Open Doors USA
Last month an American soldier coming home from Afghanistan was seated next to me on a flight. He saw my “One With Them” rubber barbed-wire wristband that I was wearing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who share our faith, but not our freedom. I explained that the wristband is being worn by thousands in support of persecuted Christians around the world.
The soldier nodded as I spoke. He’d seen for himself during his tours of duty in Afghanistan that the country allowed no room for him to practice any faith but Islam. After the U.S. invasion, Afghan authorities added to the nation’s flag the Islamic creed: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger.” Continue reading “Will There Be a Place for Christians in Muslim-Majority ‘Arab Spring’ Countries?”
December 1, 2011
Since a series of protests and demonstrations began across the Middle East and North Africa in December 2010, three regimes have fallen: that of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and ruler Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
Besides, President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has finally agreed to step down after delaying it for months following his initial announcement to do so in April that he would resign in 30 days in exchange for immunity. Syria, under the state of emergency since 1963, appears to be on the brink of a civil war and change may follow sooner or later. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have both announced that they would not seek re-election when their respective terms end.
STATEMENT OF THE RELIGOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION OF THE WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
For Immediate Release
September 7, 2011
WEA-RLC Condemns Fiji’s Crackdown on Methodist Church
WEA-RLC condemns the order of Fiji’s military-led government to cancel the Methodist Church’s annual conference and ban all church activities except Sunday worship.
The Fijian regime ordered the Methodist Church to cancel its annual conference, for the third consecutive year, last month. The authorities issued the order at the last minute when around 1,000 delegates had arrived in Suva. This is despite the church having obtained permission from competent authorities to organize their in-house meeting. Continue reading “WEA-RLC Condemns Fiji’s Crackdown on Methodist Church”
Searching for a Peaceful Graveyard
by William Yoder, Ph.D.
Bad Blankenburg/Germany – No ethnic-Kyrgyz Christian has been a believer for more than two decades, yet already 20% of the country’s Baptists are Kyrgyz. But where are these new believers in Christ to be buried? The nation’s customs dictate that the deceased be buried in the vicinity of their relatives. Yet those confessing Christ are as a rule disowned by their families and stripped of their ancestral home and place of burial. In several instances, the bodies of deceased believers have needed to be reburied or even buried in secret. At this year’s annual conference of the German Evangelical Alliance in Bad Blankenburg, a representative of the Kyrgyz Alliance assured that his organisation has taken on this unusual task: “We are in negotiations with the government about obtaining a piece of property on which Protestant believers can be buried.” Continue reading “For Kyrgyz Protestants, the future remains full of questions”
Mark O. Hatfield’s political witness shaped a whole generation of students, teachers, pastors, and social activists in the evangelical community and beyond. The voice of Christians today who plead for social justice and peaceful alternatives to war would not have emerged with its strength and clarity in the 1970s without his leadership. His death underscores the vacuum of such spiritually rooted voices uncompromising in their commitments to peace and justice within the cacophony of political rhetoric today.
One of my life’s greatest privileges and joys was to work as an assistant to Senator Mark O. Hatfield for nearly a decade, from 1968 to 1977. I saw first-hand what courageous leadership, combined with unswerving compassion and civility, looked like within the political life of that turbulent and formative era. Those experiences are shared in my book, Unexpected Destinations (Eerdmans). Continue reading “Wesley Granberg-Michaelson – A Tribute to Mark Hatfield – UPDATE”
Associated Baptist Press – Mark Hatfield remembered as champion for religious liberty.
A tribute to former US Senator Mark Hatfield, a true champion of religious freedom. I wish more Republican senators (and Democrats alike) would be men and women of integrity of his caliber.
May God rest him in peace.
* * *
Here are a few of the things said about him by people who knew him well: Continue reading “Associated Baptist Press – Mark Hatfield remembered as champion for religious liberty”
Georgian Baptist Bishop Rusudan Gotsiridze (on the left)
Nova Research Centre announced a few days ago a real breakthrough in terms of religious freedom in Georgia, where a new very liberal law has just been passed, with an important contribution of the hierarchy of the little Baptist Church in that country.. The blog post explains:
Initial drafts limited the freedoms to just five groups, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Evangelical Baptist church of Georgia, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Jewish and Muslim communities of Georgia, in addition to the special status still accorded the Orthodox Church of Georgia. The Baptist Archbishop in Georgia, Malkhaz Songulashvili, reports that following the release of the first draft, Bishop Rusudan Gotziridze (Baptist), lobbied the parliament and requested that the legislation should be extended to all religious groups in Georgia. The draft was subsequently amended to meet this request. A press release from the Embassy of Georgia in London specifically refers to Evangelicals being granted the same freedoms.
Yet, things is Georgia are never simple. Thus, after I have shared on Facebook the link to this article, a friend in Armenia added the following comment: Continue reading “Georgia – the Meanders of Religious Freedom”
Repeatedly during the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly, reference was made to South Africa – to the significant role churches and Christians played in supporting the apartheid regime there and the equally significant role churches and Christians played in finally ending it.
On Wednesday 25 May, the Assembly discussed today’s apartheid regime – a regime that privileges Jewish ethnicity as the Afrikaners privileged whiteness, a regime that treats the native Arabs of Palestine as second-class citizens if they live in Israel proper, as third-class non-citizens if they live in the territories illegally occupied by Israel for over 40 years, and as fourth-class non-persons if they are the millions of Palestinians, or the children or grandchildren of Palestinians, who have been exiled from their land, while Israel steadfastly refuses their right, enshrined in international law and recognised in UN resolutions, to return home. Continue reading “What Do South Africa and Israel Have in Common?”
Day 3: Pray that Children of North Korea Will be Known Among the Nations as Blessed of the Lord
Then their offspring will be known among the nations, and their descendents in the midst of peoples. All who see them will recognize them because they are the offspring whom the Lord has blessed! Isaiah 61:9
Can you imagine the sorrow of not being able to pass on your faith to your children? In North Korea this simple and natural act is dangerous for both believers and their children. Parents sometimes tell their children stories from the Bible as though they are fairy tales just so they can impart some of their faith to them. And they live out their lives as an example. But if caught overtly sharing their faith, they can be sent to prison…and their children with them. As soon as parents are arrested, their children are sent with them to the same prison camps where they then face an abysmal existence. They are forced into hard labor, and often their little bodies succumb to the physical toll. Not many children survive the prison camps, and any who do remain alive are severely traumatized. Continue reading “Week of Prayer for North Korea – 3rd Day”
(HERNDON, Virginia, April 2011) Religious freedom organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) released a statement condemning the recent death of Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, and calling for immediate action from Pakistan’s government and the international community to safeguard the lives and the rights of Pakistan’s Christian minority. The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) which is a member of the RLP fully endorses this statement referred to as “The Virginia Statement on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.
WEA RLC notes with deep sadness that the late Minister Bhatti was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Religious Liberty Partnership Conference in Virginia. Continue reading “Call to Safeguard Pakistan’s Christian Minority”
I am quite late with this good news. Yet, better later than never.
The Afghan authorities announce that Said (or Sayed) Mussa, the Muslim Afghan who was arrested and risked to be executed for converting to Christianity was freed, following pressure coming from the US government and many international human rights organisations. Thanks be to God.
You may rea the announcement of this happy conclusion of the affair in the New York Times.
STATEMENT OF THE RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COMMISSION OF THE WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE
For Immediate Release
February 12, 2011
Execution Trial of Afghan Convert is Illegal
The trial of an Afghan man, Said Musa, who may face execution for converting to Christianity, violates the Constitution of Afghanistan approved by consensus in 2004 and must be stopped.
Forty-five year-old Musa was arrested after a television station in the capital city of Kabul broadcast images that allegedly showed Westerner Christians baptizing Afghans. Since the May 2010 telecast, Musa has remained in the infamous Kabul Detention Center and suffered sexual assault and torture with apparently no access to a lawyer to defend him. Continue reading “Execution Trial of Afghan Convert is Illegal”
By RAY RIVERA
Published: February 5, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan — The jail commander had remained silent as the prisoner, Sayed Mussa, told a reporter about his journey from Islam to Christianity: his secret baptism nine years earlier, his faith in Jesus Christ and the promise of heaven.
But when Mr. Mussa said he believed in the Bible but also loved the Koran’s teachings, it was too much. “So you love the Koran and the Bible?” the commander broke in incredulously. “What kind of love is this?”
A guard thumbing Muslim prayer beads squared his shoulders and started to rise. “You want me to beat him?” he asked. Continue reading “Afghan Rights Fall Short for Christian Converts”
Pakistani Christian women in church (source, here)
As Pakistan’s main churches held special prayers in memory of Salman Taseer, the Punjab governor assassinated for his opposition to a law that punishes insult to Islam by death, Christians in Pakistan spoke of their feelings that they are in a precarious position in their own country.
“Religion in our country has always been a sensitive issue but after the brutal killing of Salman Taseer, we as a minority group feel that the less we talk, the better it is,” said Amna Ayaz, a teacher, adding that with the recent level of intolerance in Pakistani society, she feels it is difficult to decide whether it is safer to “speak less” or keep silent. Continue reading “Christians feel vulnerable in Pakistan”
ChinaAid has published recently an unknown text of the Chinese Christian dissident Gao Zhsheng, who is emprisoned by the communist regime in China for his defense of human rights in that country.
This text, which was discovered not long ago by Gao’s wife among his papers, and was carried by her to the US, when she escaped from China, is an introduction to a text entitled ‘Dark Night, Dark Hood and Kidnapping by Dark Mafia‘, published in January 2009, in which Gao describes the terrible experience of is 50 days of torture, in 2007, during his first emprisonment.
The text of the introduction was published in the US just a few days before the visit of Chinese President, Hu Jintau to that country. Here is the text: Continue reading “Gao Zhisheng – Speaking from My Heart”
Un excellent interview publie par Le Figaro, avec Michèle Alliot-Marie, le ministre Francais des Affaires étrangères. Vous pouvez le trouver ICI.
The Belief blog of CNN admits that ‘Christians face rising persecution’ in the world.
A pastor sits on death row in Iran. His crime? Renouncing Islam for Christianity.
A Christian mother of two faces execution in Pakistan – and a preacher has put a price on her head in case the president pardons her. Her crime? Insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
In Iraq, dozens of Christians lie in fresh graves. Their fatal mistake? Going to church. Continue reading “It Is An Established Fact – Christians face rising persecution”
Dr. Robert A. Hunt
There is a lot of discussion these days about the supposed superiority of the ‘Christian’ West on Muslim (and other world faiths) societies in terms of religious freedom, as well as a lot of ignorance concerning the ambivalent and slow development of this concept in Christian societies.
In the article quoted below, Dr. Robert A. Hunt, an expert on Contemporary Muslim societies and movements, Muslim-Christian relations, inter-religious relations as well as inter-religious and inter-faith dialogue, brings us with our feet on the ground and advises us, implicitly, to approach this matter with much more caution, humility and patience towards others, avoiding to impose on them, against their will (by force, or otherwise) our worldviews, as superior as they may be. Continue reading “Robert Hunt on Religious Freedom”
I have received recently the English translation of an article published in Albania, in the Kosova media, about the growing religious intolerance in this new country. The author, Nga Gani Mehmetaj, is a known journalist and director of KosovaFilm, a state-owned film company. He is a member of the Evangelical Protestant Church in Kosova.
The translation is far from perfect, but it is good enough to be understood by those who do not know Albanian.
Please read below the translated text. The original article can be found HERE.
Continue reading “Religious Intolerance in Kosova”
A few days ago I was receiving a phone call from an editor of Christianity Today, asking for Christian contacts in Kyrgyzstan.
Yesterday the American Evangelical journal published a short article on the situation of Christians in Kyrgyzstan after the recent ethnic trouble in Osh, west of the country. The author is William Yoder, the CT correspondant in Moscow. Here is a fragment: Continue reading “Christianity Today on the troubled Christians in Kyrgyzstan”
Conferinţa „Libertatea religioasă în Romania şi UE”
Bucureşti, 15 mai 2010
Institutul pentru Cercetări Politice, Universitatea Bucureşti
Această iniţiativă îşi propune să adune la aceeaşi masă, lideri politici şi religioşi dar şi reprezentanţi ai mediului academic şi ai organizaţiilor care se confruntă cu problematica libertăţii religioase, în vederea unui dialog asupra transformărilor şi provocărilor aduse conceptului de libertate religioasă în noul spaţiu european.
Continue reading “Libertatea religioasa in Romania si UE”
Gao Zhisheng is a well known Chinese Christian dissident. As a human rights lawyer, he defended many Chinese who have been persecuted for their faith by the Chinese communist government.
After being freed some weeks ago, he went missing again, being seen last in the presence of Chinese secret agents. His life is definitely in danger, as you could see in the following re-enactment of his arrest and torture. (Be prepared for a real-life experience of the ‘communist heaven’).
Continue reading “Free Gao Zhisheng Campaign”
On April 6, Christian human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng thought he could return to a normal life after 13 months of imprisonment. But his “release” was a farce to please the international media, and on April 20 Gao disappeared again, last seen with four policemen, Compass Direct News (CDN) reported. Continue reading “Chinese Secret Police Makes Gao Zhisheng Disappear Again”
Mircea Rusnac a publicat recent, pe blogul sau Istoria Banatului un articol despre Comitetul ALRC. Iata un fragment din acest text:
În faza târzie a comunismului românesc (anii 1970-1980), acţiunile de opoziţie faţă de regim au îmbrăcat câteva forme distincte. Pe lângă mişcarea de disidenţă culturală, reprezentată în primul rând de Paul Goma şi de adepţii săi, au avut loc tot mai multe tulburări muncitoreşti (Valea Jiului, S.L.O.M.R., Braşov), însă au crescut mult în amploare şi reacţiile religioase faţă de aplicarea forţată a materialismului ateist. În cadrul acesteia din urmă, un rol important l-au jucat reprezentanţii cultelor neoprotestante, care pe toată perioada existenţei regimului comunist au avut de întâmpinat mari neajunsuri, interdicţii şi persecuţii din partea acestuia. Continue reading “Un nou articol despre ALRC”
On 2 October 2009 I was writing on this blog about the arrest of the Chinese Christian dissident Gao Zhisheng. Since then, his wife and children, who live in the US have not heard from him. There were rumors that he was tortured and even killed by the Chinese secret police. Knowing the cruelty of the Chinese ‘democratic’ government, such rumors were very plausible.
Today, however, I have received news that he is alive. Thanks be to God. Here is the announcement from the ChinaAid web site: Continue reading “Missing Human Rights Attorney Gao Zhisheng Confirmed ‘Alive’”