China Authorities Bomb Evangelical Megachurch

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Christians in China Fear Persecution Will Get Worse After Authorities Bomb Evangelical Megachurch (VIDEO)

(SCREENCAP: YOUTUBE/GUARDIAN NEWS)Footage of the demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church by Chinese officials in Linfen, Shanxi province, China, on January 9, 2018.

An evangelical megachurch was destroyed by Chinese Communist authorities Tuesday in the country’s northern Shanxi province, sparking fears among Christians that the persecution they suffer will soon get worse.

China Aid said in an update Wednesday that Chinese military police detonated explosives inside Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen, destroying the $2.6 million house of worship, which was owned by the Christians who worshiped there.

A demolition crew broke apart the remaining pieces of the church after the explosion with diggers and jackhammers.

Lampstand’s head Pastor, Yang Rongli, had previously spent seven years in prison on charges of assembling a large crowd to disturb traffic order, and has been under police surveillance since his release in October 2016.

Describing the demolition, the pastor was quoted as saying that at first, police surrounded the church.

“Patrol wagons guarded the church. Workers smashed the church’s glass. At this point, excavators are digging into the church, but we are not allowed to enter or watch,” she said.

“The village head and the police from the local police station warned all the believers against entering the church. Now, we really have no idea what is going to happen.”

The order to demolish the church reportedly came from China’s top officials, who control the military police.

“The repeated persecution of Golden Lampstand Church demonstrates that the Chinese government has no respect for religious freedom or human rights,” said ChinaAid President and founder Bob Fu.

“ChinaAid calls on the international community to openly condemn the bombing of this church building and urge the Chinese government to fairly compensate the Christians who paid for it and immediately cease these alarming demolitions of churches.”

The Guardian reports that a Catholic church in the neighboring province of Shaanxi was also demolished in a similar fashion last month, which is stoking fears among Christians that the widespread crackdown on churches continues in full force.

As many as 1,200 crosses have been removed from churches in Zhejiang province since 2015, with officials arguing that many of the demolitions have been down to building code violations.

A local pastor, who asked not to be named, said that he saw “more police than I could count” at the site, preventing worshipers from approaching.

“My heart was sad to see this demolition and now I worry about more churches being demolished, even my own,” he said. “This church was built in 2008, there’s no reason for them to destroy it now.”

The Associated Press noted that the evangelical megachurch had a congregation of 50,000, and had been targeted by police on a number of occasions. Officials reportedly hired thugs to smash the church and take its Bible during the crackdown in 2009, when Rongli was arrested.

Christians have protested against church demolitions, with a video captured in Shanxi in August showing a clash between Catholics and government representatives who were using bulldozers to destroy church property.

The believers in the video could be heard shouting “Jesus save me!” and “Mother Mary, have pity on us,” and successfully blocked the government’s efforts.

A video of the demolition of Golden Lampstand Church has also been captured, and can be viewed below:

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Hundreds of Iraqi Christian Families Forced to Flee Again After Resettling

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Hundreds of Iraqi Christian Families Forced to Flee Again After Resettling in Town Liberated From ISIS

(PHOTO: REUTERS/AHMED JADALLAH)Displaced Iraq Christians who fled from Islamic State militants in Mosul, pray at a school acting as a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq, September 6, 2014.

Hundreds of Iraqi Christian families who recently returned to their hometown after being displaced for years by the Islamic State were forced to flee again from a town in northern Iraq because of conflict between Iraqi government forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.

A source with knowledge of the situation told The Christian Post that hundreds of families in the Kurdish town of Telskuf were warned by the Iraqi army on Tuesday evening to flee the town because Iraqi forces were planning to retake the Kurdish-controlled town with heavy weapons and shelling on Wednesday after skirmishes and gunfire broke out during the day on Tuesday.

About 1,000 Christian families had settled back into the town, which lies about 20 miles north of Mosul, after it was liberated from the Islamic State a year ago. The town has been viewed as somewhat of a model for the return of Christians to their ancient homeland in the Nineveh Plains.

But after the warning from the Iraqi army, nearly all of the Christians who had returned to Telskuf after being displaced from their homes fled their hometown again and sought shelter in the town of Alqosh. According to the source, the only people who stayed in Telskuf were a priest and a handful of people who worked for the local church.

Although they were forced to evacuate in preparation for a military showdown, the source told CP many of the Christian families were in the process of returning to the town on Wednesday afternoon after external diplomatic pressure applied to the Kurdish Regional Government and the Iraqi government created an “uneasy peace.”

“After a lot of outcry from a number of different quarters, people are moving back to the town from Al Qosh,” the source explained. “There is kind of an uneasy peace and a hope that this will be resolved without conflict in the town.”

“This is the town that the Hungarian government put $2 million into rebuilding and was the model for repopulation minority communities and towns that had been [taken over] by ISIS,” the source added. “As you can imagine, the Hungarians are not happy about this town being in the line of fire. Nobody wants this to be collateral damage in a contest between these two entities. It’s a Christian town and you have the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi army fighting over it and the people who had just faced genocide and just moved home are going to be the unintended victims here.”

Carl Anderson, head of the Catholic-fraternal organization and advocacy group Knights of Columbus, said during a speech at the 2017 In Defense of Christians solidarity dinner in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night that the U.S. government played a role in helping defuse the situation in Telskuf. Anderson made the remark before introducing keynote speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.

“We are very grateful that just this evening American government involvement was able to stop the planned battle for Telskuf — a town in Nineveh recently liberated from ISIS and rebuilt with a $2 million grant from the government of Hungary,” Anderson said. “The destruction of that town could have been in a very real way, the beginning of the end of Christianity in Iraq. There are so few towns left that every one of them is precious. While the peace is fragile, we are grateful for our government’s attention to this issue. We hope that the vice president will convey our gratitude to the president for this action.”

Although tensions have been lowered in Telskuf, the source told CP that “it’s touch-and-go and it could still go sideways.”

“If this had gone really badly, people there were saying that this would basically be the end of Christianity in Iraq,” the source asserted. “If a Western government-rebuilt town where everybody had moved home after the genocide — the big success story — went upside down, how could people see any future there?”

Displaced Christian communities in Iraq have had a hard time resettling to their hometowns because they have experienced a shortage of funding and have received very little, if any, resources from the U.S. government and the United Nations to rebuild the infrastructure in their towns.

Although the Hungarian government, the Knights of Columbus and other humanitarian organizations have supported rebuilding efforts in some Iraqi Christian communities, advocates have cried out for foreign governments to provide more support.

On Wednesday, Pence answered that call, telling a roomful of Christian leaders from the Middle East that President Donald Trump has ordered the U.S. State Department to provide aid directly to faith-based organizations and other groups serving the displaced Christian and other religious minority communities.

“We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Pence explained. “The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted.”

According to Kurdistan 24, four civilians were injured by shelling from an Iranian-backed paramilitary allied with the Iraqi forces in Telskuf on Tuesday. Two of those injured were Christians.

Pakistani Christian Mother Sentenced to Death, Nominated for Prestigious Religious Freedom Prize

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Asia Bibi, Christian Mother Sentenced to Death, Nominated for Prestigious Religious Freedom Prize

(PHOTO: REUTERS)Asia Bibi (R) was sentenced to execution in 2010 after being accused by her former colleagues of blaspheming against the Prophet Mohammad.

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian mother of five who has spent seven years on death row due to blasphemy charges, has been nominated for a prestigious European Union religious freedom prize.

“Her case is a symbol for others hurt in their freedom of expression and especially freedom of religion,” Dutch Europarliamentarian Peter van Dalen of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group’s member faction ChristenUnion-SGP told BosNewsLife on Wednesday.

“It is good that my colleagues in the ECR and I continue to defend the rights of Bibi and many others.”

Bibi is now in the running for the $59,500 award that comes with the Sakharov Prize. The ceremony will be held on Dec. 10 in Strasbourg, France.

The mother’s ongoing legal saga began back in 2009, after Muslim co-workers accused her of blasphemy for praising Jesus Christ and allegedly insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Bibi denied the charge but was found guilty and sentenced to death in November 2010. Several appeals have since followed and the latest hearing, which Bibi’s attorney attempted to have scheduled for June, was delayed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The Christian mother’s plight has drawn international attention and condemnation of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws by a variety of persecution watchdog and human rights groups.

Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir pointed out that Islamic hardliners are greatly invested in seeing her denied freedom.

“The plight of Bibi has had a dampening effect on minorities. Their grief cannot be addressed because of religious retrogressive and extremist groups,” Shakir said.

Unless Bibi’s death sentence is overturned, she is set to become the first woman in Pakistan to be executed under the blasphemy laws.

Previous recipients of the Sakharov Prize include Nadia Murad and Lamya Aji Bashar Taha, two young Yazidi women who were kidnapped by Islamic State extremists and forced to live as sex slaves.

Aji Bashar, who won the award alongside Murad in 2016, has spoken about IS’ abuse of children as young as 9 years old, describing them as “monsters.”

“I would really like to explain what happened to me there, not only for myself, but so others, the other women, are not treated like this, so that we Yazidis never have to go through anything like this again,” the Yazidi woman said.

Murad, who has been traveling around the world to raise awareness for the genocide of Yazidis, stated, “I’ve seen thousands of refugees go through the same thing as myself and my family. We are scattered all over the place. I also know that Islamic State is still trying to exterminate us. I think about this and this is what gives me the strength, all the strength, to continue.”

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London: Charlie Gard’s Parents Have Decided To Let Him Go

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

http://www.christianpost.com/news/charlie-gards-parents-we-have-decided-to-let-him-go-193069/?utm_source=newsletter

India: PM Modi, Sir India Is Not A Democracy If You Do Not Have Religious Freedom

To India’s Prime Minister Modi:

This article is in regard to a story I read earlier today from the Christian Post. In several regards this article if it is true shows that India is not yet a true democracy. For any country to actually be a democracy there are many issues that must be addressed, in this article I am only going to try to address a few of these ideals. In a true democracy there has to be equality in areas of their caste system where anyone can move up, or down in the financial arenas depending on their own abilities. All adults must be allowed to vote for whomever they chose at least as long as they are not convicted felons who are in jail at the time of the elections. This last issue I have with your government is in regard to India not having true honest religious freedom.

 

I do believe that India is a great country right now yet it could be so much more if the political will is there. The article today in the Christian Post said that six Christian adults were arrested last month for taking 72 Christian children of Christian parents to a ‘vacation Bible school’. A State can not prosper for all of its citizens if they cannot worship their God as they see fit. The only exception to this rule should be if the religion is telling people to go into the population and attack and or kill people who don’t agree with them and their ‘God’s’ teachings. If a person actually knows anything about the New Testament Scriptures of the Bible then they know that the Scriptures do not teach violence toward anyone. As you well know Mr. Modi there are some ‘Religions’ that do teach such violence and not even as arbitrarily, but as a requirement. Mr. Modi, is the Hindu Religion really one of these Demonic Cults? I believe that the Nation of India can be the greatest Democracy size wise on this planet in about 20 or 30 years and you may think it is now but with these glaring flaws that is not so, not yet. If the politicians in your country do not fix these serious issues I believe your future will look like a mixture of Iran and China except not Islamic or Atheist but a horrible debased Hindu State that will end up having no semblance of Democracy or freedom.

India: 6 Christians Charged With Kidnapping For Taking Their Christian Kids To VBS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

6 Christians Charged With Forced Conversions in India After Taking 72 Children to Vacation Bible School

Six Christians who were arrested in May for taking 72 children to a Vacation Bible School camp in Madhya Pradesh state, India, have reportedly been charged with kidnapping and forcible conversions as police refuse to recognize the children as Christians.

(Photo: Reuters/Babu) Women attend a mass inside a church to celebrate Easter in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 31, 2013. Holy Week is celebrated in many Christian traditions during the week before Easter.

Sources told Morning Star News in a report published June 23 that along with the six Christians, a 15-year-old boy was also held in a juvenile detention center for nearly a month, before finally being released last week.

“I missed my home so much — I cried every day, and prayed and prayed,” Akash Gundia said. “Finally, the Lord heard me. I am happy to be back home.”

Gundia was reportedly one of the 72 children detained by Ratlam Railway Police on May 21 as they traveled to the VBS camp in Nagpur. Eight supervisors were also arrested, and despite explanations that all the children had Christian parents, they were accused of trying to convert the children.

Authorities claimed at the time that the parents hadn’t followed the proper procedures in converting to Christianity, and insisted that the children will be treated as Hindus under the law.

“For changing to another religion, one needs to submit a written application to the district collector and only after the stipulated process, a person can change religious identity, which didn’t happen in the case of any of the parents claiming to be Christians,” police superintendent Krishnaveni Desavatu said at the time.

“This is why the children and their parents will be officially treated as Hindu tribals and not Christians,” he added.

Morning Star News noted that the children had permission from their Christian parents to go to the Bible camp program, however.

“I told the police I am a Christian by birth, and we are going to attend the VBS, but they did not listen to me and took us to the police station,” the 15-year-old boy said.

“Children as young as 6 were also in police custody, but when their parents came, the police handed them over to the parents. I was produced in court a day later, and from there was sent to a juvenile detention home,” he added.

Hartesh Singh Gundia, the boy’s father, insisted that Hindu extremist groups put pressure on officials to punish Christians, and blamed them for his son having to spend 25 days in judicial custody

Attorney Anand Nagarkar added: “The charges were framed based on malice and suspicion, and on this basis there can be no conviction, but the police have been taking it slow to file the challan [charge sheet]. They are under pressure by the Bajrang Dal and RSS activists.”

Nagarkar noted that that parents of the 72 children have submitted an affidavit before the court declaring that all the children were born to Christian parents, and that the volunteers came from the Sunday schools of their respective churches.

Christians, who are a growing minority in India, have found themselves attacked by Hindu radicals but also persecuted by authorities antagonistic to their faith, watchdog groups like International Christian Concern have warned.

ICC reported in February that a Christian evangelist fell into a coma following heavy harassment by a group of Hindu radicals in Hyderabad, who were angry at him for distributing copies of the New Testament.

Ronald John, state president of Telangana Christian Joint Action Committee, said at the time that such treatment of Christians is “unacceptable.”

“Even the responsible, so-called law protectors don’t go by the constitution that guarantees religious freedom. This shows how minorities are being treated in this nation,” John said.

Mega-Church Pastor Todd Coontz Indicted On Tax Fraud: 1.5 mil Condo Fleet Of Luxury Cars As Business Expences

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

After North Carolina televangelist Todd Coontz was indicted on tax fraud charges last week, claiming that his $1.5 million condo and luxury cars were “business expenses,” a group that monitors ecclesiastical fraud has warned that some preachers are “raping” the Christian community.

“It’s time the IRS started looking into these people that are raping the Christian community,” Trinity Foundation President Ole Anthony told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Monday.

Anthony, whose Texas-based group reports on fraud committed by pastors and televangelists, said people who scheme others out of their money are not leading Christian lives.

“They are cheating the people of knowing the mystery of God,” he said.

As The Charlotte Observer reported last week, Coontz was indicted on three counts of failure to pay taxes and four counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of false tax returns.

The televangelist and author of several books on the topic of seed giving that he says can make people rich, claimed as business expenses his family’s $1.5 million condo, along with a fleet of luxury cars, including three BMWs, two Ferraris, a Maserati and a Land Rover.

The federal criminal bill of indictment further states that Coontz provided no proof that his Regal 2500 boat, 400 charges at movie theaters, $228,000 in clothing purchases and $140,000 in meals and other entertainment were all business expenses.

U.S. Attorney Jill Rose said when announcing the charges: “This is a classic example of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.'”

“As a minister, Coontz preached about receiving and managing wealth, yet he failed to keep his own finances in order. Coontz will now receive a first-hand lesson in ‘rendering unto Caesar’ that which is due,” Rose added.

Coontz, who was the minister of Rock Wealth International Ministries from 2010 to 2014, says on his website that others describe him as a “pastor, evangelist, television host, author, humanitarian, philanthropist, businessman.”

His lawyer, Mark Foster of Charlotte, said in a statement that Coontz “unequivocally asserts his innocence … and will vigorously defend himself against these charges.”

“Todd Coontz has always endeavored to follow the law and to be a good citizen, father, and minister. He trusted others to manage his finances and taxes for him and was shocked to find out he was under criminal investigation by the IRS,” Foster said, outlining his expectation that the jury will find his client not guilty after hearing the evidence.

Anthony told CP, however, that he’s “very thankful that the IRS finally took some action,” both on Coontz and on televangelist Benny Hinn.

Hinn, who has asked his supporters in the past to step up to “higher seed-level giving” by donating $1,000 to his ministry, basing his request on Coontz’s financial teachings, admitted back in April that criminal investigators from the IRS and inspectors from the U.S. Postal Service had raided his offices in Grapevine, Texas.

Hinn said he’s “cooperating fully with the governmental entities” who are “reviewing certain operations of the Church,” but did not provide further details.

Anthony added that televangelists such as Hinn and Coontz like to “give each other credit,” and build their own ego.

“There is more fraud committed in the name of God than any other fraud in the world,” he said.

“We just found out that there’s now more clerical fraud, ecclesiastical fraud than there is money given for missions. And now, this year, it’s in the neighborhood of $55 billion for fraud, and about $49 billion for missions,” he explained.

“They are not feeding the hungry or clothing the naked or housing the homeless, they are building themselves mansions and multiple jet planes,” he said of televangelists who commit fraud.

“It’s heresy that’s worse than almost any heresy that I know of,” the Trinity Foundation president continued. “Jesus warned of it. The only time I’m aware that He said He hated something [was] the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of Nicolaitans in the book of Revelation.”

Anthony noted that while the doctrine of Balaam talks about mixing religion with politics and money; the doctrine of Nicolaitans preaches success in the world in the name of God.

“There’s no End Times revival — it’s an End Times apostasy, and we’re now seeing the greatest apostasy that the world has ever known,” he positioned.

The Trinity Foundation, he said, has submitted 38 reports to the Senate Finance Committee on abuses to the tax code and on ecclesiastical fraud that is being committed.

Anthony said that while the committee promised that there would be hearings, at the end nothing was done. He claimed that many politicians are afraid of those in the Christian community who preach “the success theology.”

“They hire the nation’s best attorneys, and ex-IRS directors,” he said of fraud suspects.

“It just infuriated me,” he said of the committee’s inaction.

The Trinity Foundation also sent CP Anthony’s unpublished comments in an interview with WSOC-TV Charlotte four years ago when when Coontz asked viewers to send him a $273 ‘Recovery Seed’ donation to experience a “supernatural change in 90 days.” The number 273 is also the number to his $1.5 million condo.

“There are many thousands that are victims that are giving their money under false pretenses, false promises. It’s a sham. In any other society it would be criminal. But in religious broadcasting it’s the soup du jour.

“There is no accountability for the ministers. They get by with anything they want to do because prosecutors and law enforcement agencies in this country do not want to go after religious figures,” Anthony said.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/televangelist-todd-coontz-indicted-tax-fraud-claims-1-5-million-condo-ferraris-business-expenses-189752/#Mpdp6JjhAbtg63s5.99