Religious Liberty MonitoringThe Government of Sudan continues to wage war against its non-Arab, non-Muslim people, with the aim of annihilating the predominantly Christian Nuba peoples of oil-rich South Kordofan. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is waging a full-scale terrorist insurgency in the north-east, targeting Christian towns and enclaves, abducting and massacring dozens of civilians almost daily. In Syria, the Battle for Aleppo continues, with Armenian neighbourhoods — in particular Nor Kyugh — suffering endless rocket-fire from rebels, who are mostly international jihadists and Turks. The ISIS has seized control in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh Province, Northern Iraq.
With such serious conflicts raging like fire — consuming churches and whole Christian peoples — it can be easy to overlook or miss new threats rising like smoke signals on the horizon. While we must always be in prayer for Christians in lands where persecution is ‘hot’, we must also be alert to prevent new fires from spreading or even breaking out. A law has been passed in Scotland that raises the prospect of a coming persecution. The Children and Young People Bill includes a mandate that the state appoint a ‘Named Person’ or state guardian for every single Scottish child under 18. It was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 19 February 2014 (103 for, with 15 abstentions) and it received Royal Assent on 27 March 2014.
The scheme should be fully implemented by August 2016. With the aim of’early intervention’, each child will be monitored by a Named Person whowill intervene (i.e. report to the authorities) if they have ‘concerns’ about the child’s ‘well-being’. For pre-school children, the Named Person could be a healthcare worker; for school-age children, the Named Person could be a school teacher. Named Persons will be obliged to report incidents as trivial as a missed doctor’s appointment. Opponents of the scheme regard this as ‘a monstrous invasion’ of private family life that threatens to bring suspicion and mistrust into a whole range of relationships.
It appears to be quite sinister, as home-schooler Alison Preuss points out,’Under the guise of GIRFEC — “Getting it right for every child” — the government is getting information recorded on every citizen.’ The Christian Institute (CI) is preparing a legal challenge, receiving advice from Aidan O’Neill, a senior human rights lawyer and one of the UK’s most eminent QCs. CI has promised to ‘drag’ the Scottish government through the courts ‘in defence of family life against state intrusion’. O’Neil maintains that TheChildren and Young People Bill represents an ‘unjustified interference’ into private and family life while failing to provide proper protection against ‘arbitrary and oppressive powers’.
CI will argue that the legislation breaches the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), specifically Article 8 which guarantees a ‘right to respect private and family life’. A ‘No to Named Persons’ campaign was officially launched on Monday 9 June, at a conference in Edinburgh organised by leading academic Dr Stuart Waiton. Waiton, a sociology professor at Abertay University, laments that the government ‘appears to be blind’ to the law’s dangers. It can be imagined readily how this law could become a weapon in the hands of anti-Christian elements, and all manner of social engineers.This law will turn state employees into informants and conservative Christian parents will be powerless to prevent it.
The law is wide open for abuse. Is a child’s ‘well-being’ threatened by home-schooling; or by parents who are seeking less invasive medical treatment; or by devout parents who teach that Jesus is the only Saviour or that God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman? Are children’s ‘well-being’ at stake if they are set curfews, denied their ‘sexual rights’, and taken to church when they’d rather play football? There are many who would say emphatically ‘yes’. The Christian Institute has so far raised £30,000 to fund the court action. Whilst currently it may notlook like a religious liberty issue, the way is open for it to become one.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL —
* bless the Christian Institute and provide all its needs as it challengesthis flawed law in the courts; may the law be repealed or amended before itdoes serious damage or is used as a model elsewhere.
* redeem this crisis and use this campaign for the awakening of many; may heuse the “No to named persons” campaign not only to expose the flaws in thelaw, but to highlight the responsibilities and preciousness of family lifeas God intended.
* revive and empower the Church in Scotland — indeed across the UK — to be the light and salt it is called to be for the benefit of all.
Source: by Elizabeth Kendall, Religious Liberty Monitoring
TERRORISTS LAUNCH CRUSHING OFFENSIVE AGAINST CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ
An al Qaeda splinter group has seized control of the Iraqi city of Mosul. Terrorists with the Islamic State have been withholding basic necessities such as food to Christians and Shiites in the town, trying to starve them into conversion or death. One worker said that he was warned that if he gave rations to Christians or Shiites, he will be charged and prosecuted according to sharia law.” The Assyrian News Agency has reported that the terrorists have destroyed the tomb of Jonah, and turned Christian areas of prayer into Muslim-controlled sites. They have also torn down the cross above the St. Ephrem Cathedral in Mosul — the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese and put up the Islamic flag in its place.
Christians in Iraq are pleading for Christians across the world to stand side by side with them as they are being crushed. The Islamist militants controlling Mosul have ordered all remaining Christians to leave town immediately or face execution. Christians in Mosul were given just 24 hours to leave the city. There was an immediate and sustained exodus of men, women and children from the city. Some begged for rides with neighbours whilst others tried to get taxis to the nearest Christian villages. They took nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Some reports sugges tChristians have been stopped at checkpoints by militants and had money, jewellery, mobile phones and even medicines confiscated.
While sometimes the terrorists appear to abduct people for ransom, in many cases there have been quick executions. The United Nations report noted that extrajudicial killings had also been carried out by Iraqi security forces and allied militias, and warned that the executions on both sides might constitute war crimes. At least 1,531 civilians were killed in June alone, bringing the civilian death toll in the first half of the year to a minimum of 5,576, according to the United Nations human rights office in Geneva and the United Nations mission in Iraq. More than 600,000 people were drivenfrom their homes during June alone, doubling the number of internally displaced people in Iraq to more than 1.2 million, the report added.
For the displaced Christians, their sudden departure has meant a series of treks—first to nearby Christian villages, already badly overcrowded, then to Kurdistan, a semiautonomous region of Iraq where there is more tolerance for Christians. As the Christians leave Mosul, the terrorists have painted the Arabic letter that means “Nazarene”, a word used to refer to Christians, on their homes. Next to the letter are the words, “Property of the Islamic State of Iraq.” The militants have also told Muslims who rent property from Christians that they no longer need to pay rent. Reports from the Kurdistan region said a Christian family attempting to pass through a local checkpoint were forced out of their car by terrorists, had their belongings confiscated, and ultimately forced to continue their journey on foot.
Many Christians have expressed a sense of utter abandonment and desolation as well as a recognition that the sound of curch bells mingled with the Muslim calls to prayer, the ultimate symbol of Mosul’s tolerance, would likely never be heard again. It is a sad time for Christians. According to Patriarch Louis Sako – one of the most senior Christian clerics in Iraq -Christians from Mosul “are on their way to the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan.” The patriarch explained that the number of Christians in Mosel was as high as 60,000 before the US-led invasion of 2003, but after this past weekend, he says, “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.” This is an urgent call to the Church worldwide to rise up in prayer.
• Please pray for all Christians who have fled Mosul and those who are being forced out of other areas of Iraq and Syria by Islamic terrorists. Pray they reach their destinations safely and that they are welcomed with understanding. Please pray for spiritual strength for all Christians in Iraq, that they will trust God’s plan for their nation.
* Pray that more Christians in unrestricted nations will become aware of the plight of Christians in Iraq and become actively involved in petitioning their Governments to stand against the increasing persecution of Christians in the Middle-East..
* Pray that the terrorists and their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, would encounter the risen Christ and repent.
POPE FRANCIS SAYS DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN TO RETHINK PRIESTLY CELIBACY
Pope Francis has opened the door for a debate on priestly celibacy. Fresh off the back of his historic trip to the Middle East, the Pontiff delved into one of core Catholic Church rules by declaring it is “not a dogma” that clergy members abstain from sex. “It is a rule of life that I appreciate very much, and I think it is a gift for the church,” Francis told reporters aboard a plane returning to the Vatican. “But since it is not a dogma, the door is always open.” While Vatican watchers are sceptical that the Pope’s remarks signal that a dramatic change is imminent, many say the fact that Francis is so openly amenable to dialogue on the issue is significant in and of itself.
“I think the real change is that he is allowing a conversation about celibacy which John Paul II and Benedict weren’t interested in having,” said Thomas Reese, senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. “They did not want any discussions of it. What Francis is saying is if people want to discuss it, he’s not going to stop it.” This is not the first time Pope Francis has spoken celibacy – he made similar statements while Archbishop of Buenos Aires and after his elevation to Pope, his secretary of state noted that it “is not an institution.” That’s because while celibacy among Catholic clergy has been around for 1,000 years, it is considered a man-made rule which can be altered – rather than dogma, or unchangeable.
“He is allowing a conversation about celibacy which John Paul II and Benedict weren’t interested in having” Still, celibacy is an oft-debated subject – especially given that Anglican and Protestant priests are allowed to marry. When New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was Archbishop of Milwaukee, a number of priests in his archdiocese penned a letter to the head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops blaming a shortage of priests partly on the fact that clergy could not marry. There are also some critics who, in the face of widespread sexual abuse of children by priests, have argued that sexual frustration may be partly to blame.
Francis, in some of his harshest language to date on that scandal, said aboard the papal plane that sexual abuse by clerics is “like a satanic Mass.” “We must go ahead with zero tolerance,” he said. Francis has opted to focus more on areas such as pastoral outreach and helping the poor than cultural flashpoints like abortion and gay marriage. Still, his openness todialogue could belie a willingness to shift tack. “Pope Francis is clearly open to discussing anything,” Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said. “The man is very open to discussing any ideas and coming to a greater understanding … I think his idea is that this brings people to understanding.”
UNITED KINGDOM FEARS TROJAN HORSE ISLAMIC TAKEOVER OF SCHOOLS
The British government has announced that schools will be required to teach “British values.” The news comes after Islamists took over several schools in the United Kingdom. This alleged plot to turn British faith-based schools into Muslim training academies has been dubbed “Operation Trojan Horse.” “Individuals with a religious motivation have taken public money and basically created religiously motivated schools that promote intolerance,” Islamic expert George Igler said. The decision comes at a time when Britain was already in an uproar over the explosion of Muslim halal food in the nation’s food supply and after revelations that several Muslim sex gangs around Britain were using English girls as sex slaves.
Whether it’s food or schools, Islam is advancing in Britain. Islamists want to conquer the United Kingdom. “Look, we have around 100 Sharia courts in this country,” Anne Maries Waters, who runs Sharia Watch UK, said. “We’re the only Western country with a functioning network of Sharia tribunals and councils. They’re dealing with marriages, divorce, even with criminal matters. They’re marrying children,” she said. In Birmingham, with its large Muslim population, authorities say Islamists were turning schools into centres of extremism. For instance, in one school the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast across the school playground, and non-Muslim teachers were forced out.
“In the most serious cases, a culture of fear and intimidation has taken grip since the schools were last inspected,” Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools for England, said. Michael Gove, British secretary of state for education, told parliament this will not happen again. “Schools that are proven to have failed will be taken over, put under new leadership, and taken in a fresh, new direction,” Gove said. “And we will put the promotion of British values at the heart of what every school has to deliver for children.” The fact that Muslims are in a position to take over several schools shows the growing influence of Islamic radicals in Britain.
TWO PRAYING TEEN NIGERIAN SISTERS ESCAPE KIDNAPPERS
Two teen-aged sisters who were abducted and held as slaves by notorious terrorist group Boko Haram were miraculously rescued recently. Their story is a testimony of God’s knack of using whoever is “willing” to carry out His will. According to a report from Mission Network News, the terrorists who invaded the home of sisters Kamka and Naya forced them to march to a remote location and subsequently enslaved them, telling them they were going to beforced into marriage. Naya said, “If we refused to cooperate, we would be killed. The man whom I was forced to marry, took me.” The report quotes the girls as saying they subsequently cried and prayed together.
To their surprise, two weeks later, a Muslim woman reportedly “took pity on them, showed them an escape route and told them to run away.” But the sisters’ miraculous connections didn’t end there. Upon taking the escape route suggested by the compassionate woman, the girls “knocked on the door of the first house they came to, praying the owner would be friendly. Although he was Muslim, the report notes, “the man took pity on the girls.” He reportedly fed them, allowed them to bathe, and then had his sister take them to a Christian village where they were re-united with their family.
Sixty-five percent of the 200 pro-life candidates identified by the Life Institute for Election 2014 went on to win seats in the local Irish elections, a result described by the organization as “very positive and hugely significant for Election 2016.” Life Institute spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain confirmed that 130 candidates who her group identified to voters as pro-life were elected, and that she expected several others to be added to that number when a postponed count had been completed. “This is a very positive result, and it is, of course, hugely significant for Election 2016.
We saw that voters were looking for the best way to cast their pro-life vote and that identifying pro-life candidates in the constituencies allowed voters to make informed choices about their local representatives,” she said. “Our feedback from candidates and canvassers right around the country from Dublin to Donegal, Mayo to Mallow, confirms that the pro-life issue was raised by voters and was an important factor in how they cast their vote,” she said. “Raising the level of awareness for pro-life voters is hugely important, and we’ll be increasing our reach on this for the next election.”