Vol. XIII No. 19 January 1-15, 2012 l Published from Delhi Post Box No : 10708, Delhi-110085
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Civil society roared in vain?
Parliament yet to heed the people’s call
Dr. Sangliana suggests formation of State Commission for Minorities in Arunachal Pradesh
MPK Kutty New Delhi: The BJP’s game plan in supporting the Anna team’s campaign against corruption seems to have backfired. It wanted to show to the voters of the country that the UPA government alone was the villain in the scenario of corruption. Now its role in stalling anticorruption legislation in the Rajya Sabha stands exposed. A blame game has started and it will spill into the forthcoming assembly elections in UP and other states. BJP’s attempt at isolating the UPA government as the only guilty party not wanting a strong Lokpal has not succeeded. The party has to share in the blame and perhaps a good part of the blame. But the passing of the Bill in the Lok Sabha where the UPA consisting of the Congress party and its allies have majority and its stalling in the Rajya Sabha on December 28 by the BJP-led Opposition, where the
Congress doesn’t have the required majority, clearly shows that the BJP is not in favour of a strong Lokpal , though outside the House, it has been supporting Anna’s demand for the same. Lokayukta: Further the strong opposition by the BJP, the Trinamul Congress and other parties to the institution of Lokayuktas in the states along with the Lokpal at the Centre clearly exposes the double standards of those parties with regard to corruption. As Salman Khurshid pointed out to newsmen, it was in the states and in the lower bureaucracy at the grassroots that the common man found himself at the mercy of petty officials demanding bribes and using delay tactics to extort money. Without Lokayuktas the fight against corruption would not have any impact on the common man. The Opposition moving
as many as 187 amendments to the Bill , already passed in the Lok Sabha, was seen by the Congress as an obstructionist tactic. And the government was not prepared to endorse all such amendments without proper scrutiny. So it had no option but to postpone voting on the Bill. The BJP, it seems, was able to influence regional parties by its argument that institution of Lokayuktas in states under Article 253 would be infringement of the federal structure. The BJP leaders had reportedly succeeded in rousing regional sentiments of the parties holding out the possibility of the Centre eroding the autonomy of states. Hypocrisy A political drama ably assisted by Gandhian Anna Hazare only served to highlight the hypocrisy of the political class. The Gandhian’s effort
Astrology is a fake discipline, says Nobel laureate Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
A culture based on superstition will always do worse than that based on science
Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has been conferred knighthood 'for services to molecular biology'. (AP)
CHENNAI 30 Dec 2011 (ET): Nobel laureate Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan provoked a few and enthralled many with his talk on 'The Sceptical Scientist' in the city on Thursday. He termed astrology and alchemy
fake disciplines that depended on the power of suggestion and said homeopathy was based on belief. Terms like 'positive and negative energy' used by various "quacks were complete mumbo jumbo" and had no precise meaning, he said. Science, he added, had a particular definition of energy. Delivering the 2nd S V Narasimhan Memorial Oration, organised by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Dr Ramakrishnan said that just as good system of government guarded people from their worst instincts, the process of science "protects us from our biases and irrationality." "Scientific methods protect us from the danger of false beliefs. No system that does not incorporate proper testing, criticism from peers and other checks of modern science can claim to be 'scientific' regardless of the scientific jargon used," he said. Quoting examples from history, such as disproving of Fleischman-Pons ideas 2
Itanagar : Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Dr. H T Sangliana has urged Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki to ensure formation of a state Commission for the minorities in Arunachal Pradesh. Dr. Sangliana, who called on Mr Tuki here on Dec. 16 evening gave a brief background of the Commission and asserted that certain provisions of the Commission can be beneficial to a state like Arunachal Pradesh Stating that his visit was not programmed but an informal one, Dr Sangliana, who was accorded a warm reception by Mr. Tuki, told him, “I will take time out after you are well settled and will visit officially soon.”. As per Section 9(1) of the NCM Act, 1992, the Commission is required to perform functions like evaluation of the progress of the development of minorities; monitoring of the safeguards for minorities; making recommendations for effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of minorities, looking into
specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities and taking up such matters with the appropriate authorities. T h e Vi c e - C h a i r m a n pointed out the benefits of the Prime Minister’s New 15-Point Programme for welfare of minorities and said that once the state has its own minority commission it can avail the benefits of the programme. Mr Tuki informed him of the distinct pattern of the tribal populace of the state and sought to know the exact feasibility of a minority commission in context of Arunachal Pradesh, sources said. A retired IPS officer who was elected to the 14th Lok Sabha in 2004 from Bangalore North, Dr. Sangliana sought a detailed report on the minority population in each district. To the officials of Social Welfare, Women & Child Development Department, the nodal agency implementing the MsDP in the State, the NCM vice chairman said, “I am always available and whatever proposals are submitted by the state govt for welfare of minorities, the Commission will be always considerate.” The Vice-Chairman shared about the National Commission for Minorities and the Constitutional rights and safeguards provided to the minorities in India in two different gatherings of Christian leaders organized by Deepak Nabam Ministries at Itanagar and Arunachal Christian Forum at Naharlagun respectively.
Punjab appointment of 4 Christian marriage registrars hailed
Chandigarh, Dec 29, 2011: Punjab, December 29, 2011: The appointment of 4 Marriage Registrars is a Christmas gift for the Christian community in Punjab, said bishop Dr. Anil Couto. The Christian community thanked the Punjab government, which the first government to have come forward in support of the minorities in such a manner. The Christian community has always done commendable service to humanity, especially in Punjab in all fields. Speaking to the newly appointed Registrars Dr. Anil Couto, bishop of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh expressing his best wishes, appreciated and thanked the Government of Punjab for the recognition. He said this was acknowledging the the
presence of the Christian Community in Punjab and their selfless contribution to the state, irrespective of any distinction or discrimination. The Registrars appointed are as follows: Adv. Anjalina Brar of Jalandhar City, serving at the New Court, Jalandhar. Adv. Sanjiv Peter of Mohali, Chandigarh with legal practise there.Mr. Francis Bhatti of Amritsar, who is a retired government teacher Mr. Rakesh William of Dhariwal, Gurdaspur, who is a government employee “This is a small first step and it is hoped that the Government of Punjab will take many more steps for the progress and all round development of Christians in Punjab”, the bishop said.
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NEWS AND VIEWS January 1-15, 2012
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Remember the bold sacrifices of the nurses : Arnold James “What graceful death the two young Christian Nurses, Remya Rajan and Vineetha P K have faced on Friday 11th December 2011 at Amri Hospital in Kolkata, they have to be well remembered and honoured”, former Delhi Minority Commission member Arnold James said. The nurses died heroic deaths while saving eight lives of patients in the female ward which was full of deadly smoke. They actually pulled each of them out to safety. But the rescue attempt to save the ninth female patient from the ward proved fatal for these courageous nurses. They succumbed to the smoke and heat. They could have abandoned the operation after rescuing the eighth person. But they respected the professional ‘OATH’ taken at the time of graduation.
Their courageous act has touched, moved and inspired the whole nation. They have proved to be true believers of their FAITH in CHRIST i.e. service, love and sacrifice. Multitudes gathered on their own to pay homage to these brave nurses, when their coffin reached their hometown Kochi in Kerala. Thousands of nurses also attended the prayer meeting besides the multitude that gathered. Chief Minister Oomman Chandy said that Kerala will accord full recognition of their services. “Further, the Kerala government has decided to honour these women but I request the President of India to accord Bravery Award to the two nurses and provide compensation to their families. It is urged that the Government of West Bengal to come forward in recognizing their services, also two roads be given the name of Remya Rajan and Vineetha P K Marg in Kolkata near the Amri Hospital so that people of Kolkata will always remember the bold sacrifices of these two young nurses”, he added.
Dr.H.T.Sangliana attended advent christmas at Senki Park prayer centre The Senki Park Prayer Centre under the Deepak Nabam Ministries concluded its two-day Healing Crusade with celebration of Advent Christmas on 18th December 2011. Dr H.T.Sangliana, Hon’ble Vice Chairman, National Commision for Minorities, Govt. of India attended the occasion as Chief Guest while Shri Nabam Rebia, Parliamentary Secretary graced the occasion as the guest of honour. Pastor M.K.Babu, the resource person from New Delhi, ministered the Word of God. A host of officers, public leaders, and Christians from across the state and Assam attended the celebration. Dr. Sangliana while sharing his faith in God and experience in life stressed on social unity, discipline and called for legal education among the people. In view of a multi-culture and multi-tribe state like Arunachal, he advocated inter-tribe marriage and suggested to replicate Mizos system of intermarriage among the tribes so that not a single tribe as pure Adi or Nishi remains but a pan Arunachalee feeling of brotherhood pervades any endeavor which will strengthen the bonds of social unity. While calling himself as staunch believer in Jesus Christ, Dr. Sangliana exhorted the believers to be true to one’s faith and performed social duties with utmost diligence and commitment. He appealed the people to educate children in churches regarding the value of peaceful co-existence, mutual respect and God fearing nature. With regards to the propagation of religion, he urged believers not to encroach into the privacy of others nor use any means for hurried or hasty conversion. He encouraged the audience to respect people’s freedom of conscience; that ministry be carried on in an environment of amity and freedom. He advised believers not to use terms like “inferior or superior” God. He was sharing the perceptible proofs of the existence of “Heaven and Hell.”
Dr. Sangliana hailing from a priestly family in Mizoram was an IPS officer. Known for his dedication and discipline he was awarded with scores of meritorious awards and earned distinction of “Super Cop” by the media. Although not a Kannadiga, he was once elected to Lok Sabha from Bangalore city as BJP candidate which earned him a new name “Giant Killer” for defeating a strong rival candidate by a big margin. He was appointed as the head of special task force by the Govt. of India to arrest or kill sandalwood smuggler Veerappan of Karnataka. Nabam Rebia while lauding the efforts of Rev.Deepak Nabam in the service of the society expressed his desire to support his ministry in all possible ways. He also urged the people to preserve one’s cultural identity even as they believe in their chosen faith. Rev. M K Babu shared the love of God from the words of the Bible. He told the people that God used Jesus Christ as the tray to present the best of Gifts in the form of mercy, forgiveness and eternal life to the mankind. In his message he exhorted people to emulate the passion and determination of those persons who were commended by Jesus for their faith. According to him, true faith and spirituality do not lead to religious strife and quarrels but to liberation of one’s soul for whom the outward identities are of secondary importance. Rev. Deepak Nabam spoke about the mission of the ministry. He informed that an objective of Christian ministry is to serve the people of all community, caste and denominations through faith in God and sharing God’s love among the deserted, depressed section of society. He appealed the people not to misunderstand Senki Park Prayer Centre as a narrow religious institution but which is a common refuge or shelter to any needy person.
Karnataka anti-Christian attacks worsen – Church & Government needs to wake-up
Dec 31, 2011: Karnataka, December 30, 2011: Sri Rama Sene Activists Attack Christian Prayer Meeting at Davanagere An attack took place in SS Layout, Davangere, which the central part of Karnataka. Only last month, a Persecuted Pastors Seminar was held here. A pastor, Raju Doddamini was taken to the police station by force yesterday evening, as he had gone to his believers house for a cottage prayer. While he was having a prayer at the house of a believer, a group of people belonging to the Bajrang Dal went to the house and disturbed the gathering by shouting slogans against pastor Raju, that he had come to convert people by force and he should be punished. The police was called by this group and then
the pastor was taken to the police station. Pastor Raju Doddamani (56) has been ministering for the Divyadarsana Ministry Church during the last 5 years. He has a congregation of about 60 believers. A prayer meeting was organized at the residence of a believer named Bima Naik on Wednesday, 28-12-2011 and Pastor Doddamani was leading the prayer service. Just before the programme was to be over at about 9.30 pm, suddenly there was an attack by the Hindu fundamentalists belonging to the Srirama Sene outfit of the saffron brigade. They began abusing them and alleging that they are fraudulently and forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. They also tried to manhandle them. In the meantime as the police were informed about the incident, the police from the Vidyanagar Police Station appeared on the scene with Sub Inspector Savar in charge. Pastor Raju Doddamani, Das, John, Bima Naik, Simon and Chandrashekar were taken to the police station and interrogated till late into the night. Another pastor Prem Kumar has called an AICC representative, asking for legal assistance, which was given and an advocate went to the police station and released Pastor Raju. Today morning Pastor Raju was asked to go and meet the police Inspector again and further persecution is expected.
Countdown for 865 film translations What if you knew that for every Rs. 150 you gave to a ministry, one person received eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? Would you be amazed to know that The JESUS Film Project has that return rate? Their ministry was listed second this year in Return On Investment Ministry’s Top 10, a ranking of evangelistic organizations with eternal impact per donor dollar. Since JESUS Film Project’s founding in 1979, 200 million people have come to know Christ as a direct result of their outreach showing the “JESUS” film in 1,120 different languages. It’s no surprise that Pastor Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," says, “The ‘JESUS’ film is the most effective evangelistic tool ever invented.” Now, with 2012 coming upon us, JESUS Film Project is looking at what they do to get such a powerful tool as the
“JESUS” film into the hands of more people. Mission 865 outlines the goal of JESUS Film Project to reach the 865 languages left in the world without a translation of the “JESUS” film. Those 865 languages represent 290 million people. Over the course of next year, this ministry plans on either beginning or finishing translation of the “JESUS” film into 65 of those languages. JESUS Film Project is also working on a translation method that will let partners make “single voice translations” of “JESUS” on their own. This new method will help them pick up the pace. As always, funding is a major factor that can stand in the way of a translation more than anything else. It costs $38,000 to produce one lip-sync translation of “JESUS.”
Astrology is a fake discipline, says Nobel laureate of nuclear fusion at room temperature (cold fusion) and Linus Pauling's claim that huge doses of vitamin C can keep away cancer. He said beliefs persisted despite data, adding that hundreds of website and news articles continue to come out on cold fusion and benefits of vitamin C. To pass the test, prescribed procedure or medicine should be the actual cause of the cure and not a coin-cidence or due to an unrelated occurrence. Dr Ramakrishnan said homeopathy
had been advocated for life-threatening diseases like AIDS and cancer, for which there are real effective medicines, while astrology can be abused and used to influence decisions. “Both can lead people away from taking more effective actions based on logic and contemplation. A culture based on superstition will always do worse than that based on science," he said. He added that doctors could, however, use the power of suggestion to enhance the effect of their medicine.
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Christian Medical College bags two national awards
The Christian Medical College(CMC) bagged two national awards this year. Named ‘India Healthcare Awards’, one of the awards is for the best multi-specialty (non-metro area) and the other for the best cardiology care in the country. The award was conferred on the hospital from CNBC TV18 and ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company. On behalf of the hospital, Associate Director Dr George Joseph and Cardiology head Dr Sunil Chandy received the awards from the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, at a function held at Delhi recently. While this is the first time the department of cardiology is receiving the award, for the hospital this is the second year in succession. Last year the hospital received India’s most socially responsible award and a runner-up in the best multi-specialty tertiary care category from the same organisations. This year the categories covered were general service, tertiary care hospitals (multi and single specialty hospitals), Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana Award to hospitals for outstanding service to the community and WHO Awards for excellence in Primary Healthcare.
The selection process covered the scope of service, infrastructure, patient safety record and innovation and research and the final ranking of the short-listed hospitals was done by doctors, specialists and patients in 17 cities across the major Indian states covering some 4,000 hospitals. What does this mean to this hundredyear old institution? “We are truly humbled,” said director, CMC, Dr Suranjan Bhattacharji. “While our focus was to extend healthcare facilities to all sections of society, especially the poorer, awards like these sharpen our focus,” he added. HoD of cardiology Dr Sunil Chandy pointed out that the award was in recognition of the care with passion extended to all patients under one umbrella. “It makes us feel good,” he said, adding, “We would like to enhance our performance so that our contribution to the society continues.” Among the other awards the hospital received this year are ‘Healing with the Human Touch’ award from Zee TV News Health Award as part of the ‘Swastha Bharat Samman’ held in New Delhi in October, a special award for its ‘notable contribution to shape the clinical research environment in India’ in October from the Indian Society for Clinical Research, and the ‘Enterprises Driving Growth and Excellence through IT’ award from The Information Week for its computerised hospital information system. Several CMC departments (nephrology topping the list) did well in ‘The Week’ magazine’s survey of hospitals and medical specialties in India. CMC was voted the third best multi-speciality hospital in India by the magazine.
January 1-15, 2012
Expert moots decommissioning of Mullapperiyar dam Dec 28, 2011 - Mullaperiyar dam should be decommissioned and no new dam should be constructed in Mulapperiyar in the larger interests protecting the life and property of the millions of families residing in the downstream of the old dam, said Dr Mathew Koshy Punnackadu, convener of the Ecological Committee attached to Church of South India. According to Dr Koshy, the suggestions of the ousted chairman of the Mullapperiyar Agitation Council, Prof C.P. Roy, are very much relevant in this regard and a lot of people support his proposal. Dr Koshy said Kerala should bring down the water level in Mullapperiyar dam to 100 metres and take measures to supply water to Tamil Nadu from it through some other means that include construction of a tunnel after decommissioning the old dam. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, the water issue is a sensitive one and Kerala should take extra care to resolve the issue in an amicable manner, he said. Prof Roy has also ruled out the practicability of a new dam in the Mullapperiyar and had
suggested lowering of the dam water level to 100 metres, besides constructing a tunnel at 50 feet to draw water from the reservoir to Tamil Nadu, he said. Safety aspect Dr Koshy said Kerala should also consider the safety aspects of constructing a new dam in Mullapperiyar in the backdrop of the series of tremors of low and medium intensity experienced in the region over the past one year. How could we assure that a new dam would be safe in an area that has been witnessing series of seismic activity over the past few years?, he quipped. Moreover, certain studies showed that dams also contributed to seismic activities in its vicinity, besides adversely affecting the forest eco system, he said. Dr Koshy said the Government should take steps to decommission the Mullapperiyar dam with out any further delay with a view to ensure protection of the life and property of the nearly 35 lakh population residing in its downstream reaches. Both Kerala and Tamil Nadu should consider the issue in a broader perspective, he added.
VHP oppose sub-quota for Minorities VHP today demanded withdrawal of sub-quota for minorities within the OBC quota saying the move will cause social unrest across the country. "We oppose and demand scrapping of reservation to Muslims within the 27 per cent OBC quota approved by the Union Cabinet as religion-based reservation is violative of the Constitution. Muslim and Christians should not be given reservation," VHP International General Secretary Dinesh Chander told reporters here today. "It would divide the society on the basis of caste and religion and cause social unrest in the country. It is dangerous," he said. The party also sought rejection of the recommendations of the Sachar Commission. A cabinet meeting chaired by Premier
Manmohan Singh last week set aside a 4.5-percent share for minorities within an existing 27per-cent quota reserved for a caste grouping known as other backward classes. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Zoroastrians form the main minorities in India. “The quota which has been announced was one of our main campaign promises in the 2009 national elections,” Digvijay Singh, a senior leader from the ruling Indian National Congress party, told reporters in New Delhi. The change will come into effect on January 1.Although the constitution does not make any provision for reservations on basis of religion, nine Indian states have over recent years implemented such sub-quotas for minorities.
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Anna Silent on Communalism: Mahesh Bhatt
Mumbai, Dec 28, 2011 (The Hindu) : While putting the issue of corruption in the public domain, social activist Anna Hazare has, in the process, narrowed its discourse to giving and taking of money and imposed a personalised point of view. In a movement marked by “petty bickering” and hero worship, there was need to “deepen” the debate on corruption, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said at a press conference, organised by the Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra here on Tuesday. Mr. Bhatt charged the movement with being silent on “communal corruption” and concerns of the marginalised sections. In August, Mr. Bhatt voiced his differences with Mr. Hazare's movement and it drew the ire of the supporters of the latter. “We need to deepen the debate on corruption. What is this petty bickering the corruption debate has been reduced to,” Mr. Bhatt asked. Highlighting the issue of “communal corruption,” he said: “It is a socio-political injustice. Why are Dalits and tribals not there in our civil society? Minorities and tribals have to be a part of the movement. I am a lone Indian, who disagrees with Anna Hazare. He, who claims to be a Gandhian, but does not talk of communal corruption, cannot be my representative.” Mr. Bhatt said the Sachar Committee spoke of 63 years of institutional bias. “So I feel reservation is right. Weaker sections have to be represented in the Lokpal. In this I agree with the stand of the Left and Lalu Prasad.” The movement, he alleged, was individual-centric. “A human being cannot
be made bigger than the movement.” To a question, he said he was opposed to “any Bill that creates a police State.” “Safety of a democratic society lies in the distribution and decentralisation of power,” he said, endorsing the versions provided by Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey. Mr. Bhatt also brought under the scanner the Gandhian credentials of Mr. Hazare. “[His] is a discourse of petty bickering, not Gandhian. For instance, when Sharad Pawar was slapped, he said, ‘Only one slap?' “Does it behove an elderly person to say this.” Mr. Bhatt noted that an “absolute thought” was not healthy for a country and society as plural as ours. “When you reduce everything to a single narrative, you falsify things. There can be many points of view. There can be disagreements. Last time, when I called his movement fascist, his supporters came to my house. Why? They burnt my effigy, etc. What did they want? A fascist though does not allow for any other discourse. If he does not allow me to have my point of view, should I not call him fascist?” Mr. Bhatt called for listening to Parliament debates on the Lokpal and forming an opinion after due thought. “There are 543 members in Parliament to fight for us. If they don't we will put them to test once again.” He said he had no objection to Mr. Hazare being backed by a political party or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “I don't have any problems if you are linked to the RSS. It's a part of society. I differ from them, but [links to RSS] is not a crime.”
January 1-15, 2012
Infant mortality still high in Andhra
HYDERABAD (TOINS): Andhra Pradesh continues to hold the dubious distinction of having the highest Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in south India as per the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) survey statistics for 2010. Although there has been a marginal drop as compared to last year still, as many as 46 infants die in the state for every 1,000 live births, according to the government of India survey, the findings of which were made public on Tuesday. In fact, Andhra Pradesh figures among the top 10 states in the country with high IMR. IMR indicates the number of infants below one year dying per 1,000 live births. Karnataka has an IMR of 38 while Tamil Nadu has an impressive IMR of 24. Kerala beats the four southern states with its healthy IMR of 13. As per the SRS survey,
Madhya Pradesh figures at the top with an IMR of 62 followed by Orissa and UP with IMRs of 61. These three are followed by Assam, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Haryana, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. "The IMR is always linked to the literacy rate among women. If you consider the rest of south India, the literacy rate is high as compared to Andhra Pradesh," says Dr T Neerada, joint director, immunisation and child health. However, as per latest data, the state's IMR has actually marginally down from 49 in 2009 to 46 in 2010. The national IMR is now 47 as against the previous year's 50. Although state health authorities are hailing the marginal drop as an achievement, attributing it to improved vaccination coverage, child healthcare facilities and awareness, experts beg to differ. "The small drop is not a reason to celebrate. AP's figure is much higher than Kerala's. There are percentage errors because people keep migrating. Hence, it is difficult to get the real picture," says Veena Shatrugna, former deputy director, National Institute of Nutrition. A senior pediatrician at a state-run hospital says that poor neo-natal care facilities, over-crowding at government hospitals and lack of infrastructure are factors contributing to high infant mortality. "The state government has to ensure that hospitals follow up on high-risk babies till they reach the age of one year," the doctor said.
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January 1-15, 2012
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Ex-ISRO chief attacks blind faith, astrology Former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Prof UR Rao, on Wednesday blamed astrologers and superstitious beliefs among people as major impediments for the country’s deve-lopment. Delivering the inaugural address at the Dhirubhai Ambani Commemoration Day, Rao hit out at astrologers for propagating superstitions and making fictitious predictions. “In our country, astrologers have become pseudo-scientists, who are all over television, making predictions that the Sun would be swallowed by a black hole. The closest back hole to Earth is some billion light years away,” he said. The professor also criticised television channels for giving them space by broadcasting astrology programmes throughout the day. He added that this blind faith, along with corrupt politicians, would
never allow development of a scientific temper among youngsters in the country despite having some of the best scientists. Chancellor of Institute of Chemical Technology, RA Mashelkar, who delivered the Dhirubhai Ambani Oration on ‘Reinventing Business, Reinventing India’, elucidated the three freedoms that have catapulted India into a major economic force. They are: independence in 1947, opening up economy in 1991 and technological growth in 2008. “The Indo-US nuclear deal signed in 2008, apart from the nuclear aspects, had a lot to do with the technological growth. The deal opened a lot on the technological front, which was earlier denied to India like the dual use of technology as in the case of the 14-seater Saras aircraft programme, which had faced a lot of difficulties,” he said.
“a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year. Deu 11:12
We wish you a Happy New Year PTA Team
Nepal: New Bible project launched Nepal (MNN) ? A new crisis seems to be looming over Nepal's fragile peace process. This week, the government and the judiciary locked horns in a question of another extension to the Constituent Assembly term. The Supreme Court had given three options if the Constituent Assembly failed to draft a new Constitution before May 28, 2012: Take a referendum, conduct fresh polls to elect a new body to draft the constitution, or seek some other alternative. Apparently fed up with the slow progress, the Courts reject petitions for another extension should a draft fail to emerge in May. In 2008, the legislative body was given two years to draft Nepal's new constitution, but despite four extensions, the task is no closer to completion than it was when the CA was given its mandate. However, some of the penal codes were re-written, and Christians were alarmed at the wording of anti-conversion legislation that could seriously complicate outreach. Against that backdrop, Bibles For the World is launching the New Year with a new project: Bibles For Nepal. BFTW's Mawii Pudaite says despite the ongoing changes in the government and concerns about religious freedom, Christianity remains the fastest-growing religion in the country. "We believe that it is an important time to plant Gospel Seeds in Nepal that will bear much fruit in the years to come." With a roughly 48% literacy rate, BFTW is
directly targeting this demographic for Scripture distribution, evangelism and discipleship. She explains that what often happens is development in the community. "These efforts will also have an indirectmultiplying effect among the illiterate population, as local churches and new believers engage their communities with the Gospel." While the window remains open, the ministry is moving ahead with plans for 2012. "We have made contacts with the leaders of these various groups and churches in Nepal, and they enthusiastically are responding to working with us in the distribution and follow-up ministries." The next step, Pudaite notes, is printing and distributing the resources. "Claiming Nepal for Christ and His Kingdom will take prayer and resources to provide the tools: Bibles, New Testaments, and Gospels to do the job of evangelism, discipleship and church planting." Dr. John Stotts was noted for saying, "The Bible is the best tool for evangelism." Change for Nepal can come from within. "Today I am asking you to join me in praying for the people and country of Nepal. Let us claim the nation of Nepal for Christ and His Kingdom." The pace of the project is dependent on the funding they receive. They're also mobilizing prayer teams to pray for Nepal. Check our Featured Links if you want to explore more with Bibles For The World.
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January 1-15, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Muslim Organization calls for removal of Egypt's Christian TV Station Egypt’s Islamic Research Center has demanded the on-air cancellation of a Christian-themed television station. The Islamic Research Center, led by Sheikh of al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, feels that the TV station was offensive towards the Islamic religion. They also believed that the channel would ultimately incite more religious violence in the country. The organization told the al-Ahram newspaper that it deemed the channel "offensive" because the material puts Muslims in a bad light. The Christian TV station, which is called "Karma," promotes Christianity through its content. Its mission statement reads, "Standing in the Gap So Millions May Know Christ." The country’s state-run NileSat, a satellite communications company, currently broadcasts the station in Egypt. The channel, however, is reportedly an unpopular channel in Egypt. Even those among the Christian population also reportedly do not watching the channel. "I have never heard of it, so maybe it isn’t really a big thing, but if al-Azhar is trying to attack it then who knows," said Noha Fahmy to Bikyamasr.com. "To be honest, the more these kinds of lawsuits happen the more divisions it will create." Fahmy is a young Coptic Christian woman living in Cairo. No official word has come from the Karma channel on the opposing organization’s demands.
There is widespread discontent among the Muslim community as it pertains to the Christian community. The Coptic Christians now living in Egypt make up 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million population. They have long demanded justice for the attacks against their churches and equal rights from government officials. On Oct. 9 of this year, thousands of Christians marched to the state television building in Cairo after a Church was attacked in Aswan. They demanded justice and greater equal rights from Egypt's government officials. However, the protesters were met with military opposition. Military forces proceeded to fire on the protesters and run them over with armored vehicles. At least 27 people were killed during this incident. It has now been referred to as the "Maspero Massacre." Several attacks on Christian churches in Egypt during the holiday season have taken place. Last year, at least 21 people were killed in a car-bombing incident. The explosion occurred during a New Year’s Eve mass at All Saints Church in Alexandria. In Jan. 2010, six Copts were shot dead during a Coptic Christmas Eve mass in the southern Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. A Muslim security guard was also killed in the shooting. The removal of the Karma TV station reflects the discontent shown by Muslims toward Coptic Christians in Egypt. Elton Jones, Christian Post Reporter.
Deadly typhoon strikes Philippines - AG taking action Dec 19, 2011 AG News- Typhoon Washi struck the southern portion of the Philippines on Saturday, with the island of Mindanao bearing the brunt of destruction as high winds and heavy downpours caused massive flooding, with rivers rising swiftly and washing away homes as people slept. Currently, the Red Cross reported more than 700 deaths and 500 people still missing, with the port cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro incurring the greatest death tolls. In addition to the loss of life, it is believed at least 120,000 Filipinos have been left homeless. AG World Missions missionaries Otho and Janice Cooley, who are based in Cagayan de Oro, report that national pastors have already begun holding funerals for flood victims. In Cala Cala, all but five homes, including the Assemblies of God church, was swept away. "AG World Missions World Relief and Convoy of Hope have already sent funds to help Assemblies of God churches and missionaries in the area purchase food and minister to the victims of this disaster," states Randy Hurst, AGWM Communications director. "We already have 250 cases of food ready to deliver to displaced persons." Greg Mundis, executive director of World Missions says, "We are prepared to
do whatever we can to help our missionaries and fellow believers as they reach out to those in need. This is a great example of the capacity we have to touch those in need because our missionaries and churches are already there when a crisis occurs." Hurst, who has been in communication with AGWM's area director for the region, Bill Snider, says that on Mindanao, there are 1,200 AG churches, with 30 of them being in the hardest hit areas. "Although all of our AG missionaries are safe, Bill has informed me that many AG congregation members are among the missing," Hurst relates. "He also shared that a number of AG churches in the area are being used as evacuation shelters for the homeless." Russ Turney, regional director for Asia Pacific, says, "We need to pray for our pastors and believers in that area of the Philippines as they minister to their own congregations who are suffering as well as reach out to others in the love of Christ." An AG pastor from Manila, who also works with Convoy of Hope, flew into the area to do an assessment of the need. "We are not making an appeal for funds until we know the extent of the need," Hurst says, "but we ask that earnest prayer be lifted up for the missing, the homeless and the families of those who have lost members in this disaster.”
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EDITOR’S PAGE January 1-15, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
"It shall be done to you according to your faith."
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
The great Indian dream
M K Babu
As we enter into 2012, as individuals and families, we have various dreams and aspirations. As a nation, we aspire to be a "developed" nation. We have a long way to go before someone can call us a developed nation. The past year 2011 will remembered for agitations and protests. The Arab Spring in various Arab and Islamic nations, and the anti-corruption movement in India drew a lot of attention. The Indian anti-graft movement under the leadership of Anna Hazare has declined in popularity due to Team Anna's acts of omission and commission. The communalistic and religious polarization that were forstered in this movement has alienated vast majority of Indian polity. Latest reports suggest that even women too are offended by Anna's gender-insensitive remarks. The mantra of agitation swept the Indian Parliament too. The winter session of Lok Sabha went down in history as one of the most disturbed sessions ever. Instead of engaging in respectful and wellreasoned debates, a determined Opposition used lung power to shout down the government. Even the worst market places in this country appeared civilised in comparison to the ruckus that was staged in the name of democracy. We shouldn't be think that protests, agitations and black mails are the way ahead for taking India ahead along the path of progress and development. Even in the Arab world, not all protests yielded positive results. The forced exit of dictators have even resulted in the ushering in of Islamists regimes. The Psalmist and beloved King of Israel - King David - wrote several centuries ago: "Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans?" (Ps 2:1 NLT). People of all times have trusted in rebellion, civil disobedience, coups, protests and armed struggle. The expression of popular anger is based on the belief that the citizens of a country have the power to script the future of a country. Even though this belief is true to a certain extent, protesters and agitators seem to ignore the influence and power of the God-factor in history. King David goes on to say in Psalm 2, "the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury (v. 4, 5). Why should God Almighty laugh at angry protesters and activists? It's because they ignore His divine plans. It's because people in general tend to overlook the fact that God is the King of Kings and that He sets up earthly rulers or sacks them according to His pleasure. In addition, this Almighty God has set up His anointed Messiah over all earth. The prosperity of any nation today depends on its response to this Messiah. "Submit to God's royal Son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities-- for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him! (Ps 2:12) India's main Opposition is hoping that they can topple the current government soon. Those who thrive on communalistic agenda and religious polarization have been perfecting their art of oppressing and persecuting minorities in various states of India. Amidst all their communalistic rhetoric, they forget that there is God in heaven who laughs at human vanity. May the year 2012 be a year in which India acknowledges the supremacy of the God who made heaven and earth; the God who sets up rulers and sacks them at His will. Under His stable governance, we will have enduring peace and steady progress.
Faith has a magnitude. It either is great or little. Therefore, the measure of faith in people varies. Jesus commented on both little and great faith. Faith is the vehicle that brings miracles in our lives. Right kind of faith is not having faith in faith; rather it's having faith in the Creator God who is the author and finisher of our faith. Faith is the current that shakes the mighty hand of God. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him”. Heb 11:6. There were encounters with Jesus Christ that manifested the power of God by faith. Jairus, an official of the synagogue of the Jews was in a great need. His daughter of twelve years was dying because of certain dreaded disease. He might have tried all his influence, contacts and wealth in order to save her but everything went in vain. He had too many obstacles to approach Jesus Christ as he was one of the officials of synagogue that criticized Jesus Christ and His teachings. Irrespective of the obstacles, on his last and final attempt to save her, he approached Jesus Christ with faith saying: “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live." His faith was that if Jesus would come to his home and lay His hands on his daughter would be sufficient for her to live. He wanted Jesus to lay His hands on her. His faith formed into words that took Jesus to his home. By that time, the girl had died. Jesus laid His hand on the dead body of his daughter. Jesus counted his faith resulting in a great miracle of his daughter rising from the dead. In another amazing incident of instant healing, a woman who was subject to bleeding for twelve years was made whole by her faith. She too had many apprehensions about approaching Jesus. She was not supposed to touch anyone for fear of making them ritually unclean. She tried everything she had in order to get healed. That made her nothing more than weak and poor. Though she was desperate to receive healing no one was there to help her to reach Jesus. On her last attempt to get healed she exercised her faith. 'For she thought, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well."' Mar 5:28. That faith produced strength in her body to walk up to Jesus Christ. Her faith formed into words. She said to herself, "Jesus should not have to touch me; instead one touch on His garment would be sufficient for my healing." Her faith was counted and she received an instant healing. In yet another incident of faith that brought miraculous work of God in the life of a centurion. His servant of regard was sick and bed-ridden. Though he was a Gentile he sent messengers to seek help from Jesus Christ. He demonstrated a greater measure of faith by saying: "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it." Mat 8:8-9. He had no complaint about Jews not entering his home; rather he considered unworthy to have that privilege. But his faith in Jesus was much greater for he recognized the authority of Jesus. He acknowledged that he knew what authority is because the soldiers under his authority obeyed him. He acknowledged the authority Jesus had was above all things seen or unseen in this world. That made him to believe one word from the mouth of Jesus would be sufficient to make the spirit of disease to flee from the body of servant. The centurion knew that there was a power and authority that made his servant bed-ridden. His recognition of the power and authority of Jesus Christ above all names helped him to see the miraculous work of God. Jesus considers and counts every little and great measure of faith. Let us not copy the unbelief of others. Rather let's exercise the measure of faith that is allotted by God to each one of us. I wish you a blessed and very happy new year 2012.
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January 1-15, 2012
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What If God Sent Us Bills? The scene was a familiar one. The young couple were going over their monthly bills. In it were ones from the Electricity provider, Water Authority, department store, etc. Trying to find something humorous to say in the situation, the man quipped, "Isn't it a good thing that God doesn't send bills?" That is good, isn't it? But what if He just decided to bill us for this wonderful body He has given us? The Psalmist said, "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14). Shakespeare said, "What a piece of work is man!" Think about what God has made: THE EARS: A piano has 88 keys, but each vibrations per second. of your ears has a keyboard with 1500 keys. THE EYES: They are both microscopes They are so finely tuned that you can hear the and telescopes. They can gaze into the blood running through your vessels. The heavens and see a star millions of miles away, outside of your ear can catch up to 73,700
or inspect the smallest insect. THE FEET: Did you know that each foot has 26 bones, none of which is wider than your thumb? But it is so "manufactured" (arched) with its ligaments, tendons, muscles and joints that a 300-pound man can put all his weight on these tiny bones. THE HEART: Its size is about like your fist, but pumps (beats) 4,320 times an hour. In a year that would mean 40 million beats. A drop of blood can make a round trip in your circulatory system in only 22 seconds. What if God sent you a bill for this marvelous body we live in? But God doesn't send us bills. He just loves us and takes care of us. Can we do any less than to return His love? We show Him our love by obedience to His Word and by faithful stewardship of that which He has entrusted to us.
Facing Fear As a child it was fun to watch the movies about the swamp monster that ate an entire city, or the space alien that tried to conquer New York or Tokyo. These movies were fun because you could be afraid for an hour or so, and then it was all over. The monster was killed; the aliens were fought off. It is not fun to be afraid in the "real" sense. Fear is that emotion that is so well known. It is produced by a sense of danger, impending calamity or some dire emergency, or even by walking into a dentist's office. It is a powerful emotion that can damage both the physical body and the personality. Fear can even block the thought processes. Several years ago, a televised circus act with Bengal tigers was broadcast live. The tiger trainer went into the cage with several tigers to do a routine performance. The door was locked behind him. The spotlights highlighted the cage, the television cameras moved in close, and the audience watched in suspense as the trainer put the tigers through their act. However, in the middle of the performance, the lights went out! For 20 or 30 seconds the trainer was locked in a dark cage with Bengal tigers, a
whip and a chair. The tigers could see the trainer, but he could not see them! After the event was over, in an interview, the trainer was asked how he felt about his situation in the cage. He first admitted to the chilling fear of the situation, but he pointed out that the tigers did not know that he could not see
them. He said, "I just kept cracking my whip and talking to them until the lights came on. They never knew I could not see them as well as they could see me." This story says something about many fears. Face them and go on doing the best you can. As a child you may have had a fear of the dark. As an adult you may fear failure or rejection, the future, some potential health crisis, or of your death or the death of a loved one. The Bible has the answer for our fears. John wrote: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear...." (1 John 4:18). Christ's love is the perfect defense against the physical and mental effects of fear. Paul said it this way; "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13). The phrase "fear not" is found at least 365 times in various forms throughout the Bible. The Hebrews writer says, "that we may confidently say, 'The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. . . .' " One writer said it this way: "The greatness of our fears shows us the littleness of our faith." We need to pray about our fears and our faith, and turn to the Lord for help to face our fears.
BLOSSOMING BUDS January 1-15, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
A Child's Ten Commandments to Parents 1. My hands are small; please don't expect perfection whenever I make a bed, draw a picture, or throw a ball. My legs are short; please slow down so that I can keep up with you. 2. My eyes have not seen the world as yours have; please let me explore safely: don't restrict me unnecessarily. 3. Housework will always be there. I'm only little for such a short time—please take this time to explain things to me about this wonderful world, and do so willingly. 4. My feelings are tender; please be sensitive to my needs; don't nag me all day long. (You wouldn't want to be nagged for your inquisitiveness.) Treat me as you would like to be treated. 5. I am a special gift from God; please treasure me as God intended you to do, holding me accountable for my actions, giving me guidelines to live by, and disciplining me in a loving manner. 6. I need your encouragement, but not your praise, to grow. Please go easy on the criticism; remember, you can
criticize the things I do without criticizing me. 7. Please give me the freedom to make decisions concerning myself. Permit me to fail; so that I can learn from my mistakes. Then someday I'll be prepared to make the kind of decisions life requires of me. 8. Please don't do things over for me. Somehow that makes me feel that my efforts didn't quite measure up to your expectations. I know it's hard, but please don't try to compare me with my brother or my sister. 9. Please don't be afraid to leave for the weekend together. Kids need vacations from parents, just as parents need vacations from kids. Besides, it's a great way to show us kids that your marriage is very special. 10. Please take me to Sunday school and church regularly, setting a good example for me to follow. I enjoy learning more about God.
Sacrifice Two wealthy Christians, a lawyer and a merchant, joined a party that was going around the world. Before they started, their minister earnestly asked them to observe and remember any unusual and interesting things that they might see in the missionary countries through which the party was to travel. The men promised—carelessly, perhaps—to do so. One day in Korea, they saw in a field by the side of the road a boy pulling a crude plow, while an old man held the handles and directed it. The lawyer was amused, and took a snapshot of the scene. "That's a curious picture! I suppose they are very poor,"
he said to the missionary who was interpreter and guide to the party. "Yes," was the quiet reply. "That is the family of Chi Noui. When the church was being built they were eager to give something to it, but they had no money so they sold their only ox and gave the money to the church. This spring they are pulling the plow themselves." The lawyer and the businessman by his side were silent for some moments. Then the businessman said, "That must have been a real sacrifice." "They did not call it that," said the missionary. "They thought it was fortunate they had an ox to sell."
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Christian persecution hot spots for 2012
This week, the U.K.-based Christian persecution organization Release International announced its prediction of where Christian groups are likely to face the worst persecution in the upcoming year. In the unsurprising list, both North Korea and China are predicted to be the most dangerous countries for Christians in 2012. Although the recent death of Kim Jong-il sparked hopes that North Korea might loosen its tight grip on its populace and allow access to basic human rights such as freedom of religion, the group expressed that it has little hope that the plight of Christians under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un will be eased. In fact, the organization found that since the death of Kim Jong-il, Christians in the country have been facing increased levels of suspicion by government forces. The government is fearful that Christians represent a political opposition to their otherwise undisputed leadership. In China, Christians face similar concerns, with religious freedoms in the country hitting an all-time low since 1982, according to Bob Fu of China Aid. Within China proper, the organization warns that the Chinese political capital of Beijing, as well as several provinces surrounding the capital, will likely serve as “hotspots” for Christian persecution. Furthermore, the government is currently evaluating the passage of a new law
that would legalize the detention of people considered a threat to national security. Thus, Christians in China may find themselves living in precarious circumstances if deemed a threat to Chinese security. Other hot spots to look out for according to the organization include Iran, India, Pakistan, Algeria, and Nigeria. In Iran, India, and Pakistan, Rescue International warns that the worrying trend of persecuting those who change their faith“apostasy”- is taking hold. In Iran, this has been best witnessed in the case of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity. The group has expressed fear that in Nigeria, where Christmas Day bombings occurred this year for the second year in a row, terror sect Boko Haram will attempt to create a breakaway Islamic state in northern Nigeria, where Nigeria's Christians are most prevalent. For 2012, Release International reported that it fears the situation for Christians globally could worsen in regions where Christian persecution is already rife. “Across the world, the number of Christians imprisoned for their faith looks set to increase in 2012,” said CEO of Release International Andy Dipper. Ivana Kvesic, Christian Post Reporter.
Parliament yet to heed the people’s call to revive the movement from Mumbai proved to be a damp squib. Obviously his autocratic attitude trying to browbeat parliament and partisan approach in criticizing only the Congress and the present government for the corruption problem could have caused disillusionment among the public. He has also called off the proposed jail-bharo agitation. Also his team members like Kejriwal and Kiren Bedi had not covered themselves with glory because their own misdemeanors came to light proving the Scriptural truth that ‘all have sinned.’ Not dead The Bill is not yet dead, claims the Congress. It would seek to proceed with the legislation in its forthcoming budget session, it was announced. It will reopen talks with its ally TMC and others. Team Anna’s campaign, in the beginning, aroused a lot of interest and it did mobilize public opinion against corruption corroding Indian society and making life miserable for the common man. It began well and gained strength but when the anti-corruption campaign turned into an anti-Congress campaign and took a political colour, Anna lost credibility. He was forced to return to the
pavilion defeated and humiliated. The Year 2011 will be remembered for the awakening of civil society and its success in bringing pressure on Parliament to serve the cause of the people. The message that the MPs were only servants and not masters was made plain. But the civil society’s leadership lacked vision and failed to remain united. Its autocratic and partisan ways proved its undoing. In many quarters there were lurking fears that the anti-corruption campaign, as it gained momentum with the support of outfits like the RSS, would turn communal. With disclosures that Anna Hazare himself was part of the RSS in the past deepened such suspicion. When the Gandhian turned a blind eye to the corruption charges against BJP leaders, reserved his criticism only for the Congress and then announced his intention to work against the Congress in the forthcoming assembly elections, he lost his popular appeal. His Gandhian idealism lost its shine mired in the political dirt of the nation. It is a sad day for democracy. How will it be able to rein in political masters and serve the cause of the people will remain a million dollar question. It is a question of making democracy workable.
Understanding Nigeria's raging Christian-Muslim Conflict
Nigeria gripped news headlines over Christmas weekend when Islamic extremists bombed Christian churches in five different cities. Though such tragedies give the appearance of rampant religious violence, many experts now caution that religion is just one among several factors fueling strife in the West African nation. As reported yesterday by The Christian Post, 39 people were killed when terrorists bombed churches in the cities of Madalla, Jos, Kano, Damaturu and Gadaka, on Christmas Day. The violence has intensified since then, with the city of Potiskum suffering arson at 30 different Christian shops and civilians fleeing the various attack sites. John Campbell, the Council on Foreign Relations' Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies, said that although religion remains a divisive issue in Nigeria, it isn't the only concern causing the country problems. "Where there tends to be religious conflict in Nigeria is when ethnic, religious and economic boundaries coincide," he said. "All these factors are interconnected." Campbell said Nigeria was Africa's most populous country, packing in an estimated 165 million people within its borders. Its ethnic and economic differences are widespread, he said, given Nigeria contains 350 different ethnic groups that span careers ranging from farmers to herders. It's also ripe for religious conflict, he added, given the country is split nearly evenly between southern Christians and northern Muslims. "What you have here is claims and counter-claims," Campbell said. "Too many spokespeople from each religion regard each other with disdain. Nigeria is dancing on the brink. The question is whether or not it will fall off." Jonathan Racho, the International Christian Concern's regional manager for Africa, said the two faiths first engaged each other in serious conflict three decades ago. As time wore on, growing disparities in wealth and increased government corruption made matters worse. The latest source of tension between the two is Sharia, he concluded, the practice of Islamic holy law that extremist Muslims want implemented across Nigeria.
"The primary cause of conflict is the Islamic religion," Racho said. "Christians in Nigeria need a lot of help. There are continuous attacks on the church there." Nina Shea – a Hudson Institute senior scholar, the director of its Center for Religious Freedom and a commissioner on the United States Council on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) – said that the push towards Sharia serves as a battle-ground for Christians and Muslims over religious freedom. Extremists like the Boko Haram group behind the Christmas Day bombings, she said, want to ensure strict fundamentalism in Nigeria's laws. Should they prevail, she cautioned that it could plunge the African nation into an abyss of self-destruction. "Nigeria is Africa's most populous country, a regional power, a significant oil exporter and an ally," Shea said. "It is critical for both humanitarian and strategic reasons that its society, which is split almost evenly between Muslims and Christians, not enter a period of escalating religious violence." Campbell said that 12 of Nigeria's northern states let Muslims practice Sharia alongside secular government law. Boko Haram (whose name means "Western civilization is forbidden") is such a problem, he said, given Nigeria's Christian population has expanded drastically during the last few decades. "There has been an explosive growth of Christianity in Nigeria and they're now in areas they are not normally present in," Campbell said. "Christianity there is huge, vibrant and growing." Jerry Dykstra, the media relations director for Open Doors USA, said events in Nigeria should concern Christians regardless of their underlying cause. He said his organization had identified Nigeria as the site of 2011's largest number of martyrs, or those killed for their public identification as Christians. Nigeria had 300 confirmed martyrs as of Nov. 1, he said, a number that was likely higher given the bombings that happened after research was collected and poor reporting conditions were prevalent on the ground. Continued harm to its Christian community, he said, would hurt the Church worldwide. “We as Christians need to be concerned about Boko Haram disrupting the peace of Nigeria and the possibility of civil war," Dykstra said. "It sends thousands of missionaries throughout Africa. For that to be disrupted would surely prove a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel throughout the continent." Mark Hensch, Christian Post Reporter.
January 1-15, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Pogrom Torn Kandhamal revisited Philip P. Eapen Christians in Kandhamal were planning to celebrate Christmas in a big way in 2011. That's when a group called for a bandh (a general shutdown) of the whole district for four days from Dec 24. Sensing foul play in the selection of the dates, Christians protested. A bandh not only keeps business establishment closed; it also paralyses the life of people. Roads will get blocked by tree trunks. Such an atmosphere is suitable for persecuting Christinas. The Union government and Odisha state government put police force in full alert. The district collector and police chief personally oversaw security arrangements and visited churches to reassure Christians. Yet, on Christmas eve, the 24th of December, the house of a Christian near Baliguda was burnt down by people who were upset about his conversion to Christian faith. Due to Christmas and the revised one-day bandh on December 26th, news is just trickling from this remote area. The affected family did not wish to file an FIR due to fear. Later, an FIR was filed. Kandhamal – the territory of the people group called Kandh – is a hilly region that is 600 to 1200 m above MSL. The climate of this region is similar to that of Munnar or Kodaikanal. The higher latitude compensates brings about lower temperatures than what is found in the southern hill stations. Mercury dips below zero degree Celsius in a few villages. The Kandhs are rice eaters. They eat fish and meat occasionally. A typical meal consists of rice, dal and a vegetable dish. My visit coincided with the rice paddy harvest. Fields bore a golden post-harvest hue. Villagers – mostly husband-wife teams were busy threshing the grain. Some beat the grain out of the sheaves while most use cows and bulls to thresh the sheaves. Interestingly, none of the animals were muzzled. I don’t know whether this practice was influenced by the biblical injunction against muzzling oxen that threshed grain. Kandhamal received the gospel in 1914 when a few British missionaries arrived there! Missionaries arrived at a village called Mallikapodi and established a church there on April 12, 1914. These missionaries trained young boys to read and write. They educated them to grade V level. After that, these boys were sent out as teachers, preachers and doctors! This is how Mallikapodi became the centre of evangelistic activities in Kandhamal district a century ago. The neighbouring town G. Udayagiri boasted of a mission hospital that functioned very well under the stewardship of missionaries. The local tribal language of Kandhamal is Kui. British missionaries learned Kui. They encouraged these people to be faithful to Kui instead of making a complete transition to Odiya, which today is the official language of Odisha state. My hosts claim is very similar to Malayalam. How do they know it? “Ten percent of our district’s population is in Kerala. Most are in Ernakulam district, in Perumbavoor, working in various plywood industries,” explained Br R Nayak who joined us from Berhampur. He works in a bank. “The population of Odiyas in Kerala is so large that some theatres in Kerala exhibit Odiya movies.” That was news to me! Br R Nayak wonders whether a group people from Kerala or Tamil Nadu had long ago inhabited the hills of Kandhamal. He could be right. Many centuries ago, the large Tamil empire included the present Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and parts of Malaysia. Probably a group of Tamil soldiers who fought
The District Collector and Superintendent of Police reassure Christians on Christmas Eve to extend the empire to Odisha settled in the hills of Kandhamal to give rise to today’s Kui speaking Kandhs. The Kui speaking Kandhs are tribals. They bore tribal tattoo marks To prove his point, he showed me the tattoo marks on his mother’s face. Those marks, he said, were characteristic of tribal people. The Kui people were once ruled by Ghumsar. (Hence, Udayagiri is known as Ghumsar Udayagiri.) “Our girls were very pretty,” R Nayak said. Indeed they are! “The king used to capture our young girls and violate them. To prevent such atrocities, the elders subjected their daughters to this painful procedure. They wanted their girls to look ugly so that the King and his men would leave them alone! When you can’t defend your women with your might, the next best thing might be to make them unattractive. Br R Nayak explained to me that the Kandhs, like other tribesmen of India, were animists. Hinduism was alien to them. As a boy, he had helped his father to conduct animistic sacrifices. Like Isaac who accompanied Abraham to Mount Moriah, R Nayak used to carry a chicken and follow his father and other folks to the jungle. His father sacrificed the chicken on a rock. Later, the entire gathering enjoyed a ritual meal. These tribal people never knew the gods of the rest of India. They never carried coconuts or flowers to temples. All these practices were later introduced to tribal areas by settlers from outside these regions. How did the infamous riots begin in 2008? The large population of Christians in Kandhamal and neighbouring Gajapati district was a pain in the neck for many fundamentalists. They were also jealous of Christians in Kandhamal who were far ahead of the remaining populace in terms of education and employment. In the whole of Orissa, the Christian-dominated Udayagiri in Kandhamal has the highest density of well educated and well settled people! My new friends tell me that this is sufficient proof that demonstrates what the Gospel can do to any people. There was a Swami in Kandhamal who worked among the tribal people to prevent their conversion to Christianity. He also initiated efforts to “reconvert” Christian tribal folks to Hinduism although tribal religons was animism. This Swami was murdered in 2008.The majority community blamed Christians for the murder of the Swami. Christians were also accused of slaughtering a cow. These rumours triggered the pogrom. Most of the attacks took place at night. Several hundreds of Christians were chased out of their homes. Their houses and churches were destroyed and burnt. Many were
mercilessly killed. Those who managed to escape slaughter took shelter in the forests and hills. Violent mobs pursued these Christians into the forests to kill them. These outrageous killings went on for three months. Wealthy Christian leaders who had vehicles sped away to the plains – to Berhampur or to Bhubaneswar, the State capital. Some fled to Kerala. Poorer Christians were left in the hills to suffer like sheep without shepherds. Later, in the relief camps, Christians decided to reject the leadership of all those leaders who had fled to escape persecution. The local pastor of Mallikapodi Church fled to the forests in the hills. He took his wife, three daughters and his 2-year old son farther into the forests than any other member of this church. They survived on biscuits which they managed to take with them. The pastor was especially scared because the rioters mainly targeted pastors and Christian leaders. And then, being a father of 3 young girls, he was naturally anxious for their safety. Were there wild animals in the forest? I asked the pastor. “We did not see any large animal. But there must have been snakes everywhere. God protected us. We returned to G Udayagiri town after a few days and got enrolled in the relief camp. After a few weeks, we went to our native village in the neighbouring district.” Pastor D Nayak was not at home when a mob struck his house. They used a cooking gas cylinder in his house to blast his house. His wife and two sons – both under ten years at that time – ran away into the hills. They managed to reach Udyagiri by taking a jungle short cut. They sought refuge in a camp set up by the government. Later, the pastor found his sons in this relief camp. They lived there for six months. Life in the “relief camp” was terrible. They did not have anything except the clothes they wore when they escaped the violence. The relief camp was more or less a prison. They were not allowed to go anywhere except for an hour or two every day. This was in fact to provide them security. An elderly man who went out to shop for his monthly rations was found dead by the wayside. Pastor D Nayak and his family were invited to live in a friend’s house in Pondicherry for two weeks. They enjoyed the journey and the stay. Mrs. Nayak could get psychiatric help from JIPMER for the condition she faced after the riots began. They then returned to the relief camp. Pastor D Nayak remembers with gratitude a group of Christians who came all the way from Kollam in Kerala to help these poor Christians. Various Christian agencies stepped in to build houses. EFICOR built around 450 houses for those whose houses were destroyed. The government too gave some money to each family to rebuild homes and lives. Another
Christian group provided clothes and a few hundred sarees for the women. A few days before the pogrom, Pastor D Nayak met his friend who was a businessman in Udayagiri. He told Nayak, “I have a heart problem. I don’t know how long I’ll live. I am glad we met today.” A few days later, militant Hindus took him away from his house. His wife followed him. Their sons saw the direction in which their parents were taken. The man was tied up and his wife was raped in his sight. Later, the two were butchered and pieces of their body were thrown into a river nearby. Two days later, the decomposed body parts were discovered in downstream. Complete details about the 2008 pogrom against Christians in Kandhamal will never come to light. Dozens of Christians refused to testify in court against their neighbours. These Christians feared that the accused would hurt them after serving time in prisons. Magistrates and police officials were baffled. Hundreds of murderers, arsonists and rapists thus had to be acquitted. ANGELIC RESCUE Pastor Nayak recalls that persecution of Christians in Kandhamal did not begin in 2008. There were several instances of persecution before the 2008 pogrom. However, these went unnoticed. The Hindu swami - Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati - was behind all these attacks. He took initiative to convert animistic tribal folks to Hinduism and to “reconvert” local Christians to Hinduism. Media coverage was poor in the past. Communication systems and roads were quite primitive. Therefore the outside world did not know about these atrocities. In 1988, at the age of twenty, D Nayak went to a local village market with a friend. A large crowd was present there, buying and selling. Suddenly, a group of Hindus surrounded him and his friends. Some beat them while others pelted them with stones. The mob shouted slogans praising Hinduism and denouncing Christianity. The young men bled profusely. D Nayak’s while shirt turned red. Huge lumps appeared on Nayak’s head and face due to the stoning. The two men were led to a local Shiva temple. They were taken to the inner sanctuary where the main idol was kept. The leader of the mob drew a sword and asked the men, “If you will renounce your Jesus and accept Hinduism, we will let you go. Otherwise, we’ll butcher you.” Nayak replied that he wouldn’t recant his faith in Jesus. He said that he was prepared to die. All of a sudden, a tall well-built young man entered the room. The man who threatened to kill the young men dropped his sword and began to tremble. This tall man asked the young men to get up and follow him. D Nayak didn’t understand what was happening. No one who bayed for his blood objected when he was being led out. This mysterious tall man led him to the local police station. A few minutes later, he brought out the second young man too to the station. After that, he disappeared. While they were at the station, they saw Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati travelling up and down in his vehicle. The swami was obviously supervising the entire operation, encouraging the crowd to do these hate crimes. The police did not take the matter seriously. No case was registered against anyone. They were made to sit in the station till dusk. Later, they slipped out of the police station and walked home. Until today, Pastor Nayak doesn’t know the whereabouts of the man who rescued him. The God of the Bible had rescued his servants from certain death several times by sending his angels. Probably this was a divinely coordinated angelic rescue.
January 1-15, 2012
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Blessedness in the New Year
We all are inclined to make new resolutions at the approach of the New Year even while knowing that it wouldn’t take long to forget them all. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) , theologian and thinker, was around 19 when he drew up a list of 70 resolutions with a view to ensuring that his life pleases God and blesses fellow beings. That should be quite a desirable goal for ordinary mortals like us. What was some of these resolutions? He would do whatever is most to God’s glory. He would perform his duties for the good of mankind in general. He was determined ‘never to do anything which he should be afraid to do if it was the last hour of his life.’ Another resolution related to studying the scriptures steadily, constantly and frequently. Yet another resolution was about examining himself at the end of every day, week, month and year and see how he could possibly improve. These resolutions have relevance because the ‘blessedness’ of the New Year will, to an extent, depend on how we fare in our relationship with God and fellow beings. So it is worth dwelling on what makes for a trouble free year. A wise method is to have a daily check list: Today, I will treat others as I wish to be treated. Remember the Golden Rule stated in the Bible? ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ Today, I will be careful about
what I speak. This means resisting the temptation to gossip, slander or malign anyone in any way. ‘Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt that you may know how to answer each one.’ (Colossians 4: 6) ‘Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. Human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. What is more, if someone thinks he is religious but does not bridle his tongue, his religion is futile. Today I will go the extra mile…’ There is this scriptural injunction: ‘Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.’ (Philippians 2: 4) That is the road to overcome selfishness, the number one enemy of happiness. Today, I will be disposed to overcome evil with good. Vengeance is the way usually chosen by the average man to confront evil. That will drag one into hatred, yielding fruits of bitterness and wickedness. It would be like giving a foothold to the devil in your life. ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you’ (Ephesians 4: 31-32) Today, I will do a bit do build up ‘faith, hope and love’ in my life. Translating that into practical terms would mean in the words of A.W Tozer: ‘Mend a quarrel. Search out a
forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust…Encourage youth. Keep a promise. Forego a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologise if you were wrong. Examine your demand on others. Think first of someone else. Appreciate, be kind, be gentle. Take up arms against malice. Decry complacency. Express your gratitude…Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Count your blessings and thank God for all of these.’ Today, I will think of what I can give. Covetousness in human nature is at the root of many evils we find today.Whether it is envi-ronmental pollution, harmful exploitation of natural resources, shortages . corruption—at the root of it all is the human mind craving for more. Giving is an anti-dote to fight this inclination in human natuare. A fourth century saint,Basil, reminds us: ‘The bread you store up belong to the hungry; the cloak that lies on your chest belongs to the naked; and the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.’ Today, I will employ my time well. Life is made up of time and whoever wastes time wastes life itself. Since life is short, we must ‘redeem the time.’ Know the true value of time, snatch, seize and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, laziness, no procrastination. –never put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Today I will say ‘no’ to selfish
Demand for ban on Gita rejected The Russian court’s rejection of the plea to ban the Bhagwad Gita has come as a great relief to people here who were agitated by the unwarranted reference of the scripture to the court in Siberia. India's parlimentarains were united in condemning it and have also demanded that the religious freedom of Hindus in Russia be protected. The hostility to the Gita drew widespread condemnation from many parts of the world. India has a history of tolerance in such highly sensitive matters. In a 1985 case, the Calcutta High Court dismissed a petition seeking a ban on the Quran. With good reason too... the court unequivocally said that seeking to ban a basic text held sacred by a class of persons is against the Constitution of India and secularism, as every religion is to be treated equally. The court opined that Quran is unique to Muslims, as the Bible is to the Christians
and Gita, Ramayana and Mahabbarata to the Hindus. It also said that no religion is to be belittled as it involves a highly delicate and sensitive issue. The High Court held that courts should be circumspect and very cautious in dealing with these matters. Otherwise it may attract cheap publicity and cause disruption of religious harmony. International covenants are very clear about promoting the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The very thought of banning the use or publication of a religious text which has substantial following in the world is repugnant to the Constitution of India and International covenants. The Indian Constitution secures liberty of thought expression, belief, faith and worship to all its citizens. Article 19 (1) (a) protects the freedom of speech and expression of every citizen. Under Article 21 no person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. The Constitution protects the rights of foreigners in India; foreigners have the right to life, personal liberty and dignity. Under Article 25 all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely propagate, practice and profess religion. These freedoms are subject to public order, health and morality. Human Rights The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognizes that inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. According to UDHR human rights should be protected by rule of law and it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations. Articles 18 and 19 of UDHR say that everyone has the right to freedom of
MPK Kutty ambition and obsession with success: The world today has a false view of success. Einstein pointing out this society’s illusion which considers as successful a man who “ receives a great deal more from his fellowmen, usually incomparably more than corresponds to his service to them.” According to him the value of a man, however, should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. The Christian will be guided by the need to give an account to his Master… This is not to say that it will all be smooth sailing throughout the year. One may not know what awaits him or her in the times ahead. Amidst the changing tides and seasons, the psalmist had learnt to say: ‘I trust in you, O Lord ! You are my God. You are my God. My times are in your hand.’(Psalm 31: 15) A strong faith is shield against anxiety over changes and uncertainties of the future. When tough times come your way, remember the One who endured the Cross for the sake of eternal glory. Wealth, success or fame can not satisfy the souls, who have an eternal destiny. A psychiatrist explains spiritual growth thus: You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain , if you experience losses,and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.
Robin Ratnakar David thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and the right to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. Further everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. What's notable is that the Russian Federation is a signatory to this and has ratified the UDHR, ICCPR and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In view of this, our parlimentarians' demand that the religious rights of the Hindus in Russia should be protected, is in accordance with the Indian Constitution and International covenants. The parliamentarians’ stand is clearly founded on the Indian Constitution and the respect for rule of law. (Robin Ratnakar David is a lawyer, Partner of Dua Associates )
PRAISE THE ALMIGHTY
Christians could disappear from Iraq and Afghanistan Christianity in Afghanistan and Iraq could be eradicated in our lifetime, partially as a result of the US troop withdrawal, says Leonard Leo, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). This is the pattern throughout the Middle Eastern region, Leo said in a video interview with Terry Jeffrey, editor in chief of CNSNews. “The flight of Christians out of the region is unprecedented and it’s increasing year by year,” Leo said, concluding with a grim prediction that Christians might disappear altogether from Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt. Since the war began in March 2003, Iraq erupted into sectarian violence, leaving US troops in charge of trying to contain what threatened to become a civil war. The situation turned out to be catastrophic for the Christian community there, as violence against Christians soared, including an attack on a church in Baghdad in October last year, in which 58 congregants were killed. Up to 900,000 Christians have fled the country since, according to a recent study by Minority Rights Group International. The religious freedom expert echoed many others in accusing the Iraqi government of failing to take adequate steps to protect Christians or prosecute those who attack them. “One of the big problems from the very beginning was that our country and others were unwilling to acknowledge that the fight in Iraq was largely a sectarian conflict and there wasn’t enough emphasis placed on the flight of Christians and other religious
minorities, particularly in the northern part of Iraq,” Leo told CNSNews.com. He added that religious minorities have always been an important part of the Iraqi fabric of society, which held it together. Disappearance of these minorities would be a “serious problem”. US troops withdrew from Iraq on December15 and the final withdrawal from Afghanistan is due by the end of December. “I’m very, very concerned about what will happen after our presence is completely gone, and I don’t know how we continue to put pressure on the Iraqi government and on the security forces and others in Iraq to protect the Christians in the absence of any presence,” Leo said. The agency’s annual report on religious freedom in Iraq reports "systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations". At least half of the Iraqi Christian community from before the US invasion is believed to have left the country, according to the report. “In 2003, there were thought to be 800,000 to 1.4 million Chaldean Catholics, Assyrian Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East members, Syriac Orthodox, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), Protestants, and Evangelicals in Iraq. Today, community leaders estimate the number of Christians to be around 500,000,” the report reads. In Afghanistan “conditions for religious freedom remain problematic, despite gains in freedom of religion or belief since the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001”, says the USCIRF report. A constitution that was drafted with the
January 1-15, 2012 help of the United States government has effectively given the Afghan government license to deny religious liberty to people who adhere to minority faiths, including Christianity, Leo added in the interview. “The constitution drafting process with which we were involved was a disaster and I’m not sure Afghanistan can ever fully recover from the damage that we inflicted by not holding the line on the kind of constitution drafting that we should have been pushing for,” he said. In Egypt, according to Leo, antiChristian violence and discrimination may inspire a mass migration of that nation’s Coptic Christian population, which means radical Muslims there will reach their goal. The country is headed down a similar path as Iraq and Afghanistan, Leo concluded. “With what’s going on in Egypt, with the uncertainties that exist, there’s very little incentive for a young Coptic Christian to stay in the county,” Leo told CNSNews. “It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you saw the same basic trajectory in Egypt that you see in quite a number of other countries which is to say they just get up and they leave.” Even under Mubarak, authorities were
not investigating and bringing to justice the persecutors of minorities properly, he added. “But then you have to compound that problem with you may actually have a government that steps up the official repression of religion,” the religious freedom expert said. He fears the new laws in Egypt may further restrict churches, which as a result could scare away the younger members of the Coptic community. Other countries covered by USCIRF’s report, where the non-Muslim religious minority communities are facing existential threats include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Pakistan among others. USCIRF, as a governmental agency, makes recommendations to the president, Congress and the secretary of state regarding how to use US foreign policy to help freedom of religion across the world. The agency is able to suggest countries that violate that freedom to be considered “countries of particular concern” by the Department of State, Leo said. The agency reportedly asked the Department of State to name Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan as such, but the department refused.
Global Climate Change is 'A Faith Issue,' Christian Leaders Say The Global Climate Summit, which is now over in Durban, South Africa, allowed countries the opportunity to strive for a better, healthier world. But some feel the matter is tied to faith in God and one another, not in science. The 194 countries that attended the Global Climate Summit in Durban agreed on a new process that could result in legally binding measures to control global warming. The agreement, which came almost a day and a half after the conference was scheduled to end,
culminated a conference otherwise plagued by the absence of a clear direction moving forward. Countries at the conference were able to agree to a second five year commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol; and a non-binding agreement to reach an agreement by 2015 that will bring all countries under the same legal reach by 2020. While this was not the expectation of the summit it did allow for a limited consensus of 16
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Poor Christians often targets of persecution in Pakistan
Poverty and ignorance are major factors that make breeding ground for intolerance against the Christian minority in Pakistan, according to Pakistani minister Paul Bhatti, an adviser to the Prime Minister for National Harmony in Pakistan. “If we don’t succeed in eradicating poverty and ignorance in our country, then we will not be able to combat the phenomenon of religious intolerance,” Bhatti told Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano on Dec. 24. The minister is also brother of the late Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated on March 2. Bhatti recently met with a group of inmates, and spoke about the situation of Christians serving prison sentences on charges of blasphemy, the newspaper reported. Bhatti said that Pakistan’s laws regarding blasphemy, rooted in Sharia, have served as a tool against Christians, who are being arrested based on an ambiguous law that forbids people from speaking against Islam or praising another religion. Accusations of blasphemy generally come from impoverished areas, the minister said, which suggests that poverty and ignorance are enemies of the Christian minority. Bhatti's is yet another voice coming from Pakistan that confirms the danger of increasing persecution of Christians in the country. Elements of Sharia law, such as blasphemy laws, are used as excuse for arresting Christians, Jonathan Racho, the Regional Manager for South Asia at the International Christian Concern (ICC), an advocacy group, told The Christian Post recently. In September, a Christian accused of blasphemy died in Pakistani jail, as authorities refused him proper treatment, according to ICC. One of the most famous cases of
persecution of Christians in Pakistan is the case of Asia Bibi, the first woman in that country to be sentenced to death for alleged blasphemy. Bibi, still awaiting the resolution of her case, had been accused of blasphemy by fellow field workers. A mother of five, she was reportedly sentenced to death by hanging for allegedly speaking ill of the Prophet Muhammad. Bibi denied the charges. “Unfortunately, Asia Bibi is not the only person of the Christian faith serving a long sentence in Pakistan for having offended Islam,” Bhatti told L’Osservatore Romano. “These are the consequences of distorting the law against blasphemy but more than anything they are consequences of a widespread ignorance which plagues the weaker members of society: it is sufficient to recall the fact that all the people accused of blasphemy are extremely poor and therefore targets of those with the intention to promote hate and division between religious communities.” A 2011 report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) claims that “Pakistan continues to be responsible for systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.” The country is rife with attacks against minority religious communities, as well as members of the majority faith, and its laws penalizing blasphemy with the death penalty foster a climate of impunity, the agency reported. Blasphemy laws and other religiously discriminatory legislation, such as the anti-Ahmadi laws, have created an atmosphere of violent extremism and vigilantism, USCIRF report claims. The agency claims it was instrumental in introducing the U.S. Government to the late Shahbaz Bhatti, who was an ardent defender of human rights reform within the Pakistani government. “These connections provided Minister Bhatti with important leverage with his own government colleagues in Islamabad,” the report reads. After his death, USCIRF worked with congressional offices to have a resolution introduced in his honor that pressed for improvements on these issues. In its 2010 report, USCIRF said it deems elimination of Pakistan’s blasphemy law as a priority, and urges the U.S. government to pursue this objective and to support interfaith dialogue efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Minorities Affairs.
Global Climate Change is ... participating nations. One of the major hang-ups during the summit was concerned with the different regulations for industrialized and developing countries. But as a result of the summit all countries are now under the same agreement. Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, has said to the Los Angeles Times, “It’s been one of the key sticking points for a number of years… it does send a pretty good signal that if there’s going to be a new legal agreement, it’ll have to contain commitments from developing countries in the same legal form.” During the start of the conference Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's senior adviser on climate change, urged decision makers to take inspiration from the biblical story of Noah. This was in an attempt to show
how poor, underserved communities would be adversely affected by global climate change and how everyone must look out for one another. Adow was not the only one who felt the spiritual impact of the summit. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga spoke on how climate change caused an increase in starvation and suffering. He explained that for the Catholic Church, climate change is not just dealing with "thermometers or scientific analysis, we are talking about human beings and the sufferings of human beings.” “It is a faith issue because, from the very beginning of the Bible, you see how creation was entrusted to human beings," Cardinal Maradiaga said, according to the Catholic News Service. Myles Collier, Christian Post Contributor
Queen of England appoints 'Traditional' priest her Official chaplain Dec. 30, 2011
Britain's Queen Elizabeth arrives to the Braemar Royal Highland Gathering In Scotland Queen Elizabeth II has appointed the Reverend Preb Paul Lockett as her personal and official Chaplain. The announcement comes as the Church of England prepares for defections in the upcoming year. Reverend Preb Paul Lockett is a selfdescribed traditionalist who has been outspoken about the appointment of female bishops. The Church of England is facing mass defections as it moves toward the approval of female Bishops. Lockett, however, has stated, “I can’t acknowledge a
woman Bishop. If she then delegates her authority to a male Bishop, it has no value.” Upon the announcement of Lockett as the Queen’s Royal Chaplain, he said, “It’s almost like a nod of approval by the Royal Family and Church of England…It shows that they still see the traditionalist voice as an important one that ought to be heard. I will keep speaking about my traditionalist views, and making sure they’re heard.” He continued, “I can only say what I believe, and we need to make sure there is a code of practice and respect that fits with the authority a Bishop should have, which can be done only when the Bishop is male.” The Church of England, which is Anglican, has recently begun the process to approve female Bishops. Reaction has been varied, with some reports showing that clergy and parishioners are preparing to leave once the proposal passes. Pope John Paul II established the Ordinariate, a governmental structure, to allow Anglicans to retain their heritage while partaking in full communion with the Holy Catholic Church. Monseigneur Keith Newton cautioned Church of England parishioners in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, “You can’t become a Catholic because you simply want to escape the problems of the Church of England -- you have to want to become a Catholic.” He also stated that the number of defections depend “a little bit on what the Synod decides to do.” Estimates are currently in the hundreds for clergy and thousands for parishioners, according to reports.
Family radio founder Harold Camping Repents, apologizes for false teachings Bible Teacher Confesses He Was Wrong to Predict Christ's Return; Says God Has Not Stopped Saving People With his speech sounding somewhat slurred and labored, Family Radio Stations Inc. founder and chairman Harold Camping sought to address in a recent message why Christ failed to return on Oct. 21 as the Bible teacher had predicted. Camping confessed, after decades of falsely misleading his followers, that he was wrong and regrets his misdeeds. In addition to attempting to correct his erroneous teachings on the Rapture and God's day of final judgment on the world, Camping, 90, also confessed, "incidentally," that he was wrong to claim that God had stopped saving people after May 21 – the date which God's socalled "spiritual" judgment had begun. This is undoubtedly a radical shift for
Camping, who has staunchly claimed since 1992 that he had discovered a special numerical system in the Bible that allowed him to calculate the exact dates of certain events, such as the Great Flood, the Crucifixion and the day of Jesus Christ's return to Earth. Camping first falsely predicted that the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994, then again on May 21, 2011, and finally on Oct. 21. When Camping's final doomsday predication failed to come to pass, Family Radio soon removed its teachings regarding the failed May 21 rapture, which also included the claim that God had stopped saving people after that date and that the world was headed for a final judgment on Oct. 21.
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