Displaying items by tag: Christian persecution
In 2018 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bombed Golden Lampstand Church, completely destroying the building. Later workers transported the broken bricks from the scene. Now the government has initiated another round of arrests of church leaders, escalating its persecution against Christians who decide to ‘hold fast’ to the faith and refuse to compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ - despite facing another round of persecution. On 7 August police arrested nine leaders from the church, including Pastor Wang Xiaoguang, formerly imprisoned for three years, and his wife, Preacher Yang Rongli, previously imprisoned for seven years. Officials also summoned Chinese leaders from other churches for questioning. CCP authorities continue to persecute this house church with an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 members.
Barnabas Fund reports, ‘Afghan Christians are at huge risk. As American troops leave the country, Taliban fighters are expanding their area of control, especially in rural areas, and re-imposing their ultra-strict form of sharia as they go. By the end of August the last Americans will have gone, but in mid-July the Taliban already claimed to control 85% of the country. What is certain is that Afghan Christians, as converts from Islam, will be even more vulnerable under Taliban rule than under the Afghan government. The Taliban has publicly announced that Christians must convert, leave, or be killed.'
A new wave of Christian persecution began after two Muslim men were arrested and charged under the new anti-conversion law. Hindu nationalists, including BJP members, claimed they had been involved in forceful conversion of 1,000 people. Using the arrests as an opportunity for political gain, BJP politicians publicly warned against illegal conversions of Hindus to non-Hindu faiths. Since then, International Christian Concern has documented at least thirty Christians in Uttar Pradesh being attacked by radical Hindu nationalists. In each of these incidents, perpetrators justified their attacks by falsely accusing their Christian victims of engaging in fraudulent conversions. ‘This is a grave situation for Christians in the state,’ a church leader, requesting anonymity, said. ‘There is zero response from the Yogi administration, which empowers the attackers to do more. The attacks are perpetrated by the hardcore Hindutva activists who are supported by politicians.’
Recently three Baptist pastors from Kachin state were detained and charged with organising prayers for peace. The pastors are now facing three years in jail because of a penal code which criminalises causing fear, spreading false news, and agitating for criminal offenses against government employees. They were praying that the fighting between the Burmese military and the pro-democracy forces in Kachin state, which has intensified recently, would cease. It is reported that the pastors, who are elderly and in poor health, were sent to a prison on 29 June to await their court hearing on 12 July. Their imprisonment was met with an outcry from Christians in the country. Many are using social media to publish prayers and pleas for their release. Other church attacks and arrests have occurred elsewhere throughout the country.
Although Christian persecution continues to rise in India, the only recent survey of this fact was in 2020 when a report from the Evangelical Fellowship of India listed 366 incidents where Christians were targeted, 40+ in the first two months. Most incidents feature physical violence, threats, harassment, and the disruption of church services by religious radicals or the police. Disruption of prayer meetings and Sunday worship is now a trend across many states. Many Christians are falsely accused and detained on charges of forced conversion. The US commission on international religious freedom has said, ‘Religious hate crimes in India are rising. Mob violence is carried out against Christians accused of forced or induced religious conversion.’ Christians make up a little over 2% of India’s population. Though they are often accused of following a ‘foreign’ religion, the gospel was introduced there in the first century through Jesus’ disciple Thomas.
Christians are increasingly being persecuted violently: by brutal IS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and Hindu extremists in India. Release International issued a report on persecution trends in 2021. It is a wake-up call to take our prayers for our persecuted family to new levels. Nigerian attacks are driven by Islamist ideologies to destroy ‘the infidels’. 300 Christians remain detained without trial inside Eritrea. The Chinese government is increasing its ‘clean-cup’ of anything that does not advance the communist agenda. North Korea’s policy against Christians is the longest, harshest persecution in recorded history. Iranians constantly fear they are under surveillance when they meet secretly. The pressure has led to an exodus from Iran that will continue in 2021. Egyptian Christian converts from a Muslim background will continue to pay a high price for their faith and will be expelled from their families, divorced, and lose their employment.
Rev Dr Bernard Randall, a former chaplain of Christ’s College, Cambridge, is taking Trent College to court for discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and unfair dismissal after the school reported him - without his knowledge - to the government anti-terror watchdog for a sermon he gave at the school on ‘identity politics’. There has been widespread bewilderment as the story has been covered by newspapers and the internet. How can such a reasonable sermon from a Christian minister provoke the treatment he received? How can you be labelled a terrorist and eventually lose your job in a Christian school for advocating freedom of belief? He says his story sends a message to Christians: ‘You are not free to talk about your faith. It’s not enough to just “tolerate” LGBT ideology. You must accept it without question; no debate is allowed without serious consequences.’
Two and a half years after Chinese authorities arrested Pastor Wang Yi and over a hundred members of Early Rain Church, the congregation is still being harassed for following Christ. Last November elder Yangquan Li was detained for worshiping online from his home; local officials cut off his utilities and internet service. His landlord was also forced to evict him and his family, and they are now closely monitored by police. They are asking Christians to pray for them and for the church. ‘We pray that we depend on God when we lack, because apart from Him we have no good thing’, Yangquan said. ‘We pray God makes us put our trust in Him at this difficult time. We pray the Holy Spirit fills us to respond to our situation with gentleness and respect.’ Despite ongoing persecution, our Christian brothers and sisters in China continue to share the gospel with their neighbours.
Gunmen abducted 39 students, most of whom are Christians, from a college in Kaduna state on 11 March. An armed gang raided the college in Kaduna at 9.30 pm, shooting indiscriminately and rounding up 219 people. Of these, 180 were rescued by the army soon afterwards. Several videos have been released showing the 39 abducted students being threatened, beaten, and whipped. In another video, a male student (named Emmanuel) being held at gunpoint pleads with the government to intervene. He added, ‘Many of us here have been injured - badly injured. Most of us here have health issues.’ Meanwhile we can praise God that Pastor Yakuru, kidnapped by Boko Haram on Christmas Eve 2020, was released on 3 March, the day the terrorists said they would execute him. His release was negotiated by the department of state services and a national charity.
Eritrea remains one of the worst countries in the world for Christian persecution. Imprisoned Christians are tortured, starved, and forced into hard labour. Conditions are worse for pastors and theological students who are singled out for beatings or have their jail terms extended as a warning to others. Many Christians are held indefinitely, often without trial, not knowing when they will be released. Some are kept in shipping containers, where they are exposed to the searing desert heat by day and cold by night. 69 Christian prisoners were released in September 2020 in Covid-19 control measures. Most had been held for over ten years without trial, some for 16 years. The releases were made on condition that bail securities were lodged, usually in the form of property deeds, with guarantors held liable for the detainees’ future actions. None of the known imprisoned pastors or senior Christian leaders were among those released. Tens of thousands of Christians have fled from Eritrea to Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, and Israel.