, who were taken in October 2012.

Catholic relief groups, such as Caritas Congo, have warned that a “truly disastrous humanitarian emergency” is unfolding, especially in the Kasai region of the country.

Jean-Pierre Pokavu of Caritas Congo said back in February that as many as 3 million people are in urgent need of help, with stories emerging of a number of Christians whose family members have been murdered.

Believers have been targeted and killed when caught up in the web of ethnic and political violence, stemming largely from the war between the government of President Joseph Kabila and opposition forces.

The conflict has left entire villages burned down, with homes, hospitals and schools destroyed as well.

– christian post

This group slaughtered 225 Christians in March alone but world is silent

April 11, 2018 by  
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Nigeria, April 9, 2018: A shocking 225 Christians were massacred in Nigeria in March by the radical Fulani herdsmen, according to a watchdog group. Yet the Nigerian government and Western media are failing to take adequate notice of the severity of the escalating crisis, the group said.

International Christian Concern, which monitors attacks on Christians around the world and has been shining a focus on Nigeria, said last week that followers of Christ suffered 27 attacks by the Fulani in March alone.

The raids, mostly in the Plateau and Taraba states, led to the deaths of 225 Christians, along with the destruction of homes and and displacement of thousands of families.

Despite the ongoing, years-long carnage, the attacks by the Fulani — who are largely nomads — are not receiving as much coverage as those by Boko Haram, the other major terror group in Nigeria, ICC told The Christian Post.

Yet in comparison, Boko Haram killed a total of 37 people in March, many of whom were Nigerian military personnel.

“There are several reasons that the West doesn’t say much about Fulani-led violence. First is that they already spend a lot of time and effort covering the Boko Haram situation. This is a far more attractive discussion to the West because it has the terrorist designation tied to it. The Fulani have not been designated as such since 2014 when the designation was assigned and then quickly taken away,” ICC Regional Manager Nathan Johnson told CP Friday.

“Second is that the West believes that this is either just a socioeconomic conflict between herdsmen and farmers or an ethnic conflict between clashing ethnic groups. Many are not willing to call it more than that,” Johnson added.

“Finally, the Nigerian government isn’t speaking about it. They do not want to bring attention to this problem as it would attract more negative media aimed at their government. All of these factors combined lead to silence among most Western media outlets.”

The watchdog group listed on its website the various attacks on Christians by the Fulani in March.

While fewer Fulani attacks were recorded in February, January was also a very deadly month.

Survivors from a raid in Benue State shared their stories. A man, identified only as Peter, said that sometimes the attackers are people from the same community.

“I got up and called them by their names and tried to wrestle the machete they had out of their hands, but to no avail. I was overpowered and they began to cut me,” the man recalled of the attack that left him in a hospital.

ICC explained that there most definitely is a religious aspect to the violence, with the Muslim Fulani specifically slaughtering Christians in their village raids.

“Though there are socioeconomic and ethnic components to these attacks, the majority of attacks are directed at Christian villages. If the attacks were simply driven by socioeconomic or ethnic factors, churches would not be common targets during these attacks. In most of the villages that have been ransacked over the past decade, churches and pastoral homes have been destroyed,” Johnson told CP.

He said that while disputes and fights do occur between Fulani and other Muslim communities, they are on a much smaller scale, with some reports also suggesting that the Fulani warn Muslims in certain communities before carrying out their attacks.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari initially spurred hope in the Christian population in the country when he came to power in 2015 with his hardline stance against Boko Haram.

Christian leaders, including from groups such as the Christian Association of Nigeria, have strongly criticized his administration for failing to do anything significant about the Fulani raids on Christians, however.

“Under President Buhari, the murderous Fulani herdsmen enjoyed unprecedented protection and favoritism to the extent that the herdsmen treat Nigeria as a conquered territory,” the Rev. Musa Asake, general secretary of CAN, said earlier this year.

“Rather than arrest and prosecute the Fulani herdsmen, security forces usually manned by Muslims from the North offer them protection as they unleash terror with impunity on the Nigerian people.”

Johnson suggested that since Buhari comes from a Muslim Fulani background himself, and with the country split nearly 50-50 between its Christian and Muslim population, it would be “political suicide” for him to denounce the Fulani attacks.

“He would lose a lot of support by saying that his own people and religious community were conducting these types of atrocities,” the ICC regional manager pointed out.

“As for the Nigerian government and military, I believe that their lack of ability to cope with this situation shows either ineptitude, or some form of complicity. There are several ideas circulating about how the government should respond. When I met with several Nigerian representatives and senators in Abuja in February, they expressed a desire for the institution of state police, the creation of nationwide anti-open grazing bills, and the right of communities to defend themselves from these attacks with guns,” he added.

“Regardless of how they go about it, I believe that the Nigerian government must do three things. First, they must reclaim land that has been taken by Fulani. Second, they must rebuild the communities that have been destroyed. Lastly, they must protect their people from future attacks.”

With little Western attention on the matter, Johnson also talked about where Christians in Nigeria can turn to for hope.

“First, I believe that the people of Nigeria need to work to get rid of the corruption in their government and unite themselves as a nation. There is too much division across ethnic and tribal lines for the country to truly be one,” he said.

“Next, there are many groups like ICC doing work to help those suffering in Nigeria. Finally, and most importantly, they need to remain in prayer. Their main hope should come from Christ and his ability to transform lands.”

– christian post

Turkey seeks life sentence for imprisoned American Pastor Andrew Brunson

March 15, 2018 by  
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Turkey, March 14, 2018: The Turkish government is reportedly seeking a life sentence for American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who rights advocates say has been unjustly imprisoned since December 2016 on false charges of espionage and terrorism.

According to the Turkish Dogan news agency, on Tuesday a prosecutor formally indicted Brunson on charges of being an “executive” of a group that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holds responsible for the failed coup against state institutions in July 2016.

Brunson, a North Carolina native who has led a small congregation in Izmir for the past two decades, had been falsely accused having links to the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the 2016 coup attempt.

Based off testimony from a secret witness who has not been revealed, Brunson was accused of obtaining secret documents related to the goal of espionage and overthrowing the government. Brunson has denied the allegations.

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, the prosecutor charged Brunson with “leadership in a terrorist organization.”

“USCIRF is appalled that Turkish officials are seeking a possible life sentence for Pastor Brunson and are accusing him of leadership in a terrorist organization,” USCIRF Vice Chairs Kristina Arriaga and Sandra Jolley said in a joint statement.

“The government of Turkey has detained Pastor Brunson largely based on a purported ‘secret witness’ and secret evidence which they refuse to make public. The Turkish government should reverse course immediately and we urge the international community to condemn this indictment.”

Rights advocates believe that Brunson was arrested in an attempt to force the U.S. government to extradite Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Brunson’s release during a meeting in Ankara last month. President Donald Trump also pushed for Brunson’s release during a meeting with Erdoğan last May.

But last September, Erdoğan indicated that the fate of Brunson relied on U.S. government’s willingness to hand over Gulen.

The news of Brunson’s indictment comes as his daughter, Jacqueline, told the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday that the allegations against her father are absurd and asked the U.N. to do all it can to secure her father’s release.

“Turkey should not get away with holding my father one more day,” she said. “Having grown up in Turkey, it has been hard for me to understand the situation. My family loves and respects the Turkish people, and my father has been dedicated to serving them for over two decades.”

USCIRF is calling on the U.S. government and Congress to utilize all their options to pressure Turkey, a NATO member, to release Brunson — even if it means imposing sanctions.

“USCIRF urges President Trump and others in the administration to redouble their ongoing efforts to secure Pastor Brunson’s release,” the joint statement added. “No stone should be left unturned in our efforts on behalf of this unjustly imprisoned American. We call again for his immediate release and, if this is not forthcoming, for the administration and Congress to impose targeted sanctions against those involved in this miscarriage of justice.”

– christian post

Algerian govt. shut down of churches shrouded in uncertainty, but Christians fear persecution

March 13, 2018 by  
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Algeria, March 13, 2018: The government of Algeria has recently denied suggestions that its continued shut down of various churches in recent weeks and months is due to its persecution of Christians, though believers have claimed that the trend shows otherwise.

Mission Network News reported on Monday that at least three churches have been shut down in the last two weeks, with officials refusing to provide a clear reason why.

David Bogosian of Christian Aid Mission pointed out that as one of the biggest Muslim nations in the world, Algeria might be feeling threatened by the growth of Christianity.

“There’s one thing that is happening that some believers are thinking about that may be a cause for the persecution and that is that the second biggest mosque in the Muslim world is about to be launched in Algeria,” Bogosian shared.

“And you know, this has a lot of outside funding and it brings a lot of prestige to the country. So, there’s definitely an attempt by Algeria to gain prominence in the Islamic world. It’s thought that there’s a connection between the opening of that mosque and this persecution,” he added.

Mohamed Aissa, the Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, denied in a statement last week that the shut down of the churches in the cities of Oran, Tizi Ouzou and Aïn Turk stems from a government crackdown.

Aissa told Ennahar TV that the churches “did not meet the standards required of a place of worship,” as translated by World Watch Monitor.

“The institutions that were closed have been closed down because they were built without complying with the regulations of the Republic,” the official added, positioning that even mosques would have to be closed if they fail to meet the guidelines.

“When a place of worship is built without any notice showing it’s a place of worship, which may enable the state to protect it, this place must be closed,” he added.

A spokesperson from the Protestant Church of Algeria pushed back against the denial, however, claiming that the government is implementing a controversial 2006 law that regulates the religious practice of non-Muslims, which forced 26 churches to close down in 2008.

“This law is a Sword of Damocles suspended above the churches. It is the legal instrument that the government uses to silence the Church. The purpose of this law is precisely to curb the activities of churches and to control them,” the spokesperson said.

“The content of this law focuses on the coercive side, conviction and sanction. This 2006 law was not aimed at helping Christian communities to comply with standards or to regularize themselves.”

Algeria finds itself at No. 42 on persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of nations where believers face the most persecution for their faith.

Open Doors states that the minority 68,000 Christians or so in the country face high persecution levels due to Islamic oppression, noting that government legislation severely restricts Christian worship and expression.

– christian post

Three children killed as Syrian rebels rocket Christian school in Damascus

March 11, 2018 by  
Filed under newsletter-world, World

Syria, March 8, 2018: Three children at an Armenian Christian school in the Syrian capital Damascus were killed on Tuesday 6 March after rockets fired from East Ghouta hit the school.

Many Christian families are now understood to have left Damascus to take shelter in villages after weeks of rocket attacks from the rebel-held enclave, which is controlled by multiple jihadist factions.

Humanitarian aid convoys entered East Ghouta earlier this week following the announcement of a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. The two largest rebel groups in East Ghouta stated that they would adhere to the UN’s demand for a suspension of hostilities, but this has not led to a cessation of rocket attacks on Christian areas in Damascus.

The targeting of Christian areas by rebels has been almost entirely ignored by Western media.

– barnabas persecution update

6 Pastors arrested in Rwanda for planning to defy gov’t ban on ‘unclean’ churches

March 8, 2018 by  
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Rwanda, March 7, 2018: Rwandan police have arrested six Christian pastors on grounds that they are planning to defy a recent order that closed more than 700 churches that allegedly don’t meet safety and cleanliness standards.

AFP reports that authorities in the African country announced Tuesday that they had arrested six “masterminds” plotting to defy the government’s shutdown of 714 churches and one mosque that were deemed unsafe, unclean and noisey in the capital city of Kigali.

The government accuses the religious leaders, all Pentecostals, of holding meetings where they discussed resistance of the order, which was issued last week.

“After the suspension of churches that did not meet required standards, some church leaders began illegal meetings intended to defy and obstruct the directive,” Rwanda National Police spokesperson Theos Badege told the international news agency. “Police began investigations to find the masterminds behind this illegal act.”

Badege added that the shutdown mainly affects Pentecostal churches. The churches have been asked to “halt operations until they meet the requirements.”

“Some churches conduct their worship services in shoddy and unclean structures, to the detriment of people’s health and safety,” Anastase Shyaka, who heads the government board that oversees public and private organizations, told AFP last month. “Cases of noise pollution have also been reported while some operate without the required operation permits.”

As BBC notes, the number of Pentecostal churches run by charismatic pastors have increased rapidly in Africa over the last several years. While some are massive and attract thousands every Sunday, other churches are simple structures built without government approval.

A Rwandan official told BBC that some of the churches affected by the order have already reopened after being approved by inspectors.

Some church leaders have criticized the order.

“Those [churches] that failed to implement a few requirements should be reopened and allowed to work while fixing the problems raised,” Bishop Innocent Nzeyimana, who is the president of the Churches’ Forum in Nyarugenge district of Rwanda, told AFP last month.

Rwandan authorities are also trying to make it more difficult to form and open new churches. A recently proposed law would make it so that a theological degree is required to open a church.

AFP reports that the proposed law is expected to pass this year and would be a response to the fact that some preachers “deceive their congregation with misleading sermons.”

A number of preachers oppose the proposal and argue that it is a government attempt to censor their message, AFP reports.

The order against the churches comes as the Rwandan government has been accused of stifling freedom of expression for political opposition groups and civil society organizations.

Last month, the government fined and suspended for one month Christian radio station Amazing Grace FM for airing a sermon from evangelist Nicholas Niyibikora that it deemed discriminatory to women. Additionally, the radio station was ordered to issue an apology and a statement of correction.

– christian post

Oklahoma school bans pastor from leading team prayer after atheist group complains

March 6, 2018 by  
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Oklahoma, March 6, 2018: An Oklahoma school district has banned a local Baptist pastor from praying with a high school football team following a complaint filed by a leading atheist legal group.

Putnam City Schools will no longer allow the Rev. Mike Keahbone of Cherokee Hills Baptist Church to lead the Putnam City High football team in prayer, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has announced in a news release.

Over the past two years, Keahbone has become one of the most prominent and visual supporters of the Putnam City Pirates football team as he has led an initiative to get his church community more involved to support players whose parents aren’t able to go to the games themselves.

Not only was the 45-year-old Keahbone designated to serve as the team’s chaplain, he has also led the team in prayer before the start of games in the team’s locker room.

In October, The Oklahoman published a feature article and video about the church’s relationship with the team. The newspaper notes that Keahbone and the church have also provided pre-game meals for players.

Although many enjoy the relationships between the church and the team, at least one resident complained to the Wisconsin-based FFRF.

FFRF advocates for a strict separation of church and state and regularly pressures school districts and government entities to halt any type of Christian or Jewish practice that could be construed as a government entanglement of religion.

FFRF legal fellow Christopher Line sent a letter to Putnam City Schools Superintendent Fred Rhodes in early February arguing that Keahbone’s act of leading the public school football team in prayer before games violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“Public school football teams cannot appoint or employ a chaplain, seek out a spiritual leader for the team or agree to have a volunteer team chaplain because public schools may not advance or promote religion,” Line wrote. “Similarly, it is illegal for a public school or school-appointed volunteer to organize, sponsor or lead prayers at public school athletic events.”

Line cited the United States Supreme Court’s 2000 ruling in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, which holds that student-led prayer over the loudspeaker before games is unconstitutional.

Line also contended that Putnam City Schools must not allow a “non-school adult” to have access to students to proselytize.

Last Friday, FFRF reported that Putnam City Schools responded to its letter.

The response indicated that the school district launched an investigation and admitted that Keahbone was granted access to locker rooms to pray with the team.

The school district reportedly assured that new procedures have been installed and that the athletic staff have been told to immediately cease the practice of allowing access to pray with the team.

The Christian Post reached out to both Cherokee Hills Baptist Church and Putnam City Schools for comment. Responses are pending.

“We’re pleased that the school district has taken corrective action to honor their students’ rights of conscience and create a more inclusive atmosphere,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement.

According to The Oklahoman, Keahbone’s notable relationships with the football team began before the 2016 season. It started when Keahbone was told that there were some players on the team who would not have parents coming to their games.

That was an experience that Keahbone knew all too well when he was an offensive lineman for his high school football team.

“It broke my heart. It made me flashback to my childhood and how I felt and I don’t want other kids to feel how I felt,” Keahbone told The Oklahoman. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have a dad in my life and my mom was an alcoholic and she didn’t come to my games. She did come on senior night but that was about it. You get used to it, but it hurt.”

– christian post

Remains of 40 Iraqi Christians with their crosses found in mass grave

March 4, 2018 by  
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Iraq, March 3, 2018: Iraqi security forces and pro-government militias have discovered mass graves near Mosul, which include bodies of 40 Christians who had small crosses with them when they were killed by Islamic State terrorists and then buried together, according to the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The mass grave was found in Iraq’s Halila region, west of Mosul, by Iraqi security forces and Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 militias, the church said, according to Iraqi News.

“Most of the human remains were buried collectively. Some of them were for women and children. They had small Christian crosses with them,” a church source was quoted as saying.

Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, captured Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city, in 2014 and held it until their defeat last July.

IS’ violence displaced more than 125,000 Christians in Iraq’s Nineveh region, which was also held by IS, and the community is now facing extinction.

Open Doors, a Christian ministry that operates in over 60 countries worldwide, and its partners have built nearly 700 homes for Christians in the region.

Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, who has been outspoken about the plight of Christians in his country, expressed concerns about the future of Christians while speaking at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. last month. The attacks by IS left Christians “without shelter, without refuge, without work, without properties, without monasteries, without the ability to participate in any of the things that give our lives dignity,” he said.

“So few of us are left, some estimate 200,000 Christians or less,” he said of the total number of Christians in the country, down from 1.5 million in 2003. However, he added, “while it is true that our numbers are small, the Apostles were much smaller.”

He said Iraqi Christians are reaching out to Islamic radicals with forgiveness.

“We forgive those who murdered us, who tortured us, who raped us, who sought to destroy everything about us. We forgive them in the name of Christ,” Warda declared.

In December, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Warda to discuss how the U.S. government can best help the recovering Iraqi Christian community.

“I updated him (Pence) on the situation facing our people and expressed our hope that peace would soon come to Nineveh,” Warda said in a statement at the time. “On behalf of our people, I expressed our gratitude for his promise of swift assistance to our communities who suffered genocide at the hands of ISIS. I also mentioned to the vice president the importance of the aid and support we have received from the Knights of Columbus in the United States, and Aid to the Church in Need in Europe.”

In November, Pence had announced that the Trump administration was changing existing policy so that U.S. aid would go directly to those aiding Iraqi Christians without having to go through the U.N.

– christian post

Church in China has religious features forcibly demolished

March 2, 2018 by  
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Hong Kong, March 1, 2018: A church in northwest China’s Xinjiang region had its crosses, statues, bell towers and other religious features demolished by order of communist authorities.

Using a crane, state-instructed workers removed the exterior religious features from the Catholic church of Yining city in Urumqi Diocese on Feb. 27.

A source told that no reason was given for the action but it is believed to have been carried out because the religious features were “incompatible with sinicization.”

The source said three crosses and two bell towers on the top of Yining Catholic Church were demolished and that all religious symbols, two big statues and any reliefs were removed.

“It was originally said religious features inside the church should been demolished as well but it was suspended without any reasons given,” the source said.

The church received a letter from the authorities the day before informing them the demolition would occur.

The source said he was puzzled by what has happened to the church because of it occurred just before the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress are both held in Beijing on March 3 and 5 respectively and while a Sino-Vatican agreement was supposedly being worked out.

The source said that last November a cross on a church steeple in Manas city of Xinjiang was also demolished for sinicization purposes.

“So it appears that crosses should be demolished for sinicization,” said the source. “Maybe one day, all the churches will be demolished since they are so modern and beautiful and are against the purpose of sinicization?” he asked.

In eastern Zhejiang province, more than 1,500 churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have been targeted for demolition or cross removals in recent years, sources have said in a campaign against churches not coming under state control. Chinese authorities are increasingly using property regulations to remove crosses and demolish churches.

The source said he thinks what occurred to Yining Catholic Churchit may be related to local political tensions in the region. The Chinese authorities have long repressed ethnic minorities, especially the Uyghurs, and religions in Xinjiang, often under the guise of fighting “terrorism.” In recent months, tens of thousands of Uyghurs have been forced into reeducation camps and prisons across the region.

– ucan

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