Friday, June 8, 2012

Final Ruling Awaited in Kuwait Death Sentence for Insulting Islam

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

WASHINGTON, DC (ANS) -- Kuwait's ruler has rejected a bill passed by parliament on Wednesday that approves the death penalty for insulting Islam.

International Christian Concern (ICC)  says the decision, however, may be overridden by the parliament and follows the recent conviction of a Kuwaiti man sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on Monday for mocking Islam on social media.

ICC sais religious freedom advocates are concerned that blasphemy laws are the greatest threat towards religious minorities, especially Christians, in Kuwait and throughout the Middle East today.

In a media update, ICC says Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, sent a bill back to parliament on June 6 that stipulates the death sentence for Muslims who insult Allah, the Qu’ran, Muslim prophets, or Muhammad’s wives.

An ICC spokesman said: “The bill, initially passed by an overwhelming majority in parliament on May 3, also stipulates that Christians and other non-Muslim minorities will be given a minimum prison sentence of 10 years for the same offense.

“While the emir has the power to refuse bills, the elected assembly can override the rejection by passing the bill again by a two-thirds majority vote.”

ICC went on to say that only two days before the emir rejected the amendment, Hamad Al-Naqi, a Shiite Muslim, was given a 10-year prison sentence by a lower court on June 4 for allegedly cursing Mohammad on the social networking site Twitter in March.
In a similar case, Kuwaiti writer Mohammad Al-Mulaifi was sentenced to seven years in jail with hard labor in April after he published remarks deemed offensive to Shiite Muslims. If the bill is passed, many Kuwaitis facing trial for similar charges might be executed.

“The Kuwait Parliament seems to be seriously intending to bring Kuwait back to the Middle Ages,” writes Anna Mahjar-Barducci for the Gatestone Institute.
“As well as introducing the death penalty for blasphemy, the Kuwaiti MPs have suggested banning swimsuits and requiring women to wear headscarves in public,” she said.

ICC explained that at present, blasphemy is considered slander or libel under Article 111 of Kuwait’s Penal Code and carries up to one year's imprisonment and a fine.
The organization says that if the new amendment is enacted, Muslim defendants that repent in court following their first offense will be spared capital punishment, but will be given a five-year jail term or a fine of $36,000, according to an Agence-France Presse (AFP) report. A second offense will warrant the death penalty.

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said: “Bans against blasphemy are increasingly being enforced and expanded not just in Kuwait, but across the Middle East, to crush the fundamental freedoms of religion and expression. The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ that toppled oppressive dictators throughout the Muslim world is now giving rise to another form of tyranny – Islamist-dominated governments that criminalize blasphemy to silence dissidents and stifle freedom of speech and worship.”

He added: “These laws will embolden radical Muslims to commit violent acts against perceived blasphemers which, inevitably, will primarily target the Christian community and non-Sunni Muslim minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox. We urge Kuwait’s parliament to protect the freedoms of all Kuwaitis by rejecting an amendment that would constitute a breach of the country’s international human rights obligations.”

ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.
For interviews, contact Aidan Clay, Regional Manager for the Middle East: 

** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter

Free Asia Bibi campaign launched by British ‘Electo-pop’ music group

By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

UNITED KINGDOM (ANS) -- An all-out media blitz has been started to raise awareness for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother of five children who has been sentenced to death by hanging for defending her Christian beliefs.

Ooberfuse Electo-pop group 'Free Asia Bibi' campaign logo.
According to , the *Free Asia Bibi* campaign includes the release of a song titled *Free Asia Bibi*, a music video and an informational website, created by Christian electo-pop band, Ooberfuse.

The music video features a disturbing visual portrayal of the squalid prison conditions where Asia Bibi is being held. She is the first woman in Pakistan’s modern history to be sentenced to death by hanging.

Ooberfuse band member Hal, said: “When we were invited to be involved in this project we knew very little about the life and significance of Asia Bibi. We started reading all of the press accounts of her trial and condemnation to death.”

Ooberfuse stumbled across Asia Bibi’s autobiography, which had been written in French with the help of a journalist.

They then set out to translate it to English and were horrified by the profound injustice of her situation.

In the last paragraph of the autobiography Asia says: “Now that you know me, tell those around you what is happening; let them know about it. This is the only chance I have of being freed from this dungeon.”

Cherrie, the front-woman of Ooberfuse stated: “We want the world to not just hear her story, but to do something about it! - If you’re based in the UK, please join us outside the Pakistan embassy on Thursday, June 14.”

To learn more about Asia Bibi please visit:  

Watch the Ooberfuse video at  

The song can be downloaded at:

All proceeds to be donated for the benefit of Asia Bibi’s family via the British Pakistani Christian Association.

** Michael Ireland is the Senior International Correspondent for ANS. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. While in the UK, Michael traveled to Canada and the United States, Albania,Yugoslavia, Holland, Germany,and Czechoslovakia. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China,and Russia. Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International of P.O.Box 1649, Brentwood, TN 37024-1649, at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can make a donation online under 'Donate' tab, then look for 'Michael Ireland Media Missionary' under 'Donation Category' to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.' Michael is a member in good standing of the National Writers Union, Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Newswriters Association, Evangelical Press Association and International Press Association. If you have a news or feature story idea for Michael, please contact him at: ANS Senior International Reporter

Chinese Authorities Kidnap Pregnant Woman, Threaten Forced Abortion

Photo Courtesy Aljazeera

Christian NewswireCHANGSHA CITY, China, June 7, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- ChinaAid has learned that Ms Cao Ruyi (37) was dragged from her home and beaten on the morning of June 6th by more than a dozen Chinese family planning officials. The mother, pregnant with a five month old child, was accused of violating China's "one child" policy because she and her husband, Mr. Li Fu, already have a six year old daughter. According to Mr. Li, his wife is being detained at the Maternal and Child Health hospital in Changsha city, the capital of Hunan province. Family planning officials are threatening to forcibly abort Cao Ruyi's pregnancy in the next 24 hours if she does not voluntarily consent to an abortion. Both the husband and wife want to keep their baby and are refusing to cooperate.

Mr. Li said he was beaten by security officials on the way to the hospital, as his wife was being dragged to there.

Bob Fu spent one hour talking with the family planning office chief of the pregnant woman and was trying to persuade her to have mercy. She was very stubborn and told Bob Fu unless the couple pay about US $23,500(RMB150,000) according to the "law" for a "social burden" fee, she and her colleagues will "try their best for as long as possible to let her abort the baby voluntarily."

The phone number of the hospital is +86-731-8433-2238 and address is No. 53 Xiangchun Road, Changsha city, Hunan province.

"President Hu Jintao promised the world that forced abortions in China did not exist, but they do occur frequently and are an assault on millions of Chinese women and their families," said Bob Fu , ChinaAid's President. "Such barbaric acts cannot continue to occur in China without international condemnation and action. We urge diplomats in China, and the global press, to call attention to Cao Ruyi's case and help protect her and her unborn child."

The blind self-taught lawyer Mr. Chen Guangcheng had fled to New York city with his family last month after years severe persecution because he exposed the atrocities of forced sterilizations and forced abortions driven by Chinese government's notorious One Child Policy. But who will stand inside China to follow Chen's legacy and defend those women and children's rights?

Injuries Severe after Bauchi, Nigeria Suicide Bomb Attack

Islamic extremist bombing, alleged military shooting, kill 21.
By Abdias Pasoville
Harvest Field Church Damage
BAUCHI, Nigeria, June 7 (Compass Direct News) – Amid allegations that soldiers were responsible for at least eight of 21 deaths after the suicide bombing of two churches here on Sunday (June 3), sources told Compass that most of those injured from the blast and alleged military shooting were in critical condition.
A statement reportedly from the Muslim extremist Boko Haram sect claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of the Living Faith church in Yelwa, a Christian settlement on the outskirts of the northern Nigerian city of Bauchi. The blast also collapsed a wall of the nearby Harvest Field Church of Christ, leaving three people in critical condition. 
Of 61 people taken to Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital Bauchi after the blast, 38 were in critical condition, a staff member told Compass on condition of anonymity; the other 23 have been treated and sent home. Church leaders said at a press conference on Monday (June 4) that 45 Christians were considered injured.
 Johnson Elogva of Living Faith church 
“Twenty-five out of these were injured by the bomb blast, while 20 sustained various degrees of injuries from the gunshots by soldiers,” said the Rev. Lawi Pokti, chairman of the Bauchi chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, who said the military shot eight Christians to death.
The Nigerian military has yet to respond to the allegations. In similar church attacks in Nigeria, Christians angry that their brethren were being killed in the presence of security agencies have been shot for refusing military orders to leave.
Lamenting that Christians have been attacked and killed without provocation, still Pokti beseeched Christians to refrain from seeking revenge.
“We also wish to call on all Christians to remain calm and not to embark on any act of reprisal or vengeance, as this will constitute a criminal act and a violation of the teaching of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said.
Johnson Elogva, associate pastor at Living Faith, said most of the injuries were severe.
“Most of our members are critically ill in the hospitals,” he said. “Some with first degree, second degree burns.”
Mbami Godiya of Harvest
 Field Church of Christ
Elogva said many of the church’s 2,000 members were traumatized, but that the battle belonged to the Lord.
“Like the Lord told Jehoshaphat not to go out and fight, so we too believe that the Lord will fight for us,” he said. “These terrorists believe in chariots, but we trust in the Lord.”
The pastor had completed the first worship service at 9:15 a.m. and had begun the second service when the congregation heard a loud blast that shook the sanctuary, he said.
“The glass windows were shattered, the roof of the church building was shaking and almost collapsing on us,” he said. “Our church members were scattered, and they were running and jumping through all available entrances out of the sanctuary. There was smoke and fire all over outside.”
Mbami Godiya, pastor of nearby Harvest Field Church of Christ, said 10 members of his congregation were injured – three critically – when the blast collapsed a wall of his church building.
He saw two cars being screened at the security point in front of the church compound, the second one containing the suicide bomber, when he turned his attention away from them, he said.
“Suddenly, there was a loud bang which brought part of my church building down,” Godiya said. “Our church became very dark as fire engulfed it. In the midst of this darkness and the cries from the members of my church, I shouted and called for calm, and asking them to lie down in case there were multiple explosions.”
The pastor said he saw the hand of God in that no one from his congregation died.
“Ten of my members who were injured were taken to the hospital,” he said. “Seven were treated and discharged, and three are still in critical condition.”
Most of the people from Living Faith who died had ended their morning worship service and were leaving the building, he said.
“They were all passing by the security check-point by my church when the explosion occurred,” Godiya said.
The government had sent security agents to keep watch over the churches based on threats to the area, but Godiya faulted the government approach.
“They should have mounted security check-points far away from the churches, but they came and mounted such check-points close to our churches, and that was the reason the bombers were able to get close,” he said.
Literally meaning “Forbidden Book” and translated as “Western education is forbidden,” Boko Haram has targeted churches, state offices, law enforcement sites and some moderate mosques in its effort to destabilize the government and impose a strict version of sharia (Islamic law) on all of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north. The percentages may be less, however, as those practicing indigenous religions may be as high as 10 percent of the total population, according to Operation World.
Five victims of the bombing were buried yesterday (June 6), amid weeping and wailing.
Buried at Christian Cemetery in Yelwa at 12:30 p.m. were Irmiya Hassan Dodo, 67; Joseph Kehinde Aiyedipe, 30, a student of the Federal Polytechnic, Bauchi; Samuel Olusegun, 16, student of the Divine International School, Bauchi; Augustine Effiong Ita, 32, an adolescent health specialist; and Suru Gbamgboshe, a final year student of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
Gauis Biyal, pastor of Living Faith church, urged mourners at the service not to seek revenge against those who think they are fighting for God by killing Christians.
“Vengeance belongs to the Lord; vengeance belongs to Jesus Christ who was persecuted for our sake,” Biyal said. “It is He that can fight on our behalf. He knows what to do. If we try to do it ourselves, we will die in the process.”
*** Photos of Harvest Field Church of Christ, Johnson Elogva of Living Faith church and Mbami Godiya of Harvest Field Church of Christ are attached for subscribers, to be used with credit to Compass Direct News. A high resolution photo is also available; contact Compass for transmittal.
Copyright 2012 Compass Direct News

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Christians in Pakistan Allege Seizure of Graveyard

Retired military officer said to be taking advantage of marginalized minority.
By Murad Khan

Photo courtesy Barnabasaid
LAHORE, Pakistan, June 6 (Compass Direct News) – Christians in a village in Punjab Province are fighting to save their decades-old graveyard from being converted into farmland by a retired army colonel, sources said.

Because of the military man’s influence, police have refused to address the complaint by Christians of Bhondary Wala village in Narang Mandi in spite of orders from senior administration officials, the sources said.

Rehmat Masih said that Col. Farrukh Alam has claimed ownership of 150 acres of land and has threatened area Christians if they did not vacate it. The graveyard, which was established before the partition of Pakistan and India, had already shrunk to about a third of its original size after the retired colonel dug a boundary around it.

Masih said Christians approached Narang Mandi police after Alam desecrated Christians’ graves on April 24, but officers refused to register their complaint. Masih filed an application before Punjab Additional Home Secretary Asif Bilal on May 8, who referred it to Additional Superintendant of Police (SP) Sheikhupura Waqas Ahmed, saying, “Please help these individuals. Minorities are marginalized segments of our society and need our assistance.”

Masih said the SP summoned Narang Mandi Police Station head Razakar Hussain Shah and handed him the application for registration of a First Information Report (FIR), but that the FIR has yet to be registered.

The retired army official acknowledged that the land originally had been designated as a Christian graveyard, but that the land was declassified as such and sold in 1983.

“Presently there is no such specification, yet the graves are there,” Alam told Compass.

He said he found out the land belonged to him a few years ago.

“I specified a boundary for their graveyard, limiting it to three kanals [505.857 square meters] about two years back, while the remaining land is being used for agricultural purposes,” he said.

Alam denied that he had desecrated Christian graves, alleging that the Christians were being used by a member of the Ahmadiyya Islamist sect, considered heretical by many Muslims. He claimed that “the Ahmadi” was using the Christians to oppose him because he never treated the sect member as a genuine Muslim.

Provincial legislator Khurram Gulfam, a member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said that he had asked his uncle to let the Christians use the land for their graveyard, but that the retired colonel insisted in taking possession of it.

Masih said Alam was threatening him and other village Christians, and that the dispute was stoking religious tensions in the area. On May 11, around 100 area Christians reached Lahore to protest against police inaction.

The impoverished villagers returned to their village after receiving yet another assurance that the administration would look into the matter.


Copyright 2012 Compass Direct News

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ailing mother evicts children for following Christ

Laos (MNN) ― A brother and sister in Laos were recently expelled from their homes because of their faith in Christ, reports Voice of the Martyrs, Canada.

The 18-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter were blamed for their mother's extreme illness. Village elders claimed that the spirits were displeased because the two Christians were in the house.

The duo's older brother even tried to convince them to recant their faith in Christ so as to heal their mother. When the two believing siblings refused to do so, their ill mother accused them of hating their other brother. She threw their belongings out of the house and told them to leave.

The two siblings immediately moved to a Christian village where they originally heard the Gospel, where they were welcomed with open arms, according to VOM.

Pray for these two brave Christians who have been forced from their family for the sake of Christ. Pray that they will have opportunities to share the message of Jesus with their family.

Laos is comprised of only 1.9% evangelical believers, according to the Joshua Project. The Open Doors World Watch List places Laos as the 12th worst nation in its persecution of believers out of all nations worldwide. There is a long history of evictions and other persecution throughout Laos, especially in the last couple years.

To learn more about the persecuted Church in Laos, please visitthe VOM Canada Laos Country Report. To post a prayer of support for these siblings, click here for the Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Uptick in Church Closures, Attacks in Indonesia

Anti-Christian incidents on track to surpass last year’s increase, group says.
By Vishal Arora and Victor Ambarita
 Rev. Esakatri Parahita of the GKI Yasmin church
JAKARTA, Indonesia, June 5 (Compass Direct News) – The number of violations of Christians’ religious rights in Indonesia reached 40 in the first five months of the year, nearly two-thirds the amount of anti-Christian actions in all of last year, according to the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum.
The Christian minority in Indonesia faced 64 cases of violations of religious freedom last year, up from 47 in 2010, said Theophilus Bela, president of the group. Bela said he was worried about the growing incidence of violence and church closures, as his group recorded just 10 anti-Christian incidents in 2009. There were 40 such incidents in 2008, he said.
At least 22 churches have been forced to close this year, including 18 in the Singkil regency of Aceh Province that were sealed last month (see, “Harsh Era Looms in Aceh, Indonesia,” May 16), as local authorities either sided with or came under pressure from extremist Islamist groups in this Southeast Asian archipelago that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, according to Bela.
The closures in Aceh followed last month’s election of a hard-line Islamic governor. Bela said that after his organization’s intervention the closed churches in Aceh began worshipping again on May 13, but unconfirmed reports indicate other churches in the area have since been forced to close.
Violence against Christians has also increased, with most incidents taking place in areas surrounding Jakarta and Singkil, said Bela, who is also secretary general of the Indonesian Committee on Religion and Peace, a group that promotes inter-religious dialogue.
Besides a May 17 incident in which 600 Islamists hurled bags of urine and ditchwater at about 100 members of the Philadelphia Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi, near Jakarta in West Java Province (see“Islamist Mob Throws Urine on Church in Indonesia,” May 23), local authorities closed down a small Pentecostal church about 15 miles west of Jakarta in Tangerang city, Banten Province, after members of the radical Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) attacked it on April 14, Bela said.
It was the second attack this year on the Gereja Pentakosta di Indonesia (GPdI) church by FPI extremists, driving 38-year-old pastor Abraham Boys into hiding and forcing him to seek asylum in the United States, Bela added.
Earlier, local authorities in Padang, West Sumatra Province, revoked the building permit of a Catholic church, St. Ignatius, telling the congregation to move to another location, Bela said. On March 21, public officials raided the church building under construction, forced laborers to stop and fenced the area with barbed wire.
Church leaders, however, refused to move to a new location, and authorities later allowed them to continue to worship there, Bela said.
A few days earlier, Bela added, unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets at the building of the Indonesia Christian Church (locally known as the GKI) in Indramayu, West Java Province, about 100 miles east of Jakarta. While no one was killed in the March 16 incident, it terrorized the Christian minority.
In Pangkal Pinang, in Bangka-Belitung Province, authorities have refused to grant a permit to construct a Catholic seminary due to opposition from local Muslims, according to Catholic news agency UCAN. Officials suggested the Catholic Diocese of Pangkal Pinang stop construction and move the building to a neighboring village, though clergy said they had previously submitted all necessary applications. 
Another GKI church, known as the Yasmin Church, has also been denied permission to meet for worship at its church site despite a favorable Supreme Court order. (, “Indonesian Mayor’s Defiance Said to Show Government Weakness,” Dec. 19, 2011.)
Local Christians complain that the impractical requirements of a 2006 decree, the Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship, provide the pretext for Islamic extremists and officials to close churches, revoke permissions and delay building permits. It mandates religious groups obtain the signatures of at least 90 members and 60 area residents, as well as approval from the local religious affairs office.
Lamentations in Bekasi
Over the laments of wailing church members, the municipal government of Bekasi sealed three churches in February because they had not yet fulfilled the requirements of the Joint Ministerial Decree.
In Mangseng village in Perwira Town, Bekasi, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Jakarta, the Batak Protestant Church Kaliabang (HKBP), Merciful Christ Church of Indonesia (GKRI) and a Pentecostal Church in Indonesia (GPdI) were closed on Feb. 11 because they did not have building permits.
In the week leading up to the closures, the Rev. Demak Simanjuntak of the HKBP Kaliabang church gathered leaders from the three congregations, and they decided to collect the signatures required by the Joint Ministerial Decree – the 90 members and 60 neighbors who are not members.
“Even this is understood differently by different parties – they wanted the 60 neighbors to be Muslims, even though the decree does not specify,” Simanjuntak said.
At a tense meeting with Bekasi officials on Feb. 10, the Rev. Hotman Sitorus of the GKRI church cried and begged to be given two more days beyond the planned closure date, as the church had planned a year in advance a special service on Feb. 12 for the confirmation of 24 people and the baptism of one, besides the taking of Communion.
“However, the government did not grant it to us,” Sitorus said.
Hearing that their churches would be closed on Feb. 11, the primarily female congregations had gathered at their respective sites by 8 a.m., praying and crying, before some 1,000 police officers sealed the three buildings. Over the wailing of the women, Bekasi officials read an announcement of the sealing; they did not give a copy of it to the church leaders.
“All of the members and the elders were deeply struck because all of their efforts had not produced a result,” Sitorus said.
The three congregations are still worshipping outside their buildings – the HKBP in a field next to its building, the GPdI congregation sitting on newspapers in front of their building and the GKRI members in homes.
Sitorus said his 150-member GKRI church has since secured 90 signatures of members and 60 signatures of area residents and submitted paperwork to town, district and Bekasi governments, only to have Bekasi officials return the application, saying it needed to be verified by local block captains. The building permit has not yet been granted.
“I entreat the area government not to make the process of granting a building permit for our church difficult,” he said.
The pastor of the GPdI Bulak Perwira Kaliabang Tengah, the Rev. Hotman Sinaga, said the congregation had been holding services without problem since 1997. Then in 2011 his church and the other two congregations began to receive opposition from a group from outside their area of Kaliabang.
“We had been slack in applying for a building permit because we had been able to worship peacefully,” he said.
Sinaga suspects that problems can be traced to the election of a new block captain, who belongs to a hard-line Islamic group.
“May the Lord touch and bless those who are against the presence of our church,” he said.
Sinaga too submitted a building permit application to the Bekasi government with the required 90 signatures of members and 60 signatures of area residents. As churches in Indonesia often find, there has been no response by the local government.
The general secretary of the Indonesian Fellowship of Churches, pastor Gomar Gultom, said the church should continue worshipping even though the local government has sealed their building.
“According to Article 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, the government guarantees the right to persons of all religions and faiths,” Gultom said. “Because of this, no person can deny another the right to worship.”
Gultom encouraged congregations to worship each week without fear.
“It is true that when Christians are restricted, they spread,” he said.
Copyright 2012 Compass Direct News

Tens of Thousands to Protest Religious Rights Violations in Unconstitutional HHS Mandate in Cities Coast to Coast

CHICAGO, June 5, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- This Friday, June 8 at noon local time across the country, tens of thousands of Americans in over 150 cities coast to coast will take to the streets in public protest against the controversial HHS Mandate during the second nationwide Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally.

The Stand Up Rally will be held at federal buildings, Congressional offices and historic sites in such cities as Chicago, New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. The full list of rally sites is available at (Some rally start times vary, check website for time, location and local contacts).

The date for the Stand Up Rally was chosen to highlight the HHS Mandate's unconstitutional infringement of religious freedom, coming just weeks before the highly anticipated ruling on Obamacare from the U. S. Supreme Court, expected at the end of June.

"If Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional, we must ensure that religious freedom will be protected in subsequent health care legislation" explained Stand Up Rally national co-director Monica Miller.

"But if Obamacare is not struck down, we'll be sending the federal authorities a clear message that the faith based institutions and private businesses affected by the HHS Mandate simply will not comply with it."

"The federal government has no business defining the scope of religious ministry," said Miller, referring to a "religious exemption" in the HHS Mandate drawn so narrowly that it excludes such religious institutions as Catholic schools and hospitals.

The June 8 Rally will take place on the 223rd anniversary of the day James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to the 1st Congress, including what would become the First Amendment.

"The First Amendment's historic safeguard of our most basic freedoms is now under attack by the Obama administration's HHS Mandate," said Stand Up Rally national co-director Eric Scheidler. "On June 8, 2012, we will stand up for the First Amendment and demand that all our health care laws respect religious freedom."

Scheidler and Miller have built a coalition of 65 religious and civil rights organizations -- including the Alliance Defense Fund, Association of Mature American Citizens, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Freedom for Americans, the National Black Pro-Life Coalition and the Thomas More Society -- devoted to overturning the HHS Mandate.

The Stand Up for Religious Freedom Coalition held their first rally on March 23, with over 63,000 citizens of all faiths attending local rallies in 145 cities. Twenty-eight Catholic bishops, along with scores of Protestant and Jewish religious leaders participated in the first rally.

With the Supreme Court's Obamacare ruling coming and the November elections in sight, the June 8 Stand Up Rally is expected to even larger crowds with 75,000 people or more across the country.

For more information visit 

Sunday proves deadly in Nigeria

(Photos courtesy Open Doors USA)

Nigeria (MNN) ― Sunday was a bloody day in Nigeria.

Nigerians were reeling from news that there were likely no survivors from a plane crash in Lagos, when news about a suicide bomber striking Bauchi hit. Carl Moeller withOpen Doors USA explains, "Swallowed under the news of the plane crash was the news that there was another suicide bomber at a church in Northern Nigeria, in Bauchi. Apparently, at least 10 others were killed and 30 injured in that attack."

No one claimed the attack, however, the hallmarks point to the group that's been wreaking havoc among Christians this year. Moeller notes that "it's just another one of a series of attacks orchestrated by Boko Haram, an extremist terrorist group that is directing their violence against Christian in order to exterminate them from the northern  part of Nigeria."

Authorities say the attacker rammed through a checkpoint before detonating the bomb at the gate of Living Faith church. The attacked was timed to maximize casualties as members were leaving an early morning worship service. 

Eyewitness told Compass Direct News that the explosion also brought down a wall of the adjacent Harvest Field church.

Boko Haram last struck in late April, killing 22 people in two separate incidents. The group's name means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's predominantly-Muslim north. Moeller says, "It literally puts almost a dividing line through the center of Nigeria, with the southern half being predominantly Christian and the northern half being predominantly Muslim. The Christians in the north obviously face extreme pressure to conform to Sharia law."

The sect's targets have included churches, often attacked by suicide car bombers. Why? There's a bigger picture than control over land. Moeller says, "Boko Haram has been at the forefront of calling for the eradication of Christians from this part of Nigeria and ultimately, from all of Nigeria. This is a very dangerous group, and I think people of America need to be aware of how utterly destabilizing this group is to a country that has the most populace in Africa."

A grab for power? It's at least a distraction for the current government. Moeller notes, "The reality is: this is the kind of violence that they want to precipitate across the entire country." More concerning is that it doesn't look like it will stop with just the North being under full Sharia. It's the kind of violence that president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathon, is facing spreading throughout the rest of the country."

Moeller says there are also concerns that Christians will strike back. On May 42, church leaders issued a final warning and issued demands for protection. Will this attack be the "tipping point?" Moeller says they're still encouraging believers not to give in to retaliation. "Violence in response to violence only produces more violence." However, he goes on to acknowledge that "the question here is, 'At what point is enough, enough?' You take whatever steps necessary to protect your family, your church, and your community. I think that point is drawing very close where the Christians of Nigeria are going to be making responses and retaliation."

Despite the Boko Haram's call for jihad, there's a bright side to this story. "The church is growing remarkably rapidly in Nigeria. Also, our co-workers continue to be extremely bold in their witness. This also is not only producing pain, suffering, and fear among Christians, [but] that fear is often being replaced by boldness, and it's also producing desperation in the Islamic community."

Pray. There is a deep, spiritual hunger growing throughout Nigeria. Believers have an opportunity like never before to bring the hope of the Gospel into play. "When Christians are being persecuted and they continue to show love to those who are persecuting them, that is the most powerful witness: the truth of the good news of Jesus and that there is a spiritual hope to be found in Jesus, despite all of this suffering."

You can see more of what Open Doors is doing in Nigeria through the Featured Links Section of our Web site.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pingdingshan, Henan Province Prosecution Case Escalates, 7 Christians Arrested for 'Cult' Crimes

PINGDINGSHAN, HENAN, China, June 4, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- In an alarming escalation of a Hebei province persecution case in in which more than 200 police and government officials surrounded and raided a house church meeting and apprehended more than 50 believers, ChinaAid has learned that seven of them have been formally arrested for "cult" crimes.
After the Daying village house church, in Rendian town, Ye county, in the city of Pingdingshan was raided on April 14, eight of the 54 Christians who were taken into police custody were criminally detained after an investigation. They were being held in either the Ye county detention center or the Pingdingshan detention center.See our previous report online.
ChinaAid has just learned that one of the eight detainees was released, but the remaining seven have all been formally arrested and charged by the Ye County Public Security Bureau with "organizing a cult to undermine law enforcement."
Qi Siyu, from Fuxin, Liaoning province, was released after her friends paid 3000 Yuan (US$470) in unspecified fees. Qi is about 18 years old and is an orphan.
The seven charged with cult crimes are:
Han Hai, male, aged 60, previously administratively detained twice, was also sentenced to a labor camp for three years, now held in the Ye County Detention Center.
Hu Linpo, from Singapore, male, aged 49, the house church's main preacher, was detained in 1989 for 30 days. Criminally detained on April 18 and is now held in the Ye County Detention Center.
Yang Lianbin, male, aged 23, working in Zhengzhou. Now held in the Ye County Detention Center.
Zhang Mian, female, aged 37, owner of the home where the church meets. Criminally detained on April 20, now held in the Pingdingshan Detention Center.
Cao Xia, female, in her 50s, owner of another home where the church meets. Police seized from her home CDs of Hu Linpo preaching and a computer used to make copies of the sermon CDs. Police also confiscated a Chinese-made Liebao SUV parked outside Cao's home that belonged to a Christian man who was there to listen to the preaching. Cao was criminally detained on April 20 and is now held in the Pingdingshan Detention Center.
Wang En, female, in her 20s, taken from Cao Xia's home, said to have helped make copies of Preacher Hu's sermon CDs. Held in the Ye County Detention Center.
Li Dan, female, in her 20s, taken from Cao Xia's home, probably for copying CDs. Held in the Pindingshan Detention Center.
The families of Preacher Hu, Zhang Mian and Wang En have already signed documents hiring lawyers for their detained family members.
ChinaAid is deeply disturbed by and strongly condemns the serious escalation of this persecution case. Blind activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng, now in the United States, recently called on the United States and the international community to focus diplomatic attention on legal reforms that matter most to Chinese citizens, not just those that benefit global trade. 
ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu said, "We are shocked by this new wave of persecution against China's house churches. The 'cult law' has already been used to detain tens of thousands of individuals, often without trial or due process. Now it is increasingly being used to target Protestant 'house church' gatherings."
He added, "Our independent investigation finds that these house church members who are under arrest have not done anything wrong nor anything illegal. They are being persecuted for nothing more than the exercise of their right to religious freedom by peacefully gathering to worship God. We urge the international community to pay close attention to this case so that those who have perpetrated this persecution are held accountable."

As Genocide Passes One-Year Mark in Sudan's Nuba Mountains, IRD Urges Pressure on U.S. Government

Nuba Mountain People of Sudan

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of renewed attacks upon the Nuba Mountain people of Sudan. Victims of brutal genocide in the 1980s-90s, the Nuba are again under attack by Sudan's National Congress Party (NCP) government, based in the capital of Khartoum. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and displaced since Khartoum began attacks on the region on June 5, 2011. Currently 500,000 people are at risk of starvation, cut off from aid by Khartoum.

Sudanese forces continually have bombed Nuba Mountain villages and burned homes, schools, and churches. The regime's Islamist militia, the "Popular Defense Force" staged a house-by-house purge of black, African Nuba. Church leaders particularly were targeted. Tens of thousands have fled to refugee camps, others are hiding in caves.

IRD is urging church members to press the Obama Administration into action. Cross border aid from South Sudan must be delivered before the rainy season cuts off access. The northern Islamist regime also has violated the international sovereignty of South Sudan, as well as continuing attacks on disputed border regions and Sudan's other marginalized people groups.

IRD Religious Liberty Program Director Faith J.H. McDonnell commented:

"Sunday, June 5, 2011 an e-mail informed me that war had begun in the Nuba Mountains. Sudan Armed Forces and militias deployed troops using heavy weapons, tanks, and a military air base. 'We need quick action from the USA and the international community before another genocide occurs in the Nuba Mountains,' it warned. It is a moral outrage that the United States and the world have ignored this cry for help for an entire year.

"One week after demonstrations started in Cairo's Tahrir Square, President Obama urged President Mubarak to step down. Why have the brutality and genocide by Sudan's President al-Bashir not caused Obama to make the same call on Sudan?

"The Arab uprising in Libya began February 17, 2011. By the 26th, the U.N. condemned Gadhafi's crackdown on the rebels as a violation of international law. By March 17, the U.N. had created the kind of no-fly zone for which the Nuba people have been pleading for a year. Not long after, the U.S. was using Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Gadhafi regime.

"The double standard is breathtaking, particularly since Egypt is now in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists."