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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Sarah Curlee

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is being sued after demanding that a Christian organization permit “atheists or other non-Christians to lead their Bible studies” in order to be recognized on campus. 

While the school officials declined to comment on the situation, the Alliance Defending Freedom stated that: “The university refused to grant Ratio Christi registered status because it only allows those who share and personally hold beliefs consistent with the group’s mission to serve as its leaders.” 

“As a Christian apologetics organization, Ratio Christi seeks to defend the Christian faith and explain how the Bible applies to various current cultural, ethical, and political issues. Any student can attend its events. Any student of any faith can become a member of Ratio Christi, as long as he supports the group’s purpose. But Ratio Christi requires that those who lead the Christian organization must share its religious beliefs. As a result, the university has denied it registered status, limiting its access to funding, meeting and event space, and administrative support,” said the legal team.

The lawsuit disputes the school’s belief that it can refuse registered status to groups if they choose leaders that agree with the group’s religious outlooks.

Additionally, it notes other biased actions by the school against the Christian group, including that “non-religious groups are allowed to select members who support their purposes. And the university allows fraternities that admit only men and sororities that admit only women to continue as registered student organizations, in contradiction to the university’s policy against ‘discriminating based on sex.'”

Director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, said that regardless of  “claiming inclusiveness and diversity as its core values, the University of Colorado is failing to foster real diversity of thought and is, instead, discriminating against a Christian group based on its beliefs.”

“Today’s university students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, university presidents, and voters, but at the University of Colorado, students are learning the wrong message: that government can dictate who can lead certain student groups,” he stated. “It’s vital that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

According to WorldNetDaily, the filing is on behalf of Ratio Christi, Brian Blevins, Kayla Callender, Joshua Stoll and Emily Danis.

The filing discloses: “The First Amendment dictates that the ‘marketplace of ideas’ on a public university cannot prefer some viewpoints and cannot exile or denigrate others. It dictates that the government cannot force a religious organization to appoint as a leader someone who does not share that organization’s beliefs or to accept as a member someone who does not support its mission. Nor can the government force citizens to choose between exercising their constitutional rights on the one hand and participating in government-run programs on the other.”

Once school officials declined to register Christi “because this religious organization seeks to ensure that its leaders share its beliefs and that its members support its mission,” the bias became evident. 

The case alleges that, through its practices, the school is supporting anti-Christian groups over Christian groups. 

“This action is premised on the United States Constitution and concerns denial of plaintiffs’ fundamental and clearly established rights under the First Amendment.”

The complaint alleges that the school is requiring its students to pay activities fees while wrongfully depriving them of their use. 

Photo courtesy: Alexis Brown/Unsplash

In what she is calling a “new order,” award-winning singer Celine Dion has launched a gender-neutral clothing line collaboration.

The “My Heart Will Go On” singer has partnered with clothing company NUNUNU to create a clothing line called CELINUNUNU for babies and young kids which according to the website, “liberates children from the traditional roles of boy/girl and enables younger people to grow on values of equality with the freedom to strengthen their own power of personality based on mutual respect.”

The website goes on to say, “People, and for that matter—little humans, express themselves through clothes. We would like to enable them to be who they are, so that their choices are driven by their own true essence and free spirit, beyond stereotypes or any norm.”

In an ad that was released last week, Dion is seen standing in a hospital nursery surrounded by babies in pink and blue onesies. 

She says, “Our children, they are not really our children, as we are all just links in a never-ending chain that is life.”

She continues, “For us, they are everything, but in reality, we are only a fraction of their universe.”

“We miss the past. They dream of tomorrow. We may thrust them forward into the future, but the course will always be theirs to choose,” she continued.

The singer then pulls out a box of black glitter and blows it in the air. Like magic, the male and female signs on the wall change to plus signs and the babies are adorned with the black and white clothes from the line of which feature plus signs – a symbol that has come to represent equality – the phrase “new order” and skulls.

According to Christian News Net, the singer took to Twitter to announce the launch of the line on Friday writing, “The new label that never labels. Free children to choose who they are.” 

The announcement of the launch has been met with harsh backlash, many finding the ad to be Satanic in nature. 

One person commented on the ad on YouTube writing, “That is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen. They are really getting blatant about revealing their satanic plans for the world. Get right with God NOW, people. Jesus Christ is our only hope!”

Another user simply wrote, “DEMONIC.” 

While the ad has garnered more negative feedback than positive, boasting 2,800 dislikes on YouTube as compared to 1,300 likes, some people did agree with the singer’s message. 

One YouTube user wrote, “People are mad like they've never bought a 5 pack of white newborn clothes.” 

She continued, “Neutral clothing is easier to mix/match and hand-me-down. Also, it's probably easier to look at when you haven't had much sleep. Buying gender specific clothing is fun but like, you'd save money this way if you plan on having multiple kids.”

“This brand isn't the first to have neutral clothing. I see them all the time. Wee babies don't know the difference, I say give your eyes a rest where you can!” she concluded.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Jesse Grant/Stringer

Video courtesy: CELINUNUNU

HYDERABADIndia, November 19, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Villagers hostile toward Christians in northern India falsely accused a pastor of an illicit relationship with a woman and, in another village, burned a church building, sources said.

As people throughout the country on Nov. 7 prepared to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, neighbors alerted pastor Satpal Masih that his Pentecostal church building in Giddi village, Gurdaspur District in Punjab state, was ablaze.

The pastor dismissed the notion that the church building caught fire from a festival accident, saying Diwali begins well after 8 p.m., and he rushed to the burning building at 6 p.m.

“Moreover, the church is built on a farm, and it is nearly impossible that anybody would go onto a farm to play with fireworks,” Pastor Masih told Morning Star News. “After looking into all possibilities, we understand that it is an act done by some elements who oppose the ministry in the area. Police came to the spot and filed a First Information Report [FIR] after conducting a preliminary investigation. They clearly said that it can’t be an accident.”

He said the fire seemed to have been set on Diwali to look like a fireworks accident, but that there was no evidence of any such explosives and no loud noises until plastic chairs and equipment inside caught fire.

��In fact, it was a massive fire, and the simple festive fireworks can’t cause that great damage,” he said.

Police requested 48 hours to examine the site before any church clean-up, he said, but the Christians have not heard back from officers. They cleaned up the charred remains so the damaged structure could be used for worship.

“We met the higher officials, and I informed them about the increasing opposition to Christian prayers in Gurdaspur District and urged them to conduct a fair investigation,” Pastor Masih said.

He knows of at least four cases of violence against Christians in Gurdaspur in the past few months, he said.

“Putting aside our concerns of what happened and who did it, it is vital [to understand] that such acts are done to hurt the emotions of Christians and hinder the spread of the gospel in Punjab,” he said.

Plastic chairs and mats turned to ashes, he said. The fire destroyed an estimated 52,000 rupees (US$725) in equipment and other items, but he and others were able to douse it before it reached a room where musical instruments and electronic equipment were stored, he said.

After obtaining land for the site in 2012, the congregation of 300 people including children had recently funded and built the worship hall, he said.

“They have all been excited about Christmas and festivities to begin next month in this new church building, and have felt a bit let down because of the incident,” he said. “During Sunday service, we told them that we do not know how it happened, why it happened and who had done it, but as the children of the Lord Jesus we must pray and forgive them, and that it is a great blessing to suffer for Christ’s name.”

The pastor and his wife, both converts from Sikhism, had decided to share the gospel among Sikhs in Gurdaspur District after graduating from a Bible college in Ludhiana District in 2007. 

Sikhhism originated in the monistic teachings of Guru Nanak, of Punjab, at the end of the 15thcentury. 

Character Assassination 

Also in Gurdasur District, hard-line Sikhs on Oct. 31 attacked a pastor in Chaksharif village and accused the married father of two of having an illicit relationship with a woman.

The pastor, also named Satpal Masih, was riding his motorbike to a nearby ATM to withdraw funds to pay workers hired to construct his church building when a gang of Sikhs attacked him, he said.

“Suddenly, a mob of at least 15 gheraoed [surrounded] me, and pushed me off the bike,” Pastor Masih told Morning Star News. “They started punching me and abused me in vulgar language. They said I had illicit affairs with women, and that I invite women to church and do sexual exploitation.”

He suffered a tear in his shoulder, injuries to his leg and back, and he was hospitalized for nine days.

The 42-year-old pastor has been in leadership for more than a decade, and the entire village knows him, his wife and their integrity, he said.

“My heart was deeply troubled; those allegations are totally false,” he said.

His brother, Yakub Masih, said the pastor’s wife constantly accompanies him in his pastoral work and meetings, such that an affair would be impossible.

“There is not an iota of doubt, their accusations are completely false,” Yakub Masih said. “As Christianity started growing in Punjab, Sikhs felt insecure that churches are sprouting and are always filled with hundreds. They came up with a new rule here that whoever goes to a church must not enter the gurdwaras [places of worship for Sikhs), and gradually the number of people going to gurdwaras in the area had drastically come down.”

Opposition increased when the church constructed its building, Tarsem Singh, a Christian from Chaksharif who now resides in France, told Morning Star News.

“The woman with whom the Sikhs accused the pastor of having illicit relation is a born-again Christian, and her husband and children are also the active members of the church,” Singh said. “My five sisters and I have come to know Christ because of Pastor Masih, and he treats every one of us [including the woman accused] as his own children. His sermons send warnings and alerts to lukewarm Christians, which is the reason why the new converts learn to fully adhere to the church. This doesn’t go well with the Sikhs in the area.”

The assailants took pastor Masih to the police station, where officers demanded 15,000 rupees (US$208) for his release. He did not have the money, and they released him at about 10 p.m.

After discussions with family members and other Christians, he decided to ask police to register a case and investigate, saying the allegations assassinate his character.

Yakub Masih said the village council investigated the accusation and found him blameless. Police informed the Sikhs that they could be charged based on the pastor’s complaint, and on Nov. 7 Sikhs from Chaksharif and four surrounding villages visited the pastor in the hospital and apologized, Yakub Masih said.

“The next morning was a working day, and police had no other option but to lodge cases, but as they had apologized, my brother said, ‘The Lord has taught us forgiveness’ and that he can’t pursue a case against them,” he said.

Since his discharge from the hospital in Gurdaspur on Nov. 9, Pastor Masih has been bed-ridden and under medication. 

Forcible Conversion Accusation 

In neighboring Himachal Pradesh state, police on Nov. 3 summoned Pastor Rajinder Singh of Solan District after a former member of the church filed a complaint of forcible conversions. 

At the police station in Baddi, the inspector told him that Vishwanath Singh had complained that the pastor had forcefully converted his wife, and that now she wanted to forcefully convert him, Pastor Singh told Morning Star News.

“It was a shock to me,” he said. “I have not met them in the last three months, as my wife was pregnant and gone into labor, and he accused my wife and a female believer also in his complaint.”

Vishwanath Singh, an immigrant from Nepal, first visited the church in Baddi with his wife and child in 2015, the pastor said.

“They came to the church and told us about their child’s illness. He suffered severe pains in his joints and had to be operated on every year, and they were spending thousands for his treatment,” Pastor Singh said. “My wife and I fasted and prayed for the child for weeks, and the Lord healed the child.”

The family then attended church services regularly, but later Vishwanath Singh stopped coming while his wife and child continued, he said.

“My wife and I had together counselled the couple,” the pastor said. “He always received us very well, but I heard that he has joined the [Hindu extremist group] anti-Christian forces.”

Baddi police booked Pastor Singh, his wife and the female church member on non-bailable charges of deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings (Section 295-A of the Indian Penal Code) and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion (Section 153-A).

“I have no legal knowledge and have no idea what the cases are about, but with the help of a Christian attorney, we are seeking anticipatory bail from the court of law,” Pastor Singh said. “Since it is the first time we came cross a problem like this, and our baby is just three weeks old, we are praying for the Lord’s grace.”

He requested prayer for anticipatory bail.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which undertakes legal advocacy for religious freedom in several countries, notes in its campaign celebrating the 70th anniversary of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that such abuses are taking place in a country that has a long tradition and legal framework of freedom of religion. Article 18 of the U.N. declaration asserts that believers have the freedom to practice their faith “in teaching, practice, worship and observance,” ADF notes in its campaign to obtain signatures supporting the Geneva Statement on Human Rights at www.ImHumanRight.org.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution. 


If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.  

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

 

 

 

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