Thinking Out Loud

January 14, 2018

China: Freedom of Religion in Theory, Not in Practice

From The Independent (UK):

Chinese authorities blow up Christian megachurch with dynamite

Chinese authorities have demolished a well-known Christian megachurch, inflaming long-standing tensions between religious groups and the Communist Party.

Witnesses and overseas activists said the paramilitary People’s Armed Police used dynamite and excavators to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church, which has a congregation of more than 50,000, in the city of Linfen in Shaanxi province.

ChinaAid, a US-based Christian advocacy group, said local authorities planted explosives in an underground worship hall to demolish the building following, constructed with nearly $2.6m (£1.9m) in contributions from local worshippers in one of China’s poorest regions.

The church had faced “repeated persecution” by the Chinese government, said ChinaAid. Hundreds of police and hired thugs smashed the building and seized Bibles in an earlier crackdown in 2009 that ended with the arrest of church leaders.

Those church leaders were given prison sentences of up to seven years for charges of illegally occupying farmland and disturbing traffic order, according to state media.

There are an estimated 60 million Christians in China, many of whom worship in independent congregations like the Golden Lampstand… But the surging popularity of non-state-approved churches has raised the ire of authorities, wary of any threats to the officially atheist Communist Party’s rigid political and social control.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed under China’s constitution, so local authorities are often seen as using technicalities to attack unregistered churches. Charges of land or building violations and disturbing the peace are among the most common…

“A Christian offered his farmland to a local Christian association and they secretly built a church using the cover of building a warehouse,” a government department official was quoted as saying. Religious groups must register with local religious affairs authorities under Chinese law, the report said, adding the church was illegally constructed nearly a decade ago in violation of building codes…

Read the full story at The Independent

In this image taken from video shot Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, by China Aid and provided to the Associated Press, people watch the demolition of the Golden Lampstand Church in Linfen in northern China’s Shanxi province. Witnesses and overseas activists say paramilitary troops known as the People’s Armed Police used excavators and dynamite on Tuesday to destroy the Golden Lampstand Church, a Christian mega-church that clashed with the government.

This was the second of two recent demolitions. The Express (UK) reports,

China demolishes second church as fears of crackdown against Christianity grow

…A Catholic church in the neighbouring province of Shaanxi was also reportedly demolished last month, 20 years after it originally opened.

China guarantees freedom of religion but authorities heavily regulate many aspects of religious practice…

…According to China Aid, a Texas-based Christian human rights organisations, congregation members were beaten by 400 officials during an incident in September 2009 which resulted in church leaders receiving lengthy prison sentences on charges such as assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic and illegally occupying agricultural land.

Bob Fu, founder of China Aid, said: “I think this might be a new pattern against any independent house churches with an existing building or intention to build one.

“It also could be a prelude to enforcing the new regulation on religious affairs that will take effect in February.”

Chinese authorities have taken a harder line against practicing Christianity since 2013.

Officials launched a sweeping crackdown on churches in Zhejiang province that accelerated in 2015, and more than 1,200 crosses have been removed, according to activists…

…A pastor at a nearby church, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals said there were “more police than I could count” preventing a crowd on onlookers and worshipers from approaching the site.

He said: “My heart was sad to see this demolition and now I worry about more churches being demolished, even my own.

“This church was built in 2008, there’s no reason for them to destroy it now.”


Upper Image: Independent (appears elsewhere credited to Andy Wong/Associated Press)
Lower Image: Religion News Service (China Aid via Associated Press)

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May 31, 2015

The World We Now Live In

Filed under: current events — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:53 am

This is how the international page of the Christian Post looked when I started the day yesterday morning. I leave it here without further comment.

Christian Post May 30 2015

May 7, 2015

Thursday Link List

Monday night we went to see Do You Believe? but it’s so late into the theatrical run, that I decided to hold comments until the week the DVD releases. For now, suffice it to say I think that in many ways it improves on God’s Not Dead which is by, I think, the same producers.

So there was no blog post scheduled for today, and rather than a re-run, I thought we’d just do what we do best, with some material that didn’t make it in time for yesterday.  But first, a random page from The Brick Bible:

Brick Bible

Amy Julia Becker at the Washington Post on the National Day of Prayer:

But if Christians want a National Day of Prayer that invites people from various faith traditions to join together in what we hold in common — a belief in a good, active, creator God — and implore that God to work through us and in us for the good of our nation and our world, then we need to do so in a way that creates common ground rather than reinforcing the theological points that divide us.

Thom Rainer’s list of 10 Things Never to Say to a Guest at a Worship Service:

“That’s not the way we do it here.”Of course, you can’t have a worship service where any behavior is acceptable. Most of the time, however, the varieties of worship expressions are absolutely fine. I heard from a lay leader recently who witnessed that sentence spoken to a guest who raised her hand during the worship music. She never returned.

Pete Wilson’s 4th book launched Tuesday, What Keeps You Up at Night?

It’s easy to feel paralyzed by uncertainty.  We want our questions answered, our decisions affirmed, and our plans applauded.  But life doesn’t come with an instruction manual and rarely follows a straight path. How would your life change if you learned to lean into uncertainty instead of waiting on the sidelines for just the right moment or opportunity?

For an international body concerned with religious freedom, Russia is now on their watch list.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reports Russia is now a country to watch. The USCIRF issued their report April 30. According to the 232-page document, there are 17 nations listed at Tier 1 abusers of religious freedom. There are 10 on the Tier 2 list, including Russia. Mission Eurasia Director of Religious Freedom Issues, Wade Kusack, says Russia being on the list is a big deal. “This is a first official announcement, or recognition, of the persecution from the U.S. government’s side.”

Purposeful Parenting: 5 ways to avoid raising ‘It’s all about me’ children.

A recent study on the origins of narcissism in children concluded, “narcissism in children is cultivated by parental overvaluation: parents believing their child to be more special and more entitled than others.” The abstract of the study further explains, “children seem to acquire narcissism, in part, by internalizing parents’ inflated views of them.” Unfortunately, the “you are so special, so smart, so beautiful, so talented, so gifted—you can do anything you want to do and be anything you want to be—mantra” is often believed, and our children suffer because of it.

“I’m into Jesus, but not all the technical, big-words stuff.” Sorry, but in many circles,doctrine really matters.

Indifference about doctrine is the mother of every heresy in all of history, and in our day indifference about doctrine is spreading like wildfire in the pulpits and pews of our churches. Ironically, the assertion that doctrine doesn’t matter is in fact a doctrine in itself. When people tell me they are into Jesus but not into doctrine, I tell them that if they are not into doctrine, they are, in fact, not into Jesus. We cannot know Jesus without knowing doctrine, and we cannot love God without knowing God, and the way we know God is by studying His Word.

 

 

Songs with substance
If you check the right hand margin over at Christianity 201, you’ll see that all of the various music resources that have appeared there are listed and linked alphabetically. Take a moment to discover — or re-discover — some worship songs and modern hymns from different genres.

 

 

 

November 29, 2014

The Religious Implications of Saying “ISIS Captured the Town”

Chaldean Sisters of the Sacred Heart Monastery in Mosul: Before and after ISIS destroyed it

Chaldean Sisters of the Sacred Heart Monastery in Mosul: Before and after ISIS destroyed it on Monday

From Independent Catholic News:

Since taking over Mosul on June 10, Aina News report that ISIS has destroyed, occupied, converted to mosques, converted to ISIS headquarters or shuttered all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul.

The following is the complete list of the Christian institutions in Mosul, grouped by denomination.

Syriac Catholic Church:

Syrian Catholic Diocese – Maidan Neighborhood, Mosul
The Old Church of the Immaculate – Maidan Neighborhood, Mosul (The church goes back to the eighth century AD)
The New Church of the Immaculate – Maidan Neighborhood
Church of Mar (Saint) Toma – Khazraj Neighborhood
Museum of Mar (Saint) Toma – Khazraj Neighborhood
Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation – Muhandiseen Neighborhood
Church of the Virgin of Fatima – Faisaliah Neighborhood
Our Lady of Deliverance Chapel – Shifaa Neighborhood
The House of the Young Sisters of Jesus – Ras Al-Kour Neighborhood
Archbishop’s Palace Chapel – Dawasa Neighborhood

Syriac Orthodox Church:

Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese – Shurta Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Church of Saint Ahodeeni – Bab AlJadeed Neighborhood
Mar (Saint) Toma Church and cemetery, (the old Bishopric) – Khazraj Neighborhood
Church of The Immaculate (Castle) – Maidan Neighborhood
Church of The Immaculate – Shifaa Neighborhood
Mar (Saint) Aprim Church – Shurta Neighborhood
St. Joseph Church – The New Mosul Neighborhood

Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East:

Diocese of the Assyrian Church of the East – Noor Neighborhood
Assyrian Church of the East, Dawasa Neighborhood
Church of the Virgin Mary (old rite) – Wihda Neighborhood

Chaldean Church of Babylon:

Chaldean Diocese – Shurta Neighborhood
Miskinta Church – Mayassa Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Church of Shimon alSafa – Mayassa Neighborhood
Church of Mar (Saint) Buthyoon – Shahar AlSouq Neighborhood
Church of St. Ephrem, Wady AlAin Neighborhood
Church of St. Paul – Majmooaa AlThaqafiya District
The Old Church of the Immaculate (with the bombed archdiocese)- Shifaa Neighborhood
Church of the Holy Spirit – Bakir Neighborhood
Church of the Virgin Mary – Drakziliya Neighborhood
Ancient Church of Saint Isaiah and Cemetery – Ras AlKour Neighborhood
Mother of Aid Church – Dawasa Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Church of St. George- Khazraj Neighborhood
St. George Monastery with Cemetery – Arab Neighborhood
Monastery of AlNasir (Victory) – Arab Neighborhood
Convent of the Chaldean Nuns – Mayassa Neighborhood
Monastery of St. Michael – Hawi Church Neighborhood
The Antiquarian Monastery of St. Elijah – Ghazlany Neighborhood

Armenian Orthodox Church:

Armenian Church – Maidan Neighborhood
The New Armenian Church – Wihda Neighborhood

Evangelical Presbyterian Church:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church – Mayassa Neighborhood

Latin Church:

Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and Convent of Katrina Siena Nuns – Sa’a Neighborhood
Convent of the Dominican Sisters, – Mosul AlJadeed Neighborhood
Convent of the Dominican Sisters (AlKilma Monastery) – Majmooaa AlThaqafiya District
House of Qasada AlRasouliya (Apostolic Aim) (Institute of St. John the Beloved)

Cemeteries:

Christian Cemetery in the Ekab Valley which contains a small chapel.

Source: Fides/Aina

November 20, 2014

What if…

Filed under: current events — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:45 am

Huffington Religion Nov 18 2014

What if instead of a Jewish prayer book, that was a Bible or a hymnbook that you recognized in the picture?

What if instead of happening half a world away this took place in a Christian church a few blocks from your house?

What if instead of the victims having foreign-sounding surnames, the names were people that you knew personally?

…Religious terrorism always happens somewhere else, but what if…?

November 5, 2014

Wednesday Link List

You're not really showing up at the church potluck (or pot-blessed) supper unless you're showing up with a zippered casserole carrier inscribed with the verse, "Serve one another in love."

You’re not really showing up at the church potluck (or pot-blessed) supper unless you’re showing up with a zippered casserole carrier inscribed with the verse, “Serve one another in love.”

Places to go; people to meet!

We end today where we started last week; another movie parody poster from the Orange curriculum. Click the image for details.

Orange Curriculum Parody Poster 2

June 18, 2014

Wednesday Link List

gbiWednesday Link List 2

It’s summertime and you don’t need an Angler’s License to fish for Christian news and opinion pieces on the net. 

 

Typically, my youngest son includes his youth pastor as a reference on job applications; but for this summer job there is the terse admonition, “You may omit names of ministers of religion.”

Typically, my youngest son includes his youth pastor as a reference on job applications; but for this summer job there is the terse admonition, “You may omit names of ministers of religion.”

February 26, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Chocolate Pope - NBC News Photo

The link list knows no borders, so you won’t find any gloating about Canada’s Olympic hockey wins here. Click anything below and you’ll be redirected to PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, a ministry of Christianity Today; then click each link there.

If you’re not busy this week snapping up Son of God movie tickets, you can check out Paul Wilkinson’s other writing at Thinking Out Loud.

"Jonah Leaving the Whale" by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1600

“Jonah Leaving the Whale” by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1600

November 5, 2013

Next Few Hours Critical for Saeed Abedini

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:01 am

Urgent prayer need:

Posted Monday at the American Center for Law & Justice website:

There’s been a very troubling development in the case of American Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.

The ACLJ has confirmed through Pastor Saeed’s family members in Iran that he has been moved from Evin Prison in Tehran to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj – an even more dangerous prison where he faces life-threatening conditions and treatment.

A member of Pastor Saeed’s family in Iran arrived at Evin Prison today for the regular weekly visit and was told that Pastor Saeed had been moved to this this prison outside of Tehran yesterday – about an hour and a half drive away. The family member travelled to Rajai Shahr Prison and was told that Pastor Saeed is imprisoned there and is not permitted to have any visitors.

continue reading here

If the video is not playing through this page, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JrgzVUJdzs

September 17, 2013

Wife of Saeed Abedini Speaks at Liberty University

Filed under: missions, prayer — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:42 pm

Pray for Saeed Abedini

Naghmeh Abedini spoke for six minutes on Monday morning at the Liberty University Convocation.

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