India – Not safe to be Christian? Catholic Forum Report on Indian Persecution 2015

January 21, 2016 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead, Persecution

Persecution-2015

India Rises to No. 17 on Open Doors Global Persecution List 2015

CSF Documents Over 200 Major Incidents of Persecution & Hate Speech

Catholic Forum Documents Unprecedented Spike in Indian Christian Persecution

Maharashtra is Hindutva capital. MP is Rogue State No. 1 with Telengana and UP following

Minimum 7 Pastors Killed. 8,000 Victims. Women & Children Targeted. An Incident Per Day

Top 10 States include – Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Odisha,  Rajasthan & Delhi

The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the Mumbai based minority and human rights activist NGO has in its annual report for 2015 highlighted the quantum leap in persecution cases during the last year. Justice Michael Saldanha, retired judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts released The CSF Indian Christian Persecution 2015 Report, brief info of which is as below.

Joseph Dias, CSF founder and general secretary, pointed out that USA and the European Union have placed embargoes on nations that failed to protect minorities and endangered religious liberty, while asking the following questions:

1. Is any other religion persecuted as much in India, as Christianity – which is the world’s largest religion?
2. Why is it that PM Modi’s government is unconcerned about world opinion & allows persecution?
3. What would be the reaction from other faith followers, if their community was treated as such?

Persecution Across Over 23 States

8 Believers Paid with Their Lives for Christ.

1 & 2. In Odisha, a Christian couple was killed by CRPF (July) after being branded as Maoists,
3. In Odisha again, Jeejo, a missionary was killed (August) by Maoists after complaints from other locals.
4. In Chhattisgarh, an Evangelist Sadavir of the Koya tribe was attacked & killed (January) for his faith by fundamentalists.
5. Pastor Krupaiah in Telengana was brutally assaulted died (July) of internal wounds, which finally proved fatal.
6. Pastor Martin Luther from Tamil Nadu was attacked (September) and killed, while his wife sustained serious injuries.
7. Pastor Saji Panikar in Maharashtra was found killed (September), with his wife saying he was murdered.
8. Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty was shot dead (October) in Jharkhand, reportedly for his evangelical activities in the area.

* Minimum 365 – An Incident per Day.
Reports from almost every state in the union have come in. In the last year we could highlight at least 200 major instances of being targeted for being Christian and an equal number is estimated to be unreported. There is agreement among all those working on Freedom of Faith or Religious Liberty issues that 2015 is the peak so far. The Secular & Minority NGOs, Persecution Christian Watchdogs like CSF, Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Clergy from all Denominations and Evangelical / Pentecostal / Independent Churches agree that freedom of religion has never been so much under threat, as presently in the country.

* Madhya Pradesh Tops as Rogue State.
The sheer numbers and all pervasive nature of anti-Christian violence reports coming in from almost all districts and across a wide spectrum of persecution categories as mentioned below, notoriously qualifies Madhya Pradesh for the most persecuting state top slot. The anti-conversion law was amended in spite of there being no issue arising out of religious conversions to warrant it. The punishment for forcible or fraudulent conversions was increased to more that one-year of rigorous imprisonment and also cash fines. This has served as a signal and pretext to the Hindutva foot-soldiers that the BJP state government wanted the needful to be done.

* Spike in Anti-Christian Violence Against Women.
The CSF had drawn world attention in March 2008 to the sad plight of nuns, whose social work is often labeled as conversion activity. It was when Sr. D’mello and others were targeted by Hindutva forces in rural Maharashtra and CSF had taken up the issue. Thereafter in August 2008, we witnessed rape of nuns and women during the Odisha riots. The widows and children left behind by those martyred for the faith tell heart-wrenching stories. 2015 saw at least 3 nuns raped or molested and many of women stripped, two of whom were pregnant and lost their babies, besides hundreds being beaten up brutally. The year had instances of their children not being spared either.

* Maharashtra – The Maximum Potential Hindutva Lab.
The state has emerged as the Hindutva capital of India. A pastor was reported killed. Even rationalists have not been spared and shot in cold-blood. In Pune over 2015 end, almost 1,60,000 Hindu hardliners, all dressed in khaki shorts, white shirts and black hats, put on a massive show of strength at an elaborate rally. VHP organized jagran (awareness) programs in 45 district capitals and places like Satara, Aheri in Gadchiroli, Amravati and Bhandara. In July 2015, a private member bill was admitted, seeking an anti-conversion law. The mover, BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar said there were several places in Maharashtra, where conversions were being carried out forcibly or by offering bribes.  Swami Narendra Maharaj claims to have recently re-converted around 1,800 tribal Christians back to Hinduism.

* Telangana & UP in Top 3 States where Christians are Persecuted.
A pregnant Telangana believer lost her 4 month old child, as she was beaten until she bled from her genital region and the state is noted for targeting Christian women. In UP churches have been desecrated with a dog’s chain put around one of the statues, while reports of reconversions continued. In both states there was a marked increase in violence, with Easter, Christmas and Sunday Worship services being targeted. Many pastors are known to have been beaten brutally and a cemetery near Meerut containing Briton graves was also not spared. Schools and institutions were also attacked, with complaints of the police acting on false complaints.

* Top 10 – Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Odisha & Delhi.
In Tamil Nadu, a pastor and his family was attacked by armed persons, resulting in his death and wife being hospitalized with grievous injuries. In Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, pastors and believers were killed too. In Haryana, a cleaner lost his job in a government primary health center, burial of a Christian was prevented and the Hisar Believer’s Church was demolished. In Delhi, churches were vandalized around the new year, 200 Christians including nuns and priests were arrested and pastors were assaulted. In Odisha, there was little hope of justice to  2007 / 08 riot victims and in the central India states of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, Christians continued to held under anti-conversion laws and socially boycotted. In many places, Christian worship was not possible. In Rajasthan, Christian families had to flee villages, police participated in persecuting believers, Christians were forced to worship idols and Bibles / religious literature were confiscated.

* Ghar Wapsi Goes Underground. Bahu Lao, Beti Bachao.
Anti-Conversion Laws, Foreign Missionaries etc.The reconversion to Hinduism pogroms continued unabated, but without media glare as we received reports from states like AP, MP, Assam, Kerala, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, etc. In at least 5 districts of West Bengal, the VHP responded with a ‘Reverse Love Jihad’ where it promoted Hindu grooms getting married to Christian and minority women after conducting Shuddhikaran (purification) ceremonies. BJP MPs (Tarun Vijay – Rajya Sabha and Yogi Adityanath – Lok Sabha) are to place a private member’s anti-conversion bill, which has been supported by the BJP top brass. 7 Indian states have already passed such laws. Foreign missionaries who have spent several decades in service of the poor and sick are being denied visa extentions. There is also a possibility of a national anti cow-slaughter and uniform civil code legislation.

Christian Victims Profile

- 8 Killed. Minimum 8000 Victims
- 4000 Women with 2000 Children Involved
- 500 + Clergy & Community Leaders Targeted

Cross Section of Over 200 Major Incidents Spread

States 2015 2014
Madhya Pradesh 29 23
Telangana 20
Uttar Pradesh 19 12
Jharkhand 11 2
Tamil Nadu 12 5
Chhattisgarh 21 19
Delhi 10 5
Haryana 8
Odisha 14 13
Karnataka 16 14
Kerala 10 9
West Bengal 7 2
Andhra Pradesh 6 *
Maharashtra 6 2
Rajasthan 5
Goa 4 2
Bihar 5 4
Punjab 3 1
Assam 2
Gujarat 2 1
Arunachal Pradesh 1
Himacal Pradesh 1
Kashmir 1
Total 213 120


Hate Speech Samples

There was a motive behind the service Mother Teresa provided to the poor — to convert them to Christianity.
* Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief

The 1857 war of independence, a communal war fought for religion and similar wars would be waged, if Christians did not stop conversions. The allegations of communal overtones in the gang rape of an elderly nun were a conspiracy of the church and that sexual exploitation of nuns was a Christian culture and not that of Hindus. The Pope is so worried about rape of nuns that he is promoting gay sex to stop it.
* Surendra Jain, VHP joint secretary

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government should award and provide legal and administrative protection to Hindus who attack churches across the country. Churches are no longer places of worship but factories for conversion of Hindus into Christianity. We would give awards and protection for Hindu youths who attack churches and marry Muslim girls.
* Munna Kumar Shukla, general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha

Muslims and Christians don’t have any right to stay here. So they would either be converted to Hinduism or be forced to run away from here. I will ensure that India is freed of Muslims and Christians by December 31, 2021. The enemies have tried many a time in the past to finish Hinduism. But every time, a Ram, Krishna and Chanakya came forward to finish them and restore the glory of Hinduism. I am also doing the same.
* Rajeshwar Singh, Dharma Jagran samiti, UP

The population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, Centre will have to impose emergency, and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilization so that they can’t increase their numbers
* Sadhvi Deva Thakur, vice president, All India Hindu Mahasabha

Hindu population will soon reach 125 crore through meaningful ‘Gharwapsi’
* Sadhvi Saraswati from MP

Wait for some time, a law will be passed in Parliament in which anyone indulging in cow slaughter and conversion will be punished with the death sentence. A Hindu woman must have at least four children. Give one to the army, another to us religious leaders and teachers.
* Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP from UP

The Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was a British agent. India got freedom from the British rule not by spinning the charkha, but because of sacrifices made by brave sons like Veer Savarkar and Bhagat Singh. If Hindu women have four children, one can become an engineer, one can become a doctor, one can protect the borders and one can be devoted to the cause of social service.
* VHP leader, Sadhvi Prachi

The Hindu Mahasabha has ordered about five hundred Nathuram Godse (killer of Mahatma Gandhi) statues from artists in Jaipur and plans to install them in the premises of temples across India.
* Mahasabha leader to media

We will install Gauri-Ganesh statues in every mosque, if given permission.
* Yogi Adityanath, BJP MP from UP

The government wants to deliver double-quick on the Bhagwad Gita lessons in school education — right from Class I to Class XII.
* Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana CM

A mosque / church is not a religious place but is just a building that can be demolished any time. God does not live in mosques, but in temples.
* Subramanian Swamy, BJP leader

Persecution Categories

Reported 2015 attacks on Indian Christians are miniscule compared to the actual ground zero reality, where the CSF works. The reason is that activists fear the political resurgence of Hindutva forces that has made even mere mention of harassment, only worse. Most persecution goes unreported for various reasons. Often the police refuse to record it as such, as it would show them in bad light. For the media, it‟s not “news” and there are instances of the local media being biased or taking sides. Often, persecution goes unrecorded because the victims are too afraid to complain or a compromise is forced upon them by politicians. Persecution is also blamed on causes, other than religious – mental illness, drunkenness, economic, enmity, etc. The CSF has categorized the incidents as under:
A. Killed/Murdered/Death
B. Beaten/Assaulted/Manhandled
C. Women Beaten/Molested/Raped
D. Church Broken/Ransacked/Demolished/Shut Down
E. House Broken/Car/Bike/Belongings Destroyed
F. Worship Meeting Disrupted/Stopped
G. Pastors/Christians Arrested/Jailed
H. Hate Speech/Threats/Abuses
I. Foreign Missionaries Targeted
J. Others – Ghar Whapsi, etc.

Steep Rise of Hindutva in 2015

The year saw the RSS consolidate itself in almost every sphere of activity, with the BJP – one of its 38 ideological affiliates – preparing to strengthen its hold on the country’s polity. The BJP recently became the world’s largest political organisation with 10 crore BJP membership. The current estimate of 1.5 crore RSS membership is largely through its digital forays. Online membership requests  touched 7,000 a month in 2015 aggregating 85,000 last year. Shakhas are the smallest unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and it now has 51,330 RSS shakhas operating in 33,222 places. The Sangh Pariwar spread is near total with Kerala, having over 4,500 shakhas, the highest number in India, despite never having had a BJP government.

The RSS had many of its 700 mega rallies including one for Overseas Sanghites at Indore, with Lok Sabha (lower house in parliament) Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan inaugurating it. Over 750 delegates from 45 countries attended. The ‘NGO’ is very successful on social media too, with over 15 lakh ‘Likes’ on its Facebook page and 1.5 lakh followers on Twitter. “Their Facebook page has some of the best graphic designers,” says a youngster whose grandmother is with RSS. He says the organization has a network of WhatsApp groups and generates content for WhatsApp. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a major spawn of the RSS, is to construct temples in every village across the country. The target is to reach 1.25 lakh villages. It had been observing Ram Mahotsava has already reached 70,000-75,000 villages pan India. The RSS meetings also see the presence of prominent personalities from among police, media, science, judiciary, education, bureaucracy, armed forces, god-men and women, litterateurs etc.

Institutional Persecution

* Presidential Order of 1950
* Anti-conversion Legislation
* Foreign Contributions Regulation Act
* Toothless and Non-Existent Minorities Commissions
* Various Sections of Indian Penal Code
* Schedule Tribal Benefits and Forest Act
* Finance and Government Schemes
* Bills and Commissions
* Land Allotment for Religious Needs
* Infringement of Minority Rights under Art 30

Appeal

* Sabka Vikas, Sabka Saath
* Political Representation
* Economic Upliftment
* Holy Land Subsidy
* Odisha Justice
* Enactments
* Finance

For more info, contact:

Justice Michael Saldanha (Retd)
Bombay & Karnataka High Courts

Joseph Dias, MA (Econ) +91 9769555657 [email protected]
Ex-Special Executive Magistrate, Govt of Maharashtra

God’s love in our hearts

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

“Whoever does not love does not know God,
because God is love.” 1 John 4:8.

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is their confidence in the love of Christ,
and the relenting of their hearts to Christ in return.

Faith sets its seal on us by enabling us to praise Jesus who
“loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Then love will give in return!
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.

God's Love
In old days, in the earliest time of the Christian religion,
this reciprocal love was clearly seen in Jesus’ followers.

They were men and women who knew the love of Christ,
and rested on it like someone might lean on a trusty cane.

The love they felt towards the Lord was not a quiet emotion hidden deep within!
They didn’t only speak of their love in private meetings on the first day of the week.

When they sang hymns in honor of the crucified savior Jesus Christ,
it was with a passion that was so enthusiastic and powerful that it shone through in all their actions,
their speech, and even the look in their eyes.

god's love
Love to Jesus was a flame which was fueled by the heart of their passion.

From there its force burned its way outward to shine brightly into the world.
Devotion to the glory of Jesus was the outward sign of all genuine Christians.

Due to Christ’s love they risked much,
and because of their love to Christ they accomplished much.

“And it’s still the same today!
We, the children of God,
are still ruled in our lives by the power of love ‘.

Jesus Calling
The love of Christ should still cause us to rejoice.

Do we feel our hearts lit afire by the Holy Spirit,
and then by force of the gratitude they feel as the love of the Savior fills our hearts?

- fwd: vc mathews

Case against Kerala Hindu Ezhava leader for communal speech

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

hate speechThiruvananthapuram, December 01, 2015: Kerala Police on Monday registered a case against Hindu Ezhava leader Vellapally Natesan for a speech, just a few hours after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said communal speeches, as those delivered by Natesan, have never been heard in the state till now.

Police in Aluva registered the case against Natesan under section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (that deals with charges of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), state Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala told reporters here on Monday evening.

Responding to the news of a case being registered against him, Natesan said he just revealed facts and did not mean to raise communal feelings.

“I will deal with this case politically and legally,” Natesan said at a public meeting in Kottayam.

Earlier in the day, at a press conference here, Chandy said: “He (Natesan) is spitting communal venom and his statement that the government is extending gratis to a brave person Naushad, who died while saving two lives, is most unfortunate and painful and made without knowing facts.”

Auto-rickshaw driver Naushad died in Kozhikode last week, when he bravely entered a manhole to rescue two migrant labourers who had got stuck there.

Natesan, who is on a state-wide yatra promoting a yet-to-be-announced political party of Hindus, said that if anyone has to get gratis from the Chandy government, then they should either be a Muslim or a Christian.

“I happened to read a news report on the tragic death of Naushad… and I decided to visit his house. When I was there, his friends, relatives and those gathered there requested me to help the family by giving a government job to Naushad’s wife and also financial assistance,” Chandy said.

“I said I will do the needful and this issue will come before the cabinet on Wednesday. I feel it’s the responsibility of the society and the government to extend help and it would be done,” he said.

“My government has always taken a humane approach to such incidents and has helped many people, as I think it’s our responsibility and it’s given looking at the need,” the chief minister added.

The Congress and the CPI-M have demanded tough action against Natesan for trying to invoke communal passions through his speeches.

“State Congress president V.M. Sudheeran has written a letter seeking action against Natesan for his inflammatory speeches and that has been passed on to the home department. The law will take its course,” said Chandy.

Natesan’s rally will reach the state capital on December 5 when he is expected to announce formation of a new party.

- tcn

Permission for beef, pork festivals at Osmania University refused

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Osmania UniversityHyderabad, December 05, 2015: Amid mounting tension on Osmania University campus over proposed beef festival by some students’ groups and a counter pork festival and ‘Gau Maata’ puja by their rivals, Hyderabad police on Friday decided not to give permission for any of the events.

With some groups going ahead with preparations for beef festival on December 10, their rivals also gearing up to hold pork festival and ‘Gau Maata’ puja the same day, police said no group would be allowed to hold any festivities.

In a statement, police said the decision was taken to maintain peace and tranquility in the campus.

“The members of the student community and others are requested to cooperate in this regard. All possible steps shall be taken to maintain peace and tranquillity in the Osmania University campus,” the statement said.

Some leftist and Dalit students’ groups have announced that they will hold a beef festival on Human Rights Day to uphold food right as one among the human rights.

Though the university authorities have refused to allow any festival, the groups said they go ahead with their plan.

On the other hand to counter the beef festival, right wing Hindu groups led by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) have declared that they will conduct worship of cow at the temples on the campus and also take out a rally on the same day. They have also decided to stop the beef festival.

Some other groups opposing the beef festival plan to hold pork festival on the same day. Bharatiya Janata Party’s legislator Raja Singh has threatened that if beef festival was allowed, a Dadri-like situation might occur.

Students Federation of India (SFI) and others planning to hold beef festival have lodged a police complaint against Raja Singh. They also approached state human rights commission, seeking protection for the beef festival.

- tcn

From 2016, Maulana Azad’s birth anniversary not of concern to Maha govt

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

maharashtra governmentMumbai, December 04, 2015: The BJP-Shiv Sena coalition government in Maharashtra has decided to not include India’s first Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in its list of 26 anniversaries of National personalities and days of significance that it wants all government offices to celebrate.

Through its circular on Monday, the state notified all government institutions to celebrate birth or death anniversaries in 2016 of 25 personalities and three other days of significance.

That means there will be 23 days of celebrations for anniversaries of National figures (Death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev to be observed on same day on March 23) and three other anniversaries – Day against Terrorism and Violence ( May 21), Sadbhavna Day (August 20) and Constitution Day ( November 26).

The notification also states specifically that even if anniversaries fall on holidays or second/ fourth Saturday, the institutions ought to observe anniversaries.

However, this list misses the name of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad whose anniversary on November 11 is celebrated nationwide as ‘National Education Day’. Removal of Maulana’s name means that no name of Muslim personality is on the list; giving a sense that either Muslims have not participated in the building of nation or it is an attempt to wipe out their contribution.

Non inclusion of Azad’s Anniversary in the list of the days to be celebrated in 2016 is against Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s own resolve and declaration of observing 2016 as the year of equality and harmony.

“The state government will observe 2016 as the year of equality and harmony and make special efforts to reach out to Dalits, Tribals and people from the lower strata of society,” Fadnavis had said on May 6, 2015 at a function organised to present Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Samaj Bhushan Awards.

Nonetheless, state has taken all due care to include Dalit faces in the list but has categorically avoided Muslim name by not even including Maulana Azad who happened to be India’s first Education Minister and a recipient of the posthumous Bharat Ratna award. He had laid the foundation for moving towards an educated India by serving as a Minister for 11 years after Independence.

This year even the central government virtually forgot to offer gratitude on the occasion of 127th birth anniversary of Azad. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not pay tribute to him on November 11 , even as he wished the nation on the occasion of Diwali.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed, columnist and grandnephew of Azad, has already expressed displeasure against the Central government for forgetting Maulana Azad and lamented that except for Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) that celebrates his anniversary every year, nobody is concerned about Azad.

Only couple of months ago, Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla expressed regrets that previous governments had failed to give due recognition to Maulana Azad for his role in transforming education in independent India.

“…I would like to tell you that it is unfortunate and regrettable that his contribution and thoughts are not remembered — neither by governments nor the people. He never got recognition from previous (successive) governments for what he did “, she had said on September 20, 2015 at a function organized at ICCR.

- tcn

Myanmar cardinal wants dam project halted

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Myitsone damMyanmar, December 3, 2015: Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon is urging Myanmar’s newly elected government to halt the controversial Myitsone dam project in Kachin state, which is widely viewed as environmentally and culturally destructive.

Cardinal Bo said Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy that won the Nov. 8 election, said before the poll that a government is elected by support from the people.

“So if she really wants to fulfill the desire of the people, she should try to end the project completely. And she should follow the desire of the ethnic Kachin people,” Cardinal Bo told ucanews.com.

The US$3.8 billion dam is being built on the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar’s premier waterway for hydro electricity that will be used almost exclusively in neighboring China, providing 6,000 megawatts of electricity.

It will be the 15th largest hydroelectric power station in the world if completed as planned by 2017. It will be 1,310 meters long and 139.6 meters high.

By 2010, the dam’s construction caused at least 2,000 people to be relocated from their ancestral homes in Aung Myin Thar village.

The military-backed government of President Thein Sein suspended construction in September 2011, while China vigorously agitated for recommencing work on the project

“The Irrawaddy is our mother and our life-blood river so ending the project is not only the will of ethnic Kachins but also the people of Myanmar,” Cardinal Bo said.

He promised to speak out on the issue “when I get a chance to meet with Suu Kyi personally.”

Cardinal Bo told ucanews.com during an interview at his residence in Yangon’s St. Mary’s Cathedral compound that he also raised concerns on another China-backed project — a copper mine in central Myanmar — and questioned the outgoing government’s relationship with China and neighboring India.

“No matter how (much) we need good relationships with neighboring countries such as China, the Suu Kyi-led new government should consider the will of the people in Myanmar,” Cardinal Bo said.

He warned that an accident during the dam’s construction could destroy several villages, while environmental destruction caused by the dam will largely impact local people.

In his pre-election 10-point guide about choosing candidates, Cardinal Bo referred to the dam project, encouraging voters to choose candidates and parties that “safeguard the country’s nature and natural resources, protecting our forests and not selling our sacred rivers and resources to foreign powers.”

Khet Htain Nan, a Christian lawmaker from the Unity and Democracy Party in Kachin State, also said the new government should not let the massive dam project continue as people and experts have opposed it.

“In a democracy, the government should listen to the voices of the people so a new government also needs to listen to the voices and desire of the people in Myanmar,” Khet Htain Nan told ucanews.com.

Suu Kyi toured Kachin State prior to the elections and during a meeting with Christian leaders on Oct. 2 promised she would try to address the dam project, which remains unpopular with many people in Kachin.

Critics have long accused Suu Kyi of dodging a strong commitment to Myanmar’s diverse ethnic groups that surround the more populous center of the country. In Kachin, critics say, she and her party have failed to speak out about fighting in the state, which erupted in June 2011 following the breakdown of a 17-year cease-fire between Myanmar’s military and Kachin rebels.

- ucan

China’s Communist Party to hold meeting on religion works

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Catholicism in ChinaHong Kong, December 3, 2015: China’s ruling Communist Party has officially signaled that it will hold its long-awaited first summit on religion for 10 years in coming weeks, as it prepares to make sweeping changes to its regulations on religious affairs.

The meeting, which reports said could be chaired by party leader Xi Jinping, comes amid growing concerns by the party about surging interest in major religions including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and its home-grown offshore Daoism.

There is also rising concern in Beijing about violent fundamentalism among ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

There are more than 100 million religious believers in China, with about 6 million Catholics and 23 million Protestants, according to government statistics. However, the figures are often disputed as underestimated.

Chen Zhongrong, vice director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), told a meeting of religious officials Nov. 10 that the central government has planned to convene a national meeting on religious work this year.

Chinese authorities are revising the regulations on religious affairs, he said, according to a Nov. 20 report on SARA’s website.

The regulation was promulgated in 2005 following a party summit in 2001.

Chen said at the meeting that a key focus of the religious affairs department will be to implement the newly amended regulations through the intensive training of religious officials.

The Chinese government has been laying plans to revise the regulations since early this year with Yu Zhengsheng, one of Xi’s key party allies and chairman of the top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, making three visits to the religious sectors.

In 50 days from January to March, he visited headquarters of the five officially recognized religions in Beijing, made a field trip to Baoding — a Catholic stronghold in Hebei — and participated for the first time in the discussion of the conference’s religious affairs committee.

The topic of adapting religions to the socialist country was the subject of a major speech by Xi in the first central meeting for the United Front Work Department in May.

Since then, there have been conferences and learning classes about the “Sinicization of religions and Christianity” in almost every province. In particular, two were held for the Catholic Church in Shandong during and immediately after a Vatican delegation visited Beijing Oct. 11-16.

New regulations, aimed at Muslims in Xinjiang, have also been introduced. Xinjiang issued a ban on burqas in January and urged residents to inform on women wearing them and young men with “large beards.” T-shirts and flags featuring the Islamic crescent — the symbol of the pro-independence East Turkestan flag — also are banned.

As well, there has been a two-year campaign to remove crosses in Zhejiang province.

On Nov. 30, Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory body to the country’s legislature, wrote in the state-run “Global Times” that reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism is a political matter and Beijing would not give up its authority.

In an exclusive interview with Hong Kong-based “Wenweipo” in March, SARA director Wang Zuoan told the pro-Beijing Chinese newspaper that the time was ripe to revise the comprehensive administrative regulations and it would be best to get it done by this year.

He said the government faced new issues in regulating religion such as property rights and use of the Internet.

While the Chinese authorities are amending the regulations, some scholars renewed the call for a religious law.

However, others maintained that each religion has its different aspects and thus a religious law needs careful consideration.

- ucan

Missionary spirit means giving witness, not proselytizing, pope says

December 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Missionary spiritVatican City, December 3, 2015: Missionary spirit is manifested by preaching love, humanity and faith through one’s witness and not through proselytism, Pope Francis says.

Faith in Jesus Christ is shared first through “witness then with words,” the pope said Dec. 2 at his weekly general audience.

The pope dedicated his audience to reflecting on his trip to Africa Nov. 25-30 when he visited Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

He said that his first stop, Kenya, was a country “that represented the global challenge of our time” in presenting a “model of development” that cares for creation in a “balanced, inclusive and sustainable” way. However, he said, there also is a noticeable situation of “wealth and misery” existing side by side.

Global scandal

“This is a scandal, not only in Africa but also here, everywhere,” the pope said. “Coexistence between wealth and misery is a scandal, a shame for humanity.”

Stressing the need for giving witness to the “natural and spiritual wealth” of the country, the pope remembered the victims of the terrorist attack at Garissa University April 2 where Al-Shabaab militants targeted and executed 148 Christian students.

“Their blood is the seed of peace and brotherhood for Kenya, for Africa and for the whole world,” the pope said.

An example of the fruits of such a witness was reflected in the history of Uganda, the second leg of his trip, where the memory of the 19th-century Catholic and Anglican martyrs is still strong. Pope Francis thanked the catechists, charitable organizations and the youth of the country who “protect the gift of hope and seek to live according to the Gospel and not according to the world; going against the current.”

The pope said that the final stop of his trip, the Central African Republic, took him to “the heart of Africa” and it was the primary reason for his visit given that it “is a country that suffers so much.”

The early opening of the Holy Door at the cathedral of Bangui, he said, was done as “a sign of faith and hope for that people, and symbolically for the whole African population who are most in need of rescue and comfort.”

Pope Francis said that the final Mass at the Bangui stadium was “wonderful” and marveled at the sight of so many young people.

He also expressed his admiration for the work of missionaries in Africa, men and women “who have left everything” for the Gospel. Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope recalled meeting an 81-year-old Italian nun along with a 3-year-old girl who called her “nonna” (grandma). Both made a harrowing trip to Bangui for the papal visit via canoe.

The nun, he said, told him that she works as a nurse in the Congo and went on to become an obstetrician, helping to deliver over 3,000 babies.

“That is how missionaries are, they are courageous,” the pope said. “Like this nun there are many, so many nuns, so many priests, and so many religious who ‘burn up’ their lives to announce Jesus Christ. It is beautiful to see this! It is beautiful!”

The pope appealed to all young people, calling on them to reflect on their vocation and “to not exclude the possibility of becoming a missionary” and to preach with their lives, not by proselytizing.

“Those who are looking for something else are the ones that [proselytize],” he said. “Faith is preached first through witness then with words — but slowly.”

- cns

Make every day count

December 8, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

The Psalmist wrote, “Seventy years are given to us!  Some even live to eighty” (v. 10).

todayLet’s say you’re sixty, and you live to be eighty.
That’s just  two hundred and forty months LEFT !!!

When you begin to think that way, time becomes a precious commodity and a limited resource,
and you get serious about making every day count.

Each time you say, “I’ll take care of that tomorrow,” you’ve lost another day you can never get back.

Or

Don’t be like the Rich fool, in Luke 12:18 … “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘… “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you;

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  Ps 90:12

The Most crucial questions you need to think about is…
Have you discovered God’s will for your life ….
If not… then you need to begin praying for Wisdom  to see what you are called to do!

and then devote yourself to fulfilling it?

Make every day countUnderstand these three things:
(1) God scheduled the date of your arrival on earth. (Ps 139:16).
(2) God has laid out a track for you to run on and what he expects of you. (Heb 12:1).
(3) God will reward you for how you’ve lived (See 1Co 3:14-15).

So make every day count!… for HIS glory
and your preparation to go “back”.

- fwd: chris ferns

Modi will realise Hindus’ dream of Ram temple: Togadia

December 8, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Shri Narendra ModiBhopal, December 06, 2015: VHP leader Praveen Togadia on Sunday expressed hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would ensure a grand Ram Mandir is built in Ayodhaya as decided by the BJP national executive and promised in the Lok Sabha elections.

Togadia, the executive international president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), told reporters here that a grand temple of Lord Ram would be built at the place where Babri mosque was demolished on December 6, 1992.

“In the national executive meet of the BJP, a promise was made to build Ram temple on the lines of Gujarat’s Somnath temple by passing a law in parliament. I trust Narendra Modi,” Togadia said.

“I trust that fulfilling the promise made in the party’s resolution and promised during elections, he would realise the dream of millions of Hindus for building a temple dedicated to Lord Ram,” he added.

Giving a call to all Hindus to stay prepared to construct a grand Ram Mandir, he said the holy men should stay ready to follow direction.

“Lord Ram’s temple will be built, just as Sardar Patel had built Somnath temple, meaning by making a legislation in parliament,” the VHP leader said.

- tcn

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