Wednesday, April 28, 2010

053. April Update; incl. Australia, Iran, Nigeria, USA

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 053 | Wed 28 April 2010

APRIL 2010 UPDATE -- During April we prayed concerning . . .

SUDAN, where fraudulent elections have crushed hopes for a united, secular, democratic Sudan.

* UPDATE: As was inevitable, the Arabist, Islamist, dictatorial, genocidal regime of Omar al-Bashir won the elections. Al-Bashir won 68 percent of the presidential votes, while candidates belonging to al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) won the majority of seats in the National Assembly as well as governorships of 13 of the North's 14 states. Western powers, including the US, while acknowledging the election was flawed, are accepting the results as legitimate, citing progress in the 'process of democratisation'. (In reality, the only 'progress' that has been made has been in the art of cheating.)

The southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) will control Southern Sudan, having won 93 percent of the vote in the South. The SPLM has abandoned the oppositional National Consensus alliance and renewed its own alliance with al-Bashir's NCP. South Sudan's President, SPLM leader Salva Kiir, will also be Sudan's Vice President. So al-Bashir rules, the opposition is divided, and the SPLM thinks it can guarantee South Sudan (home to 80 percent of Sudan's oil) a smooth secession by empowering and entering into an alliance with the lying, cheating, oil-dependent NCP of al-Bashir. Travesty! Pray for Sudan's Christians.

UK, where the controversial Equality Bill that will challenge Christian consciences has now passed through the parliament and awaits only Royal Assent to become law.


KYRGYZSTAN, where the Church is praying that the new inclusive government will be able to establish security and address the repressive Religion Law (enacted January 2009). Kyrgyzstan is awash with rival clans, drugs and guns. The risk of State collapse and conflict is high. Please pray for the Church in Kyrgyzstan.


APRIL 2010 ROUND-UP
-- also this month . . .

* AUSTRALIA: VICTORIAN STATE GOVT. PASSES EQUAL OPPORTUNITY BILL

On 15 April, Victoria's State Labor Government, in alliance with the Greens, passed the highly controversial Equal Opportunity Bill 2010 in the upper house by 21 votes to 17. Even though the Bill that passed was considerably weaker than the Bill initially proposed, it will still negatively impact churches as well as religious schools, charities and other bodies. The Act empowers the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) to investigate at will, even in the absence of a complaint, and requires non-discrimination in employment unless it can be proved in the appeals tribunal (at great expense) that the attribute in question (such as belief or lifestyle) is an 'inherent requirement' of the job. The employment of ministers and pastors is about the only exception. (Note: The Victorian EOC was the force behind the 5-year-long vilification case launched by the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) against two Christian pastors in 2002.) The Victorian Government's next project is a review of hate laws, possibly widening them to include 'prejudice'. Pray for God to awaken and prepare the long-comfortable Australian Church.


* IRAN: CHURCH FACING INTENSIVE PRESSURE

Middle East Concern reports that on 11 April Iranian security agents under the orders of the Revolutionary Court arrested a young believer named Daniel (19) during a raid on his Isfahan home. Electronic equipment and books were confiscated. The charges against Daniel include establishing a house-church. On 14 April, security officers raided a fellowship meeting in the Karaj home of house-church pastor Bahnam Irani. The officers confiscated property and assaulted Bahnam as they arrested him. The believers who were present were all required to give details to the police of how they were converted and who baptised them. They have been warned that they will face further questioning. This is the second time Pastor Bahnam Irani has been imprisoned for his faith. Please pray for the besieged and persecuted Church in Iran.


* NIGERIA: PASTOR AND WIFE MURDERED IN BAUCHI

On 13 April eye witnesses saw suspected Islamic militants drag Rev. Ishaku (or Ishaya) Kadah (48) and his wife Selina (45) from their home in Boto, Bauchi State, northern Nigeria. The militants murdered the couple and burned their bodies, which were found only hours later. Ishaku and Selina served with the Church of Christ in Nigeria, and their home was also used as the church's headquarters. On 22 January Islamic militants had set fire to their church which was being used to shelter Christian refugees fleeing religious violence in neighbouring Plateau State. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and Abuja has appealed for government action to address the issue of persecution of Christians in the north. CAN has urged persecuted Christians to remain calm and to continue to pray for peace in Nigeria.


* USA: FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION IN THE BALANCE

The US Supreme Court heard the case 'Christian Legal Society v Martinez' on 19 April. The case concerns anti-discrimination provisions at Hastings College of the Law (part of the University of California) that maintain that student group membership and leadership positions must be open to all students without discrimination. In 2004 the Christian Legal Society (CLS) introduced a requirement that its members sign a statement of faith and abstain from 'unrepentant participation in or advocacy of a sexually immoral lifestyle'. ('Members' then have voting rights and are eligible for leadership roles.) As a result, Hastings de-registered the group. The CLS sued, contending that Hastings' anti-discrimination policy violated the CLS' First Amendment right to associate with those it chooses and to select members and officers committed to promoting its beliefs and values. After the Lower Court ruled in favour of the College, CLS appealed to the Supreme Court. After hearing the case, the justices are split on the issue. Their precedent-setting decision is due before July.

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Jesus said: 'If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. . . . I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. . . . I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.' (John 15:19; 16:1, 33 ESV)