Design of the Week – Freedom to Preach

June 29, 2011 at 10:40 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design is called Freedom to Preach.

The design is meant to remind others of the truth of the state of affairs in our nation. While there are many who would like nothing more than to see Christians silenced, the fact remains that the freedom to preach the gospel of Christ is protected by the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Continue Reading Design of the Week – Freedom to Preach…

Persecution Friday: Uzbekistan

May 27, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Uzbekistan: Raids Increase in April

Christians in Uzbekistan have faced increased persecution recently in the form of raids, literature confiscations, court-ordered literature destruction and heavy fines.

On April 5, Police and National Security Service (NSS) officers raided the home of Anvar Rajapov, a believer in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, according to Forum 18 News Service. Police confiscated about 250 religious books and recordings, a computer and Rajapov’s passport. A police officer also photographed Rajapov’s children without his knowledge.

Rajapov was convicted on April 14 of violating five articles of the administrative code, including those prohibiting the illegal storage of religious materials, the illegal organization of meetings, and proselytism. Rajapov was fined 80 times the minimum monthly wage, or about $2,330. The judge also ordered the destruction of the religious books confiscated in the raid, “except for those that can be allowed for internal use of religious communities.”

Local Christians told Forum 18 that the court had produced no evidence to support the charges brought against Rajapov. “The whole case is fabricated,” one believer said. He added that the judge “did not even investigate the case but just signed the hastily and carelessly prepared decision.” Local believers said the head of the city district committee, Ulmas Shukurov, had called for Rajapov to be punished and expelled from the district because he had left Islam and accepted Christianity. Shukurov accompanied police on the raid of Rajapov’s house.

Rajapov’s case is not uncommon, as Uzbekistan’s courts frequently order the confiscation and destruction of religious literature, including Bibles. Uzbek authorities conducted two raids in April on the Hamza District Baptist Church, also located in Tashkent. In a raid on April 7, police confiscated thousands of Christian books from the church as well as money belonging to a church member. Four days later, on April 11, police and NSS officers raided a church-owned flat nearby, confiscating printing equipment and tens of thousands of Christian books. Four church members were each fined between 50 and 100 times the minimum monthly wage, according to Forum 18. In addition, tax authorities fined the church the equivalent of about $4,090 on April 28 for failing to use a cash register to record sales and donations.

Persecution Fridays: Cuba

March 4, 2011 at 10:17 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com 

Cuba: Persecution Increases

Pastors and Christian leaders in Cuba are reporting a shift in how the government treats Christians. The government appears to have moved away from higher profile forms of oppression, such as threatening to shut down or destroy churches, and is now focusing pressure on church leaders, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Church leaders both within and outside of the Cuban Council of Churches (CCC) report receiving frequent visits from state security agents and Cuban Communist Party (CCP) officials. The CCC is an umbrella organization representing Protestant churches. These visits and meetings seem to have the intent of intimidating church leaders and making them aware they are under close surveillance.

In October 2010, Pastor Homero Carbonell decided to resign as leader of La Trinidad First Baptist Church in Santa Clara after prolonged government pressure and threats, according to CSW. He hoped giving up his leadership position would alleviate some of the demands on the congregation, but nothing has changed.

Pastor Carbonell, a respected high-level denominational leader, denounced the government persecution in an open letter, according to CSW. He wrote that spurious accusations against him, including allegations that he is associated with the counterrevolution, brought a series of penalties to his church. The pastor also described how the Religious Affairs Office has treated the church over the past three years. In one meeting with the Religious Affairs Office, officials told Pastor Carbonell to “behave himself.”

CSW reports that the government’s attention on Pastor Carbonell and his church may have been prompted by the church’s refusal to expel family members of political prisoners and members of human rights or pro-democracy groups.

Religious groups in Cuba are under the authority of the Religious Affairs Office of the CCP’s Central Committee, rather than a government body. Church leaders have complained for years about difficulties dealing with the Religious Affairs Office, especially with regard to permission for church repair or construction. Many of VOM’s partners in Cuba have faced conflict with authorities while building or repairing churches. Some get around requirements by constructing structures with roofs but no walls.

Bibles and Christian literature may be imported into the country only through the Cuban Council of Churches, which, according to CSW, represents a minority of churches. This limitation has led to a severe shortage of religious materials in Cuba. VOM friends help bring Bibles and other materials into the country through other channels and also sponsor a clandestine printing press for Christian literature.


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