Pakistan officials say a South Korean national who it accused of using a business visa to preach the Gospel inside the Islamic republic has been expelled from the country.
The news comes after two Chinese nationals believed to be associated with the South Korean were killed last month by Islamic militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group.
“Investigations have revealed that the South Korean national went to Pakistan on a business visa, set up an Urdu academy in Quetta and got involved in illegal preaching activities,” a Ministry of Interior official told ucanews.com this week. “We have revoked his visa and asked him to leave the country.”
According to World Watch Monitor, the South Korean national is Juan Won-seo. Pakistani officials told ucanews.com that 24-year-old Lee Zingyang and 26-year-old Meng Lisi, who were abducted and killed last month, were preaching Christianity under Won-seo’s guidance.
However, the Hindustan Times reports that South Korea has rejected Pakistan’s claims that Lee and Meng, who were in the country on the premise that they were Mandarin teachers learning Urdu, were preaching Christianity. A South Korean official told the news outlet on June 14 that there is no evidence from Pakistan to backup the claim that they were proselytizing under the leadership of the South Korean.
According to World Watch Monitor, a Chinese student interviewed by a Chinese government-sanctioned English news outlet claimed that South Koreans recruit Chinese “teenagers to conduct missionary activities in Muslim countries.”
“Compared to Chinese, more South Koreans have been killed abroad due to risky missionary activities in conservative Islamic regions,” the student was quoted as saying. “Some Chinese voluntarily join in the dangerous missionary activities in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq after being converted by South Koreans.”
However, critics have warned that China’s placing the blame on South Korean missionaries is an attempt to “mislead the Chinese people.”
“Most Chinese Christians have become Christian through Chinese evangelists. It has been very difficult for foreign citizens to proselytise in China. China does not have a visa category for religious clergy or missionaries,” Yang Fenggang, the director of the Centre on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in Indiana told the Hindustan Times. “Some foreign students, professionals and business people may do evangelistic work within China, but evangelistic activities are restricted.”
Carsten Vala, an associate professor of political science at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, told the Hindustan Times that Chinese nationals have also been “eager to go abroad as missionaries.”
“At least one Chinese church leader I interviewed reported that his congregation had sent missionaries to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Arabic-speaking countries,” Vala said.
Both China and Pakistan are listed as two of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians. Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List ranks Pakistan as No. 4 and China as No. 39.
The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a Kansas Catholic woman who claims that she was ordered by police to stop praying in her own home.
On Tuesday, the three-judge panel voted to uphold a judge’s dismissal of Mary Anne Sause’s lawsuit against two Louisburg officers, who she said demanded to be allowed into her home and wouldn’t tell her why they were there. She alleged that when she began praying, the officers, who were there because of a noise complaint, ordered her to stop.
An opinion written by Judge Nancy Moritz states that the court assumes that “the defendants violated Sause’s rights under the First Amendment” by repeatedly mocking her, ordering her to stop praying “so they could harass her,” insisting that she reveal scars from a double mastectomy and threatening her with arrest.
“But this assumption doesn’t entitle Sause to relief. Instead, Sause must demonstrate that any reasonable officer would have known this behavior violated the First Amendment,” the judge argued, citing the 2011 Supreme Court ruling in Ashcroft v. al–Kidd, which asserts that the former U.S. attorney general could not be personally sued for the jailing of a U.S. citizen after the events of September 11, 2001.
“But while the conduct alleged in this case may be obviously unprofessional, we can’t say that it’s ‘obviously unlawful,'” the judge added. “It certainly wouldn’t be obvious to a reasonable officer that, in the midst of a legitimate investigation, the First Amendment would prohibit him or her from ordering the subject of that investigation to stand up and direct his or her attention to the officer — even if the subject of the investigation is involved in religiously-motivated conduct at the time, and even if what the officers say or do immediately after issuing that command does nothing to further their investigation.”
First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys, who represents Sause, said in a statement that the court’s “harsh criticism of the officers’ conduct in this case supports our First Amendment claim.”
“No one should face the prospect of being arrested for praying in their own home,” Dys said.
The First Liberty Institute said in a press release that the government defended the police officers by arguing that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment only “protects an individual’s right to choose a religion.” Sause’s attorneys argued that the government’s argument misconstrues the fact that the First Amendment protects the right to exercise faith.
“While Ms. Sause’s appeal was ultimately unsuccessful, the court stated clearly that Sause’s First Amendment rights may have been violated, but the legal doctrine of qualified immunity shields the officers from any liability,” First Liberty Institute stated. “The concurring opinion condemned the police officers’ ‘extraordinary contempt of a law abiding citizen.'”
No indication was given if Sause will file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds from being sued.
In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the panel concluded that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue the state over House Bill 1523, also called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, reversing a lower court’s decision.
“The governor of Mississippi and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services appeal a preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry Smith on behalf of the panel.
In April 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which prohibits the state from compelling businesses and individuals from supporting or servicing gay weddings.
“The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth,” reads HB 1523 in part.
LGBT groups and their allies denounced the legislation and sued to have it struck down. For his part, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last year banning non-essential state travel to Mississippi.
“[I]t is the policy of the state of New York to promote fairness, protect the welfare of the citizens of the state of New York, and combat discrimination,” read Cuomo’s 2016 order.
“All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions [will] review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of Mississippi so long as there is law in effect there that permits and enshrines discrimination against LGBT citizens and unmarried individuals …” Cuomo’s order added.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement Thursday that he commended the panel’s ruling on the “commonsense law.”
“No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed until five years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said Perkins.
“Today’s ruling leaves us more confident that the courts will uphold the ability of elected officials to protect the freedom of their citizens to believe and live according to those beliefs”
(DETROIT) — A judge has temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith Thursday halted their deportation for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.
The Justice Department said the detainees must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court.
Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested about June 11 and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.
The American Civil Liberties Union says they fear torture or death in Iraq, which agreed to accept them.
The majority of Christians have been wrong about Israel for most of their history, according to a leading Anglican theologian and Israel scholar.
For many reasons, Christians ought to think differently about the land of Israel and the Jews as God’s covenant people, Gerald R. McDermott, Anglican chair at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, explains in a new book.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday, McDermott explained that his latest work, Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently About the People and the Land, articulates why it’s important for believers in Jesus to engage Israel with the utmost humility. This is necessary not only because of the geopolitical complexities present there but especially because “the Jews have been horribly wronged by Christians over the millennia.”
“Even before the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Jews were murdered over the last 1,800 years by Christians as “Christ-killers,” McDermott said, noting at the time of the Holocaust Germany was the most Christianized nation in the world.
“Jews know these things and are afraid of us,” he said.
The error in thinking that Jesus departed from Judaism and began a new religion furthers the distance between Christians and Jews and makes Jews into an “other,” he said.
Yet in the past several decades, especially in the United States, a resurgence of what is known as Christian Zionism, the view that the land of Israel and ethnic Jews remain central to God’s eternal purposes, has occurred.
McDermott did not personally subscribe to this perspective because he associated it with dispensationalism, theology that considers biblical history as divided intentionally by God into specific ages to each of which He has allotted distinctive administrative principles. This teaching was popularized in the 1800’s by Anglo-Irish preacher John Nelson Darby.
But all that began to change for him upon doing further study of the Bible and history and he found that throughout the ages a minority has believed that one day, in accordance with Scripture, a massive in gathering of Jewish people to their historic homeland would take place.
He realized he did not have to accept a dispensationalist approach to regard the land and people of Israel as an essential component of God’s ongoing work in the world. Nor did he have to subscribe to the often wild, apocalyptic end times scenarios some Christian Zionists have espoused in the past.
In Chapter 3 of Israel Matters the author showcases “Those Who Got It Right.”
From early Church fathers like Tertullian to more recent figures like American theologian Jonathan Edwards and Swiss theologian Karl Barth, each of these men believed that a day would come when the Jews would return to their ancient homeland.
During his ministry Edwards repeatedly warned against spiritualizing biblical promises to the Jews. When the modern state of Israel was established in 1948 Barth wrote that it was a “secular parable” and that the large numbers of Jews returning to the land was a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
As is expressed throughout The New Christian Zionism, a volume of Christian scholarship on Israel released last year for which McDermott was the editor, Israel Matters argues strongly against supercessionism. This is also known as “replacement theology” which holds that the Church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.
Today, what is known as “fulfillment theology,” which some assert is merely an updated form of replacement theology, also holds that Jews do not have a God-given destiny in their ancient land. But instead of the Church replacing Israel, its proponents contend that Jesus fulfills in his life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews, including the promise that the land of Canaan would be their everlasting possession.
This theology considers the land insignificant and that the only Jews who are now significant to God are Messianic Jews, those who believe Jesus is the Messiah.
But several passages in the New Testament suggest both beliefs are wrong, McDermott explained.
“Paul says in Romans 11:28 that the Jews who did not accept Jesus as Messiah were ‘enemies of the Gospel’ but nevertheless ‘are beloved’ to God, and that their ‘gifts and calling of God’ to be His special people ‘are irrevocable,'” he said.
Moreover, the Apostle Paul was writing to the Romans 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection but even then was still saying that God’s covenant with ethnic Israel remains in place. This did not mean that all Jews were saved, but that they were still special to God in a particular way.
Likewise, in his Beatitude in Matthew 5:5, Jesus was quoting Psalm 37:11 word for word when he said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the [earth.]” The Hebrew word for “earth,” which is used five times in Psalm 37, in every one of these five instances in Psalm 37 refers to the land of Israel, McDermott continued. So the Beatitude is better translated, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Land.”
And in Acts 1:6, “when Jesus’ disciples asked him just before his ascension, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ Jesus did not tell them they were wrong to think there would be a future Israel that God would establish,” he said.
“Instead, He (Jesus) said that the timing of that future was not to be known then.”
In addition to the theological objections McDermott unpacks in the book, he explores the modern political history of the region, which is often characterized by intense and bloody conflicts.
Yet unlike some Christian Zionists who appear to think that the nation of Israel can do no wrong, McDermott is not afraid to criticize the Israeli government when it’s warranted.
He acknowledges in the book where Palestinians have been mistreated at times, how the Israeli government has broken promises, and how certain policies have been unwise. He also writes that the state of Israel should do more to protect Messianic believers. Whether an unjust action is perpetrated by a Jew or an Arab, he says, Christians need to feel free to raise their voices to criticize whoever is responsible when it is clear such an injustice has occurred.
Although imperfect, the state of Israel, “an oasis of freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” is inextricably linked with the Jews, McDermott insists.
“Even if the covenanted people of Israel and the state of Israel are not one and the same, they are intertwined in a complex way,” he writes in the book.
“The state could not exist without its people, and the covenanted people could not survive or flourish without the state. The state shelters the people, and the people — though not all are religious Jews — support the state. One without the other is unthinkable and impossible.”
For Christians who care about the Palestinians and their rights, McDermott encourages them to visit Israel since tourism helps everyone there, and to support the largely-unreported incremental steps Israel is taking to improve the lot of Palestinians.
Written in a scholarly yet accessible tone, Israel Matters is likely to be a important resource for Christians looking to bring their faith to bear on current events unfolding in the United States and in the Middle East. Earlier this month President Donald Trump signed a waiver delaying the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, skirting a key campaign promise that he might or might not revisit.
Such a move would “help the cause for peace, not hurt it,” he replied.
“First of all, it would be the simple recognition of reality: Jerusalem and no other city is Israel’s capital,” McDermott said.
“Second, the Palestinian leaders are thugs who would realize by this move that they can no longer dictate as they did to Obama, whose policies hurt both Jews and Arabs.”
The only hope for improvement is for [Palestinian President] Abbas to understand that he has to talk to the Israelis and moving the U.S. diplomatic outpost to the capital would signal to him that he can no longer circumvent the Israelis and try to get what he wants from the United Nations, he added.
Aside from the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures and political considerations, Christians need to think differently about the people and land of Israel because Jesus was and is Jewish, McDermott stressed. And in order to relate to Jewish friends, getting in touch with His Jewishness is essential.
“The Jews were raised up by God as representatives of humanity,” McDermott said. “So that if the Bible shows their departures from God, it is really illustrating ours.”
“Jesus prized Jewish law, said that salvation is from the Jews, predicted that one day Jerusalem will welcome Him, and foresaw that His Apostles will one day rule over the tribes of Israel,” McDermott said.
If Christians begin to think they are somehow better because they believe in Jesus as Messiah and the Jews do not, they fail to understand God’s grace, he added.
“When we realize how profoundly Jewish Jesus was and is, we will feel greater kinship with those for whom Paul said he had ‘unceasing anguish in his heart.'”
A 10-year-old Egyptian schoolboy who witnessed the brutal murder of his father by Islamic State militants in Minya, where 29 Christians were slaughtered in May, says the jihadists cried out “God is great” every time they shot a follower of Jesus Christ.
Mina Habib told Reuters in a piece published Tuesday that his father, one of the 29 believers massacred on May 26 when IS stopped three vehicles on their way to a monastery, was killed specifically for his Christian faith.
“We saw dead people, just dumped on the ground,” the boy, who is now receiving therapy at a local church, said of the attack.
“They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us in the car,” he said of his father, Adel.
Mina said the 15 gunmen shot Christian children dead, but he and his older brother, Marco, were spared.
Three vehicles were attacked that day, with a bus and car transporting children and families being the fist targets.
The extremists reportedly shot out the windows, took the women’s jewelry, and asked victims whether they were Christians before killing them.
“They saw us in the back of the truck. They made us get down and a man wearing camouflage like the army pointed his gun at us, but another one in all black told him to let us go. Every time they shot someone they would yell God is great,” the 10-year-old added.
He said the radicals had Egyptian accents, and most of them were wearing masks.
The killing of the 29 Christians was only the latest attack on Egypt’s minority Coptic community, which has been terrorized by Islamic radicals for years, with the attacks increasing with IS’ rise in the region.
The Copts have said that they “take pride” in dying for their faith, in defiance against IS.
“We take pride to die while holding on to our faith,” Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, said in May.
Thousands of Copts mourned the victims of the bus shooting, and expressed their grief and rage at the funerals.
“With blood and soul, we will defend you, oh cross!” Copts yelled at the Church of the Sacred Family in the village of Dayr Jarnous.
“We will avenge them or die like them,” they said. “There is no god but God and the Messiah is God!”
At the same time, however, they have pleaded with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to keep his promise to protect them, and to increase support for the families of victims.
The Southern Baptist Convention failed to pass a resolution aimed at condemning the “Alt Right” movement, with a new resolution being scheduled for debate on Wednesday afternoon.
During the first day of its annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday, the SBC entertained a resolution meant to denounce the far right movement known as the “Alt Right.”
The Alt Right is a political movement generally associated with white nationalism and known for launching intense attacks on ideological enemies on social media.
At the end of their Tuesday meeting, SBC delegates failed to pass a resolution denouncing the Alt Right, with the Baptist Press noting that a new resolution is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday afternoon.
“The Resolutions Committee chose not to report out the proposal to messengers. An effort by the resolution’s author to bring the ‘alt-right’ measure to the floor failed in the afternoon session,” reported the Baptist Press.
“… a motion by another messenger in the evening session also fell short. Each motion required a two-thirds majority, and the evening vote received only 58 percent approval.”
William Dwight McKissic, an African-American Texas pastor, introduced a draft resolution denouncing the Alt Right last month.
“… there has arisen in the United States a growing menace to political order and justice that seeks to reignite social animosities, reverse improvements in race relations, divide our people, and foment hatred, classism, and ethnic cleansing,” read the draft.
“… this toxic menace, self-identified among some of its chief proponents as ‘White Nationalism’ and the ‘Alt-Right,’ must be opposed for the totalitarian impulses, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that infect the minds and actions of its violent disciples.”
Todd Benkert, messenger from East Lake Baptist Church in Crown Point, Indiana, posted on the blog SBC Voices on Wednesday that he feared the failure to pass the resolution was a “huge misstep.”
“I awoke this morning tired and frustrated that we didn’t, in fact, get it right. The world is watching. Our brothers and sisters of color are watching. They’re getting a mixed message,” wrote Benkert.
“Southern Baptists should be leading a lost world in racial unity and biblical reconciliation. Instead, we are once again caught flat-footed, communicating to the world that we just don’t get it and communicating to our fellow brothers and sisters of color that we don’t really care.”
SBC Resolutions Committee Chairman Barrett Duke explained to reporters that the Alt Right resolution failed because “we just didn’t see a way that we could speak to the multiple issues that were raised in that resolution in a way that we felt would be constructive,” adding that much of the proposal “already had been addressed recently.”
Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Wednesday morning on Twitter that he expects the SBC to “enthusiastically pass” the resolution. He also noted Alt Right ideologies are “anti-Christ and satanic to the core.”
The Scottish Episcopal Church approves gay marriage
Pakistan’s interior ministry has said the two Chinese nationals who were kidnapped and killed by Islamic State-affiliated militants last month were preachers who allegedly violated their business visa rules.
According to Reuters, the terrorist-linked Amaq News Agency announced last Thursday that IS (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) was responsible for the killing of two Chinese nationals who were abducted last month in the Baluchistan province and were believed to be Mandarin language teachers.
“Islamic State fighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Baluchistan province, southwest Pakistan,” Amaq was quoted as announcing in a statement.
On Monday, the Pakistani government identified the two Chinese nationals killed as 24-year-old Lee Zingyang and 26-year-old Meng Lisi. The interior ministry also claimed that both Lee and Meng were in violation of their visa rules because they were preaching instead of learning Urdu.
“Instead of engaging in any business activity, they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning (the) Urdu language from a Korean national … were actually engaged in preaching,” Reuters quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.
The statement didn’t indicate whether the Korean national was from South Korea or North Korea or what the Chinese nationals were preaching.
According to the online news outlet Quartz, The Global Times and Shanghai-based The Paper, the slain Chinese nationals belonged to a 13-member Christian missionary group in China being led by a South Korean national.
Quartz also cited Chinese reports indicating that a local Muslim community complained about the group trying to evangelize to them. Additionally, Quartz reports that a Chinese journalist has said that Chinese foreign ministry officials briefed reporters in a closed-door session and gave them much of the same information that has been reported.
Following the killing of the two Chinese nationals, Pakistan’s interior ministry has decided to “streamline” its visa policy for Chinese nationals, Pakistan’s The Nation quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying.
According to The Nation, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan called for a databank of Chinese nationals present in Pakistan during a meeting.
“This data bank, to be prepared by National Database and Registration Authority, should be shared with all security agencies,” the minister said, reiterating their claim that the deceased Chinese nationals violated the terms of their visas.
The killing of the two Chinese Christians come as IS has attempted in the last year to establish its presence in Pakistan, just like it has in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan. IS-linked militants have carried out a number of attacks in Pakistan this year, including a suicide bombing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan that killed at least 90 and injured over 300 in February.
Last month, IS claimed a bomb attack on a convoy of Senate Deputy Chairman Abdul Ghafoor Haideri south of Quetta that killed 25 people.
Additionally, this is not the first time that IS has claimed responsibility for the killing Chinese nationals.
In 2015, IS in Syria killed 50-year-old Beijing native Fan Jinghui who was held hostage for months.
A story of torture, betrayal and persecution is captivating Mexicans almost 500 years after it happened.
The dramatic life and death of the Carvajal family in 16th-Century Mexico is in the spotlight after a decades-long search for a national treasure came to an unexpected happy ending.
Luis de Carvajal “The Young” came to Mexico – then known as New Spain – with his large, well-to-do family during the early colonisation of the Americas.
His family governed part of northern Mexico and soon made enemies, including a power-hungry viceroy keen to topple them from power.
The ambitious viceroy discovered that Luis de Carvajal was a practising Jew, a crime punishable by death in the times of the Spanish Inquisition
Older relatives had urged Luis de Carvajal to convert to Catholicism for his own safety, but he staunchly stuck to his faith.
When he was first arrested, the authorities let him off with a warning but kept tabs on him.
Far from giving up his religion, Luis de Carvajal became a leader in Mexico’s underground Jewish community.
When the inquisitors caught up with him again a few years later, he was sentenced to death. He was just 30 years old.
Before he was executed, he was tortured so badly that he revealed the names of 120 fellow Jewish people, historian Alicia Gojman explains.
His captors forced him to listen as those “heretics”, which included his own mother, were tortured in the cell next to him.
“He tried to commit suicide because he couldn’t cope with having told them about his family and friends, but didn’t manage it,” says Ms Gojman.
We know the excruciating details of Luis de Carvajal’s persecution because he managed to keep secret diaries.
But these were not any old notebooks. They were painstakingly crafted, miniature manuscripts with almost microscopic handwriting in Latin and Spanish.
Some pages were intricately decorated with gold leaf he scraped from pages of a Bible.
Each of the three memoirs was no larger than a present-day iPhone, most likely so he could keep them hidden away under his hat.
Luis de Carvajal wrote about being a young Jew in the New World, about exploring his heritage and practising his beliefs despite the dangers.
But much of the memoirs focus on his final tragic days before he was burned at the stake, with vivid descriptions of him falling to his knees upon hearing his mother’s tortured screams as she was pulled on the rack.
Luis de Carvajal found comfort in poetry, writing verses and prayers to reaffirm his faith in the face of so much cruelty.
Luis de Carvajal’s memoirs are treasured by Mexico’s Jewish population as chronicles of keeping faith despite the ruthlessness of the Spanish Inquisition.
“Children who go to Jewish schools study the Carvajal family history,” says Mauricio Lulka, executive director of the Central Committee for the Jewish Community in Mexico.
For centuries, the delicate manuscripts were kept in Mexico’s National Archives. They were treasured as being among the first artefacts documenting the arrival of Jews to the Americas and were studied by researchers from around the world.
But in 1932 they vanished, leading to suspicions among the small group of academics who had access to them that one of them may have stolen the precious diaries. After all, they were small enough to hide under a hat.
With no trace of the documents, the search was eventually suspended and the trail went cold.
More than 80 years after their disappearance, the London auction house Swann in 2016 listed “replicas” of the manuscript at an initial price of $1,500 (£1,150).
But a US collector of Judaica, Leonard Milberg, was suspicious.
Why would someone go to the trouble of recreating the minuscule handwriting of Luis de Carvajal’s original to create a replica?
Intrigued, he contacted the Mexican consulate which confirmed that the originals were still missing and sent experts to check the “replicas” out.
Baltazar Brito is the director of the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico and one of the experts sent to assess the documents.
“When I got there, something told me they were originals, I knew it in my heart,” he says.
For Mr Brito, the documents have relevance beyond their time.
“They tell the story of religious intolerance that we shouldn’t let happen again in the world,” he says. “Despite that, it still happens.”
Leonard Milberg felt the manuscripts belonged in Mexico, so the collector made it his mission to deal with all the international agencies involved and covered the costs of sending them back.
Their safe return was welcome news for Mexico’s now thriving Jewish community of about 50,000 people, many of whom were drawn to the country by its modern-day commitment to religious freedom.
After they were briefly exhibited in Mexico City they are now safely stored in a special climate-controlled vault in the National Library of Anthropology and History in Mexico, as no one wants to risk the miniature manuscripts disappearing for another eight decades.
China (MNN) – When 20 world leaders get together, there’s bound to be some tension.
Before the summit, the United States Commission of International Religions Freedom (USCIRF) urged President Obama to discuss religious freedom with President Xi Jinping. And while he seems to have taken this advice, according to several news stories, it doesn’t appear that the conversation was productive.
Status of religious freedom in China
Outside of China, it’s hard to get a feel for how things are in China. For many of us, it seems like China is doing a lot better when it comes to human rights than they have in the recent past.
“The perception to the West is, China’s life is so much better, people are doing better economically. We sometimes have this perception that China’s free, it’s open. It’s not.”
He cites an event that took place a little over year ago. An explosion in the busy city of Tianjin killed over a hundred and left several hundred injured, says BBC News. According to the Washington Post, media coverage of the event was heavily covered, and independent blogs and video postings were taken down.
Klein says, “They don’t have freedom of speech, they don’t have freedom of religion, and I think we need to be very careful that we don’t think that China is free just because economically they have prospered. When we see what’s going on with the Church, they’re stepping up the persecution more and more.” The USCIRF says discrimination from authorities and the government has targeted Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and Falun Gong practitioners alike. This includes torture, forced disappearances, imprisonment, etc.
Ministries like Vision Beyond Borders sees examples of this first-hand. Klein has been visiting China for 30 years. He says what’s happening there is a good reminder that ultimately, our hope is with Jesus Christ.
“We’ve heard 2,000 churches have had their crosses removed, we’ve heard stories of pastors being arrested, pastors even being put in mental institutions. We’ve seen crackdowns at the border more and more. I just came back from China just a week or two ago and I was surprised to see so many police.” Earlier this year, a government-backed church demolition ended in the death of a pastor’s wife. China Aid says they both had been buried alive, but his wife wasn’t able to escape and suffocated under the rubble.
Klein says the government finally allowed Churches as long as they were registered. They thought that Christianity would die out with the older generation. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Christianity grew, and quickly.
The registered Church
Photo courtesy of Vision Beyond Borders.
Some might think this looks like a move towards religious freedom for Christians. Why not just join a government Church? But the truth is, it enables the government to control the Church better, and therefore do its best to blot out the Gospel message.
“What the government is saying now is they want to bring all religions under the umbrella of the communist party. Which is to say that the first devotion is to the government, not to God.
“And then once you register with the government, then what will happen is there’ll be spies will be coming to the Church, they’ll be listening to the pastor’s sermons. If the pastor preaches on the second coming of Jesus, if he talks about healing or miracles, or if tells the people that their first devotion is to God, not to the government , that pastor will be arrested.”
This is why many Christians choose to meet secretly instead. BBC did an article earlier this year which goes into detail about why Christians make this decision even under the risk of punishment. When the Government church preaches that Jesus would be a communist if he walked the earth today, the political influence in these churches becomes obvious.
Vision Beyond Borders, who works to provide Scripture materials worldwide, disagrees with registering with the government to protect the Message from being muddled. He says even the Bibles used in these churches often have to remain in the churches. They bear the stamp of the government.
Even if Scripture hasn’t been tampered with in these government controlled copies, it limits the Christians ability to study it for themselves. “We believe you should be able to have access to the Word of God anytime you want it, 24/7,” Klein says.
And that’s what they work to do, though he says you have to be careful. Christians can legally buy a few copies of the Bible, but once they purchase a few too many, they will be followed—their congregation found and shut down.
“We’re not trying to overthrow governments,” Klein says, “But we’re just trying to help people to know what the Word of God says and to follow Jesus and to put God first in their lives.”
How you can help the Chinese Church
BBC says there may now be more Christians in China than registered members of the Communist party. This is exciting news. But there are many, many Christians who are still without Bibles in China. It’s a reality many of us can’t even imagine, some of us having multiple copies ourselves.
If you would like to help, the first step is to pray.
“We need to be praying for the Church in China,” Klein says, “There’s a lot of persecution going on, a lot of the mainstream media’s not talking about it, but I think it’s important for Christians to be talking about it and be praying and to say, this is an illusion that China’s free, China’s open, people can do whatever they want, it’s not true.”
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truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.
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