FREEDOM FOR CHRISTIANS IN CHINA THE WORST IT HAS EVER BEEN
A Chinese religious freedom activist has said persecution in the country has never been worse, but instead of supressing the sharing of the Gospel, it’s actually helped it. The founder of the Christian human rights charity China Aid, Bob Fu, said over 223,000 Christians were persecuted last year, which is four times more than the previous year. China Aid’s documented Christian human rights violations also doubled last year and the number of people detained reached 3,700. “As a Christian you’re always being seen as a suspicious force,” Fu said.
“Christianity is portrayed as a foreign, western religion, being suspected as a foreign infiltration force to subvert the state power of the Communist Party” Fu said. The crackdown on Christians in China has meant that crosses have been removed from churches, churches have been demolished, and Christians suspected of worshipping at home have been detained. A house church Christian in China’s southern Guangdong province was recently blacklisted from employment after being arrested for his faith. Fu said: “Some officials even stay in Christian homes overnight to prevent the owners from attending secret worship services.”
“We have never seen this kind of extreme persecution since the end of the Cultural Revolution” Fu said. However, Fu said the reason the crackdown has been getting increasingly worse in the past five years is because the number of Christians in China is rapidly growing. He said that according to a secret government document that China Aid obtained after the government launched its cross removal campaign, the purpose is to “contain the overheated growth of Christianity”. Fu added: “When I read that, I was smiling. I said ‘hallelujah’, that means the Communist Party acknowledges there is a fast growth of Christianity, and they are worried.”
“In 1949 there were less than one million Christians, today after 60 years of non-stop persecution, there’s over 100 million. So there’s 100 fold growth despite persecution. “The number of community party members is less than 90 million. There are more Christians than these atheistic party members and it’s a political threat in their eyes.” Fu, who in the mid-1990s was imprisoned in China for illegal evangelism, said the rapid growth of Christianity shows that God is still in control. “God is sitting on his throne and laughing at these Communist leaders. Maybe he will call them to be His servant just like he called Nebuchadnezzar in the Babylonian times.”
MASSIVE PRO-LIFE RALLY IN DUBLIN AS IRELAND SEEKS TO LEGALISE ABORTION
A massive pro-life rally has taken place in Dublin, Ireland signalling a huge opposition to the latest bid to repeal the 8th Amendment and legalize abortion. Ireland still has a majority Catholic population, and abortion has been illegal for hundreds of years. Originally ruled illegal under sections 58 and 59 of the Offenses against the Person Act 1861, an amendment prohibiting terminations was ratified by a referendum held on September 7, 1983. The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland recognizes the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child. Exceptions are made when the life of the woman is at risk, including a risk of suicide.
Now, under new Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, there is a push to ease abortive restrictions. “I certainly think that can all be done within this calendar year, within the lifetime of this Government,” Mr Varadkar said recently. Varadkar said that a referendum is due to be held in May. In the 1983 referendum, 841,233 voted to keep the amendment outlawing abortion, while 416,136 voted to repeal the amendment.”Notwithstanding a few delays along the way, we are actually on track and I am confident that we can have a referendum in May and that would allow us to get legislation through within a matter of months,” Mr. Varadkar added.
“We have been working away on that legislation, the policy paper is already done will be able to publish a draft scheme of general scheme of the legislation, we plan to do that by the end of March and if there is a yes vote in the referendum we would then have a couple of months to get that legislation through.” But despite Varadkar’s optimism, a recent march on the streets of Dublin illustrated the existence of an absolutely massive pro-life community, and they want their voices heard. Crowd estimates varied from “tens of thousands” to 100,000. People travelled from right across the country to attend the march.
Interestingly, the thousands of pro-lifers who marched were people from all different walks of life and political affiliations, united around one central goal, the continued protection of the unborn. As one of the speaker’s put it: “They have awoken a sleeping giant.” It was one of the largest demonstrations in recent years and will certainly go down as the biggest single event of the abortion referendum campaign, according to the Irish Times. “The significance of this will not be lost on the political class. These voters represent a significant percentage of the population.”
DARK DAYS FOR CHINA AS IT ABOLISHES PRESIDENTIAL TERM LIMITS
China’s parliament has approving the removal of presidential term limits paving the way for continued Christian persecution in the country that may worsen. The National People’s Congress’ endorsed the constitutional amendment recently, voting 2,958 in favour with two opposed, three abstaining and one vote invalidated. It means President Xi Jinping can rule indefinitely. Benedict Rogers, East Asia team leader at religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide said the vote is an “extremely significant development, which will in all likelihood mean a continuing crackdown on human rights generally, and religious freedom in particular”.
He added: “The past 5 years since Xi Jinping became president have seen the most severe and widespread crackdown on human rights since the Tiananmen massacre of 1989. We have seen the arrest and disappearance of human rights lawyers, many of whom are Christians or have been involved in defending increasing restrictions on religious freedom, including the destruction of thousands of crosses in Zhejiang province, the destruction of several churches, increasing persecution of other religious groups such as Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists and Falun Gong, and the introduction of new regulations tightening rules on religious practice.”
The amendment overturns a system enacted by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 to prevent a return to the bloody excesses of a lifelong dictatorship typified by the chaotic 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. The constitution had until now limited presidents to serving only two consecutive terms. Rodgers said that now Xi Jinping is President for life and his power-base is strengthened, Christians in China can expect to see “continuing, even increasing, repression”. He added: “These are very dark days for China, with very serious implications for the world.” A number of prominent Chinese have publicly protested against the move, despite the risk of official retaliation.
BOKO HARAM KEEPS CHRISTIAN GIRL WHO REFUSED TO RENOUNCE HER FAITH
Nigerian terror group Boko Haram has released all but one of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were kidnapped last month. The only girl who was not released is also the only Christian among the group. The girl’s name is Leah Sharibu and she is 15 years old. The terrorist organisation reached an agreement with the Nigerian government that there would be no interference with the return. In the early hours of 21st March, Boko Haram drove into the town with nine trucks and unloaded all of the girls, except the five that died during the kidnaping, and Sharibu.
“Her friends said they tried to convince her but she said she will not convert to Islam,” the girl’s mother said. “Boko Haram said since she will not convert to Islam she should remain behind. Leah Sharibu asked her departing Muslim classmates to pray for her. One of the girls who was released confirmed to Nigerian Newspaper The PUNCH, “Leah is still with them because she is a Christian. About 5 are dead but it was not as if they killed them, it was because of the stress.” Religious freedom charity International Christian Concern (ICC) said since the incident in Dapchi, Borno and Yobe states have closed down all boarding schools in order to protect their children.
It’s been four years since the abduction of the 276 schoolgirls from Chibok. There are currently still more than 100 schoolgirls missing from that incident. ICC’s regional manager for Africa, Nathan Johnson said: “This cowardly act has shown that the terrorist organisation truly despises Christians and their faith. We call on the Nigerian government to act swiftly to secure the release of Leah and the remaining missing girls from Chibok.”
EVERY FIVE DAYS A WHITE FARMER IS KILLED IN SOUTH AFRICA
South African farming activists are outraged at the lack of police action following a series of brutal attacks on white farmers. Many in the farming community are disturbed by a newly introduced motion that rules land can be seized without any financial recompense. Critics believe that the proposal to amend the constitution has enabled disgruntled members of the community to invade and steal farmland without fear of legal consequences. Nationalist lobbying group AfriForum has alleged that there have been 109 recorded attacks so far in 2018 and 15 farm murders, which means that one white farmer has been killed every five days this year.
“Our rural areas are trapped in a crime war. Although the South African government denies that a violence crisis is staring rural areas in the face, the numbers prove that excessive violence plague these areas,” said Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s Head of Safety, as reported by Newsweek. A 35-year-old farmer, Gabriel Stols, said that his brother Kyle, 21, was shot dead by four people on a game reserve near Bloemfontein. “What is happening to us is torture, it is slaughter, it is brutal, it is revenge. The world doesn’t know what is happening in South Africa,” he said.
UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT VOWS TO PROTECT PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ
US Vice President Mike Pence has vowed President Donald Trump’s administration will protect persecuted Christians in Iraq. According to a White House statement, Mike Pence spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi by telephone to discuss the “upcoming May elections in Iraq, reports of Iran attempting to meddle in Iraq’s election and government formation, and the need to ensure free and fair elections that include Iraq’s citizens displaced by the fight against ISIS”. In a tweet, Mr Pence also gave details about the conversation.
“Spoke with Iraq Prime Minister about our commitment to protect persecuted Christians in Iraq and the Middle East. Congratulated him on Iraqi Security Forces success against ISIS and highlighted the partnership between them and US military and coalition partners,” he tweeted. The US and UK invaded Iraq 20 years ago and nearly seven years since the official end of the Iraq war, the number of US military personnel stationed in the country continues to steadily decline. However, Christian charities have warned the future of Iraqi Christians remains uncertain despite the Iraqi government declaring victory in the war against so-called Islamic State.
FURTHER WARNING CHRISTIANITY COULD DISAPPEAR FROM IRAQ
An Iraqi priest has issued another warning that the Christian faith could become extinct in his country unless more families are given aid to return to their villages on the Ninevah Plains. Father Salar Kajo from the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC) says while work is being done to provide homes for those displaced by Islamic State, development needs to speed up. The NRC is aiming to rebuild nine Christian towns and villages in the region. It says 37,031 people have returned over the past year but there’s a further 80,000 people still to come home.
“We have to rebuild now, if we take more time families will leave and Christianity will disappear from Iraq,” Father Salar told charity Aid to the Church in Need. “We want to return, to recover our dignity and to work and live as we did before Daesh. This is our land, this is our identity.” He also paid tribute to church groups who have provided millions of pounds in aid and claimed help from the international community has been non-existent.