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PERSECUTION WATCH ~ For Prayer Concern

Weekly update 26 July, 2009

By Charles M. Joshi

Issue - 30 / July 2009 (For Private Circulation Only)

Let brotherly love continue…. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Heb. 13: 1&3

Are we about to enter into the end time Daniel’s 70thweek? Current events say so.

They shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Mathew 24.9

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me, before it hated you. John 15.18

In This Edition: NORTH KOREA: Pyongyang: Christian executed in public for distributing Bibles ** SOMALIA: Convert From Islam Shot Dead; Islamic extremist rebel group hunts down underground church leader ** INDONESIA: West Java, Protestant church demolished by local government ** IRAQ: Iraqi Security Forces are Building Trenches to Protect Christians ** YEMEN: Abducted Christians Still Missing. Fate Unknown ** PALESTINE: Church official, wife beaten and robbed in Gaza ** FIJI: Fiji police hold church leaders ** INDIA: Orissa – Killers of Laxmanananda Saraswati surrender ++ VHP lies And Allegations Exposed !!! Brother of girl inmates of the tribal residential school run by VHP leader Laxmananda saraswathy involved in the planning and killing ++ Orissa - 1004 cases registered, 1218 held for Kandhamal riot: Govt. ++ Four evangelists in jail for alleged forceful conversion in Bangalore, Karnataka ++ Six held on false forced conversion charges, Karnataka ++ Pastor arrested in Karimnagar, Andhra ++ Woman held for ‘proselytisation’ in Andhra ++ Christian men attacked in Erode, Tamil Nadu ** PAKISTAN: Christian Shot 8 Times for Refusing to Pay Protection Money ** SRI LANKA: Pastor assaulted in Sri Lanka ** CHINA: Autumn Rain Church Still Forced to Meet Outdoors ++ Bible School Raided in Suqian City, Jiangsu Province ++ Trial Date for Imprisoned Christian Alimujiang Yimiti Set for July 28 ++ Further Update - Three Christian Students Released; Two Teachers Still in Prison After Youth Camp Raid ++ Legal Center Closed; More Than 50 Lawyers Lose Licenses ++ Trial Date Set for Taochuan Church Leaders’ Lawsuit 24 July ** VIETNAM: Vietnam police detain 18 Catholics after clashes ** TURKEY: 'Deep State’ Suspected Of Silencing Witness; Two key figures in Malatya murder trial again fail to show despite court orders ** UK: Christian doctor is axed from panel over failing to back gay adoption ++ Gallery’s invitation to deface the Bible brings obscene response ++ Church leaders have accused the Government of giving preferential treatment to the Muslim community because of ‘political correctness ** USA: Ten Commandments battle rages on in Midwestern City ** MIDEAST : Saving the Islamic World's Christians ** NIGERIA : Ritualists Desecrate Church's Altar in Kaduna and M O R E ….
NORTH KOREA: Pyongyang: Christian executed in public for distributing Bibles 25 July, 2009 Asianews South Korean human rights activists say the woman was executed because she distributed copies of the Bible and was a spy of Seoul and Washington. Her parents, husband and children are locked up in a camp for political prisoners. The North Korean regime declares "war on religion”. The North Korean regime has publicly executed a Christian woman, accused of "distributing copies of the Bible" and "espionage activities" for the United States and South Korea The episode was made public by a group activists from the Commission investigating crimes against humanity, in a report published yesterday. Ri Hyon-ok, 33 years, was executed June 16 last in Ryongchon, a north-western city near the border with China. The following day, Ri’s parents, her husband and three children were confined to a camp for political prisoners in the north-eastern town of Hoeryong. The report shows a photograph from the woman’s identity card issued by the Government of North Korea, proof of her execution.  Activists demand that Kim Jong-il be tried for crimes against humanity and confirm a growth among "underground" Christian faithful in the country. This is why Pyongyang - which in theory allows the practice of religion - has launched a "war against religion" with arrests, public executions and other deterrents. In recent days, an independent South Korean committee released a document on human rights in North Korea: it says that, although decreasing in number, death sentences are still used for a variety of offences ranging from murder to distribution of foreign films.

SOMALIA: Convert From Islam Shot Dead; Islamic extremist rebel group hunts down underground church leader

20 July, 2009 Compass Muslim extremists early this morning killed a Christian convert in Mahadday Weyne, Somalia, 100 kilometers north of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab Islamist rebels shot Mohammed Sheikh Abdiraman to death at 7 a.m., eyewitnesses told Compass. They said the Islamic extremists appeared to have been hunting the convert from Islam, and when they found him they did not hesitate to shoot him. The sources told Compass that Abdiraman was the leader of an underground “cell group” of Christians in Somalia. “We are very sad about this incident, and we also are not safe,” one eyewitness said by telephone. “Pray for us.” The sources were too

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distraught to share more details about Abdiraman’s death. Another eyewitness who requested anonymity said Abdiraman had been a Christian for 15 years. He is survived by two children, ages 15 and 10. His wife died three years ago due to illness. Intent on “cleansing” Somalia of all Christians, al Shabaab militia are monitoring converts from Islam especially where Christian workers had provided medical aid, such as Johar, Jamame, Kismayo and Beledweyne, sources said. Mahadday Weyne, 22 kilometers (14 miles) north of Johar, is the site of a former Christian-run hospital. Linked with Islamic extremist al Qaeda terrorists, al Shabaab rebels have mounted an armed effort to topple President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s Western-backed Transitional Federal Government with the intention of imposing sharia (Islamic law). The group is already enforcing sharia in large parts of southern Somalia that they control. The militants reportedly beheaded seven Christians on July 10, and refugees from Somalia tell of other attacks. One refugee last year recounted an attack in Lower Juba, Somalia. Binti Ali Bilal, the 40-year-old mother of 10 children, was fetching firewood with her 23-year-old daughter, Asha Ibrahim Abdalla in April 2008 in an area called Yontoy when al Shabaab members and Muslim neighbors approached them. Yontoy is 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Kismayo. For some time the local community had suspected that she and her family were Christians, Bilal told Compass. The group asked the women if they were Christians, and when they said they were, the group began beating her and her daughter, who was six months pregnant, Bilal said. After raping them and holding them captive for five days, the Muslim extremists left them for dead, she said, and her husband found them. The baby born to her daughter, she told Compass, suffers from diseases related to the prenatal trauma.

INDONESIA: West Java, Protestant church demolished by local government 23 July, 2009 Asianews Jakarta - A Protestant community from Parung in the regency of Bogor, West Java province, denounces a new case of confessional discrimination in Indonesia. Local authorities have demolished a church because – they say – it has no construction permit. Believers contend that they had sought several times to obtain a permit without any response; they add that they had received the consent of the local Muslim community. The demolition of the church took place on July 21 last and was motivated by the lack of an Izin Mendirikan Bangunan (IMB), a sort of government concession that must be obtained before the construction of buildings. Without the IMB authorities may demolish buildings, without distinction between churches and private homes.  "We are Indonesian citizens and have the same rights as other religious confessions, before the law," says Walman Nainggolan, from the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (Hkbp) community, the original indigenous population of the province of North Sumatra. Yesterday, the faithful have reported the incident to the Indonesian National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham), requesting that their demands be heard and a new place of worship granted. The decision of the local government is even at odds with the will of the Muslims of the area who were not opposed to the church building. "We received support and solidarity from the forum for interreligious dialogue, but the authorities took no notice" adds Nainggolan.   The Human Rights Commission announced an appeal to the Department of Religious Affairs and warns that "the authorities in Bogor must ensure a place to pray for all, instead of tearing down the church" of the Batak faithful.

IRAQ: Iraqi Security Forces are Building Trenches to Protect Christians 23 JULY, 2009 ICC International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that Iraqi Security forces are building trenches to protect Christians from further attacks following recent church bombings that killed four people and wounded several others. Iraqi officials are stepping up protective measures for Christians in the largely Christian towns of Tilkaif and Hamdaniya, in the northern province of Nineveh. The trenches come in the wake of a spate of bomb attacks against seven Iraqi churches on July 11 and 12 in the cities of Baghdad and Mosul. “These trenches will require people to enter towns through 4 or 5 secure checkpoints making it far more difficult to smuggle in weapons and bombs. The construction of the trenches is a sad but necessary reminder of just how desperate the situation of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac Christians is becoming,” said Michael Youash in the statement he gave to ICC. Mr. Youash is the Project Director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project. Iraqi Christians have been targets of attacks by Islamic fundamentalists, criminal gangs and other armed groups who are bent on driving the Christians out of the country. Hundreds of Iraqi Christians have been murdered due to their faith, and half of an estimated 1.2 million Christians have left their homes since 2003. ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa and the Middle East, Jonathan Racho, said, “The construction of trenches to protect Iraqi Christians is a welcome development, but is not a sufficient measure. Iraqi officials must also bring the perpetrators of attacks against Christians to justice and seek a lasting solution to the plight of the suffering Christians in Iraq.”

IRAQ: Patriarch: 'Our survival depends on the unity of Christians 24 July, 2009 Tidings Online Making his first official visit to the Southland since he was elected Jan. 20 as the new patriarch of Antioch and leader of the world's Syrian Catholics, His Beatitude Ignatius Youssef III Younan said Christians worldwide must unite to advocate for peace and civil rights in the Middle East. Commenting on the six bombings targeting Christian churches July 11-12 in Baghdad, Iraq, Patriarch Younan noted violence against Christians has escalated since the Iraq war began in 2003. "We've been targeted as churches but also as individuals [including] members of the clergy," he said. Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Basil George Casmoussa, who spent 20 hours in captivity after being kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents in early 2005, accompanied Patriarch Younan during his Southern California trip. Also, he stressed, "We rely on our brethren in the West to help us stay where we are. Those [Middle Eastern] lands have been the cradle of Christianity. Allowing the emptying of those lands" of a Christian presence would be tragic. He added help is needed from religious and political leaders "to speak truth to fundamentalists and those who abuse the name of God to target others…."World leaders have to be clear and firm with those regimes and countries who don't grant all their citizens the same civil rights," stated Patriarch Younan, who said tension in the region has been building over the past 25 years with rising Islamic fundamentalism as well as the recent Gulf wars which have endangered "defenseless" Christian minorities.

YEMEN: Abducted Christians Still Missing. Fate Unknown 21 July, 2009 Assist Saada - Six weeks after their abduction in Yemen there is still no word about the whereabouts of a German Christian family and a British citizen.The development worker, his wife, their three children and the British engineer were kidnapped in mid-June during an outing near Saada in North Yemen. They were with two German bible school students and a South

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Korean teacher. They were found murdered on June 12. The nine Christians were working at the Al Jumhuri hospital in Saada, which has since been closed for security reasons. The humanitarian agency Worldwide Services, based in the Netherlands, has withdrawn all staff members. As a close family member of the missing Germans told the evangelical news agency idea that there is no news about the fate or the whereabouts of the hostages. No ransom demand has been made. It is most likely that the Christians were abducted for religious reasons. Apparently the German development worker was seen talking to a man about the bible. The family wanted to return to East Germany next year, when their youngest daughter is due to start school. The Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Saxony, Jochen Bohl, has asked for intercession on behalf of the missing Christians. In the last 15 years at least 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Yemen. In most cases, they were set free after ransom payments. It is not the first time that Muslim extremists have murdered hospital workers in Yemen. Two men killed three US-citizens at a Baptist hospital in Jibla, December 30, 2002. Another American was wounded. The culprits were later convicted and sentenced to death. Yemen is one of the strictest Islamic countries. 99 percent of the 21 million inhabitants are Muslims. Small groups of Christians gather in secret.

PALESTINE: Church official, wife beaten and robbed in Gaza 23 July, 2009 JPost Constantine Dabbagh, Executive Secretary of the Near East Council of Churches, complained that three masked men who broke into his house beat him and his wife before stealing money and jewelry. The Hamas government said it had launched an investigation into the incident, which took place on Tuesday night in the western suburbs of Gaza City. The assault on Dabbagh and his wife is the latest in a series of attacks on members of the tiny Christian community in the Gaza Strip. Dabbagh said that the masked men first bound his and his wife's hands behind their backs before covering their heads and faces with cloth and beating them. He added that the assailants told him that they came to search the house for wireless devices of communications. He said that the masked men spent nearly one hour inside the house, during which time they stole money and jewelry. The assailants also stole the Christian couple's car.

FIJI: Fiji police hold church leaders 22 July, 2009 BBC Photo: Fiji's former prime minister, deposed in a coup, is among many church-goers The Methodist Church in Fiji has said that seven of its senior members are being held by police for questioning. All those being held have been involved in discussions about the church's planned annual conference. Fiji's military government has already banned the meeting once, accusing the church of being too political and setting conditions for future talks. The Methodist Church is the largest in Fiji and hopes to hold its annual meeting next month regardless. The church had hoped its leaders would have been released after a few hours, Radio New Zealand reported. Instead, police, many of whom are themselves Methodists, were treating the churchmen well in detention, Radio Australia reported, with afternoon tea and a prayer. But the interim military-led regime has banned the gathering unless the church hierarchy agrees to exclude two former presidents and remove any political discussion from the agenda. Among those arrested was former president of the Fiji Methodist Church, Reverend Manasa Lasaro; General Secretary, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, the Secretary for Pastoral Ministry, Tomasi Kanailagi and the Church's Finance Secretary Viliame Gonelevu. The general secretary was taken in on Tuesday night and others were detained the next morning. The Chief of Rewa, Rotemumu Kepa, who was to host the conference, has also been arrested and detained. The interim government authorities have not explained the detentions, but Reverend Waqairatu had earlier said that it was in relation to conference. The church said it was planning to go ahead with the conference regardless of the interim government's stand.

INDIA: Orissa – Killers of Laxmanananda Saraswati surrender 22 July, 2009 AICC Rayagada: A young Maoist couple, allegedly involved in the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal and many other attacks, surrendered before the police at Rayagada in Orissa on 22 July 2009 expressing desire to return to the mainstream.  The ultras, identified as Surendra Vekwara (19) and his wife Ruby (18), admitted their involvement in several crimes, including Saraswati's killing and Nayagarh mayhem last year, Superintendent of Police AK Singh said. The Maoist couple, who hail from Gudari area of Rayagada district, also told the police about their involvement in a number of other incidents, including the one at R Udaygiri, the police official said adding that the two were active in Rayagada. The ultras decided to give up the path of violence and return to the mainstream as they were disenchanted with the naxalite activities, the police said. As many as seven Maoists have given up arms and surrendered before the police in the district during the last one-and-a-half months in order to lead normal life in society, they said. (Source:, 22 July 2009, )

INDIA: Orissa: VHP lies And Allegations Exposed !!! Brother of girl inmates of the tribal residential school run by VHP leader Laxmananda saraswathy involved in the planning and killing 25 July, 2009 GCIC Bhubaneswar: Reconstructing the final moments of the killing of VHP leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and his four associates in Kandhamal’s Jalespeta ashram in August 2008, Orissa police said that a Maoist who surrendered this week claimed there were four policemen at the ashram but they fled when the Maoists announced that they had come looking for the Swami. Four of the six Maoists who carried out the attack were from Chhattisgarh, the police were told. Rayagada SP Ashis Kumar Singh said Surendra Brekwada alias Dasu, who surrendered with his wife Ruppi Pidikka alias Jaya, told them that a six-member crack team of the Maoists, led by Orissa CPI (Maoist) leader Azad alias Duna Keshav Rao, reached Jalespeta ashram on August 23 evening and came across four lathi-wielding policemen. Brekwada, a sharpshooter, was one of the six who allegedly killed the 82-year-old Laxmanananda, Kishore Baba (45), Amritananda Baba (62), Mata Bhaktimayee (40) and Puranjan Ganthi (28), brother of one of the girl inmates of the tribal residential school. Brekwada told police Azad was carrying an AK-47. “Azad told the policemen that we have come to kill the Swami, that we will do them no harm. The policemen jumped across the ashram wall and fled. We asked one of the ashram inmates the whereabouts of the Swami and he pointed to a room. Azad entered the room by breaking the door and then found the Swami in the bathroom. He fired several shots at the bathroom door to crack it open. He then fired at the Swami, killing him,” SP Singh quoted Brekwada as saying The Swami’s murder, according to the Maoist, had been planned days in advance by Sabyasachi Panda,

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head of Orissa State Committee of the CPI (Maoist). Other than the six who took part in the killing, there were several who were entrusted with blocking roads and providing logistics. A few days before the murder, some of the Maoists did a reconnaissance of the area. The cadres also had an ambush plan if they came across police,” Singh said. On January 30 this year, the Orissa CID, probing the Laxmanananda murder case, submitted a preliminary chargesheet against seven people arrested in the case. Duryodhan Sunamajhi, Munda Badamajhi, Sanatana Badamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Gananath Chalanseth, Bhaskar Sunamajhi and Budhdev Naik were charged under IPC Sections 302, 449, 380, 120(B) and 34 and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act. Prime accused Sabyasachi Panda is still at large. The CID will be questioning Brekwada soon.

INDIA: Orissa - 1004 cases registered, 1218 held for Kandhamal riot: Govt. 25 July, 2009 GCIC As many as 1004 cases were registered and 1218 persons arrested in connection with the communal violence in Kandhamal last year in which 100 people were killed and 136 others injured. This was stated in the white paper presented by the home department in the Assembly. Stating that communal violence in Kandhamal erupted after the killing of VHP leader Laxamananda Saraswati and four of his associates on August 23, 2008, the report said riots also took place in the districts of Baragarh, Gajapati and some other places during a state-wide bandh on August 25, 2008. Though the communal situation was by and large peaceful all along the year, Kandhamal incident was the only major violence in the state last year, it said. The state government acted promptly to tackle the situation and deployed central para-military force (CPMF) in Kandhamal

INDIA: Slap from police has damaged nerve of Christian women statistics lecture; Police charged with assaulting women in church in Mangalore anti Christian violence 25 July, 2009 GCIC “My professional life and my salary suffered after the attack on Kulasekhara Church as I was injured that day and the pain will haunt me as I cannot work,” said Ashma Montero to Justice B.K. Somasekhara Commission here on Friday. On the final day of the hearing as part of the inquiry into the attacks on prayer halls, Ms. Montero, resident of Kulashekhara and a faculty of Statistics in St. Aloysius College, said that she was “Slapped by a policeman hard. As a result, the nerve behind the left ear was damaged.” As an after-effect, she had been getting “severe head ache frequently,” and had to take leave on many days on “loss of pay”. It had affected her “effective functioning” at her workplace, she said. Ms. Montero said: “There were no women police deployed that day and the policeman broke open the locked gates of the Church with a gun and entered the Church campus. Once they entered, there was lathi charge. Meanwhile, a police hit a six-year-old boy with the gun on his head.” She alleged that the police burst tear gas on Church campus. “We all ran to the toilets in the school to wash our eyes. When we saw a large number of people were already there in the toilet in the ground floor washing their eyes, a few of us ran to the toilets in the first floor,” she said and added that the police came to the first floor and started beating the women there. “A man over there asked the police not to beat the women, and he was beaten by five policemen for that. As a result, he started bleeding in the head and he fainted,” she said. “We were all running for our lives and while coming down from the first floor, the policemen pushed us and we rolled down from the stairs,” said Ms. Montero and added that while running towards the stairs, she was slapped by a policeman standing at the toilet door. He was slapping everyone who came out of the toilet. The exit door in the ground floor was locked from outside and everyone had to run into the toilet in the ground floor, she said. People hiding in toilet locked the door from inside when the police attempted at breaking it open by kicking it. But, before leaving the church, the police had locked the toilet doors from outside. A neighbouring Hindu family opened the door.

INDIA: Four evangelists in jail for alleged forceful conversion in Bangalore, Karnataka 20 July, 2009 Madan Kumar from Basaveshvanagara, Amar Singh from Munnireddypalya, Munendra from Ramchandrapura and James Wesley from Oklipura are being held at the Bangalore central jail on false charges of forceful conversion. The four evangelists belong to a church in Rajajinagar. On the evening of 18 July 2009, Saturday, the four had traveled to the Gnanbharathi housing colony to visit Prakash and Chandrama. On their way there, they distributed tracts and pamphlets. While they were praying at 5:30 p.m., they were attacked by some of the neighbors and radical groups that had gathered together. The four were dragged out of the house and thrashed. The radicals accused them of converting people forcefully. They were beaten up and threatened for about an hour. After this, they were taken to the Gnanabharathi Police Station at 8:30 p.m. At 11:00 p.m. they were produced before a magistrate and at 12:30 p.m. they were sent to the Bangalore Central Jail. This incident was covered by various TV news channels and newspapers as well.

INDIA: Six held on false forced conversion charges, Karnataka 20 July, 2009 Shimoga, 20 July 2009 : Pastor Chinnadurai (40) and church elders, Glory (30) and Baby Kutty (50) , Johnson (28), Joseph (18),Shanthi (28) from the Pentecostal Mission, Mulaykatte, Shimoga District, Bhadravathi are being held on false forced conversion charges in Shimoga last night. The pastor and elders were visiting a believer Shantamma’s home in Pilangere, 27 kms away from Mulaykatte on Sunday evening, 19 July 2009. At 7:00 p.m., while they were talking and praying with the family, they were attacked by Ganesh, the leader of a Hindu radical group and 15-20 others. They came to Shantamma’s house and started threatening the pastor and the two ladies. While they were being harassed, someone contacted GCIC. GCIC in turn contacted the local Shimoga Rural Police Station apprising them of the situation. The Circle Inspector L. N. Keshavamurthy sent police protection for the three. They were brought back to the police station. While the officials at the station were investigating the matter, they were pressurized by the local radical groups who demanded that the three be booked for forceful conversion. The pastor and the two ladies spent the night in jail. They were released on bail on 20th July 2009. Meanwhile

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Shantamma and her family also lodged a complaint against the radicals last night itself under various sections. However no arrests have been made yet. The Pentecost Mission has been running for the past 25 years. There are about 700-800 Pentecost mission churches in India and 30 churches in Karnataka. The church in the village serves 15-20 village believers which comes to about 300 families. They meet for a worship service on Sunday mornings while evenings are spent in ministering to the believers in their community.

INDIA: Church disappointed as court rules out Holy Land subsidy in Andhra 23 July, 2009 UCAN Church officials in Andhra Pradesh have expressed dismay after the High Court told the state government on July 22 not to subsidize pilgrimages to holy places. Andhra Pradesh had allocated US$20 million for Christians to visit Jerusalem and other holy sites. The High Court said that it was not proper for the state government to subsidize pilgrimages from the state treasury. The state government began giving subsidies for the Holy Land tour in 2008. The court said that if a devotee undertakes a pilgrimage to a holy place out of his own beliefs, taxpayers’ money should not be spent on that. The court was hearing two petitions, one against the government granting aid to pilgrims bound for Jerusalem and another seeking aid to Hindu devotees visiting their shrines in various parts of India. While hearing the arguments, Chief Justice Anil Ramesh Dave said holiness “cannot be earned by spending money belonging to others." The state government plans to contest the High Court ruling in the Supreme Court as it could also affect the subsidy given to Muslims going to for their Haj, which has been paid out for several decades. The federal government spends around US$4 billion annually for Haj pilgrims. "The state government will fight our case in the Supreme Court. We are hopeful of a positive outcome," Archbishop Joji said.

INDIA: Pastor arrested in Karimnagar, Andhra 19 July 2009 GCIC Pastor Devadass was returning to Bharatnagar after Sunday worship. He was followed by ten members of the local RSS outfitand they way laid and assaulted the Pastor and and dragged him to the Vemulawada Police Station. The radicals falsely alleged that Pastor Devadass was involved in distribution of Bible tracts at the Rajarajeshwar Temple located at Vemulawada. The Pastor was released later in the night on the condition that he would return to the station the next morning (20 July 2009) On 20th July the police took a written statement from the Pastor and the Hindu radicals and sent them back. Pastor Devadass, a native of Thadepalli is the Pastor of Manna Church in Vemulawada, Karimnagar district.

INDIA: Woman held for ‘proselytisation’ in Andhra 19 July, 2009 GCIC Tirupati, Hemavathy (40) a native of Yanam (Puducherry) was arrested from the TTD-run Sri Venkateswara Ayurvedic College-cum-Hospital premises on Sunday evening on charges of proselytisation. TTD (Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams) is the body that runs these temples. Based on a complaint from the hospital’s Resident Medical Officer that Hemavathy had been distributing Christian religious pamphlets, the TTD’s security staff handed her over to the Alipiri police. The woman reportedly told the police that she was only following the instructions of God, who directed her three years back to take up religious propagation. BJP city unit leaders held a dharna in front of the police station demanding serious action on the issue. The police filed FIR charging Hemavathy under various sections . Tirupati (Rural) Inspector V. Subbanna told The Hindu that action would be taken in accordance with the G.O. prohibiting proselytisation in and around Hindu temples and institutions. Hemavathy was released on bail on 21 July 2009.

INDIA: Christian men attacked in Erode, Tamil Nadu 22 July, 2009 AICC Anti-Christian activists attacked members of the YMEF South Division team at a village in Erode district of Tamil Nadu on 22 July 2009. The team consisting of 10 members was badly roughed up and then forcibly taken to a temple nearby for further humiliation. At the temple, they were made to lie down in the sun and pay obeisance to the deity. While they were forced them to do so, they were kicked all over for allegedly indulging in conversion activities in the area. The culprits seized all the literature from the team and set the material on fire. They also damaged their vehicle. A Christian, who was passing by, alerted the police who rushed to the scene and rescued them. All the team members were provided first aid with the help of a team of doctor. The team members were then allowed to go. One of the team members had to be taken to hospital for treatment of injuries. Incidentally the team members have been working in the area for the last eight months.

INDIA: Hindu Activists Protest Conversion of a Woman to Christianity in Bhopal 26 July, 2009 Thaindian Activists of Hindu radical groups on Sunday protested outside a church against the conversion of a Hindu woman to Christianity in Bhopal city. Protestors demanded a case should be filed into the incident, as it was described to be an attack on the Hindu culture and fraternity. “The administration should take action against this kind of conversion because this is an attack on Hindu culture. Under the conversion laws of our country, a case should be registered against them. The priest who has come from outside should be arrested. This is our demand,” said Chandrashekhar Tiwari, President, Sanskriti Bachao Manch. However, the woman taking a holy dip in the precincts of the Church said she converted on her own, denying any pressure by the church. “I am a Hindu. But I have been coming to this Church for the past ten years to become Christian,” said Kunti, a Hindu local. Corroborating her version, father of the church categorically denied the allegations made by the Hindu radical group. “This was not conversion. It was a holy dip,” said Abraham George, priest.(ANI)

INDIA: Women Bible College Students; Shake the Dust Off 17 July, 2009 GFA Four Bible college students were driven out of a village for sharing the love of Christ. This village was likened to Sodom and Gomorrah for its sinful, rebellious lifestyle. Children strolled the streets with alcohol in their hands. Youths were getting married to whomever they chose no matter the age or whether it was legal or not. The name of Jesus Christ was obliterated and not welcomed. Sarasa Sengupta, Malati Dutta, Tejal Bose and Juhi Mukopadhyay new GFA missionaries, It wasn't until after much prayer that they managed to find a small room in a house belonging to a widow. Despite the opposition, their ministry started well but, the success of their ministry became a threat to the local villagers who were staunch followers of a false religion. The success of their ministry became a threat to the local villagers who were staunch followers of a false religion. That was the last straw for the women. They left the village and headed to Gospel for Asia's state office to ask for advice.

PAKISTAN: Christian Shot 8 Times for Refusing to Pay Protection Money 22 July, 2009 ICC A Christian businessman was shot eight times in the legs while driving through Lahore, Pakistan on July 7 after refusing to pay protection money to a Muslim.Suqlain Shah, an ex-policeman, and another man, Sudia, stopped Ayub Gill's car at

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2:25 in the afternoon as Ayub was going to buy a property in a nearby town. Ayub's brother Babar was driving and two other relatives were in the back seat. Suqlain pulled out a gun and dragged Babar out of the driver's seat, threatening to kill him. Suqlain then got in the driver's seat and shot Ayub eight times in the legs. After stealing $2,500, they fled on bicycles. Ayub is now recovering in the hospital, but the doctors do not know if he will be able to walk again. Suqlain, who lives near Ayub, had threatened him a few days earlier, when Ayub had bought a car for his brother. It was the family's third car. When Suqlain saw that they had three cars, he approached Ayub and demanded money. "You now have three cars, so give me $3,750. You are a wealthy Christian, so it is my right to get as much money as I need from you. If you don't give it to me I will kill you."Immediately following the shooting, Ayub's brothers went to the police station to submit a report, but it was only accepted after five hours of delay and harassment, partly because Suqlain's brother is a constable in the police force. The police have taken no action to prosecute this case. Mobeena, Ayub's sister, told ICC, "Suqlain is still free and hanging around. The government has done nothing to help us, even though my brother is a prominent businessman. We feel insecure, our children are too scared to go out anymore - please help us, we need justice."When ICC contacted the Pakistani embassy in Washington, D.C., embassy officials denied any knowledge of the incident and stated, "Pakistani police stations do not ask if someone is Muslim or Christian - they don't discriminate on that basis." However, according to ICC sources, police regularly ascertain religious affiliation for identification even though it is not required on report forms. Please call your Pakistani embassy to ask for justice for Ayub Gill and his family.

SRI LANKA: Pastor assaulted in Sri Lanka 22 July, 2009 VOM-C A pastor of a church in Polonnaruwa district, North Central Province was brutally attacked on June 23, according to a recent report from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka. The pastor was driving home from a prayer meeting when a group of men on motorcycles called out to him. When he stopped his vehicle and rolled down his window, the assailants attacked him with knives. He was able to prevent them from slashing his neck but sustained severe arm injuries. His vehicle was also damaged. The pastor eventually fled the scene and sought help.Pray for healing for the injured pastor.

CHINA: Autumn Rain Church Still Forced to Meet Outdoors 23 July, 2009 China Aid Sichuan – On July 21, the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Chengdu City called Elder Wang Yi of Autumn Rain Church and told him that the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Qingyang District, Chengdu City had been instructed on July 17 to correct their mistake in the decision to abolish Autumn Rain Church.  However, on July 19, church members were still prevented from attending their church service in their rented building, and for the sixth time this year, the 89 church members worshiped outdoors by the riverside. Recently, Wang Yi was interviewed by VOCN.TV. Authorities announced the abolishment Autumn Rain Church on June 21.  The church was meeting at a nearby hotel for a congregation conference, because authorities had blocked them from entering their normal gathering site. More than 10 law enforcement officers entered the conference room, stopped the gathering, and read a notice abolishing Autumn Rain Church as an “unregistered social organization.” Since then, the house church has been forced to meet outdoors. On June 26, Autumn Rain Church filed an application for administrative reconsideration to appeal the abolishment of their house church. Autumn Rain Church believes that the decision of the Bureau Affairs of Chengdu City to instruct the Bureau of Civil Affairs of Quingyang District to correct their mistake in abolishing their house church is a direct result of the church’s decision to legally challenge the local abolishment and also the support of the international community for their church.

CHINA: Bible School Raided in Suqian City, Jiangsu Province 20 July, 2009 China Aid Jiangsu– A Bible school run by Vice-President of the Chinese House Church Alliance (CHCA) Pastor Shi Enhao was raided on July 16 at 11:30 a.m. (Beijing time) in Suqian city, Jiangsu province. Pastor Shi and 11 students were taken to the Public Security Bureau (PSB) office and questioned. They were all released around 5 p.m. the same day. The students were sent back to their hometowns and warned not to come back for Bible study. The school is part of a Bible education school run by CHCA, and has been in existence for several years without any problems from authorities.

HINA: Trial Date for Imprisoned Christian Alimujiang Yimiti Set for July 28, July 26, 2009 Chinaaid Xinjinag – The trial for Uyghur Christian prisoner Alimujiang Yimiti has been set for the morning of July 28. Alimujiang Yimiti has been arbitrarily detained at Kashi Municipal Detention center since January 12, 2008, charged with “revealing state secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations.” However, ChinaAid contacts say the reason for his imprisonment is his Christian faith and witness among the Uyghur people. The international community is monitoring Alimujiang’s case closely. The UK government, the European Commission, the European Union, the UN, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing are closely involved in multilateral and bilateral human rights dialogues urging China to act according to international human rights laws that China has signed. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has investigated Alimujiang’s case, and issued Opinion No. 29/2008 on September 12, 2008, stating that Alimujiang Yimiti's detention for more than one year is arbitrary and that the Chinese government should take the necessary steps to correct the situation. ChinaAid has been in communication with those close to the case.

CHINA: Further Update - Three Christian Students Released; Two Teachers Still in Prison After Youth Camp Raid 21 July, 2009 China Aid Three of the five Christians arrested on July 13 in the Christian youth camp raid in Tengzhou  city, Shandong province, were released on July 20 after serving seven days  of administrative detention. The three released Christians are all students. The other two Christians still being detained are teachers. They each received 10 to 15 days administrative detention and are still serving their sentences in Tengzhou City Detention Center.  The five Christians were among 28 Christians arrested on July 13 when town police and State Security Brigade

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officers raided a Christian youth camp in Hubin town, Tengzhou city, Shandong province. Authorities confiscated the Christians’ property, including projectors, musical instruments, mobile phones, Bibles and other items. The police interrogated, threatened and beat Christian youth in the Hubin police station, then released the majority of Christians. However, the five Christians who organized the camp, were detained, and were not given food or water for almost two days. The two Christian teachers who are still being held.

CHINA: Legal Center Closed; More Than 50 Lawyers Lose Licenses 22 July, 2009 China Aid On July 17, Chinese authorities shut down a legal research center a week after revoking the licenses of more than 50 lawyers in Beijing. Several of the center’s founders and lawyers are part of ChinaAid’s Legal Defense Team, which helps persecuted house church Christians. Some of the Legal Defense Team members include Dr. Teng Biao, Attorney Zhang Xingshui and Attorney Li Heping. According to Radio Free Asia, 20 officials from Beijing’s Civil Affairs Bureau arrived at the Open Constitution Initiative (Gongmeng) legal center, questioned employees and confiscated computers. The authorities claimed that the center had not paid taxes, which the center denies. The center was fined 1.4 million yuan ($200,000 USD), and shut down two days later. Open Constitution Initiative researches public welfare and offers legal aid, and has represented many human rights victims in cases against the Chinese government. Attorneys from Open Constitution Initiative claim that the closure of the legal center is “purely a crackdown and retaliation with political motives.” This action is the most recent in a series of attacks against human rights lawyers in China. On July 10, ChinaAid president Bob Fu spoke before a Congressional-Executive Commission on China roundtable Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) regarding the recent crackdown on human rights attorneys in China.

CHINA: Trial Date Set for Taochuan Church Leaders’ Administrative Lawsuit 24 July, 2009 China Aid Shaanxi– The trial date for the administrative lawsuit against Luonan County Public Security Bureau of Shaanxi Province has been set for July 29. Taochuan Village Christian Church leaders, Liu Caili, Huang Sumin and Xu Fenying, filed the lawsuit against on the grounds that their detentions, fines and the authorities’ confiscation of books have no legal basis. Christian attorney Wu Chenglian will represent this case in court.The three Christians were arrested on June 14, when officers came to their homes and businesses and forcibly escorted them to the police station without presenting identification or official summons. Liu Caili and Huang Shumin were sentenced to 10 days of detention and Xu Fenying was given five days of detention. In the lawsuit, the Christians state: 1) the charge was not based on facts, because the Christians gathered spontaneously to study the Bible, not in the name of a social organization 2) the administrative penalty had no legal basis because the Chinese Constitution guarantees freedom of belief, and 3) the authorities violated the legal procedure because they did not present identification or summons papers. Authorities arrested the Christians as the latest in a series of actions to shut down their house church, and confiscate the church building. The authorities have targeted the church because the Christians have been advocating for justice for peasants in their village.

VIETNAM: Vietnam police detain 18 Catholics after clashes 22 July, 2009 AP Hanoi, Vietnam - Clashes broke out after Catholics erected a makeshift place of worship in central Vietnam on a site where American bombs destroyed a church during the Vietnam War. Communist authorities detained 18 people. The confrontation started Monday when about 150 Catholics built the structure intended for religious services on the site of the Tam Toa church, which was destroyed by U.S. planes in 1968, Father Pham Dinh Phung said Wednesday by telephone from Quang Binh province. "The police beat the Catholics, and some of them were bleeding," Phung said, adding that officers dismantled the makeshift church and took away the cross. Police released two 15-year-old girls but the 18 others remained jailed, he said. "We strongly protest the beating and arrests of the Catholics and demand their immediate release," Phung said. Tran Cong Thuat, deputy governor of Quang Binh, denied police beat anyone. "There were clashes between the Catholics and the local residents," he told The Associated Press by phone. "Police were there just to keep order." People on both sides suffered minor injuries including several police officers, Thuat said. The provincial government turned the Tam Toa church site into a Vietnam War memorial in 1991, Thuat said. Catholics have since been forced to hold religious services at a house nearby but have pushed for a new church, Phung said. "Church leaders met with provincial government officials about a year ago and they promised to give us land, but so far they haven't kept their words," he said. Thuat said the local government has recommended five places for the site of the new church, but Catholic leaders have not agreed on any. The communist government confiscated much of the Church's property after taking power from the French in 1954 in what was then North Vietnam. Monday's dispute was the latest between Vietnamese authorities and the Catholic Church since disagreements of over land in the capital Hanoi last year. Several Catholics were arrested after knocking down a section of a wall surrounding one piece of property and setting up an altar and a statue of Virgin Mary.

TURKEY: 'Deep State’ Suspected Of Silencing Witness; Two key figures in Malatya murder trial again fail to show despite court orders. 21 July, 2009 Compass Under the pretext of recovering from medical treatment he received earlier this month, a key suspect in the murders of three Christians in southeast Turkey dodged court for the second time, further stalling the legal process, prosecuting attorneys said. Journalist Varol Bulent Aral, one of the suspected “middlemen” who allegedly incited five young men to brutally murder Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske at the Zirve Publishing Co. in Malatya two years ago, again failed to show at a hearing on July 17. The three Christians were bound and tortured before they were murdered on April 18, 2007 at the Christian publishing house, where they worked. Suspects Salih Guler, Cuma Ozdemir, Hamit Ceker, Abuzer Yildirim and alleged ring-leader Emre Gunaydin were caught trying to escape from the scene of the crime. Aral was admitted for mental health treatment a few days after the last hearing in June and was released from the Adiyaman penitentiary hospital on July 8. The gendarmerie, however, failed to produce him in court on Friday (July 17) claiming that he was recovering from treatment. Last time [in June] they said they couldn’t bring him because of insufficient funds,” said prosecuting lawyer Erdal Dogan. “This is unacceptable… now in the same way they make excuses, saying they took him to the hospital. It seems they are mocking us, especially since previous health reports said that he was in good health.” Prosecuting attorneys also pointed out that it was suspicious that Aral was admitted to the hospital only days after a court order that he appear at the July 17 hearing.

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“It seems to us that they are trying to silence him by making him evade court,” said prosecuting attorney Dogan of the “deep state” officials that he and his colleagues believe masterminded the murders of the three Christians. “I truly hope that is not the case.” Charged with high-security cases, the gendarmerie are holding Aral, but some believe the gendarmerie and its intelligence services are connected with Turkey’s “deep state.”

UK: Christian doctor is axed from panel over failing to back gay adoption 20 July, 2009 Daily Mail Kettering, UK - A doctor has been removed from an adoption panel because she refuses to endorse applications by homosexual couples. Dr Sheila Matthews, who is a Christian, was told that her beliefs on gay adoption were incompatible with equality legislation and council policies. The paediatrician had asked to be allowed to abstain from voting in cases involving same-sex couples. But that led to her being barred from the panel altogether. The married mother of one said she had been 'made to pay for being honest and upholding my personal integrity'. 'I don't feel that placing children for adoption with same-sex couples is the best place for them,' said the 50-year-old doctor. 'As a Christian, I don't believe it's an appropriate lifestyle and I don't believe the outcomes for children would be as good as if they were placed with heterosexual couples.' Dr Matthews said men and women brought different skills to parenting, with mothers more nurturing and fathers more challenging. She said children of gay adoptive parents would be more likely to be bullied. 'Professionally and personally I cannot recommend placement in a same-sex household to be in the best interest of a child, despite what politicians may have legislated for,' she said. For the past five years she has analysed medical examinations of prospective adoptive parents on behalf of the panel to establish whether the candidates were healthy enough to provide longterm care for a child. Dr Matthews would then take part in the vote to decide if the candidates should be approved. In the past, Dr Matthews had abstained from votes on same-sex parents. But in February a homosexual couple applied to the panel - the first to do so following the introduction of equality legislation at the end of last year. Dr Matthews was happy to interpret for the panel the couple's medical assessments but was barred from participating after saying she would abstain from voting. Northamptonshire County Council told her she had been replaced on the panel because of the ' significant problems' her views created for the adoption service. In a letter she was told that her stance went against complying with the law and would not help the council attract the widest range of suitable adopters. She has appealed against the decision and says she may be forced to go to an employment tribunal on the grounds of religious discrimination. The Christian Legal Centre is backing her case and has referred it to Paul Diamond, a leading religious rights barrister.

UK: Gallery’s invitation to deface the Bible brings obscene response 23 July, 2009 Timesonline.Uk ( Photo: Untitled 200, the Bible exhibit on which visitors are invited to write) A publicly funded exhibition is encouraging people to deface the Bible in the name of art — and visitors have responded with abuse and obscenity. The show includes a video of a woman ripping pages from the Bible and stuffing them into her bra, knickers and mouth. The open Bible is a central part of Made in God’s Image, an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (Goma) in Glasgow. By the book is a container of pens and a notice saying: “If you feel you have been excluded from the Bible, please write your way back into it.” The exhibit, Untitled 2009, was proposed by the Metropolitan Community Church, which said that the idea was to reclaim the Bible as a sacred text. But to the horror of many Christians, including the community church, visitors have daubed its pages with comments such as “This is all sexist pish, so disregard it all.” A contributor wrote on the first page of Genesis: “I am Bi, Female & Proud. I want no god who is disappointed in this.” Top of FormBottom of FormThe Church of Scotland expressed concern, the Roman Catholic Church called the exhibit infantile, and a Christian lawyers’ group said that the exhibition was symptomatic of a broken and lawless society. The exhibition has been created by the artists Anthony Schrag and David Malone, in association with organisations representing gay Christians and Muslims.

UK: Church leaders have accused the Government of giving preferential treatment to the Muslim community because of ‘political correctness’ 20 July, 2209 Assist Anglican Parishes in England are being starved of state funds to help the poor as a result of money being diverted to other faiths, senior clergy have told the General Synod, which is meeting in York. According to a story by Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent for Britain’s Daily Telegraph (, “A report endorsed by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, claimed that the Government had become ‘unbalanced’ in its approach to faith groups. “It argued that the determination of ministers to tackle Islamic extremism in the wake of the London bombings on July 7, 2005, had led to a preoccupation with Muslim communities at the expense of Christian groups. “Subsequently, the report said, churches are facing a challenge to maintain their presence in poor parts of the country.” The story went on to say that the report's co-author, the Rt. Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, said that the Church of England had applied to the Department of Communities and Local Government for money to “enable us to support parishes.” “It seems as if political correctness by Government may defeat us,” he said, adding that the Church was ideally placed to help improve social cohesion.

UK: Christian Nurse in United Kingdom forgives her kidnapper 21 July, 2009 Assist Lankashire, UK -- The vicar of nurse Magdaline Makola -- who spent ten days tied up and locked in the boot (trunk) of a car -- tells London's Premier Radio she has forgiven her attacker. Thirty-five-year-old Justice Ngema has been sentenced to at least eight years in prison after he used Ms Makola's bank cards to fund a Christmas shopping spree while she lay shivering in sub-zero temperatures last December, according to the radio station's website. Makola was eventually found dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia in Lanarkshire on Boxing Day (December 26) last year. Revd Jim McNaughton from Livingston Baptist Church said Magdaline has been a pillar of strength throughout the ordeal. He told Premier Radio: "Magdaline herself has always been one that was quick to say that she forgives. It's one thing to say it and another to live it, but I believe she has been given the strength through her faith to respect that forgiveness that she needs to give as a Christian. "Her desire is not for one of justice in that sense but one of love for that person as well." When the sentence was handed down to Ngema at the high court in Glasgow judge, Lord Menzies, told him he may never be released from prison. Lord Menzies told Ngema he had put Ms Makola through

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a "truly dreadful physical and mental ordeal on a young woman who had done you no harm at all." Reverend McNaughton said he hopes Ngema will be able to get the help he needs: He said: "My reaction to that is one of gratefulness that justice has prevailed but equally of great concern for the person himself. I think it’s important that he gets the help that is required so that he in turn can be a fulfilled person."

USA: Old churches 'altered' for theaters 17 July, 2009 Old churches make great stages. Which is why you’ll find theater companies like Starry Night Theatre Inc. and Niagara University’s theater department performing in renovated 19th- and 20th-century churches. In 2001, Frieden’s United Church of Christ gifted Starry Night Theatre Inc. with their former church, on the corner of Schenck and Vandervoort streets in North Tonawanda, after they couldn’t find a buyer. The congregation moved to Amherst in 2000 because of declining membership. Don Swartz, executive director, said it cost $100,000 in renovations to convert the church into Ghostlight Theatre. Swartz emphasized the importance of keeping the theatre “church-like” and preserving the original architecture amidst ongoing renovations.

USA: Ten Commandments battle rages on in Midwestern City 25 July, 2009 Assist Fargo, North Dakota - A group of self-described 'freethinkers' has been demanding for years that a Ten Commandments monument on the lawn outside Fargo City Hall, in Fargo, North Dakota, should be removed. Last year, an organization called the Red River Freethinkers sued the city, claiming that the monument violates the constitutional separation of church and state, according to a Star Tribune newspaper report. The city's attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court arguing that the suit should be tossed out because the Freethinkers lacked standing to sue in the first place. An online Star Tribune article by Bob Von Sternberg says that while the Freethinkers argued the monument and the city's defense of it has caused them to feel 'exclusion, discomfort and anger,' the city countered that 'psychological discomfort' hardly gives them the basis to sue. Von Sternberg writes: "This tiff, pitting a group of atheists and agnostics against local officials, is ample proof that the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 ruling on government displays of the Ten Commandments has managed to satisfy neither side. "That ruling said, in effect, that some such displays are permissible if they're primarily secular, while others are not if they're primarily religious." Von Sternberg reports it's a battle that has periodically popped up in Minnesota, most recently a few years ago in Duluth, where the culture war combatants wrangled over a monument on the lawn of City Hall. "That dispute was defused when the monument was moved to private property along the city lakefront," he writes. Currently, Ten Commandment monuments are still displayed in at least seven other Minnesota cities, he said.

USA: Christian Wrestling Coach Sues School, Principal 27 July, 2009 CP A former high school wrestling coach filed a federal lawsuit Monday against a Dearborn, Mich., high school and its Muslim principal a year after being fired. Gerald Marszalek, who coached wrestling for 35 years, claims his contract with Fordson High School was terminated because of his association with a Christian volunteer coach, who the principal accused of converting a Muslim student to Christianity. "We are getting a glimpse of what happens when Muslims who refuse to accept American values and principles gain political power in an American community," said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Law Center, which filed the lawsuit on the former coach's behalf. The law firm is suing for violation of constitutional rights to free speech and exercise of religion, and Michigan laws against discrimination. Marszalek is seeking his back pay, injunctive and declaratory relief, damages, and to be reinstated as coach of the wrestling team. Conflict arose more than three years ago when Marszalek's volunteer assistant, Trey Hancock, held a summer wrestling camp where a Muslim camper converted. According to Thomas More Law Center, Fordson High School principal Imad Fadlallah punched the student who converted and told him he had disgraced his family. Fadlallah ordered Marszalek to ban his assistant from the school and all wrestling events.

MIDEAST – GENERAL : Saving the Islamic World's Christians 25 July, 2009 Huffintonpost Here's a good question. Why do the majority of American Christians remain so oblivious to the increasingly bitter fate of their fellow Christians in the Islamic world? These ancient communities -- many descended from the very earliest followers of Jesus himself -- are under growing siege. From the Middle East to the Sub-continent and Africa, the Islamic world's Christians are being hounded, discriminated against, forced from their homes and in some cases, simply murdered. In Egypt, where machete-armed fanatics have attacked worshipers in Coptic churches, it is still a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity. In Pakistan, Catholic and Protestant churches are frequently torched, Christian businessmen murdered and young Christian girls kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and married off to Muslim men. In Saudi Arabia, where one irate father recently hacked his daughter to death for embracing Christianty, the existence of any churches is strictly forbidden as is the import of a bible or the wearing of a cross. Some foreign workers have been arrested, jailed and deported just for holding Christian prayer services in the privacy of their homes. Even in Islamic countries not strictly run by Sharia law, pressures mount on local Christians to leave the homes they've known for centuries. Iraq's Christian sects, among the oldest Christian communities anywhere in the world, have been directly targeted by terrorist bombs, and Christians are high on the list of those fleeing Iraq's sectarian strife. Thirty years ago, Lebanon was 60% Christian. Since then, an estimated 3.5 million Christians have emigrated, reducing the country's Christian population percentage to barely 25%. Even in the Holy Land, where Jesus once walked, direct and indirect pressures have also led to an increasing Christian exodus from the Palestinian territories. One striking result: Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and once a predominantly Christian Arab town now has an overwhelming Muslim majority. Part of the problem surely stems from the continuing Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the difficulties of living with anti-terrorist walls and barriers. But much of it results from a growing campaign by Islamic thugs to force Christians to sell their property and leave.You can find details of this in a fine article recently written for The Hudson Institute by Palestinian Muslim journalist Khaled Abu Toameh. Between 1948 and 1956 more than 850,000 Jews were forced to flee the Arab lands where their families had lived for centuries. Yet since 1949, the year after Israel's birth, the number of Israeli Arab Christians has grown by an astonishing 345%! It is true that there were periods when the Islamic world was far more tolerant than Europe. The Prophet's followers preached that "peoples of the book" -- Jews and Christians -- could be tolerated. But they were tolerated only as second class, subjugated dhimmis. Jews and Christians were never granted full equality under Islamic rule. And over the centuries, communities of Jews and Christians suffered severe ups and downs. With

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Islamic extremism still on the rise, this is one of the downs. Few Americans seem prepared to connect the dots. Some American evangelical groups like the Washington-based International Christian Concern try to raise the alarm. And America's Copts, especially those based in the New York area, actively lobby against the legal and social discrimination that face their Egyptian co-religionists. Yet most mainstream church groups seem to ignore the threat.

NIGERIA : Ritualists Desecrate Church's Altar in Kaduna 20 July, 2009 Vanguard Nigerian ritualists have re-enacted what was in vogue in Europe in the 18th century when they desecrated the altar of a church located at Kawo, Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Sources at the church, known as Saint Patrick's Catholic Church said the presiding Priest, Rev. Father Augustine Madaki, arrived the church for early morning mass and discovered that the altar section where he usaully offers prayers and preaches to the congregation had been used for other purposes by unknown people. The priest discovered to his chagrin that a part of the altar had been used to burn colour candles and that the environment oozed of unfamiliar strong cent with some parts of the rug burnt. Rev. Father Madaki alerted the church wardens and other members of the congregation who had assembled for the morning prayers and the members went into wailing and lamentation. The priest expressed happiness that the ritualists did not burn the entire rug or even the church and he used the opportunity to pray for the redemption of the souls of ritualists while there was still time. "Let us pray that God will have mercy on whoever must have done this. May God touch him or her and change such persons in the society from bad to good so that they can reap the benefits of true children of God," Madaki who was ordained about 30 years ago said.

Should We Pray For the Persecuted Church?


oday, nearly sixty years after the creation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, discrimination against and persecution of Christians is only increasing. Therefore, we simply cannot put our faith in human institutions that is why the Church at prayer is far more powerful and effective than any human institution. Persecution of Christians is as old as the Church itself. Earlier, when Apostles and Believers were persecuted, they reported it to the believing community and they all turned together to God in Prayer. God was addressed as Sovereign Lord. The rulers may claim authority but are powerless against the maker of heaven and earth. Believers asked God as Sovereign Lord not for protection, but for boldness and power to speak out in the name of Resurrected Jesus to spread the Gospel. Power and confidence in the sovereign power of God, is still a source of great strength for the people of the Lord. The persecution caused the early church to draw even closer together. It stimulated not only prayer but also the willingness of each to help meet the needs of others. Jesus has indeed freed us to put persons before our material possessions.

Therefore, we, as a believing community, turn together to the Sovereign God in Prayer

The Church which grows in love and unity has as its basis a faith marked by suffering and persecution.


Prayer Groups Help Enrich Prayer Life And One’s Closeness

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