AUSTRALIAN PRAYER NETWORK NEWSLETTER
- CHRISTIAN BRIDAL SHOP IN USA CLOSES AFTER DEATH THREATS
- REPORT REVEALS THE DEPTH OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION CHILDREN FACE
- PNG ARCHBISHOP CONDEMNS CHILD WITCHCRAFT MURDERS
- CHURCH OF ENGLAND SAYS NO TO CCTV DURING SERVICES
- BERMUDA REPEALS SAME SEX MARRIAGE
- CHRISTIAN REACTION TO DIRE UK MARRIAGE SLOWDOWN
CHRISTIAN BRIDAL SHOP IN USA CLOSES AFTER DEATH THREATS
A Christian bridal shop in Pennsylvania that has faced death threats will shut its doors permanently due to the strong likelihood that a local town council will pass a law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. W.W. Bridal in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, which made headlines in 2014 and again in 2017 because of the Christian owners’ refusal to sell wedding dresses to same-sex couples, has announced that it will close down officially on March 30. Co-owner Lisa Boucher, who owns the store along with her mother and two sisters, said that there are multiple reasons for the family’s decision to close the shop.
Chief among them is the high probability that the Bloomsburg Town Council will pass an ordinance banning stores and other places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation no matter what their religious beliefs might be. Boucher said that the potential ordinance is similar to an initiative that failed to clear the council in 2014. “So what the LGBT community did was got enough people to run for town council, so a law could be passed,” Boucher explained. Boucher said that there will be no religious exemption provided in the ordinance.
“I guess what would happen is that a customer would come in and once we deny them, they would sue us,” she stated. “You know how that goes with other businesses.” In other states, Christian business owners have faced crippling fines that have forced them out of business for refusing service to same-sex weddings. In Oregon, a Christian bakery couple was fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Rather than violate the convictions of their faith by selling wedding dresses to same-sex couples, Boucher and her family made the pre-emptive move to close down and place the future in God’s hands.
In a Facebook post, the shop cited Matthew 19:4 to justify its decision to stay true to traditional biblical principles. “This is the reason we only participate in biblical marriage,” the post explains. “We have the right given to us by God and the Constitution to live our lives according to our faith. We will not be forced by government, local ordinances or bullies to participate in something that goes against our faith.” Another reason for the closure is the fact that so many false reviews on websites like Yelp have made it hard for the shop to advertise and promote the business.
“What they do is go into Google or Yelp and post false reviews. We have been a 1-star since 2014 because they hide all of our positive reviews and highlight the negative reviews,” Boucher said. “These people have not even come into our store. It is really hard to promote the business when there is false allegations out there. They will lie about the fact that they have been here when we have no record of them ever being here,” she added. “They don’t just say, ‘They’re bigots!’ They will do it in a way that makes it look like they have been here and we have denied them or were rude to them or whatever. It’s hard to promote a business when you are being attacked.”
Because of the store’s refusal to sell dresses for same-sex weddings, Boucher and her family have faced a variety of different threats through social media, email and telephone since 2014. People have threatened to burn down their shop and shoot them in the head. Last summer, the shop closed down temporarily because the harassment got so bad. Boucher explained that her family does not have any plans for the future. “We are closing and this is our livelihood,” she said. ” We are resting on God’s Word and trusting He is going to pull us through and open some sort of doors. I am sure He has blessings and will take us to wherever He wants us to serve, whether it be in our church or volunteer locally.”
Source: Christian Post
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REPORT REVEALS THE DEPTH OF RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION CHILDREN FACE
A new report has examined the religious discrimination children face in school. The research entitled Faith and a Future by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), focuses on how children from religious minorities in Burma, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan are treated. It found that despite a child’s right to freedom of religion under international law, students still face verbal, psychological and even physical abuse from students and teachers. It revealed that in some cases are subject to a biased curriculum that fuels religious hatred. Cecil Chaudhry Jr, Executive Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace in Pakistan said religious discrimination is impacting many Christian students.
He said: “We do not have the right to study our own religion in school, whereas Muslims do have Islamic studies as a compulsory subject. We are given the option of taking up ethics as a replacement to Islamic studies, but often you don’t find that provision because most of the schools don’t have a teacher to teach ethics.” CSW said perhaps the most extreme example of biased education occurs in Na Ta La schools in Burma, where Christian children from ethnic states are regularly forcibly converted. Chaudhry added: “There has been hate material that has crept into our textbooks that is biased towards different faiths.”
“That all creates an environment of religious intolerance because the newer generation that is studying those textbooks, if they don’t even recognise the presence of other minorities, how will they even respect those people?” Chaudhry said. CSW’s research said that the psychological impact of abuse children receive at school cannot be overstated. Many interviewees told CSW of the ‘mental torture’ they have suffered as a result of religious discrimination and intolerance in educational settings. One Pakistani woman said: “My elder brother was 13 years old when he had to leave the school due to abuse. Even his teachers used to torture him both physically and mentally.”
The woman said “They used sticks and words and they did not allow him to study. My parents sent him to one of our uncles’ house in another city far away, to complete his studies.” CSW has given a number of recommendations to United Nation member states including formulating and supporting initiatives promoting freedom of religion and belief. “It’s not a short term fix,” Chaudhry told Premier. “It’s a long drawn battle when you have to change the mind-set for the better. Pray for us and for everyone who is trying to provide equal opportunities for members of the Christian community and other minorities to live freely and in peace.”
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide
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PNG ARCHBISHOP CONDEMNS CHILD WITCHCRAFT MURDERS
The Primate of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, Archbishop Allan Migi, has spoken out against the increasing number of alleged witches and sorcerers being killed. He said that the recent killing of a child suspected of being a witch was “strongly opposed to the way of Christ”, describing it as “child abuse in its worst form.” He said: “We strongly call for such practices to cease.” The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, recently visited PNG, and called for “decisive action” by the government to tackle “difficult human rights challenges, including the endemic gender-based violence and horrific attacks against those accused of sorcery in Papua New Guinea.”
“Sorcery and witchcraft-related killing has now become one of the big issues and concerns in Papua New Guinea,” Archbishop Allan said. “Killing or taking away somebody’s life in suspecting him or her as a sorcerer must not be the way to answer or solve the issue. We have the rule of law in the country that the law breakers can be brought to justice and can be punished. “As we understand, most sorcery and witchcraft killings are based on suspicion rather than proof. If we are suspecting that somebody is doing wrong we can report the matter to the law. The wrongdoer can be arrested and brought to justice and be judged and put in jail or be punished.”
He described the practice of sorcery and witchcraft as “evil”; but added that “the killing of a suspect or taking somebody’s life is an act of evil. Both practices are evil in our country which we label as a Christian country.” Last month, PNG’s new police minister, Jelta Wong, unveiled a new police task force to tackle attacks on suspected witches. “It’s not in our history to burn people or stone them for sorcery,” he told Radio New Zealand. “This type of sorcery has become very violent. In the last year or so it’s accelerated so much, we’ve found that there’s an outside influence”.
Wong went on “Most of our people in the villages are not as educated as we’d like them to be, but they seem to follow the trend of information coming in, it’s become a big hassle.” Like every little thing now: even if it’s a proven disease, it takes just one person to get up and say ‘she mentioned this guy’s name’ and they take it out of context; and you’ve got a whole group of people chasing around one person. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.” There has been an increase in sorcery-related killings in PNG in recent months, with observers saying that people are making false claims in order to persuade a mob to attack somebody as a way of settling scores.
Source: Anglican Communion News Service
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CHURCH OF ENGLAND SAYS NO TO CCTV DURING SERVICES
A Church of England court has ruled that CCTV during church services and capturing moments of prayer should not be allowed. St Mary’s Church in Chartham in Kent, applied to have two cameras installed to prevent crime but it has been decided that they must be switched off during service and cannot film in secluded areas meant for prayer. Rev Philip Brown wanted the cameras so that the church could be freely left during the day and maintain the tradition of keeping churches open. However, it’s raised questions about how the right to security sometimes conflicts with the right to people’s privacy in prayer.
Affinity, a group of evangelical churches in the UK have responded to this case, saying they agree that prayer should not be filmed. Graham Nicholls, the Director of Affinity, said: “There may be good reasons for having cameras installed in a church building but observing and recording private prayer times is not one of them. It is intrusive and serves no useful purpose.” He added: “In fact, Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6 that prayer is a private matter between the one praying and God. We do not pray to impress or entertain others but to speak to our heavenly Father. Recording on camera those prayer times, for whatever purpose, runs counter to that idea.”
Graham Nicholls added though that live-streaming may be a good idea though: “There may be particular occasions when people might be sensitive to being recorded and possibly broadcast, such as at a funeral. But usually our meetings are designed to be suitable for anyone to access and participate. It would therefore seem both reasonable and desirable to record these meetings for others to watch.”
Source: Premier News Service
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BERMUDA REPEALS SAME SEX MARRIAGE
Bermuda, a British dependent territory, has passed a law to repeal so-called “same sex marriage”. This makes it the first country in which this kind of social-engineering legislation has been reversed. Only six such “marriages” were officiated in Bermuda, and these will remain recognised as the repeal was not intended to be retrospective. Under the current laws of Bermuda, actual marriages and homosexual civil unions will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities, however homosexual civil unions will not be called “marriages” at law. The Rev. Fred Nile MLC makes the following comments:
* “Bermuda has shown remarkable leadership in the area of repealing bad law. This is certainly an example of good policy that should be emulated by other civilised countries throughout the Commonwealth, and of course, the West.”
* “I was dismayed to read that Teresa May, Tory Prime Minister of Great Britain, allegedly expressed disappointment at the move to repeal so-called homosexual ‘marriage’ in Bermuda. Is she a conservative or not? Isn’t the family unit, which predates the state and is the fundamental constituent of society, worthy of preservation?”
* “While the only thing that has been saved in Bermuda is the name ‘marriage’, it is at least a step in the right direction. What we need to see is a substantive programme of reclaiming and reinvigorating the institution of marriage by returning it to its proper privileged status of a relationship of commitment between one man and one woman for life.”
* “I call on our leaders to follow suit and repeal the recent amendments to our marriage law, which are at odds with natural law and reason.”
Source: Press Release by Rev Fred Nile
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CHRISTIAN REACTION TO DIRE UK MARRIAGE SLOWDOWN
A slump in the number of couples in Britain getting married has been met with dismay by Christian campaigners. New figures released by the Office for National Statistics reveal the number of opposite-sex marriages decreased by 3.4% between 2014 and 2015, to 239,020. Harry Benson, from the Marriage Foundation, a group which promotes marriage as a source of family stability, said: “If you have less marriage, it means less commitment and more family breakdowns. Britain languishes at the bottom of the league table for family stability amongst the developed world. The number of opposite-sex couples getting married has reached its lowest level since records began in the 1830s or 1840s.”
Coalition for Marriage, a group which supports the traditional common-law definition of marriage, said the figures were regrettable and highlighted a need for the Government to better-support marriage via education and the tax system. Campaign director, Thomas Pascoe, a Christian said: “It is a matter of great regret that the number of marriages continues to fall, exactly as we feared. “Unless the Government is prepared to put actions in place of warm words on marriage, we will see this great engine of social mobility become purely the reserve of the better-off.”
Source: Premier News Service
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