Christian Persecution: British Charity Accused of Funding Boko Haram

Boko Haram

Men look at the wreckage of a car following a bomb blast in Abuja last year.
The terrorist group Boko Haram was suspected. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

I have written about the terrorist war on Christians in Nigeria before. Nigerian Christians are being subjected to murderous attacks from an Islamic group which calls itself Boko Haram.

Guns, bullets and bombs do not build themselves. Money from the West often turns out to be the source of terrorist funding. These bloody enterprises frequently hide behind the name of “charity.”

So, it’s not unusual or surprising that Nigerian media accused Al Muntada, a British charity of providing funds to Boko Haram. An article from The Observer says in part:

Peer raises fears over UK charity’s alleged links to Boko Haram

British charity is under scrutiny amid claims funds ended up in hands of Nigerian terrorists blamed for killing hundreds

A British charity is under scrutiny amid claims some of its funds have ended up in the hands of African terrorists blamed for killing hundreds of people.

Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group in Nigeria with close links to al-Qaida, has targeted churches and Christians as it seeks to spread terror across the country.

The Nigerian media has reported that the country’s state security service, working with local and international agencies, believes money raised by the Al Muntada Trust found its way to Boko Haram.

A charity of that name, which has its headquarters in London, raises money for disaster projects in Africa. It has attracted controversy in the past for giving a platform to radical clerics.

Lord Alton of Liverpool told parliament in July there was evidence Boko Haram carried out 600 murders this year and called for it to be proscribed in the UK as a terror group. Its rise has alarmed Africa experts and prompted concerns of “blowback” for the UK as its supporters return from Nigeria. (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Israel and the Global War on Christians

American Christians are among Israel’s most stalwart supporters.

Evangelical Christians, in particular, have been unyielding in their demands that America stand by the tiny nation. Their advocacy for Israel has raised the political stakes concerning America’s policy toward Israel in the upcoming election.

Violent persecution of Christians is a growing reality in much of the world. It cuts especially deep when it happens in countries and comes from people that Christians here in America support. There is an innate desire to turn our heads and pretend that it isn’t happening. As a long-time supporter of Israel, I understand the feeling. However, our first allegiance must be to our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a September 7 article Playing politics with the global war on Christians, John Allen discusses just such a conundrum: The violent persecution of Christians in Israel. Members of my parish went on pilgrimage to Israel last year and came back with eyewitness testimony concerning similar stories. It appears that persecution of Christians in Israel is real.

You can write the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren here. Please do so. If there is one country that should be willing to listen to American Christians it is Israel.

The article says in part:

Playing politics with the global war on Christians

Most people, most of the time, are fundamentally decent. Hence if they knew that there’s a minority facing an epidemic of persecution — a staggering total of 150,000 martyrs every year, meaning 17 deaths every hour — there would almost certainly be a groundswell of moral and political outrage.

There is such a minority in the world today, and it’s Christianity. The fact that there isn’t yet a broad-based movement to fight anti-Christian persecution suggests something is missing in public understanding.

In part, of course, the problem is that unquestionable acts of persecution, such as murder and imprisonment, are sometimes confused with a perceived cultural and legal “war on religion” in the West, a less clear-cut proposition. In part, too, it’s because of the antique prejudice that holds that Christianity is always the oppressor, never the oppressed.

Yet as with most things, politics also has a distorting effect, and a story out of Israel this week makes the point.

On Tuesday, the doors of a Trappist monastery in Latrun, near Jerusalem, were set ablaze, with provocative phrases in Hebrew spray-painted on the exteriors walls, such as “Jesus is a monkey.” The assault was attributed to extremist Jews unhappy with the recent dismantling of two settlements on nearby Palestinian land.

Founded in 1890 by French Trappists, the Latrun monastery is famed for its strict religious observance. Israelis call it minzar ha’shatkanim, meaning “the monastery of those who don’t speak.” Ironically, it’s known for fostering dialogue with Judaism, and welcomes hundreds of Jewish visitors every week.

Tuesday’s attack was not an isolated incident. In 2009, a Franciscan church near the Cenacle on Mount Zion, regarded by tradition as the site of Christ’s Last Supper, was defaced with a spray-painted Star of David and slogans such as “Christians Out!” and “We Killed Jesus!” According to reports, the vandals also urinated on the door and left a trail of urine leading to the church.

Last February, the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land wrote to Israeli authorities to appeal for better protection after another wave of vandalism struck a Baptist church, a Christian cemetery and a Greek Orthodox monastery. That time, slogans included “Death to Christianity,” “We will crucify you!” and “Mary is a whore.”

At the time, the custodian, Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, complained that no arrests had been made in any of these cases. (Read more here.)

 

Christian Persecution: In the West, Where the War Is Forced Upon Us

Hearings on a discrimination suit filed by four British Christians against their government began September 4 in the European Court of Human RightsThe Christians say that they have lost their jobs because they would not comply with demands that they violate their Christian faith.

Their complaints range from a woman who was fired because she wore a cross on a necklace to work, to a registrar who lost her job because she refused to conduct same-sex cvil partnerships. These people have been the object of ridicule for filing these claims. But they have persisted, even in the face of predictions that they will ultimately lose the case. This article from The Telegraph gives more details:

David Barrett

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012

In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.

It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.

A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.

The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life. (Read more here.)

It appears that Britain has crossed the line into active legal discrimination against people of faith. This lawsuit and the attitude of intolerance toward Christians that caused it should be harbingers for the rest of us.

Violent persecution of a group of people doesn’t spring fully grown from nowhere. It grows from smaller things and lays down roots of acceptance in our minds and hearts in an incremental, almost invisible fashion.

Christians in much of the world are subjected to the brutality of violent discrimination that often approaches genocide. We haven’t gotten to violent persecution here in the West. But I believe we are moving in that direction.

Much of Western society today hovers somewhere between openly accepted verbal harassment of their Christian majorities and active legal discrimination against them. Majority populations have been subjected to active discrimination and violent persecution by a minority which has control of the governing apparatus of the country before. South Africa is one recent example.

Here in America, people of faith in general and Christians in particular have been subjected to a barrage of lawsuits seeking to wipe all mention of faith out of our public life. These lawsuits force us to chisel God’s name off our monuments, take down religious symbols from our parks and public facilities and ban all mention of the Almighty at public events such as football games. Most recently, there has been a move to do away with the National Day of Prayer and to expunge “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

The HHS Mandate and lawsuits trying to force religious ministries to refer women for abortions have broadened these attacks from a debate about monuments, public prayers and slogans. They are now attacking the Church itself.

Meanwhile, verbal agitation aimed at silencing individual citizens becomes more strident and widespread. Private conversations between two people in line at a grocery store can be hijacked by the Christian-basher standing behind them who rudely interjects his (it seems almost always to be a “him.”) version of the usual atheist canards attacking their faith. The sense of entitlement these people seem to feel to harass, insult and bully Christians is truly mind-boggling. Christians often find themselves falling silent about their faith simply because they get worn out by the constant hassle and circular arguments these people force on them.

This is harassment. The names that Christians are called and the way that Christianity is attacked in some of the media has become so extreme that it can fairly be called hate speech. This is not benign. It is Christian baiting and it’s time we called it that. 

We are in a plunge downward here in America. Yesterday’s outrageous insults against Christians become today’s accepted beliefs. The line between an aggressive secularism and active legal discrimination was crossed with the HHS Mandate.

In Britain, this has evidently reached the point that individual Christians face loss of their jobs for something so small as wearing a cross on a necklace. Other Christians lose their jobs if they refuse to participate in activities that violate their faith.

It isn’t such a big step in a violent world from social bullying and legal discrimination to violent persecution. In fact, the legal apparatus, if it becomes draconian enough, actually supports and protects the persecutors.

I hope that the European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of these four Christian petitioners. But even if it does, to paraphrase a line from an old Star Trek episode, the war is still forced upon us. A positive ruling in the four Christians’ favor would not turn back the tide of Christian-baiting and the constant push for more discriminatory laws against people of faith.

If the court rules against these Christians, the matter becomes even more urgent. A negative ruling will open the door for what almost certainly will be oppressive laws that force Christians to chose on a daily basis between Jesus and their jobs and eventually, their freedom.

I quoted Vijay Ooman, of Nigeria in an earlier post. What he said is worth a second read:

When we hear and read of how a Christian nation, founded by those who left Europe because of the persecution they faced, has today abandoned that call, its not only sad but pathetic.

Can any of the western countries ever be called as a Christian nation any more? It is no different than a child denying his own parents and telling the world ‘ I dont know who they are”…

It is time the Churches in the west turned back to profess and be the witnesses they once were..

Based on the letters I get, I think a lot of Christians around the world are watching us here in America as we fight for our basic freedom of religion. American Christians need to start standing up for Jesus in their daily lives. If this misuse of the law to force us to violate our faith continues, we need to be prepared to practice non-violent civil disobedience. After all, don’t we sing in our churches that we are “soldiers of the cross?”

Christian Persecution: Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ready to be Martyrs

Ready To Be Martyrs

Coptic Christians in Egypt claim their ancient roots.
DAVID PINAULT | SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
the cover of America, the Catholic magazine

My sharpest memory from Cairo is what my driver said: al-Masih biygarribna, “Christ is testing us.” I’d hired Sami to drive me around the city. As soon as I saw on his wrist thewashma, a faded tattoo in the shape of a cross, I knew he was a Copt, a member of Egypt’s Christian minority, a community that predates the Muslim presence by centuries.

Since the early 1980s I had been to Egypt many times as a student of Arabic, as a researcher and as a tour guide on Nile cruise-boats. But this visit in 2012 was my first time back since the onset of the Arab Spring and Egypt’s “Lotus Revolution.”

As we drove, Sami told me about the persecution Copts endure at the hands of Egyptian Salafists. Salafists are Muslims who want an Islamist government in which the harshest interpretations of Islamic law (shariah) are privileged at the expense of both non-Muslims and progressive-minded Muslims. “Things had been less worse for us under Mubarak,” Sami said. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s authoritarian ruler until his ouster in the revolution, had suppressed Islamist radicals. But now, said Sami, the Salafists feel bold enough to burn churches, incite anti-Coptic riots and call openly for the expulsion of Christians.

I told him the statistics: in 2011 and 2012, since the revolution’s onset, over 100,000 Copts have fled Egypt. “Well, I’m not going to leave,” Sami insisted. “Christ is testing us. I tell my friends to stay. Christ could end this suffering, this trial, at any time. How will you feel, I tell my friends, if you’re in Canada instead of Egypt when Christ returns?”  (Read more here.)

Christian Persecution: Christians are the World’s Most Persecuted Religious Group

By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter
May 4, 2012|7:59 am

WASHINGTON – The head of a California-based evangelical religious liberty group stated Thursday that Christianity is presently the most persecuted religion on earth based on evidence gathered.
Dr. Carl Moeller told The Christian Post at an event on rising religious intolerance abroad that Christians are “the most persecuted in the world” when the nonprofit examined religious groups suffering from increased persecution.

“In terms of sheer numbers, the large size of the Christian populations around the world, where they’re repressed or restricted… Whether you count martyrs, those killed, or you count those living in regimes, sizable Christian populations live under extreme restrictions in places like China, Indonesia, and of course the Middle East,” said Moeller.

He noted that “the methodology for determining this was not from Open Doors necessarily. It was through organizations like Pew Research.”

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/christians-most-persecuted-religious-group-in-the-world-says-expert-74332/#CAUz9TZKyZYKOcZF.99

Christian Persecution: The Martyrdom of Nigeria

…. Would to God that ”christians” from the west come to places like Nigeria, especially in the North to places like – Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Madiguri, where Christians are slaughtered , burnt alive, beheaded, killed – their only sin is that they are professing Christians , as the world would term ‘fundementalists- Bible believing Christians. Yet none of them will ever want to change their lot of what the west has in store…..

Remember, as we here in Nigeria live, each day at a time, knowing that any day can be our last…There is No fear with us, as we know we can only be killed/ dead ONCE!! And it makes ALL the difference to live for our Lord Jesus Christ, and be counted as worthy to suffer for HIS name , rather than someday die and find we have lived only for ourselves, and were ashamed to stand up as MEN for the Lord…..

Vijay Oomen, Nigeria. 

He didn’t want to go back.

That’s how I met him and his wife. He is an Anglican Bishop in the city of Kano in Northern Nigeria. He had managed to get out with his family and find temporary safety in this country. His Visa had expired.

And he didn’t want to go back. 

He told me about the anti-Christian riots in Kano. He described his parishioner who was grabbed by the mob. His voice rose as he told me how they bent the man over a saw horse. The last sentence came out strained, as if the memory was a hand squeezing his chest. “Beheaded,” he said. “They bent him over a saw horse and beheaded him.”  

He spoke of the five churches in his diocese, burned to the ground.

He talked about his daughter who had been taken by the mob. Of the anxious hours not knowing if she would survive. 

His wife, the calm one, told me, “If the Bishop doesn’t stand, the people will all run away.”

It was so matter of fact, the way she said it. But it gave me a glimpse of a meaning of the word bishop that goes beyond title and privilege and into responsibility for souls that has no limit. If the bishop doesn’t stand, the people will all run away. 

He wanted, desperately to stay in America. Nigeria, the land of his birth, had become the place above all others that he wished to avoid. I did my best to keep him here, but nothing worked. He went back. To Nigeria. To Kano. To be the bishop who does not run away.

That was 1998. 

Today, things are even worse. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, head of Nigeria’s Conference of Bishops, says that more than 800 people have been murdered in his Archdiocese of Jog. Churches have been burned to the ground with worshippers inside them. Sunday after Sunday, Christians at worship are attacked by armed men who leave scores of dead behind them.

A group of murderers who claim that they are killing for Islam named the Boko Haram have declared “war” on the unarmed Christian civilians of Nigeria. Every day brings news of fresh atrocities, especially in the Northern city of Kano. 

“There needs to be a response from the international community,” Archbishop Kaigama told an international conference on August 22. “Pressure your governments, do not abandon us.” 

His speech, titled The Martyrdom of Nigeria, We Need a Miracle from God was to the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation on Wednesday, August 22, 2012.

The comments I quoted above by Mr. Ooman, a Nigerian member of the Baptist Church, are echoed by other Nigerian Protestants. On August 23, the National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor announced that Christians will not match the violence against them with violence of their own. He said in part:

“We will not encourage our people to carry arms against anybody whatsoever the situation may be. For those that are behind Boko Haram, you come to us with AK47, bombs, charms and other dangerous weapons, but we come to you in the name of God.

“I want to assure Christians in Nigeria that Christ has always been with his people. He will never give victory to those persecuting Christians and the Church. Whoever is trying to exterminate Christians and Christianity from Nigeria is neither pleasing God nor his people”, he said.

In his welcome address, state chairman of CAN Bishop Emmanuel Ereola Igbokoyi urged Christians not to be timid of whom they were serving as their rewards is in heaven. Read the rest here.

When I asked Mr. Oomen what one thing I should say that Nigeria needed from Americans, here is what he said:

IF there is one thing we can do is to PRAY..without ceasing.

All to often the “Christian church” has flooded the Lord’s work with money and more money using all sorts of cliches and misquoted bible verses like ‘seed money’ etc etc which has nothing to do ‘LIVING AND WITNESSING ‘ AS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST EXPECTS OF US.

DONT  send any money BUT pray without ceasing.

Prayer is far far  more expensive thats why many dont engage in it.

Ask the Churches, and believers JUST PRAY and keep on PRAYING that the Lord will grant us the courage to be HIS witnesses for HIM in these end times. Can you and the others just do that please?

Go  on any webite of the situation in Nigeria – Kano and other places and see what is being reported.

29th April 2012 terrorists burst in and shot dead over 15 believers at the University campus. Of them 4 Professors.

Others students.

Their ONLY crime/ fault . that they were worshiping and praising God on that Sunday.

Now has the work ceased????.. No, instead others instead of fleeing are staying put, WITH MORE boldness given by the HOLY SPIRIT to be living for our Lord Jesus.

When we hear and read of how a Christian nation, founded by those who left Europe because of the persecution they faced, has today abandoned that call, its not only sad but pathetic.

Can any of the western countries ever be called as a Christian nation any more?

It is no different than a child denying his own parents and telling the world ‘ I dont know who they are”…

It is time the Churches in the west turned back to profess and be the witnesses they once were..

Thank you dear sister for your concern. God bless you.

My pledge to Mr. Ooman, and to Archbishop Kaigama, Pastor Oristsejafor and the Bishop from Kano whose name I cannot say is that I will pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary for them this day. 

I am also going to send an email to my United States Senators, asking them to encourage the State Department to help my brothers and sisters in Christ in the Persecuted Church in Nigeria. 

Hopefully, some of you will do the same. 

Survey: Increasing Hostility Toward Religion in USA

In what may be one of the more poignant stories of the week, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute released a survey Monday that details the rise in hostility toward religion in America.

Just a week ago, a gunman attempted to enter Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC, wounding a security guard. Law enforcement has treated this as an incident of Domestic Terrorism. That certainly puts an explanation point at the end of yesterday’s press release from the Family Research Council.

According to CNA/EWTN news,

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2012 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A report examining court cases from recent years has found that hostility towards religion has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States.

The newly-updated Survey of Religious Hostility in America serves as “a testament to the radical shift in our culture’s worldview” on religion, said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

On Aug. 20, Shackelford and Perkins announced the release of the updated analysis, describing “more than 600 recent examples of religious hostility” in the U.S., most occurring in the last decade. Read more here

The full report on the rise of hostility toward religion in the USA can be found here.


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