Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 066 | Wed 28 Jul 2010
'. . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, . . . looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame . . .' (Hebrews 12:1,2 ESV)
JULY 2010 UPDATE -- During July we prayed concerning . . .
INDONESIA / WEST JAVA, where Islamic fundamentalists in the Bekasi Regency on the outskirts of Jakarta have called for Sharia law to be enacted; for apostasy to cease, specifically conversions to Christianity; and for Muslims to be mobilised ready for jihad.
* UPDATE: On Monday 19 July public order personnel supported by Bogor police officers demolished a house in a village in Limusnunggal village, Bogor Regency, on the southern outskirts of Jakarta, because the Narogong Pentecostal Church had been worshipping there without a permit. Ten Christians were arrested after clashes erupted between police and distressed church members seeking to defend their church. The church had began meeting there in 2006, with the acceptance of local Muslims. However, in 2008 a group calling itself the Forum of the Muslim Brotherhood of Limusnanggal started mounting opposition. Church leaders believe the police simply gave in to pressure from the group. The church plans to take legal action against the Bogor administration.
EGYPT, where religious discrimination and persecution of Christians is escalating against Egypt's indigenous Christian Copts and an increasingly visible and therefore undeniable presence of converts from Islam. The whereabouts of converts Nagla al-Imam and her children are still unknown.
INDONESIA / PUNCUK JAYA, PAPUA, where Indonesian forces are 'sweeping' the Puncuk Jaya region of the Central Highlands, hunting for 'separatists', leaving behind them a trail of razed villages, dead livestock, burned and confiscated churches, and displaced and tortured Papuans.
* UPDATE: On 22 July, US defence secretary Robert Gates announced that the US will restore ties with Kopassus, Indonesia's notorious special forces known to have committed gross human rights violations in Papua, including the November 2001 political assassination of Theys Eluay. Doubtless the US is doing this to prevent China gaining a foothold in the region, but it is a no-win situation for the Papuans. At a Pacific Islands Forum summit meeting due to be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu, on 3-6 August, Vanuatu will support the indigenous Papuans' right to self-determination. The bipartisan motion was put to Vanuatu's Parliament after a petition of the people of Vanuatu called for a clear foreign policy on Papua.
JULY 2010 ROUND-UP -- also this month . . .
* KENYA: 4 AUG REFERENDUM COULD SPLIT CHURCHES AND TRIGGER VIOLENCE
Kenyan churches are united in their support for constitutional reform, but not in their support for the draft constitution that will go to a referendum on 4 August. Most churches are advocating a 'NO' vote because the draft constitution makes abortion more accessible; it entrenches Kadhi (Islamic) courts; and it advances ethnic federalism which many fear could trigger ethnic violence. Six died and over 100 were wounded on 13 June when a church-run 'NO' rally in Nairobi was bombed (see RLPB 060, 16 June 2010). The Kenyan government (and the US government) want the constitution passed. Some senior church figures advocating a 'YES' vote have called for Christians to boycott churches that 'peddle lies'. Church leaders in the 'NO' camp have received phone threats. A renegade 'pastor', John Kamau, and two accomplices were arrested on 17 July and charged with possessing explosive materials and for plotting to bomb a 'NO' campaign rally in Mombasa.
* PAKISTAN: ESCALATING CRISIS
Compass Direct reports that on 13 July Dr Abdul Jabbar Meammon and five other men beat, tortured and gang-raped Christian trainee nurse Magdalene Ashraf before attempting to kill her by throwing her from a window of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center. Whilst Magdalene has spoken to police and the Christian Lawyers Foundation, she is in a critical, life-threatening condition. Sharia law discriminates against women and against non-Muslims, meaning violent crimes of religious hatred may be committed with impunity. Such is the phenomenally vulnerable state of dhimmis. Brothers Rev Rashid Emmanuel (32) and Sajid Emmanuel (30) were shot dead on 19 July by five masked gunmen outside the Faisalabad courthouse. Their bodies showed signs of having been tortured in police custody. The brothers had been deliberately framed by predatory Muslims and falsely accused of blasphemy. Reportedly it was widely expected they would be exonerated as the evidence was clearly in their favour. However, Muslims had been demonstrating and calling for the death penalty.
* RUSSIA: PASTOR ASSASSINATED IN DAGESTAN, NORTH CAUCASUS
Pastor Artur Suleimanov (49), a convert from Islam, was assassinated on 15 July as he got into a car outside his Hosanna House of Prayer Church in Makhachkala, the capital of the North Caucasus Republic of Dagestan. He leaves behind a wife, Zina, five children, and one of the largest Protestant congregations in the Republic. It is not yet known whether Pastor Suleimanov was targeted by officials, Islamists or mafia, any of whom could have had issues with his Christian ministry. Dagestani authorities reportedly had recently become more hostile to the church's various humanitarian ministries. Meanwhile the Islamic insurgency continues to wreak havoc across the North Caucasus, with analysts commenting recently that Dagestan 'increasingly appears to be the new focal point of insurgent activity'. (The Jamestown Foundation, 18 June.)
* USA: TWO MORE CASES OF DISCRIMINATION SET PRECEDENTS
The University of Illinois sacked Professor Kenneth Howell on 9 July after he was accused of 'hate speech'. Professor Howell, a respected Christian who had been teaching at the university for nine years, offended a student from his class, 'Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought'. During the spring semester, he explained in an email to the student that according to Catholic doctrine, 'A homosexual orientation is not morally wrong just as no moral guilt can be assigned to any inclination that a person has. However, based on natural moral law, the Church believes that homosexual acts are contrary to human nature and therefore morally wrong.' The offended student complained and the professor was sacked. Meanwhile Jennifer Keeton (24), a graduate student pursuing a masters degree in school counselling at Augusta State University, has been told she will be dismissed from the program unless she is prepared to alter her 'central religious beliefs' concerning homosexuality. Miss Keeton, a Christian, has been ordered into a 'remediation' program and to undergo 'diversity training' where supposedly she will be 'sensitised'.