House burnt down in Kandhamal

December 29, 2011 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india, Orissa, Persecution

House Burnt DowniOrissa, December 28, 2011: Br. Deelip Mallik s/o Lange Mallick is from a village known as Madinata near Baliguda in Kandhamal district had gone with his family for Christmas day worship on 24th December. When he returned he found that his house was burnt down along with his cows and other domestic animal he reared in a shed attached to his house. He has lodged an FIR in the Baliguda police station. GCIC has pursued the matter with district authorities

- persecution

Mirwaiz launches website to check conversion of JK youth to Christianity

December 29, 2011 by admin  
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Mirwaiz Jammu Kashmir, December 28, 2011: Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference (M]) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq today launched a website as part of the efforts by several religious bodies to check alleged conversion of Kashmiri youths to Christianity.

Addressing a gathering of Islamic scholars and preachers, Mirwaiz stressed on the need to use technology and modern equipments for countering conversion attempts, he also urged to strengthen the religious institutions and Islamic banking.

Mirwaiz president of Mutahida Majlis Amal, expressed serious concern over the activities of Christian missionaries and stressed on the need for Baitul Maal committees to help and support needy people.

A pastor was arrested on charges of converting several Kashmiri youths to Christianity last month. After which Muslim leaders in the Valley got together under the banner of MMU and launched a campaign against ‘conversions’ in Kashmir.

Mirwaiz also asserted on the need to form a committee consisting of the financial experts who could well strengthen the Islamic Banking concept in the Valley as Jammu and Kashmir since times is a Muslim Majority state.

Mirwaiz made an appeal to the religious scholars and preachers to play their part in spreading the true meanings of Islam in both letter and spirit.
On the occasion Mirwaiz inaugurated a website ‘http://www.tahafuzeiman.org’ in order to curb the conversion menace in the valley.

He also said that some people with vested interests were hatching conspiracies to allure Kashmiri youth to social evils like liquor.

-tcn

Hindutva activists attack police commissioner office in Hyderabad

December 29, 2011 by admin  
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Hyderabad PoliceHyderabad, December 28, 2011: More than 300 activists of BJP, Hindu Vahini and ABVP attacked the Hyderabad police commissionerate office at Basheerbagh in the guise of (Dharna) protest. They were accusing the city police commissioner A. K. Khan of having prejudiced attitude towards right wing Hindu groups.

The protesters were angry with the city police for arresting the activists of Hindu Vahini group in the case pertaining to the attacks on Muslim youths on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha. Importantly the protest was carried out even after the arrested Hindutva activists have confessed to their crimes.

The protesters were led by BJP MLA and state president G. Kishan Reddy, former union minister Bandaru Dattatreya, former MLAs Bandam Bal Reddy, Indrasena Reddy and city president B.venkat Reddy.

Mr. Bandaru Dattatreya alleged that A.K Khan is succumbing to the pressure from the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and targeting Hindu organizations in a systematic manner. He was referring to the recent arrests of Hindu Vahini activists in relation to the attack on Muslim youths.

“A.K. Khan is targeting Hindu right wing organizations like Hindu Vahini and Bajrang Dal by arresting there activists in false cases. 10 innocent activists of Hindu Vahini have been arrested out which four of them were not even present in the city at the time of attacks on the Muslim youths,” the former union minister alleged.

Karnataka anti-Christian attacks intensify

December 29, 2011 by admin  
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House Ransaked Mangalore, December 28, 2011: Hebron Assembly Church and Pastor’s house ransaked in Mangalore *Church Attacks – Surathkal & Haleangadi *Nativity Crib burnt in Mangalore.Today at about 9.40pm Hindu radicals ranskaed ten year old Hebron Assembly Church at Hallengadi, in Mulki , Mangalore District. The radicals also trespassed into pastor Prasanna’s (40) house and destroyed all the house hold items. The doors and windows of the Hebron church were also badly damaged in the attack. An FIR is lodged in the Mulki policve station.

On 7th April ’11, The incident reported earlier with regard to the Ebenezer Mercy Home in Mulki, near Mangalore, is unravelling itself as a well-planned conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar activists. The systematically planned story goes back to a few days earlier to Saturday, 2nd April, the day when the Women and Child Welfare Department officials and the Mulki police raided the Ebenezer Mercy Home situated on Haleangady- Pakshikere Road, and took into custody 28 children who were allegedly being ill-treated, and shifted them to the remand home. It is learnt now that a couple of days earlier to that a group Sangh Parivar activists had barged into the Mercy Home and threatened Pastor K.J Joy, his wife Elizabeth and their sons Joel and Joby that there had been complaints against them that they had been ill-treating the children and that there was also a complaint of sexual harassment of one of the children. They threatened them with dire consequences.
Please Pray for Karnataka

- mnn

Church Attacks – Surathkal & Haleangadi

Karnataka, December 28, 2011:  How safe Christians/Churches are in Mangalore, Dakshina Kannada with Police apparently joining hand in glove with Bajrang Dal activists in the background of escalating Church  Attacks/Criminal  Assaults on Christian Leaders /Believers at the yearend, 2011.

Case No:1: On 25th December, 2011(Sunday-Christmas Day)) Pr.Suresh, of New Life Church, Surathkal along with his family and a few other believers were invited by one Adiveppa Kashennavar, one of the members of the said Church for a Christmas Dinner Party in his house. At about 8.30 p.m. while having dinner, around 20 persons forcefully entered the house with big stones/sticks/clubs in their hands shouting with abusive language and started assaulting all of them, including women and children, thrashing all over their bodies causing head and chest injuries. Though the inmates of the house told that all of them were there for the Christmas Meal showing them the plates they were eating, the assaulters took the plates and vessels and threw them all around. The assaulters shouted constantly – “Are there Hindus here”? – and continued their assault wounding many of them, some very seriously.

One Jason, got his leg fractured because of the heavy beating with club. Some received head injuries resulting in bleeding. Another Deepak was beaten on the face and his nose began to bleed. One Roshni got beating on the head and was wounded. Though these Christians pleaded with them with folded hands – not to beat them, the assaulters showed no mercy but behaved very cruelly and continued to thrash them. The Pastor’s wife Latha was beaten on her chest with wooden club and was wounded severely. Another Annamma was beaten and was wounded on the head. Another Daniel and others were also badly assaulted. The Pastor was also beaten with clubs while trying to rescue others from their beatings. They left the place shouting that they would kill them.

Out of more than 20 assaulters, two were identified by the Christian brethren – one Theju, who works in Kudremukh Iron Ore Co.(KIOCL) and – the other one – Jagadish, who is attending to the work connected with water supply in the locality. An FIR has been lodged at Surathkal Police Station. All of them were medically treated at Srinivas Hospital, Mukka. One whose leg is fractured is undergoing treatment as an inmate. The Pastor and all others who were wounded are in severe pain in their bodies. It is quite an irony that Srinivas Hospital was inaugurated by none else than our Hon’ble Chief Minister, the same day morning where within a few hours the attack has taken place in that vicinity and the injured were admitted to that hospital.

After the incident, when the police man came to the home to ascertain the details, (as conveyed to us by the Pastor), instead of finding out who the assaulters were, he was asking questions with the injured – 1) When have you become a Christian? 2) How many lakhs of rupees were paid to you for your conversion? 3) How many others you have converted into Christianity? Etc.etc. without even bothering to console the person/s as if he was an agent of Bhajrangdal rather than doing his duty justly. His attitude/questioning is highly objectionable and contrary to the fact of he being a part of law enforcing agency. We wonder, whether our police force needs further training or they are agents of Bhajrangdal for asking these kind of questions, as if he was ignorant of the Constitution.

We have strong reasons to believe that Bajrang Dal fundamentalists are inside the police force and are giving protection to Bajrang Dal rather than doing their duties for which they are paid for. Further, the FIR never mentions the criminal aspect of the case or the Communal Violence aspect, just to aid the culprits to be scot free. Wonderful cooperation of the police with the culprits. We demand a probe into this matter and action to be taken against the guilty instead of covering up.

Case No. 2: On 28th December, 2011 at about 8.20 p.m., when the Pastor ID Prasanna of Hebron Full Gospel Assembly Church, situated at Haleyangadi, Opp. Canara Bank in the Mangalore-Udupi Highway was away, about 10 persons first came with masks on their faces, followed by another 5- 6 persons entered the Church Compound, while Pastor’s wife, his 2 children and his mother, his brother-in-law and one more family friend were praying as usual inside the Prayer Hall. As they had bolted the door from inside, these people broke all the glasses of Prayer Hall. On hearing the noise of the breaking of glasses, the inmates rushed inside the house from within. So, these people rushed towards the Kitchen side, which is in the eastern side of the hall and forced inside and started breaking all the Tube lights, window glasses. When the Pastor’s wife rushed to the living room, the intruders broke open the living room also, broke the Refrigerator, smashed the cooked food/utensils and within 5 minutes they ran away in darkness. The very fact that they ran away in darkness proves the fact that they are familiar with the topography of the land. The home people have observed a Car parked in the nearby field at noon, which was quite a rare sight. About 2 bags of stones were lying on the road side. Within 10 minutes of this attack, the Pastor who had gone out returned only to witness the ghastly incident. The attac kers constantly shouting – we will see how you will continue the prayer/church here.

As this report is being prepared, a complaint has been lodged at the Mulki Police Station by the Eye-witnesses and no FIR is made.

Mr.Seemanth Kumar, Police Commissioner, who rushed to the spot made an on the spot survey, who have also watched the episode which has been recorded in the CCTV installed in the premises.

It may be relevant to point out our previous Press Conferences where we have brought out clearly that police officials from Mulki Police Station, who visited the said Church/Pastor and was pleading with the Pastor that they are under tremendous pressure by the higher-ups to see that the Church is closed Failing which they foresee an attack. This was even brought before the Police Commissioner, as we met him as a delegation of Christian Leaders, who have assured us that needful would be done. But alas, today he himself has personally witnessed the reality.

With the above 2 incidents, apart fdrom many others reported recently by the Press about the attacks on several other Roman Catholic Churches/Institutions, we are afraid, the Police are not able to contain the Religious Terrorism in the District and we Christians continue to suffer.

It may not be out of place to mention the bold public utterance of Dr.Prabhakar Bhat of Kalladka, in one of the recent Public Protest Meeting where he said that Mangalore might see the blood bath if the Central Govt. would bring the proposed bill on Communal Violence. We wonder, whether emboldened by such provocative speeches in such a way, the law enforcing agencies, unable to contain such things till now, the Religious Terrorism is being unleashed on helpless minority Christians. Whether the minority Peace Loving Christians of this District will have protection by the Police Force/the present Government, who makes tall claims of the help they want to give to Christians?

We are forced to demand CBI Enquiry and not by any State Police Forces/Commissions any more as we are beginning to lose our confidence, as citizens of this our beloved country.

- walter j. maben

A Nativity Crib burnt in Mangalore

 

Karnataka, December 29, 2011: Nativity crib burned in an attack in Karnataka yesterday
Catholic authorities in Mangalore yesterday reported two separate attacks on Christian buildings in which a prayer hall was damaged and the crib of a nativity scene was burned.

Fr Ivan D’Souza, a  priest in Karnataka, said he suspected Hindu extremists were behind the burning of a community crib built during a parish-wide holiday competition.

He said they were likely trying to “disturb the peace of the place.”

Regina Fernandes, who lives near the site of the attack, said she heard dogs barking at about 3 am yesterday morning.

“We saw the crib on fire and rushed outside and tried to put out the fire. In the morning we saw kerosene and petrol bottles in the crib.”

Meanwhile in Haleyangad, a group of about 12 unidentified people hurled stones and broke window panes at a Protestant prayer hall belonging to Hebron Church.

ID Prasanna, the local pastor, said the attackers also damaged three motorbikes parked near the church, and that closed circuit cameras had recorded the attackers fleeing the scene.

He added that local police commissioner Seemanth Kumar Singh had visited the hall and assured him that a complete investigation would be conducted.

Yesterday’s attacks follow an assault on a group of Christians on Christmas Day.

Donald Menezes, head pastor of the New Life Fellowship in Karnataka, said about 15 people attacked members of the fellowship while they were dining in a private home.

One of the victims sustained a fractured leg in the attack, he said.

“We condemn the continued attacks on Christians,” he said following the incident.

- francis rodrigues

China Crackdown On Christmas Celebrations Of House Churches *Iran Security Forces Raid Christmas Celebrations; Pastor, Wife Detained

December 28, 2011 by admin  
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China Map BelieverChina, December 27, 2011: One of China’s largest house congregations planned to hold its last outdoor worship service on Christmas Day in the capital Beijing after months of detentions, while elsewhere several congregations were raided by Chinese security forces as part of a Christmas season crackdown, local Christians and activists said.

In comments, monitored by Worthy News Saturday, December 24, the Beijing-based Shouwang Church said it would for the last time publicly worship in the open air because authorities detained dozens of believers and denied access to a building the congregation already bought.

“Shouwang Church had her 37th Sunday outdoor worship service,” last week, however “As Christmas is approaching, each police station puts more force in guarding and watching believers,” the church explained in a statement.

“As far as we know, on Sunday morning, [December 18] at least 35 believers were taken away [by police] for going to the planned location to join the outdoor service, either at the spot or on their way there.”

The church added that “Except for a few believers who were released on the way, most of the rest were sent to 15 local police stations in their respective area. Besides them, five believers waiting outside of Haidian Street police station were also taken into police station to be detained by violent policemen for no reason.”

HOUSE ARRESTS

Hours later, all 40 believers were released. On the eve of the worship service, Shouwang said, many believers were also detained at home” including a sister who was detained in a hotel nearby since Friday,” December 16. The statement suggested that they have been released as well.

China Aid Association (CAA), a group assisting the Christians, said Shouwang was no exception as several house churches have been targeted “As part of an annual escalation of persecution against Christians in China to prevent planned Christmas celebrations from being held.”

CAA said the situation was especially serious in two provinces, including southwest China’s Sichuan province, where police reportedly raided the main house church Friday, December 23, in Gaoxue village in Dazhu county, while believers prepared for a Christmas celebration.

Police allegedly grabbed believers and confiscated the church’s musical instruments. Five believers were taken to the police station, including three believers identified as Gao Qiyun, Li Qiong and Guo Xuying, CAA added. It was not immediately clear whether they would be released before Christmas Day.

Elsewhere on Friday, December 23, in coastal Zhejiang province, members of the Hongtang village house church in Dongyang county, were preparing for their Christmas meeting when they “were attacked” by police. CAA added that the village government, Communist Party officials and representatives from China’s Religious Affairs Bureau were also involved in the operation.

BELIEVERS BEATEN

“In the attack, some believers were beaten, including Brother Luo Sennian, who was punched in the face. The believers were also threatened and told that they must not hold any Christmas celebrations on Saturday, [December 24] which is Christmas Eve,” added CAA, which is in close contact with the Christians.

CAA said it had urged the government to “respect citizens’ right to freedom of religion and their basic right to celebrate Christmas and calls for the immediate release of the five believers and an apology for the believers who were beaten.”

Chinese officials could not immediately be reached, but te government has consistently denied wrongdoing saying Christians can worship freely in state-approved Protestant and Catholic denominations.

Many of China’s estimated 130 million Christians prefer to worship outside Communist government control however, rights groups and local Christians say.

Iran Security Forces Raid Christmas Celebrations; Pastor, Wife Detained

 

Iran PrisonIran, December 27, 2011: A senior evangelical pastor and his wife are spending Christmas behind bars in southern Iran after security forces raided their Assemblies of God-affiliated church, detaining everyone in the building, including children attending Sunday School, a friend of the couple told Worthy News.

“Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz were among those detained in the southern town of Ahwaz Friday morning, [December 23] while they were having Christmas celebrations”, explained their friend, Firouz Khandjani, early Sunday, December 25.

He said security forces pushed dozens of worshipers, including children, into two buses and brought them to a local police station. Most were eventually released, “but the pastor and his wife remain in jail,” Khandjani explained.

Khandjani is a council member of the Church of Iran, a large house church movement, which maintains ties with the Protestant ‘Assemblies of God’ congregation in Ahwas.

He said he expected the couple to be released after Christmas, but cautioned that they will banned from inviting Muslims to their meetings. It was not immediately clear on what charges the pastor and his wife, who are both in their 40s, were held.

“LOOKING FOR CHARGES”

Iranian officials could not be reached. “They arrest Christians and after that they look for charges,” Khandjani stressed. “It seems Friday’s raid was a warning to Christians that they are not secure. They [the authorities] want make clear that the time of protestantism is over in Iran,” he said.

The church in Ahwaz is not a part of the house church movement, but a long-established church whose membership mainly consists of former followers of the Biblical John the Baptist who converted to Christianity, according to Iranian Christians.

“However as [the authorities] they lack information about underground groups, they want to create am atmosphere of fear by detaining even members of tolerated groups,” explained Khandjani to Worthy News. “Ahwas is really known for its persecution of Christians.”

Pastor Farhad was detained previously and warned not to allow Muslim converts into his church.

Authorities have expressed concerns about the spread of Christianity among Muslims in this strict Islamic nation. Khandjani and other Iranian Christians have suggested that this is part of a wider crackdown and that other Christmas celebrations in Iranian churches have also been raided for the last three years.

CHURCH OF IRAN

Khandjani said besides Assemblies of God leaders, several pastors of the Church of Iran were spending Christmas in jail, including Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who received a death sentence on charges of “apostasy” or abandoning Islam.

Two other Church of Iran pastors, Behnam Irani and Petros Furouton, are also held in prison. Behnam is to serve until 2016, Petros until the fall of 2012, and there is still no resolution in Youcef’s apostasy case, Khandjani confirmed.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to remain jailed for at least one year, trial observers say.

Pastor Nadarkhani was detained in the city of Rasht in October 2009, while trying to register his Church of Iran home congregation, with hundreds of members in Gilan province.

The Gilan court sentenced the 34-year-old Nadarkhani to death in November 2010. His appeal against that ruling was rejected on June 27, 2011. The Supreme Court said “he can be executed” but added it would first ask a “re-examination” by the same court that already sentenced him to death.

Amid an international outcry, judges asked Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini for advise. With no opinion forthcoming, the court was told by Iranian authorities to keep the pastor in jail for another year, giving judges time to use all means to make him recant his faith in Christ and convert him back” to Islam, Khandjani said.

RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

Rights activists said in a reaction that the wave of detentions comes as Iranian media published a Christmas message sent to Pope Benedict XVI from Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.

He reportedly congratulated Christians on the “auspicious anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ”, wished “blessing, happiness and prosperity” to the pontiff and all Christians in 2012 and said “the world’s ills were caused by ignoring ethics and justice.”

However Mervyn Thomas, the chief executive of Britain-based advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), told Worthy News he wasn’t impressed with the Christmas message.

“Mr. Larijani’s Christmas message may have been well intentioned, but it is entirely undermined by these arrests, which violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and Iran’s own constitution.”

Iranian authorities have reportedly insisted in previous cases that Christians are being arrested for “indulging” in actions that “threaten public security.”

CHILDREN THREAT?

However, Thomas said, “it is difficult to conceive how children attending Sunday school or, for that matter, legitimate Christmas celebrations fit into this category.”

In as statement, Thomas added that “It increasingly appears as if the Iranian regime has decided to deem every act of Christian worship a threat to national security. If this is indeed the case, then the right to freedom of religion or belief is gravely under threat in Iran.”

Despite the reported crackdown, there are at least 100,000 devoted Christians in Iran, many of them former Muslims, according to conservative estimates, while some church groups estimate that number to be several times higher.

Officially 98 percent of Iran’s roughly 78 million people are Muslims, said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in previous statements.

- worthy news

Best Christmas Ever

December 28, 2011 by admin  
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Christmas1

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. 

   Their father was gone.

   The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

 Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

   I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. 

   No luck.

 The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in t hat had been converted to a truck stop.

   It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.

 She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.
Christmas2

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pyjamas on and the kids would already be asleep

This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meagre wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat.
New tires!
Christmas3

There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.

 Had angels taken up residence in Indiana ? I wondered. I made a deal with the local service station.

In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.    On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box.

Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!

I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

Kazakh government seeks ‘uniform religion’ in new law crackdown

December 28, 2011 by admin  
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Kazakh Church NotbKazakhstan, December 23, 2011: When Kazakhstan’s government introduced two new religion laws in October, no one was sure just how they would be enforced. Although the form of enforcement is still a bit hazy, recent reports indicate that the crackdown is intended to come down hard.

Forum 18 News recently unveiled the contents of a senior state officials meeting that occurred soon after the laws went into motion. State Secretary Kamat Saudabaev apparently pushed the enforcement of the laws as necessity.

“They’re going to be devoting considerable resources to promoting this new religion law that they’re calling ‘progressive,’” explains Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association. “You have to sort of wait and see how this plays out over time, but reading between the lines, it really seems like they’re bound and determined to enforce some uniform religion throughout the country. It’s a particular brand of Islam that I guess is unique to Kazakhstan.”

Up until now, it has been clear that the government wants to rid Kazakhstan of radicalism and perhaps most religion, especially considering the stringent new restrictions on church registration, public prayer rooms, and child participation in religious activities. But the push not for the absence of religion but instead for a uniform religion was recognized in this most recent report.

The government still has yet to make clear just what the enforcement of any part of the laws will look like. Forum 18 found that many churches who have asked government officials what new registration qualifications will look like have been met with silence.

Christians, says Griffith, are just trying to lie low and share the Gospel discreetly so as not to ruffle feathers. They’re deferral is to stay out of politics.

But the major immediate concern is: what could happen–even if festivities are discreet–this Christmas.

“For their churches there, [Christmas is] probably their largest evangelistic season of the whole year,” says Griffith.

Kazakhstan has been unique amid Former Soviet Union nations for the last few decades. It has provided a large measure of religious freedom, and Christians have been allowed to conduct all celebrations without much need for concern. With new laws in place, though, no one is sure what to expect.

“Who knows what’s going to happen this year! We really need to be in prayer about this,” says Griffith. “Pray that the churches will be protected as they seek to reach children with the Gospel.”

To learn more about how you can support church leaders and SGA Christmas festivities–which actually take place January 7–visit www.sga.org . Continue to pray for positive change in Kazakhstan, that believers might be able to share the truth freely.

- mnn

Karnataka situation worsens as Hindutvas strike Hubli & Suratkal

December 28, 2011 by admin  
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Christmas in BangaloreKarnataka, December 27, 2011: Communal forces have struck again, even after the Christmas attacks of Bangalore, Suratkal and in Shimoga. In the evening, Mother Theresa’s statue on the college ground of Fatima High School, Hubli, culprits entered the campus and desecrated the statue by blackening it. They also wrote abuses against Christians on the statue. After the incident came to light, the Christians of Hubli took out a procession and blocked the road protesting against the incident. According to Anandkumar of aicc (Karnataka), the police promised to arrest the culprits soon.
 
Earlier, according to VM Samuel and Jayaraj, in Surathkal, on Christmas day, a believer named Adiveppa invited 12 church members for dinner on to his house in Mandaguri, Kodikkare. They gathered at around 8:30 pm and it began with a small prayer. As they were having food, around 20 or more people entered the house with stones and wooden sticks and attacked the believers. The mob also started abusing the Christians and beat them up, including children and women, while threatening to kill them. Many suffered head injuries and a few of the goons, purposely even hit the woman believers on their chest mercilessly.

After the fundamentalists left, all the injured were rushed to hospital. One believer, who got his left leg fractured and head injured is still in hospital. Many others were given first aid treatment and sent home. The police as usual arrived late and filed an FIR under lesser charges and not as required under the section 320 or under other serious sections , as the violence was against women and children, who were also threatened to be killed.

The CSF Memo to Prime Minister and Union Government on National Anthem

December 27, 2011 by admin  
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JANA GANA MANAMumbai, December 27, 2011: 100 years of Jana Gana Mana – Let it now reflect the aspirations of all
Need to update and translate national anthem to reflect Indian reality

On the occasion of the centenary of the Indian national anthem, The CSF would like to request you to consider changing the the Jana Gana Mana in its present form and have lyrics reflecting the new reality that is India today. The country today is vastly different from the one visualized by Rabindranath Tagore, a 100 years ago, when it was first sung on this day in 1911 at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress. The anthem is written in highly Sanskritized Bengali, which is better identified with the Hindu Brahmin upper caste and a single state, that was the elite class of the day. We today need to reflect the aspirations and myriad identities of disparate castes, religions, cultures, languages, that make up modern India, comprising 28 states, 7 union territories and 22 officially recognized languages. One cannot understand the national anthem, which currently is archaic and needs to be in Hindi, which is the national language. This and multiple translations will make singing it more meaningful”.
 
Besides, only those provinces that were under British rule, i.e. Punjab, Gujarat, Maratha etc. were mentioned. None of the princely states or those which are integral parts of India now, such as Kashmir, Rajasthan, Andhra, Kerala or those under the Portuguese rule, such as Goa or the Arabian Sea were included. Rather, territories like Sindh which is now part Pakistan, find a mention, as India’s Sindhi community jointly opposed the deletion, claiming the word Sindh to be representative of their community. But, the North East, which is an integral part of India, has not been included. Since such small token unifying factors are ignored, the people feel neglected, resulting in insurgency and secessionist tendencies in the region.

Further, “Jana Gana Mana is only the first of five stanzas of a hymn composed and scored by Tagore, at the time of the Coronation Durbar of George V. Some consider it to be in praise of King George V and not god or India, our motherland. A view held by states that Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka implies, King George V is the lord of the masses and Bharata Bhagya Vidhata is “the bestower of good fortune”. This is needless controversy and the records need to be set right. Rabindranath Tagore never stated, who he was referring to, when he penned the national anthem, which in today’s changed Indian scenario, with India not being a monarchy, but a secular democracy, with different religions and even atheism thriving, we need to specify.
 
In view of the above, we urge you to consider our proposal, which is in the interest of a united and strong India, which should be different from that of our neighbours and reflected in the national anthem.
 
- joseph dias, the csf general secretary

Pune, a city of churches

December 27, 2011 by admin  
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city of churchesPune, December 24, 2011: One of the significant aspects of Pune’s multi-culturalism is the presence of more than 80 cathedrals, churches and chapels in the city itself, and perhaps another fifty more in the district. The oldest ones go back more than 220 years in the history of the city. On Christmas day, tomorrow, these churches will be lit up, giving the city a resplendent glow. Sakàl Times tells the story of these magnificent structures

The presence of Christian soldiers in the Maratha and British armies in Pune necessitated the construction of churches catering to their religious needs, which led to the establishment of some of the oldest churches in the city, in the early and mid-19th century.

St Mary’s Church on Solapur Road in Pune Camp, which was built in 1823 for soldiers and officers in the British army, is the oldest church structure in the city. In keeping with the tradition that time, a capsule containing the names of British India’s governor general Warren Hastings, Mumbai governor Mountstuart Elphinstone and other East India Company officials was buried at the church site during the stone-laying ceremony in June,

Oldest Structure

The Church of Immaculate Conception or City Church is the oldest Catholic church in the city. The land was gifted by Peshwa Madhavrao II and the first Mass (religious gathering) was held on Christmas day in 1792, and a structure made of mud and mortar was built in 1794. The present structure was constructed only in 1852.

St Patrick’s Cathedral has been built on the land gifted by the British government in 1850. While St Paul’s Church, located behind the police commissionerate, was erected in 1867 on the lines of the St Chapelle Church in Paris. The cost of construction came up to Rs 90,000 at that time. The structure, however, suffered heavy damages in a fire on July 5, 1900.

The foundation stone of the St Mathew’s Marathi Church on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road was laid in 1893. This church catered to the city’s Marathi-speaking population.

St Andrew’s Church near the Race Course, which bore the brunt of a major fire in October this year, was built by the Church of Scotland in 1861. The church had a seating capacity of 500 people at the time.

Christ Church near Quarter Gate, which was built in 1896, is also one of the oldest churches in the city. A majority of the old Catholic and Protestant churches are in Pune Camp, Wanowrie and Khadki where the British military establishments were located.

The Panch Haud Church, Brother Deshpande Memorial Church (Kasba Peth) and St Crispin’s Church near Nal Stop on Karve Road are the only churches in the heart of the city. The Catholic Church’s major religious institutes – the Papal Seminary and the De Nobili College – were started at Ramwadi on Nagar Road six decades ago. A large number of Catholic religious congregations also established their centres near these two institutes. This led to the concentration of the migratory Christian population in Yerawada and Vadgaonsheri on Nagar Road. So, many churches came up in these areas over the last few decades.

St Francis Xavier’s Church, which was built in 1973, was the first Catholic church in Pimpri Chinchwad and it catered to the Goan and Tamil populations who had migrated from the neighbouring Ahmednagar and Aurangabad districts to the industrial hub. Subsequently, four more churches were opened in Pimpri-Chinchwad to meet the needs of the growing Christian population.

Since the Christian community in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad is multi-lingual, most Catholic churches celebrate the Mass in English, Marathi, Konkani, Tamil as well as Malayalam. A few churches also cater exclusively to the Marathi, Tamil and Malayalam speaking communities in the city.

Churchs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM?

The construction of any church is financed by its members who contribute their own share, while also raising a building fund. The Pune Catholic Diocese offers a share of the construction cost. If the local community undertakes the building of a new church, the Pune diocese offers 50 per cent of the construction cost. The new churches that came up on Nagar Road and in Pimpri-Chinchwad during the last decade were built on this principle.

Fr Simon Almeida, who has presently undertaken the construction of a new building for St Francis Xavier’s Church in Chinchwad, says, “It is the responsibility of the local people to build a church for themselves. The priest’s job is to build the community. Therefore, the lay leaders undertake various activities to raise the construction funds.” Sometimes, when local parishioners are unable to raise 50 per cent of the construction cost, the diocese has to bear more than its share of the amount. The diocese receives its funds from monthly collections given by various churches under its jurisdiction.

Fr Almedia says that every Catholic church is required to give its donation collections of two Sundays of every month to the Pune diocese. The diocese utilises these funds for various activities. “Besides this, parishioners of other churches are also expected to contribute for the construction of churches in other localities,” he adds.

– inputs by camil parkhe

Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROYAL GESTURE

It was Peshwa Madhavrao II who gifted a piece of land for the construction of a church for the Catholic soldiers in the Maratha army. The Catholic soldiers included Goans, British and Portuguese nationals. The Peshwa also contributed a sum for building of the church, which eventually came to be called City Church. Later, when the British came to rule over Pune, they gifted one bigha (three acres and 14 gunthas) land to build the present structure of the church that we see today. The Portuguese government in Goa had offered a substantial subsidy in its construction. The British government had also gifted land and a grant of Rs 2,000 for the construction of the St Patrick’s Chapel, the present cathedral and seat of the Pune diocese. Records show that many Catholic soldiers in the British army donated a full month’s salary too.

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