Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
On 8 January Karnataka state police banned a community of fifty Christians from having worship services indefinitely. They claimed that none of them were Christian by birth and must have been coercively or fraudulently converted to Christianity. They were also accused of collecting government benefits as both Christians and Hindus. Hindu radicals use the state police to clamp down on Christian activities. They have tried social boycotts and physical beatings. However, local Christians remain faithful in the midst of continued harassment.’ One of the biggest threats to Hindu nationalist ideology is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which frees Hindus from the bondage of trying to appease or earn the favour of millions of false gods. If the gospel continues to spread, India cannot become the land of the Hindus. Hindus believe Christians must be treated as enemies. However the constitution states that citizens have the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate the religion of their choice. See also
Recently the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sentenced House Church Pastor Li Juncai to five years in prison and fined him 210,000 yuan (£23,902). His church is the largest in the area, attracting 700 to 800 believers. In 2019, the CCP detained him for obstructing government administration, forcibly removed the cross from the church, removed signs proclaiming ‘Love God and people’, and forced church members to raise China’s national flag in front of the church. The pastor’s son contends that CCP authorities fabricated all charges against his father for taking a stance against the demolition of the church cross and suppressing house churches to tighten its control over religion.
Bob Fu, who lives in Texas, is a former Tiananmen Square protester who now runs ChinaAid and campaigns for religious freedom in China. He has been targeted with death threats and his family were traumatised by bomb threats and protests outside their home as Fu delivered an address in Washington on Christian persecution in China. The threats necessitated the family being evacuated from their home and taken into protective custody. His 15-year-old daughter had to be taken out of school by armed police. Although they have now returned home, they remain under police protection. Fu said, ‘I have no doubt this is directly from Beijing. The goal is clear. It's to silence my voice for freedom in China and to destroy the ministry of ChinaAid. We cannot let them stop us: it's business as usual.’
A high court in Chhattisgarh state has ordered the district administration of Kondagaon to facilitate the safe return of Christians displaced from three villages after twelve people filed a Public Interest Litigation demanding that security be provided for them. In September the Christians were called to meetings where they were told to recant their Christian faith. When they refused, they were attacked by radical Hindu nationalists and their homes were destroyed. Since the attack, these Christians have remained displaced. ‘We ran for our lives’, said a survivor. ‘The death threats they hurled against us were very frightening. There was no other way than to flee from the village. Our lives are in danger. The villagers have vowed to kill us if we return. Our lives are being badly affected by the dangerous atmosphere created by the villagers.’
The Azeri-Turkey offensive is worsening, with cluster bombs falling on innocent civilians even as they sheltered in churches. There is justifiable concern among Armenian Christians of a rising threat of ethnic cleansing from their historic Christian land. On 1 November the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that the indiscriminate attacks on densely populated areas with associated loss of civilian life and destruction of infrastructure ‘contravenes international humanitarian law’ and ‘could be a war crime’. Recent reports indicate that large supplies of Israeli-built weapons, including devastating ‘kamikaze drones’ and unmanned aerial vehicles have been supplied to Azerbaijan and deployed against Christian civilians. Since September 90,000 Armenians, over half the region’s population of 144,000, have fled the conflict to take refuge in Armenia. Pray that the supply of military weapons to Azerbaijan will cease immediately and for guarantees that Israeli technology, including lethal drone strikes, will not be used in the conflict.
Harsh sentences reflect dark times for both recognised and underground churches in Iran. The flogging of an underground Christian, and the harsh prison sentence upheld for the pastor of a legally-recognised church, reflect the growing dangers for Christians. Mohammad Reza Omidi received 80 lashes for drinking communion wine. Alcohol is forbidden only for Muslims, but since Iranian law does not recognise his conversion from Islam to Christianity, he was sentenced to the lashes in September 2016. The sentence was not carried out until recently. Two of his fellow house-church members, Mohammad Ali (Yasser) Mossayebzadeh and Zaman (Saheb) Fadaee, have also been sentenced to flogging. Omidi received 80 lashes in 2013 for the same offence. Advocacy director Mansour Borji said the lashes were ‘inhumane and humiliating’.
In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests. Recently the wife and family of Asif Pervaiz went into hiding after Pervaiz was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. Pervaiz was handed the death sentence on 8 September, nearly seven years after his arrest. ‘She is in hiding because she feels threatened,’ said Release International, an organisation that supports persecuted Christians. For the sad story of the family’s ordeal, click the ‘More’ button.
Elisa arrived home just in time to see Islamists murder her father and her husband, who was a pastor. Her uncle had already been beheaded. Grief-stricken and fearing for their lives, Elisa and 18 family members joined 200,000 others fleeing the Islamists’ advance. This year the insurgents, who have been active in northern Mozambique for three years, have pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS). The thousands displaced by the repeated, devastating attacks have fled to other parts of the country where conditions are crowded and resources are stretched. Front-line workers have reported burnt and destroyed churches, schools, clinics and police stations. As Christian workers provide comfort and food to the displaced, they are also offering Bibles to give hurting people the hope of Jesus Christ. Pray for an end to the ongoing violence. Pray also that the many enduring this trauma will gain hope and eternal life through faith in Christ.
Ebrahim’s ordeal began in 2013 when he was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of internal exile in the remote town of Sarbaz for ‘propaganda against the regime by establishing and organising Christian gatherings’ and ‘having contacts with anti-revolutionary networks outside Iran’. He expected to be released in 2015, but instead he was retried and sentenced to an additional five years in prison for ‘acting against national security’. On 27 September, he had to answer a further charge of ‘propaganda against the state’, carrying a prison sentence of three to twelve months. Thankfully, the next day the case closed for lack of evidence. Iranian Christians are thankful that the prosecutor did not press charges, but request prayer that Ebrahim will know the Lord’s peace during this time of increased pressure from the authorities, even while continuing to serve the internal exile sentence.
Year after year, Uttar Pradesh is identified as the state where most Christian Indians are persecuted. 86 of the 366 violent attacks on Christians recorded in 2019 took place in Uttar Pradesh, and 2020 has seen little improvement. While the pandemic probably reduced the rate of persecution, recent reports indicate the number of attacks on Christians is increasing as India emerges from lockdown. ‘I would have been killed if God hadn’t been with me,’ Pastor Alok Tomar recently told International Christian Concern. ‘I was worried that I would not survive as the torture was so intense. Different ones took turns as I was beaten with lashes from the police belt.’ Pastor Tomar was telephoned and told to report to the police station immediately. ‘I felt safe because I was going to the police station.’ He was accused of forced religious conversions and kept in custody and tortured for three days by the police. It was another four days before he was given bail.