Christianity Outlawed in Central Indian Villages

Several villages in central India have outlawed the open practice of Christianity—a move of questionable legality yet one that worries church leaders who say it already has encouraged anti-Christian violence.

“The situation is becoming worse. The anti-Christian propaganda is becoming stronger,” Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, told World Watch Monitor on Tuesday. Chhattisgarh is one of India’s 29 states, in the heart of the country.

Pannalal said the village of Belar, in Chhattisgarh’s southeast district of Bastar, convened a Gram Sabha, or village assembly, on July 6 and passed a resolution banning all non-Hindu religious activities.

The Belar assembly, Pannalal said, was an echo to Gram Sabha of representatives from about a dozen villages held May 10 in Sirsiguda village, also in Bastar district. There, the delegates passed a resolution banning the outward practice of non-Hindu faiths.

“To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, the Sirsiguda Gram Sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions,” said the text of the resolution. It contains no provisions for penalties.

“These meetings are held under the Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act,” or Village Council System Act, Pannalal said. He said the councils erroneously believe the act provides a legitimate legal foundation upon which to ban minority religious practice.

“Hindu fundamentalists are using this provision to take the people for a ride to enforce their agenda,” he said. “Their strategy is to use the influential gram sabhas to adopt such controversial resolutions to mislead the locals to believe that banning non-Hindus is well within the law.”

The Times of India, a national English-language daily newspaper, on July 9 quoted a claim by Suresh Yadav, the Bastar district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, that more than 50 villages have adopted similar resolutions.

The Rev. Aneesh Andrews, Methodist district superintend for the region, told World Watch Monitor that after the resolutions are passed, poor Christian families in some villages have been denied government rations of staples such as wheat, rice and sugar, and access to village water sources such as tube wells and common ponds.

“In some places, the passing of the resolution has been followed by attacks on pastors and pulling down of village churches,” Andrews said.

“It is not just passing of a resolution,” he said. “This is a ploy to harass Christians.”

Following the adoption of the multi-village resolution at the Sirsiguda village, 10 Christians—including three pastors—were assaulted by Hindu fundamentalists, according to a report by the Salt Foundation, an Indian religious-freedom organization.

Christians in the villages “were not given access to (rations) due to their religious practices and for not giving donations to the village’s Hindu temple, as reported by our area coordinator,” the foundation report said. “Without the ration cards, they were not able to receive any food from the government ration shop and if they went and bought food from (shops in) the city it would be exorbitantly expensive. This made them raise a concern.”

In two villages, Gadiya and Parapur, Christians have been ordered to leave town “or suffer the consequences,” according to the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, national director of the Religious Liberty Commission for the Evangelical Fellowship of India. The threats, Lal said, have been made by groups containing members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist organization.

“If timely protection and intervention is not provided, there is an apprehension of anti-minority violence,” Lal said in a July 15 letter to Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary Vivek Dhand. Lal also conveyed reports of a Christian man in Kue Mari village who had been ordered to pay a fine. He did, and yet his house was burned down, Lal said.

“Today he is living under a plastic sheet with his family that includes three children and his elderly parents. I humbly request you to please intervene in his situation and provide him some relief and protection,” Lal wrote to Dhand.

The resolutions popping up in Chhattisgarh are the first of their kind, according to Rolf Zeegers, an analyst for Open Doors International, a charity that provides aid to Christians who live under pressure because of their faith.

“Christian leaders fear that the ban will increase suspicion and distrust in the community, generating disharmony and hate that could have disastrous consequences for non-Hindus,” Christians and Muslims alike, Zeegers wrote in a recent Open Doors report.

“Following the ban and the attack on a church being the latest in a string of violent incidents, Christian leaders affirmed that Chhattisgarh is becoming a cauldron of hate mongering against non-Hindus,” he said.

Chhattisgarh law already requires residents to obtain government permission before they can change religions, placing the state among the handful in India with laws restricting conversion. The anti-conversion laws, held up as a tool to defend individuals from being forced to convert against their will, are regarded by religious-freedom advocates as a tool that instead is used to drive minorities into the corners of society. And Chhattisgarh, governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, is particularly fertile political ground for anti-minority abuse, church leaders fear.

“The situation could get worse. We have to be vigilant,” said Purna Sagar Nag, bishop of the Chhattisgarh diocese of the Church of North India. “Right now, it is confined to [Bastar] district; it may spread to other areas.”

“We are planning to take it up with the higher government officials to ensure that this stopped at the earliest,” he said.

The head of Bastar’s district administration, Ankit Anand, dismissed the village resolutions as “legally null and void” documents that aren’t enforced by government agencies.

Legality aside, the chief concern among church leaders is the potential the resolutions have to encourage a climate of impunity toward religious minorities.

Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi has urged authorities to intervene and stop the ban on non-Hindu missionaries in Bastar district. In a statement released to the press, Couto said a ban “violates constitutional rights of freedom of faith, and the freedom of movement, expression” and will have “serious impact on the secular ethos of India, and damages its international reputation.”

“Though it could be considered as just another ban on Christian missionaries at the behest of fundamentalist groups and bigoted political functionaries, who are now greatly encouraged, it is a grave assault on the fundamental rights of individuals and peoples’ groups,” he said.

Allowing the bans to stand, the archbishop said, would encourage extremist religious organizations to wage hate campaigns against Christians, which in turn give rise to organized violence.

Last Christian Forced Out of Mosul after 2,000 Years

Christians have inhabited Mosul for over 2,000 years, but the last Christian fled the Iraqi city on Saturday around noon. ISIS militants had demanded that all Christians leave Mosul, convert to Islam or be killed. The ultimatum prompted thousands of people to leave the city; 500,000 have been forced to flee since ISIS gained control of the city on June 10.

Former Mosul residents said that militants forced themselves into homes, stole anything they saw and threatened to kill families inside. The Muslims who remain in the city are now being controlled under strict Sharia law; many Muslims are trying to escape now as well.

 Iraqi Christians are asking for protection from ISIS militants in Ninevah province. Many citizens fear that the insurgent group will continue to attack and are calling on the international community for help.

Massive Attack on Five Churches, Boko Haram Burnt Five Churches, Over 100 Worshipers Killed During Sunday Service.

Five churches, including COCIN, EYN and Deeper Life Bible Church, in Kwada village about 10 kilometres from Chibok town, were on Sunday attacked by Boko Haram insurgents.

The attackers, according to report from locals in Chibok, targeted the time when worshipers were ready for the Sunday Service.

“They killed and burnt houses after attacking worshipers in five churches in Kwada; after that, they advanced to Kautikari, less than 8 kilometres to Chibok town, whey they equally killed people and destroyed properties.

“I’m not sure security agencies have gone to rescue the villagers, but I learnt that the insurgents are still in pursuit of the remaining villagers”, Mallam Yahi told DailyPost.

It was gathered that residents of Chibok town have also fled their homes, following the news of the attacks in Kwada and Kautikari.

DailyPost recalls that few weeks ago, there
was panic in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State, following a letter purportedly written to them by the sect members.

A top local government official in Chibok town, who did not want his name in print revealed this to newsmen in Maiduguri the Borno State capital on Sunday.

According to him, when they met the police with the letter, they were assured of maximum protection.

He, however, said the police were also complaining of fuel for their vehicle.

He said the local government had also assured the security operatives that they were going to buy fuel for them.

He said, “whenever Boko Haram members tell you that they are coming, they never fail to come. Our fears now is that we don’t know when and how they are going to come.

“We are calling for prayers as well as on government to provide us with adequate security in Chibok”.

On the ongoing attacks in the area, it was gathered that a police officer, Peter Maina was called out during Sunday service in Church in Maiduguri, to be informed that his brother was killed at Kwada.

Meanwhile, the Chibok Community in Maiduguri broke into a session of prayer on Sunday after receiving the news of ongoing attacks on the two villages.

The worst places on Earth for Christians

WASHINGTON – Somewhere around the world, another Christian is martyred, on average, every three hours, according to a new report that probably not surprisingly identifies nations where radical Islamists are abundant as the worst locations on Earth for Christians to be. 

The new World Watch List research team for Open Doors International said the majority of the cases in which Christians are killed over their faith happen in Nigeria, Syria and the Central African Republic.

“The alarming increase of violence against Christians in Nigeria over the past months highlights the lack of religious freedom they have and the daily dangers they face from the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and other violent Islamic organizations,” David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, said.

Organization CEO David Curry added, “Going to school, attending church or identifying yourself as a Christian is a very brave decision in Nigeria. It is turning into a bloodbath. Christians in the West must stand in the gap with our prayers and support.”

The report looks at the nations where there is the most violence, up to and including murder, against Christians.

It is based on attacks between Nov. 1, 2012, and March 31, 2014, and lists Nigeria, Syria, Egypt, Central African Republic, Mexico, Pakistan, Colombia, India, Kenya and Iraq, in that order.

Observers might be surprised to find North Korea, the 2014 World Watch List’s No. 1 worst persecutor of Christians, absent from the Top 10 Violence List.

“When it comes to counting the numbers of Christians martyred, it is impossible to get an accurate number for North Korea,” said Jan Vermeer, Open Doors field worker for North Korea. “This is not because there are no Christians being killed for their faith. It is a fact that thousands of Christians are starved, abused and tortured in North Korea’s extensive prison system. But due to an inability to derive sufficiently accurate figures about the reasons for killing Christians in this most secretive society, North Korea is excluded from the total number of killings.”

In all countries where Christians are persecuted, researchers recorded 3,641 churches and Christian properties destroyed and 13,120 other forms of violence against Christians such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests and forced marriages.

Playing God, UK Will Offer Sex-Change Drug to 9-Year-Olds

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service is planning to offer sex-change treatment to children as young as 9, using a controversial drug that will block the onset of puberty.

Known as hypothalamic blockers, the drugs prevent the development of sexual organs so that less surgery is needed if the patient decides to change sex after reaching adolescence.

The treatment, aimed at youngsters who claim they feel trapped in the wrong body, has come under severe criticism, with Conservative MP Andrew Percy accusing the clinic offering the drug of “playing God.”

Percy says, “I think many people will be horrified at the thought of a 9-year-old being provided with a drug that effectively stops them developing and maturing naturally.”

Speaking on LBC Radio, Christian Concern’s Andrew Marsh highlighted his reservations, saying, “It’s tragic that children, perhaps as young as 9, are going to be confronted with a choice to take the first step on a journey that could have huge consequences on their lives. It is deeply irresponsible that children as young as 9 are at risk of ideologically driven experiments.”

Police Investigate Church After Poster Warning About Hell

6/2/2014 

Police have investigated a Baptist church over a poster which suggested non-believers would burn in Hell.

A 20-year-old passer-by complained the sign did not tally with the message “love thy neighbour.”

The poster read: “If you think there is no God, you better be right” with a picture of burning flames below the words.

Pastor John Rose of Attleborough Baptist Church in Norfolk, said the poster was an attempt to get people to engage with the Christian message and he regretted that it had been interpreted as inciting hatred.

A police spokesman said national guidance required them to investigate the complaint that the poster was offensive and the matter had been recorded as a “hate incident.” After talking to the police the poster was taken down.

Church of Scotland Considers Ordaining Homosexuals

The Church of Scotland is discussing ordaining gay people as ministers during its annual General Assembly. The conversation will extend through Friday reports Christianity Today.

In last year’s meeting, church leaders decided that the Church of Scotland would not support same-sex marriages, but it would permit gay men and woman to be ordained. The decision sparked some congregations to break off and form the anti-gay Free Church.

This week, most of the large Stornoway High congregation left the Church of Scotland in favor of the Free Church.

“Sadly our congregation could simply not identify with the general direction the Church of Scotland is headed in, and the sensible option was to leave,” said former session clerk Christopher Martin.

So far, eight former Church of Scotland ministers have converted to the Free Church.

“The Church of Scotland will say only one percent of congregations have left but its a drip, drip, drip effect. The Church is losing 20,000 people a year and there’s no sign of that trend being reversed; it will only accelerate,” said Free Church minister David Robertson.

In the coming days, the General Assembly will reassess the Church’s endorsement of homosexuality in the church. Reverend Jeremy Middleton will propose that the Church take the stance that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only right and proper context for sexual relations.” It is believed that the Church leaders will not approve of the stance.

Now even Christians in Europe are under threat: Report claims hundreds of attacks on religious grounds.

  • The 2013 report documents 241 cases of intolerance against Christians
  • Includes details of hate-based attacks including arson, graffiti and vandalism
  • One case details when excrement was left on the altar of a French church

By Daily Mail Reporter 19 May 2014

The 2013 report was released on Thursday and documents 241 cases of intolerance against Christians. The voluntary group’s report includes details of hate-based attacks on Christians and their institutions, including arson, graffiti and vandalism.

Study Finds That Prayer Has Physical Healing Effects on the Brain

A new study conducted by a Christian researcher reveals that physical healing can occur as a result of the power of prayer.

Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of research at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and Medical College in Pennsylvania, led the study in which MRI brain scans proved that there is power in prayer or meditation. The study also found that prayer is much like a physical workout for the brain.

“When we look at how the brain works, it looks like the brain is very easily able to engage in religious and spiritual practices. … It only makes sense if God is up there and we are down here that we would have a brain that is capable of communicating to God, praying to God, doing the things that God needs us to do,” Newberg said, according to South Carolina-based WLTX 19.

His MRI studies also found that the result is the same whether nuns pray or monks meditate. In one of his studies, Newberg had older patients with memory problems practice meditation each day for 12 minutes for eight weeks. Their MRI results appeared positive and dramatically different after concluding the experiment. Furthermore, test results revealed that the benefit of praying or meditating can actually shape the brain.

“There are multiple parts of the brain that seem to get involved and it really does look like the brain is easily able to have these experiences,” Newberg said. “It has something to do more generally with how we can improve the function of the brain that these kinds of practices can actually help with.”

Back in 2012, The Huffington Post reported that Newberg conducted another study that found the ways in which prayer and meditation affect the human brain. His research proved that when a person engages in prayer, there is an increase in activity in the frontal lobes and the language area of the brain known for becoming activated during conversation. He found that for the brain, praying to God is similar to talking to people.

To conduct this study, he injected participants with a harmless radioactive dye while they were deep in prayer or meditation. The dye then migrated to the parts of their brain where the blood flow was the strongest.

He concluded that regardless of religion, prayer created a neurological experience among individuals.

“It helps us to understand that at least when they (participants) are describing it to us, they are really having this kind of experience. … This experience is at least neurologically real,” Newberg said.

Israeli Archaeologist Discovers King David’s Citadel – YouTube

Israeli Archaeologist Discovers King David’s Citadel – YouTube.