Blue Flower

ATTACKS ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN BRITAIN WORST SINCE THE DAYS OF JOHN BUNYAN

Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute has warned Christians not to let the Government use the country's focus on the EU referendum to smuggle through unwanted and draconian laws that could interfere with church youth work and label Christians as "extremists."  Mr. Hart expressed concern that whilst the media is focused upon the build up to the referendum on 23 June, the Government may try to speed through laws that undermine religious freedom. He singled out Westminster proposals to give Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children Services and Skills) the power to carry out "British Values" inspections on English Sunday schools and plans for Extremism Disruption Orders, or EDOs.

Mr. Hart said: "The upcoming referendum on the UK's membership of the EU is on many people's minds right now. This is a profoundly important issue for the future of our country and it is right that people should be focused on it. But Christians must not stop holding the Westminster Government to account over its proposals for ‘British values' inspections of church youth work, and EDO’s. Together these represent an attack on freedom of religion and speech that we have not seen in this country since the days of John Bunyan, more than 300 years ago. "I am concerned that Government Departments may try to slip through contentious legislation which harms our freedoms while the media focuses on the EU referendum. Christians across the nation need to be vigilant and ready to speak out to prevent this happening."

Ofsted is to be given legal power to assess whether teaching provided by out-of-school settings complies with "British values." The Government's Counter-Extremism Strategy said that out-of-school institutions teaching children would have to register so that they can be inspected. Under the plans, any place which provides instruction to under 19-year-olds for more than 6 hours in any week would be covered. Responding to the proposals Mr. Hart said: "The idea of having an Ofsted inspector sitting in on your church youth group or Sunday school to see if you are an extremist is highly offensive. It would represent an unprecedented attack on freedom of religion in our country."

Many churches will be caught because children can attend multiple events in one week. In addition to Sunday school, a particular child could also attend a baptism or confirmation class, choir practice and youth group. These will be added together to give the total time a child spends under instruction by the church. One-off events such as holiday Bible clubs would also be counted. A child may exceed 6 hours' attendance every week, or just for some weeks of the year. Registration is triggered in both cases. This results in all activities, including the Sunday school, being subject to potential inspection. The Prime Minister referred particularly to madrassas when he announced the new approach, but said it will apply to an institution "whatever its religion" and added, "if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.

"Undesirable teaching" which is incompatible with British values will be prohibited. Sanctions would include banning people from working with children and closing premises in order to address "the harm caused by extremism," including "emotional harm." The Government says EDOs are aimed at "harmful activities of extremist individuals who spread hate but do not break laws." The Home Office has said it intends to use EDOs to go "beyond terrorism" to "eliminate extremism in all its forms." The orders will be issued by a High Court where it is persuaded that someone is "participating in activities that spread, incite, promote or justify hatred against a person (or group of persons) on the grounds of that person's (or group of persons') disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and/or transgender identity."

It has been reported that sanctions imposed would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement for the police to vet anything posted on the internet or on social media. Anyone receiving an EDO would be banned from working with children for life. Mr. Hart said: "Every time ministers talk about extremism they seem to want to go much wider than tackling terrorists and their sympathizers. "Law-abiding citizens, such as Christians, could be caught by the vague definitions of extremism that get bandied about when ministers are trying to talk tough. "Broad-brush counter-extremism policies catch ordinary citizens and are actually a waste of resources. They do not make us safer. They make us less safe by distracting the authorities from focusing on genuine threats."

Source: Spectator UK

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HOW THE CHURCH IN CUBA THRIVED THROUGH SUFFERING AND OPPOSITION

As Cuba transitions to a new relationship with the world, there is a renewed interest in learning how the Church there has fared for the last 50 years. The short answer is: amazingly well. In fact, many believe the hardships and suffering have paved the way for an explosion of church planting. On a typical Sunday morning in Cuba, you can find churches across the island overflowing with worshippers. Many meet in homes and others meet in churches but they operate in a political climate that is very different to ours. Space is the biggest challenge for many churches. Under current government rules they typically cannot buy land or expand. One church responded to the rules by building several stories up. Others cram into homes and multiply when they become too big.

Pastor "Miguel" leads a church that used to meet in an apartment but now meets in the yard next to his apartment building. "When you have 80 to 100 people meeting in an apartment it's hard," he said.” It's a common theme in Cuban churches. In the past 20 years, more than 16,000 evangelical churches have opened their doors. Pastor "Nestor" and his wife "Rosa" live in one room above their tiny house church. He said, "One of the things that has made us grow in faith has been the limitations and the difficulties." On Sunday mornings and during weeknight services, only a few will have a real seat. "People don't care how comfortable they are," Rosa explained. "They could be exhausted from working all day and they will sit on a bag of rocks, a stitched up chair, or stand the whole service, and they're okay with that."

Cuban church leaders say events led by the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s sparked the current church-planting explosion. "When the Russian government collapsed Cuba went through a lot, and people started looking to churches for hope," Pastor "Julio" said. At the same time, the government ended its atheistic philosophy that denied the existence of God and instead declared itself a secular state, prompting an entire generation to question what it believed. During that period a government official told Cuban Baptists that the government could not authorize new buildings so suggested that the Believers meet in homes. The casual suggestion sparked a house church movement that many have compared to church history recorded in the book of Acts.

Pastor "Francisco" is one of thousands of Cuban house church pastors who follow the Gospel with passion. He came to the Lord after having dreams about Jesus for 3 years. Now he leads a small neighbourhood church that meets 3 times a week. "We have evangelized everyone who lives in this area, given a New Testament Bible to each home," he told CBN News. The growth of the Church in Cuba is even more miraculous given the country's poverty. The average monthly government salary is $20 and professionals typically make less than $50. Still, Cuban churches are known for their generosity and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. "What we have we want to share with others," Francisco said. "What we have, not what we have left over."

Another obstacle facing Cuban churches is spiritual warfare in the form of Santeria which emanates from West Africa and is known for its rituals and ceremonies. Pastor Nestor said that during one service, a group of Santeria followers stood outside the church and began beating their drums. "The church started praying and then we prayed for rain and all of a sudden there was thunder so they had to leave." Church leaders in Cuba say they're enjoying a new season of relaxed restrictions. It's easier to evangelize and they receive more permits to hold special events. Still, most churches cannot expand or buy land. They cannot produce Christian radio or television shows. "Sometimes without suffering there's no challenge," Pastor Nestor said. "And without that challenge, there's no victory."

Source: CBN News

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HUNDREDS OF SLAVES RESCUED FROM INDIAN BRICK KILN

In an ongoing rescue operation, Indian police and Indian Justice Mission (IJM) staff have rescued 564 children, women and men from forced labour slavery at a massive brick kiln. This is IJM’s largest anti-slavery operation ever—and it took place in the exact same factory where it helped rescue more than 500 people in 2011. The kiln owner had evaded arrest in that first operation, but now his impunity has ended. Police arrested him and five other accomplices from an organized trafficking network. They are currently in custody and will face charges under India’s anti-trafficking laws and Bonded Labour Act. The operation highlights a critical aspect in the fight against slavery: If criminals remain free, the violence will continue. But if laws are enforced and traffickers go to jail, slavery can be ended for good.

The rescue began with a frantic phone call from an escaped labourer complaining of shocking abuse. Police, government officials and IJM staff entered the  kiln and found hundreds of families toiling under the hot sun. When officials explained that rescue had arrived, many couldn’t believe it was real. One government officer asked the crowd “Who wants to go free?” but he was met with a stunned silence. Slowly, one man raised his hand, then another. Soon dozens of tired hands shot into the air, ready to finally exit into safety. As police gathered evidence and arrested the kiln’s owners, the families packed up their few belongings and prepared to leave the kiln. Authorities brought them to a prearranged wedding hall to rest, then documented their stories and prepared official Release Certificates to grant their freedom.

These certificates dissolve the false debts and other lies that held these families in slavery. In total, 373 received certificates. The remainder were mostly adults, children or elderly dependents too frail to work in the kiln. The rescued families painted a vivid picture of modern-day slavery. They had lived in tiny tin-roofed rooms or tattered tents. Families received a weekly allowance of 400 rupees (less than $6), barely enough to buy the lowest-quality rice. Many went without eating for days at a time. At 3:00 every morning, the labourers began long days of stacking and hauling heavy bricks for hours on end. They suffered verbal and physical abuse. If they were injured or complained of pain, the owner sent a “doctor” to give them pain pills and force them to continue.

Nearly 200 children, almost half under 5, lived inside the facility. Some were allowed to attend school but most children over age 12 laboured alongside their parents. Pregnant women were also forced to work without slowing down. One woman was not allowed to deliver her baby in a hospital, but had to rely on other women to help her deliver without medical care. Indian officials and IJM staff will stay with the families to ensure they have nourishing meals and medical care until they are able to return to their homes by train. For the next 2 years, IJM staff will connect them to rehabilitation programs so they can rebuild their lives.  IJM will support police in building the legal case against the kiln owner and the trafficking ring that helped him grow his business—hopefully ending this systematic abuse of the poor for good. 

Source: Indian Justice Mission

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HINDU PRIEST DOUBTS EXISTENCE OF JESUS UNTIL HE SHOWS UP IN A POWERFUL WAY

The World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians will shed a global spotlight on the persecution of Christians throughout the earth. 2015 has been reported in the media as the worst year for Christian persecution. More than twice as many Christians were killed for their faith than in the previous year–making it the worst in history since these statistics have been tracked. So Franklin Graham has announced the convening of The World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians, to be held in Moscow, Russia, October 28-30, 2016, by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church. No Church in modern history has suffered more than the Church in Russia.

In the years under Communist rule, virtually all of the priests, pastors, and Church leaders in Russia were imprisoned or executed by the Communists, and their graves are on the outskirts of Moscow and throughout the country serving as a reminder. So Moscow will be a meaningful location for this much-needed summit. Mr Graham said “I was in Russia last October and met with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and evangelical leaders, and we discussed at length the persecution of the Church worldwide. Patriarch Kirill said, "I strongly believe that we should work together in order to save our society from de-Christianisation because, facing increasing atheistic pressure which has become quite aggressive in some countries, Christians are being squeezed out of public life."

Britain's Prince Charles has warned that Christianity might be entirely erased from the land of its birth in the Middle East within five years. We have seen beheadings, torture, imprisonment, and more in many countries around the world. The World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians will shed a global spotlight on this crisis. It will bring delegates from all around the world, representing many different churches and denominations within the Christian faith. As they meet together they will be able to join hands and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and to hear firsthand reports of the suffering that is taking place in many regions and nations of the world.

Source: God Reports

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FRANKLIN GRAHAM ANNOUNCES WORLD SUMMIT ON CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION

The World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians will shed a global spotlight on the persecution of Christians throughout the earth. 2015 has been reported in the media as the worst year for Christian persecution. More than twice as many Christians were killed for their faith than in the previous year–making it the worst in history since these statistics have been tracked. So Franklin Graham has announced the convening of The World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians, to be held in Moscow, Russia, October 28-30, 2016, by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church. No Church in modern history has suffered more than the Church in Russia.

In the years under Communist rule, virtually all of the priests, pastors, and Church leaders in Russia were imprisoned or executed by the Communists, and their graves are on the outskirts of Moscow and throughout the country serving as a reminder. So Moscow will be a meaningful location for this much-needed summit. Mr Graham said “I was in Russia last October and met with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, and evangelical leaders, and we discussed at length the persecution of the Church worldwide. Patriarch Kirill said, "I strongly believe that we should work together in order to save our society from de-Christianisation because, facing increasing atheistic pressure which has become quite aggressive in some countries, Christians are being squeezed out of public life."

Britain's Prince Charles has warned that Christianity might be entirely erased from the land of its birth in the Middle East within five years. We have seen beheadings, torture, imprisonment, and more in many countries around the world. The World Summit in Defence of Persecuted Christians will shed a global spotlight on this crisis. It will bring delegates from all around the world, representing many different churches and denominations within the Christian faith. As they meet together they will be able to join hands and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and to hear firsthand reports of the suffering that is taking place in many regions and nations of the world. 

Source: Gospel Coalition

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MASSIVE INCREASE IN GENDER CONFUSION TREATMENT OF CHILDREN IN UK

The number of children being given medical treatment for "gender confusion" has risen 1000% over the past 5 years. The National Health System’s (NHS) Gender Identity Disorder Service treated 1,013 children last year. In 2010, just 97 cases were recorded. The Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, in London, is the only clinic in the U.K. that provides such treatment. But as demand for the treatment increases, the Trust may offer treatment in their Leeds, Brighton and Exeter clinics. At the clinic those under 18 years of age and their families are given counselling and, in some instances, hormone-blocking treatments. Christian Concern's Campaigns Director Andrew Marsh said: "we need to engage with the underlying issues" of gender identity and "address the psychological and mental issues with compassion and care."

 

"Gender identity" group Mermaids says there are as many as 80 primary age children a year expressing a desire to "change" their gender. But studies suggest that feelings of gender confusion in young children are often temporary. Former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Paul McHugh, says 70 to 80% of children they have tracked who expressed transgender feelings, "spontaneously lost those feelings." Anthea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, said: "When children express confusion like this, we need to affirm their God-given identity and help them to understand their birth gender. It is clear many children are simply following the lead of others, without understanding the implications. If this trend continues unchecked, we could see many children making decisions they could regret later on."

Source: Charisma News

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