Displaying items by tag: religious freedom
International Christian Concern (ICC) has observed a marked increase of reported religious freedom violations within Turkey since the start of the New Year. While most of these recent violations impact church buildings, they also include a lack of interest by the authorities in pursuing and protecting justice for Christian victims. Churches are seen as a source of income both by the government (faith tourism) and by society (treasure hunters). Otherwise, church buildings are neglected by the government and often turned into mosques. Pray for the protection and perseverance of believers in Turkey. Pray that the government will honor Christian landmarks and churches.
The draft religion law now in parliament would, in defiance of human rights, continue to ban all exercise of freedom of religion without state permission, banning teaching about religion without state permission, continuation of compulsory censorship of all religious materials and to ban sharing of faith. ‘There's not much difference between the draft law and the current one’, commented human rights defender Bahodyr Eliboyev. Although the draft reduces the number of adult citizens required to apply for a community to be allowed to exist from 100 to 50, it would retain the registration process and most of the restrictions. ‘The state must not be afraid of giving full religious freedoms,’ insists Abduvohid Yakubov, an independent rights defender from Tashkent who is also critical of the draft law.
Two Protestant families who were forced to sign an illegal agreement to renounce their right to hold religious services in order to have their access to essential services reinstated have now been told they risk being cut off again if they cannot pay the remainder of a fine that was levied as part of the agreement. In 2019 they refused to sign a similar document renouncing their faith when other Protestants in the village signed it. Their refusal to do so caused their access to water, drainage, government benefit programmes and the community mill cut off for over a year until they signed it. They were also threatened with forced displacement by community leaders unless they contributed to local Roman Catholic festivals and participated in other activities which conflicted with their religious beliefs.
What began as an activity restriction in South Korea is turning into an assault on religious freedom. In June, police stopped Voice of the Martyrs Korea from sending Bibles across the border to North Korea. Today, the ministry and its co-founder, Eric Foley, face criminal investigations. ‘Balloon launching has been difficult since we began in 2005. However, now there is a large scale effort to declare balloon launching illegal’, Foley explains. ‘It’s unclear, at this point, how things will go.’ He said the government’s motives and methods remain dubious, as launching has become a deeply political subject. He added, ‘North Korea made a very public offensive against balloon launching that was adopted by South Korean authorities. This was the impetus to say it is illegal, not through new laws, but through the application of other laws. The issue is not about balloon launching; it’s about the legal right to do private ministry work outside government mediation.’
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron and Conservative MP Steve Baker stand united by their Christian faith and conviction that all have the right to freedom of conscience and religion, and it must be protected everywhere. 80% of Montenegrins are Orthodox Christians, yet worshippers, including the Archbishop, have been arrested. Parishioners are being beaten and buildings destroyed. One of their bishops has written of his arrest, along with hundreds of others. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets to defend their church and freedom of expression. The British MPs say, ‘It is important for Britain and her allies to act, and in haste. In recent days, with further Christian arrests, it is clear the authorities do not intend to pause. We should not stand by and allow political avarice to transcend the right to freedom of faith. There must be a reckoning.’ Pray for peace in society and safety for people.
Most opposition to religious freedom is opposition to the knowledge of the truth. Laws to prevent Christian schools teaching Christianity compromise a mission field. Laws that claim to ban ‘LGBT conversion therapy’ are more likely laws that ban parts of the Bible, key aspects of the Christian gospel, and a parent’s right to raise their gender-dysphoric child to affirm their biological sex. These laws are a serious attack on Christianity and the Christian home - another mission field. When employees cannot hold down their job whilst discussing beliefs grounded in God’s truth at work, another evangelistic option is lost. When people are losing professional accreditations, getting drummed out of universities, disciplined at work, and generally facing the prospect that the godly life is no longer a life of peace. We need to remember Paul’s call to ‘pray for our leaders’. The content of that prayer is that the godly life might be a life of peace.
The Foreign Office has called on China to allow UN observers ‘immediate and unfettered’ access to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, after two leaks provided further evidence of mass arbitrary detentions. An estimated 1 to 3 million Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are detained without charge in ‘political re-education’ camps. US media published 400+ pages of documents detailing widespread involvement of senior Chinese officials in these unprecedented mass detentions, where authorities use a scoring system to determine who can leave the camps. Also, the behaviour of relatives outside the camps can affect detainees’ chances of release. More documents were leaked by investigative journalists, similarly detailing mechanisms, guidelines and procedures behind the detentions in Xinjiang and the severity of conditions inside the camps. China claims that the camps are voluntary training centres to combat terrorism.
El-Sayeh left his job teaching Islamic studies to school children in March 2019. Having watched Christian satellite TV, he wanted to know more about the truth of Islam and read more of the Bible to compare religions and pray. God touched his heart and guided him on his way to learn about Christ and Christianity. He read Christian books and was secretly baptised in April. Then he began to talk to his wife about the work of Christ in his life, to convince her to follow Jesus like him. But she told his wider family, who insulted and threatened him. Families of converted Christians believe they are honour-bound to kill them for the betrayal of everything the family and local community hold dear. El-Sayeh was forcefully electrocuted to death because he kept his faith till his last breath and refused to renounce it.
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has called on Algerian authorities to guarantee freedom of worship to churches and religious institutions, and to allow all closed churches to re-open. A press release on 12 August states, ‘We deeply regret that in May and in August 2019 two churches were forcibly closed in the city of Boudjima. This brings the number of forcibly closed churches to six, including one house church. Five of them belong to the Protestant Church of Algeria, a WEA member. Many more churches are threatened with closure, amid denial of formal registration and recognition by authorities. We also call on the Algerian authorities to suspend and revise the February 2006 ordinance setting out the conditions and rules for the exercise of non-Muslim religions. This ordinance is cited in each of the decisions to close churches.’
In March Prayer-Alert intercessors prayed for an inquiry into the unfair arrest and abuse of Pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi, a street preacher. Now, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, he has been offered £2,500 in exemplary damages from the Metropolitan Police in relation to his false arrest, imprisonment and unlawful detention. Also a petition with over 38,000 signatures has now been given to the Home Secretary calling on her to investigate the guidance and training given to police officers nationwide on the freedom to preach in public. May this petition now be acted upon. See