Blog – 2017 1st Quarter
Weekly Commentary March 19-25, 2017
Our report this week (click here to read) has a number of accounts concerning refugees in China, Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Malaysia, and Nigeria. Two Christian leaders from different denominations have both reported in separate stories that the extinction of Christianity in Iraq now appears nearly inevitable.
A Christian was killed in Kenya. The health of another, Maryam Naghash-Zargaran (aka Nasim), has taken a turn for the worse in prison in Iran, and she has again been denied access to medical treatment. Please pray for her!
In total we have over 10 pages of arrests, abductions, and assaults, plus a few other stories.
Canadian bishops have been fighting for a law that will prevent Christian health care providers from losing their jobs if they refuse to participate in euthanasia; currently no such protection exists.
The government in the Indian state of Goa – which has a significant Christian population – has broken the law to ensure that Hindu radicals will be able to control the legislature despite their loss at the polls.
Pakistan saw two cases of discrimination:
- The Christian category was listed on the new census forms with a derogatory term
- An advertisement for the hiring of municipal sanitation workers effectively said ‘Only Christians, Hindus, and Shia Muslims need apply’. When Christians protested the government apologized – for having added the Shia to the list!
What fun-loving cards! These Pakistani bureaucrats must have laughed all the way to their late-afternoon cricket games.
As usual, please continue your prayers for the suffering and for those who inflict it.
Weekly Commentary March 12-18, 2017
Two named Christians were reported as having been killed in this week’s report (click here to read), although many more without names were killed, especially in Nigeria. Both killings were in California in the U.S. Another Christian was reported to have died of natural causes in India and was then denied a burial until his son converted to Hinduism (which he later recanted).
The only good news was the rescue of 25 seminarians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who had taken refuge in the jungle after their seminary was attacked by militiamen in February. Every other account is of an assault, false arrest, or other attack on Christians for their faith. This report does have a few unusual stories.
In Indonesia the split between moderate Muslims who support Ahok [the Christian governor of Jakarta] in his blasphemy trial and the radicals who instigated the trial has widened, with some mosques refusing Islamic funerals to Ahok’s supporters.
The Indian government has banned a U.S. Christian charity from operating in the country, in an apparent attempt to choke foreign financial support for domestic Christian activities.
A Catholic institute in England announced it was moving to Rome after the government revoked its license to grant visas to its foreign students. The revocation came after 10% of its student applicants had been denied entry to the country. Why were they denied? Because they could not prove they were not risks who would overstay their visas. Most Catholic priests, after all, are not married. African Catholic nuns with vows of poverty have no personal bank accounts. Obviously these people were a danger to the country, even though all of the past students of the institute had returned to their homes to resume their ministries. The founder of the institute attributed the government’s actions to ignorance, but the pervasiveness would seem to demonstrate a deeper level of malice on the part of some in the Home Office in London.
Malice can also be seen in Argentina, where a number of cathedrals were attacked in the last two weeks. Two were arson attacks. Another was a feminist demonstration in which a woman dressed as Mary the mother of Jesus underwent a simulated abortion in front of the cathedral. The reader should not be quick to dismiss this act. It is in fact just another proof of the growth of the idea in some circles that the world would have been a better place if Jesus had been aborted. Of course the corollary to this idea is that His followers also are a hindrance to utopia and should have met a similar ‘fate’. Again, do not dismiss this. We live in a world where some advocate a population reduction of perhaps 6 billion people to ‘save the planet’. Dragon teeth are being sown in fertile soil, and we cannot predict what monsters may sprout in another 50 or 100 years.
Pray, if not for yourself then for your children or for your grandchildren’s grandchildren.
Our Lady of the Incarnation Cathedral, San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina – courtesy Anadiez
Weekly Commentary March 5-11, 2017
The good news this week (click here to read the full report) concerns the end of part of a three year refugee crisis in the Central African Republic and the freeing of an Iraqi woman from the Islamic State [ISIL] who when asked to convert had said “I don’t want to be like you”. A court case in the United States ended in favor of a persecuted Christian. Also, the personal secretary of the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church escaped harm when her alleged murderer was caught at the airport with the cyanide he had bought while under police surveillance – the perpetrator was a priest!
The bad news?
A family who had converted in Somalia was attacked in their home. The mother and 11 year old son were shot dead, the father was hospitalized, and the younger children escaped.
Christians were arrested, sentenced to prison, or otherwise continued to be held in captivity in China, Iran, Kazakhstan, and Yemen – the Kazakh story is particularly heart rending. Christians were assaulted or reported as recovering from their injuries in India, Kenya, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Christian refugees continue to suffer in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan (where aid money has started to dry up), and Sri Lanka. One of the Sri Lankan cases is most interesting: a Pakistani family has been denied asylum despite their possession of the x-rays showing five bullets inside one son; the bullets were put there after he declined the invitation to Islam. The UN has been demanding additional information that could only come from the persecutors.
The main western persecution story is that of a British Member of Parliament who entered Parliament with Lenten ashes on her forehead: the BBC screamed on Facebook that she had broken the law. In Venezuela the Church has continued to oppose the inhuman economic policies of the government, and so a bishop there has been listed on this report because his words may have made him a target for retribution. The same is the case of a bishop in Mexico who condemned the murder of a journalist by organized criminals, and of a journalist who has written of growing incitement to religious violence in the Pakistani media.
Please pray for all of these people, and most of all for those in our final story. The tribal conflict in South Sudan that has been underway for the last three years is now growing to genocidal proportions. It appears that another mass murder of millions may be in the near future. It will happen, that is unless the perpetrators have a change of heart through God’s grace, because as usual (in the words of a bishop who has fled to the safety of Uganda) “The world is busy with itself”.
Weekly Commentary February 26 – March 4, 2017
We have a 16 page report this week (click here to read). The links in it to the original news sources will lead to hundreds of pages. There is one case of Christian against Christian conflict in Ukraine, where members of a church loyal to the Moscow patriarchate stayed overnight in their church building to prevent its seizure by members of a church loyal to the Ukraine patriarchate.
Sts Peter and Paul Church, Kynakhivtsi, Ukraine – courtesy rusk.ru
It is so unfortunate that most incidents of non-Christian against Christian conflict are not as peaceful as this. Here is a sample of quotes from various parts of the world this week:
- From a pastor in China on his way for questioning “Please pray for me. I will not return if they want me to do something that contradicts the law, the truth, my belief, or my conscience. If I am really sentenced during the New Year, sisters and brothers, please believe that I always have a clear conscience toward God and my fellow men”
- From a priest on the Gaza strip in Palestine “…upholding Christian values like forgiveness, charity, and fraternal love is hard. That is why Christians here are heroes. They know how to keep the faith in a hostile environment and stand more and more as an example for those, even in the West, who experience dimly and superficially their Christian faith”
- From a Christian leader in India regarding the Hindu extremist invasion of a Christian-Hindu interfaith wedding “With this [current anti-conversion] law the fascist forces oppress and humiliate the tiny Christian population, even during a special event such as marriage…What is more serious is that the police are saffronized and collaborate with Hindu extremists”
- From a Christian member of the Iranian parliament “Recently, a group of extremist Muslims destroyed an Armenian church in Sava near Marivan County. Armenians have voiced their concern over this issue and officials are investigating to find those responsible”
- From an Eritrean refugee in a camp in the Israeli desert “I left Eritrea because of religious persecution. I have been in Israel for over five years. I am now persecuted by two governments that have failed to protect me: the Eritrean government that forced me to leave my country and my family, and the Israeli government that ignores my asylum request and treats me like a criminal by putting me in Holot”
- From the wife of an abducted minister in Malaysia “I don’t know what is happening. I appeal to whoever has taken him not to harm him. He is a good husband, father and pastor, who helps the poor…Raymond would be very happy today if he knows not only Malaysia is praying for him but also the whole world”
- From a witness to atrocities in Nigeria “Apparently Josephine had escaped from the village and sought safety in the grass. The attackers then set the grass ablaze and left her for dead”
- From a church leader regarding a Christian family arrested in Pakistan on false theft charges “Very often this kind of allegations is levelled against Christian domestic workers by rich home owners because they belong to minorities and marginalized groups. Most of the time, the charges are unfounded. Employers do not want their employees to free themselves from their bondage”
- From a Philippine Senator arrested for her opposition to the government’s extrajudicial killing of drug dealers and addicts “It is my honor to be imprisoned for the things I am fighting for. Please pray for me”
- From the Louisiana state chaplain who was booed while leading a town hall invocation in the U.S. “People ask me all the time if I am mad at the people seemingly speaking out against God and Jesus. My answer is that I’m not mad, but I am sad that it has come to this in our country…We need to remember that Jesus has been booed many, many times and He will be booed again”
- From Egypt, where our report this week lists 4 pages of atrocities as the Islamic State has accelerated its calculated mass murder of Christians in the Sinai, to the point where Muslim bus and taxi drivers are now under threat of death if they help Christians escape “The men went back inside to find my husband. I heard him plead, ‘I’m a sick old man,’ but they didn’t respond. They shot him twice in the head. Then they came out and asked me if I am a Christian. I said I was, then they asked me what my relationship was to the two men. ‘They are my son and husband,’ I told them. They asked their names and I answered. One of them was holding a list of many names and when I gave their names, he looked at the list and ticked them off with a pen”
We all have a soft spot for courage. We love stories where people show their best and even display a level of faith that approaches the saintly. Yet it has always been our belief that martyrs are not always saints, and that it is possible for a Christian to witness to persecution while expressing hopelessness, anger, and disbelief. Here is another quote from such a Christian in Egypt. Her complaints should be taken with a bit of skepticism, but let us remember to open our hearts to her harsh words and pray for her in her suffering.
- From Egypt “No, your holiness. This suffering is too much and we are tired. Which god would allow this torture? Enough with the talk that doesn’t mend the wounds! Our children and men are being killed in front of us. We fled our homes and you’re still repeating that God is consoling us, and then you return to your homes and your churches away from us….Where is the [Coptic] Pope? And where is our Bishop Kosman [the bishop of the North Sinai diocese] who shut the door of the cathedral on our faces when we asked to hide there or at least put our children there. We see Syria and Iraq on television, but we see no coverage of Sinai, except for lies”
Announcement March 1, 2017
Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, has issued a statement regarding the accelerating killings of Christians in Egypt. This statement is extremely eloquent and may be read by clicking here. Please read it and pray for all of his intentions. Thank you.
Weekly Commentary February 19-25, 2017
Valentine’s Day is one of the subjects of this week’s report – click here to read it. As you may know, today’s holiday of romantic love began as a Christian celebration of love and fidelity to God. The name Valentine or Valentinus (and Valentina, its female version) was a very common name in Third Century Italy and after. Records show that several Christians named Valentine were killed for their faith by Roman persecutors of the time, including two bishops, a priest, and a virgin. One of the bishops has been recorded as being killed on Valentine’s Day 269.
Valentine’s Day 2017 was little different. Two elderly bishops who had suffered years of persecution and imprisonment died on Valentine’s Day of natural causes, one in China and one in Vietnam. A 50 year old Christian convert in India reportedly died after he and his wife were tied by Hindu radicals and forced to stay in a cold pond overnight – all night he replied to taunts that he return to Hinduism: “I will not deny Christ…I will continue to believe till my last breath”. His wife and son, who had been forced to watch, survived. Two Iranian Christians who have been imprisoned without trial since August 2016 stopped their hunger strike on Valentine’s Day after receiving promises of legal action and medical treatment. Imagine: a hunger strike on a day many of us give and receive chocolates!
This week’s report covers news from 14 nations. Please read it over. Please pray for our modern martyrs. Please love them.
Weekly Commentary February 12-18, 2017
No report this week, our sincere apologies.
Weekly Commentary February 5-11, 2017
We will begin this week’s report (click here to read in full) with our only reported death. Another victim of the December 11, 2016 Cairo Egypt church bombing has died – a 14 year old girl.
The life of a Christian in Kazakhstan is at risk: he is now held in pre-trial detention and has been denied cancer treatment.
Christians have been abducted in Egypt, Mali, and Pakistan. Besides Kazakhstan, Christians have been wrongfully incarcerated in Egypt and Iran. A Pakistani refugee family in Thailand fears arrest since their immigration to the U.S. has been delayed.
The Philippine Catholic Church has officially condemned the current extrajudicial murders of persons involved in the illegal drug trade, and stated that it expects to be persecuted in response.
A Catholic church in Venezuela was invaded by pro-government agitators during Mass. The agitators locked the congregants in the church and hectored them in response to the comments made by some church leaders regarding the economic breakdown they and their government have caused.
A church in Germany saw a funeral disrupted by a Muslim migrant. On the other side of the ledger an Indonesian church may have finally overcome Muslim objections to its opening.
Church in Schnaittach, Bavaria, Germany – courtesy CEN and London Express
Please pray for all of these people and for all the others we know nothing about.
Weekly Commentary January 29 – February 4, 2017
Good news: seven Christians incarcerated in Ethiopia in two separate incidents have been released, as has a Pakistani who was accused of blasphemy three years ago. However, one of the Ethiopian stories was essentially a ‘Christian versus Christian’ event, and we have two other such stories from Mexico and Ukraine.
Two Christians were reported killed in this week’s report (click here to read), one in Germany and one in Pakistan, both cases were truly despicable. Nineteen total incidents were reported from 14 countries, with many arrests and beatings. Pakistan was the source of one fifth of the report.
Church leaders from countries affected by the new U.S. immigration policies were generally against the changes, and their comments are recorded on this report. One Iraqi archbishop – who has personally been affected by the policy change – was also very critical of the Western protests of the new policy. He noted the protesters’ complaints about the imposition of a ‘religious test’ for immigration, and in effect asked:
“Where were these protesters when the Islamic State was imposing a religious test on us?”
Some of the current Western protesters must be Christians, and they, like all of us, need to have their assumptions challenged at times. Let us thank God that an archbishop from Iraq did so, and let us pray that we all be given the grace to listen to each other. God willing, future Today’s Martyrs reports should have fewer cases of ‘Christian versus Christian’ discrimination, not more.
Weekly Commentary January 22-28, 2017
The good news in this week’s report (please click here to read) involves two stories. In Iraq a Christian woman was discovered to have been hidden from the Islamic State for two and a half years by her Muslim neighbors. In Myanmar two ministers who had disappeared and who were thought to be dead at the hands of the military have resurfaced alive – thank God! – but will be tried on a charge of ‘illegal association’ for having reported on the destruction of a church.
Speaking of church destruction, two church buildings have been demolished in Nigeria, with more threatened, and one in China.
Lord Chosen Church, Dutse, Jigawa State, Nigeria – courtesy World Watch Monitor
Christians were killed in Bolivia, Egypt, and South Sudan. The Bolivian victim was a young Polish missionary who had been in the country only two weeks before she was killed in a robbery. The Egyptian was killed during Christmastime while trying to provide for his family. Six persons were killed in a chapel in South Sudan apparently during catechism.
An Indian engineering professor and Gideons member is in a coma after he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage following acts of persecution. Please read his story and pray for him!
Other acts of persecution were reported in China, Egypt, Greece, India, Pakistan (including two atrocious sexual assaults), the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam. The UK stories involve the pelting of Scottish Catholic worshippers with eggs and the firing of one of the Queen’s Chaplains for having stated that the reading of a Quranic passage that explicitly denied the divinity of Jesus in a Christian cathedral was inappropriate. To his credit this Anglican priest refused to back down. Please pray that such clarity will prevail in our willfully confusing times!
St John and St Columba’s Church, Rosyth, Scotland – courtesy Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh
Again, you may read this week’s full report by clicking here. Please continue your prayers for our world.
Weekly Commentary January 15-21, 2017
The report this week (click here to read) is a strange mix of events. Christians were reported killed in Egypt, the Philippines [though the report from there is a year old] and the United States. The U.S. report involves a mentally ill perpetrator of a mass shooting, and it has taken two weeks to confirm that his motives were in some way anti-Christian. Unnamed Christians were killed in Nigeria.
Christians were fined in Azerbaijan, detained in China, deported from Sudan, allowed to return home in Iraq, and saw a church demolished in Sri Lanka. The prosecution of an Indian nun’s rapists failed due to police malfeasance – they had deliberately arrested innocent men to derail the prosecution. The body of a Christian stolen from a cemetery in Kyrgyzstan with police connivance is still missing. Mexican Christians continue to be persecuted by syncretic Christians. Persecution is growing in the Philippines.
Aside from the mass shooting in the U.S. we have several other ‘Western style’ examples of persecution:
- German immigration officials have been deporting Christian converts from Islam with the ‘help’ of Muslim translators. They have also been playing the same ‘gotcha’ questioning games that have been seen in the UK and the U.S. (Quick: What are the names of the two brothers in the Prodigal Son parable? What year did Paul convert to Christianity? Don’t know? Get back to the Mideast, you fraud!)
- A German church was used illegally as a prop in a sacrilegious ‘art’ video.
- The atheist Prime Minister of Greece has been threatened with being banned from churches due to his sacrilegious behavior and anti-Christian policies.
- Prosecutors in the United Kingdom continue to turn a blind eye to illegal sex selection abortions and have succeeded in pinning the court costs on the Christian whistleblower.
Perhaps the saddest tale comes from China concerning female refugees from North Korea. The reader needs to know that the details of this account are absolutely horrible. You may not want to read it, but please pray for all those affected by the evils on this week’s report. God bless.
Weekly Commentary January 8-14, 2017
We would like to say that this week’s report has good news (click here to read), but that would not be true. Well, mostly. There were an unusually large number of attacks on church leaders and ministers by the mentally ill. Clergy in Brazil and Italy survived these attacks, but a nun died in Belarus. Also, a man sent to kill a bishop in Uganda repented and converted to Christianity, but that led in turn to the bishop getting a beating in an attempt to find and murder the former assassin. Christians were killed in Nigeria, but the toll was lower than in recent weeks. So, the good news this week is mostly ‘it could have been worse’.
Basilica of St. Mary Major, Rome – courtesy Pierre-Selim Huard, CC BY 4.0 and Wikipedia
Another priest has been killed in Mexico. His bishop said “We live in a wrecked environment, in a shattered society, and priests do not live under a bell jar”.
A Chinese pastor from the government sanctioned church has been charged with embezzlement, apparently because he would not approve of his provincial government’s church demolition program. A video has been released of a Christian held in captivity in Mali.
In Pakistan shoemakers are now selling shoes with crosses in their soles, so that the wearers can desecrate the most sacred Christian symbol with each step.
In the Western democracies persecution continues to follow its usual forms. A priest in New Jersey in the United States has been sued along with his hospital for refusing on religious grounds to perform gender reassignment surgery. And a government bureaucrat in the United Kingdom stated before a parliamentary committee that the teaching of traditional Christian morality in Christian schools should be illegal, which prompted some choice rebuttals from the bishops there.
Please look over this week’s report and please continue to pray. Remember, it could always be worse.
Weekly Commentary January 1-7, 2017
Merry Christmas to all who follow the Eastern calendar!
The news in this week’s report (click here to read) is mercifully short and somewhat muted. Three Christians died in Egypt: one man was murdered outside his liquor store by an assailant who shouted “God is greater!”, a woman died 24 days after she was critically wounded in the December 11, 2016 bombing of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Cairo (bringing the death toll to 28), and a priest who has witnessed many cases of persecution including his own vehicle’s firebombing has died of natural causes. Another priest in Pakistan who likewise has assisted his persecuted brothers and sisters has also died of natural causes.
The most evil story is from China, where a Christian with ovarian cancer has been denied treatment by the government. Unspecified covert steps have been taken by Christians in China and abroad to obtain treatment for her, but it is not assured this will happen.
A new convert in Uganda was ‘coerced’ into consuming poison by her Muslim relatives. We can thank God that she survived, but it appears she may also have been a victim of a lack of catechesis training: she apparently did not know how respond to her relatives’ misuse of the Bible. This event shows how we as Christians should all have awareness of the need to be clear and complete in the presentation of our faith.
Christians were arrested or imprisoned in China, Pakistan and the United States, but were freed in China and Sudan. The U.S. case appears to be a political prosecution: a Missouri man was arrested while praying on a sidewalk outside an abortion clinic on domestic terrorism charges and then released on his own recognizance! Really! Somehow the alleged crime does not fit the court’s action – but it does fit the need of the proponents of new pro-abortion legislation.
Christians were beaten in China and driven from their homes in Pakistan, but have continued to return to their homes in Iraq.
Finally, Christians have objected to renewed allegations by the leader of the RSS paramilitary organization that Christians are a threat to Hindu India.
Welcome to 2017! Please welcome the new year with your ardent and hope-filled prayers!
Blog – 2017 1st Quarter