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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

After the arrest of thirteen Christians in the western part of Darfur, a state-appointed committee has demanded that a church in Omdurman turn over its properties.

According to Christian News, Sudanese security arrested thirteen Christians on Saturday from a house they had gathered at. Three people have been released so far, but it’s unclear what the charges are for the others.

Church leader Tajaldin Idriss Yousif was arrested along with church members: Alfadil Ismail Alnil, Ahmed Mohammed Hassan, Neseraldin Osman, Shemen Ahmed Shemen and Abubaker Biri.

Law allows the National Intelligence and Security Services to hold people in detention for up to four and a half months before they can be released or charged.

“We are worried because their whereabouts are still unknown,” said one source. “The Christians gathered as one body of Christ from different denominations.”

Meanwhile, another church in Sudan is being forced to hand over its land.

“The Omdurman police summoned the church’s leader on Monday [8 October] and ordered him to hand over leadership of the congregation to a rival committee,” a local source told World Watch Monitor.

"They want the congregation to vacate their compound.”

Other churches are also battling with the government over ownership of its properties. Many have faced fines and even closure.

After the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Sudan president Omar al-Bashir promised he would tighten sharia laws and recognize only Islamic culture and the Arabic language.

Since 2012, the government has expelled foreign Christians and demolished church buildings. Sudan is ranked as the fourth most persecuted country for Christians.

Photo courtesy: Kyle-Glenn/Unsplash

(RNS) — The number of Christian refugees coming to the United States from the countries where Christians are most persecuted has dropped dramatically under President Trump’s administration.

That comes despite the president’s pledge during his first week in office that helping persecuted Christians overseas would be a priority for his administration.

According to a new analysis by Matthew Soerens of World Relief, an evangelical Christian organization with a long history of resettling refugees, the number of Christian refugees admitted to the U.S. from countries noted for their persecution dropped nearly 79 percent between fiscal years 2016 and 2018.

A total 1,215 Christian refugees were welcomed from those countries in fiscal 2018, Trump’s first full year in office, which ended Sept. 30. That’s a drop from 5,731 in fiscal 2016, former President Obama’s last full year in office, which Soerens said was a “uniquely high time for refugee resettlement.”

“This dynamic with persecuted Christians and religious minorities, in particular, does not fit the campaign rhetoric, and it’s not consistent with the focus on international religious freedom that I think is an admirable goal,” Soerens said.

Soerens based his analysis on numbers from the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center and the 11 countries where Open Doors USA reports Christians face the most persecution: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and India.

“The number of people who are coming from many of those countries is 20, 23, 26 — to me, you could put them all on a small bus — compared to thousands who were coming in any given year of the previous administration or of the Bush administration,” he said.

The total number of Christian refugees admitted since 2016 declined about 57 percent, according to the analysis.

Soerens also said the total number of Muslim refugees admitted in that time declined 91 percent, a development he called “incredibly troubling.”

The decline in Muslim refugees is no surprise, said Soerens, given that Trump pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country and signed an executive order soon after taking office that impacted travel from countries with large Muslim populations. Many viewed the executive order as a Muslim ban.

Trump has set the refugee ceiling for the current fiscal year at 30,000 people — the lowest in the history of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which started in the 1980s — despite calls from many people of faith to raise it to at least 75,000.

The president already had slashed that number dramatically when he set it at 45,000 his first year in office, a drop from 110,000 in Obama’s last year in office. The country admitted a fraction of that number in fiscal 2018: 22,491 refugees.


Article originally published by Religion News Service. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: RNS/AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

A nine-year-old boy who was accused of sexual assault in a Brooklyn convenience store is struggling to move forward after being proven innocent. 

Jeremiah Harvey was at the center of a viral video dubbed “Cornerstore Caroline” when a woman, later identified as Teresa Klein, called 9-1-1 claiming that Harvey grabbed her butt. 

In a video of the incident uploaded to social media by Jason Littlejohn, Klein can be heard yelling into her phone, "I want the cops here right now. I was sexually assaulted by a child!"

After the video surfaced, it garnered national attention, many claiming that Klein only called 9-1-1 because Harvey was black.

In an interview with ABC’s WABC in New York, Klein said, “I called 911 because this woman was very aggressive.” Klein also denied the allegations that she called the police because of Harvey’s race. 

A few days later, after security footage showed that Harvey had done nothing wrong and that his backpack merely grazed the woman’s back, Klein issued an apology to Harvey. She said, “Young man, I don't know your name, but I'm sorry.”

Still, Harvey said in an interview on Good Morning America that he is struggling to move forward. 

Harvey and his mother sat down with Lindsey Davis from ABC News where he said, “It’s still hard because lately on my mind, like, I can’t think nothing but this.”

He continued, “I felt humiliated because of the way she was acting. I started to tear up.”

His mother is concerned that this incident has permanently scarred her son, but she is encouraging him to stay strong. 

Harvey’s mother said to him in the interview with ABC News, “That fear that was placed in your heart, Jeremiah, it’s gonna be placed for something great. You’re going to be an example for other children.” 

Harvey and his mother said that they have both accepted Klein’s apology, his mother urging for unity among people. 

“Friendship is the key,” Harvey proclaimed.

Photo courtesy: Matteo Modica/Unsplash

Video courtesy: ABC News