Religious Liberty: During February we prayed for....

Prayer February 27, 2008


CHAD
, where rebels backed by Sudan, Saudi Arabia and (according to
Chadian Prime Minister Delwa Kassire Coumakoye) Libya, attacked
the capital N'Djamena, with the aim of installing an Islamist
regime loyal to Khartoum.

* UPDATE: The Chadian army, with some assistance from French
forces, was able to defeat the rebels. The Red Cross estimates
that around 160 people were killed and some 30,000 displaced.
However the threat is an ongoing one as doubtless the rebels
will regroup.

KAZAKHSTAN, where a decade of religious reforms are now being
wound back.

* UPATE: After the fall of Communism and the break up of the
Soviet
Union
, Central Asia became open to 'non-traditional' religious
groups like Protestant Christianity and Wahhabi Islam. In
Kazakhstan, Protestant Christianity arouses competitive
hostility from local Russian Orthodox and Muslims, and Islamic
revolutionary and terrorist forces pose a serious threat to the
State. The government is responding to both problems by
repressing all 'foreign cults'. Furthermore America no longer
has the influence in Central Asia it had only a few years ago. As
a consequence, repression and persecution of Protestants are
likely to escalate.

ALGERIA, where the government, in response to opposition and
Islamic pressure, has started acting on its March 2006 religion
ordinance which aims to stop Christian missionary work and
conversions from Islam to Christianity. A crackdown against
Christianity has begun. As was noted in RLP 466, Christian
satellite TV broadcasts have contributed significantly to the
growth of Christianity in Algeria.

OTHER ISSUES DURING FEBRUARY
----------------------------

* ARAB LEAGUE: THREAT TO CHRISTIAN SATELLITE TV

The Arab Information Ministers met in Cairo on 12 February and
adopted a charter to control satellite TV content. Qatar and
Lebanon were the only Arab states not to sign. The charter requires
that satellite broadcasting not offend the leaders or national and
religious symbols in the Arab world, and not damage social harmony,
national unity, public order or traditional values. It must conform
with the religious and ethical values of Arab society, taking into
account its religions, prophets, sects and symbols, as well as to
protect Arab identity from the harmful effects of globalisation.
Most Arab-language Christian satellite content is broadcast into
the Arab world from outside. However, most of the Christian content
is produced in Arab countries and could be targeted by those
determined to 'protect' Islam. Please pray.

'Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark
world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.'
(Ephesians 6:12 NIV)

* CHINA: REPRESSION OF HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT ESCALATES

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) appears determined to dismantle
the House Church Alliance before the Beijing Olympic Games, reports
China Aid Association. On 7 December 2007 police raided a church
leadership training conference in Hedong District, Linyi city,
Shandong, and arrested 261 attenders. All but the 21 most senior
and authoritative leaders were released after paying fines and
serving short terms in detention. In mid-February the 21 remaining
church leaders (17 men, 4 women) were charged with being members of
an 'evil cult' and sentenced to between 15 months and 3 years 're-
education through labour'. Meanwhile the CCP's leading think tank,
the Central Party School in Beijing, has called for systematic
political liberalisation, including greater media and religious
freedom, as China seeks to become a modern civil society by 2020.
This main academy for training senior officials warns that the
public is fed up with institutionalised corruption and abuse of
power.

* GAZA: YMCA BOMBED

Fourteen masked gunmen forced their way into the Young Men's
Christian Association (YMCA) in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip
on Friday 15 February. Gaza's YMCA houses a library, gym and
wedding hall. The militants bombed the library and thousands of
books were destroyed in the ensuing fire. A second bomb placed in
the office failed to detonate. The YMCA's two security guards were
over-powered, kidnapped but later released. YMCA director Eissa
Saba told AsiaNews that the gunmen searched the office and took
away his computer. The situation in Gaza has been described as
'security chaos'. The October 2007 murder of Baptist youth worker
and Bible Society worker Rami Ayyad (29) has not been solved. His
widow, Pauline, gave birth to a daughter on 4 February. She has
named her Semma (which means heaven in Arabic) 'because Rami is in
heaven'.

* KOSOVO: On Sunday 17 February Kosovo's Albanian leadership made a
unilateral declaration of independence. Kosovo's Christians are now
a tiny minority in a Muslim dominated self-declared independent
state. Since the Balkan wars of the 1990s Islamic groups have been
consolidating in Kosovo, with plans to turn the province into a
base for terror operations. Kosovo's Serbian remnant (predominantly
Serbian Orthodox), along with an incomparable wealth of Christian
heritage dating back to the Middle Ages, are immediately and
seriously at risk. Please pray for the Church in Kosovo. Psalm 46.

* MALAYSIA: MOUNTING RELIGIOUS TENSION BEFORE 8 MARCH ELECTIONS

General Elections will be held on Saturday 8 March. Malaysia is 58
percent Muslim, 23 percent Buddhist, 11 percent Christian and 6
percent Hindu. Christian, Buddhist and Hindu bodies, alarmed by
creeping Islamisation and the expanding reach of Sharia courts,
have combined forces to promote religious liberty as a political
issue for the upcoming elections. Churches -- while remaining non-
partisan -- have been handing out brochures urging Christians to
examine the platforms and records of political parties on 'freedom
of religion, conscience and speech' before voting. Meanwhile some
100 Islamic groups have combined to form the Defenders of Islam. On
Wednesday 20 February they called for wider powers for Sharia
courts and stricter enforcement of religious and moral doctrines.
The group said they will present their 'Islamic demands' to all
candidates and political parties before the elections.

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We usually provide a summary to use in news-sheets unable to
run the whole of an RLP. As a summary is not practicable with
this monthly update posting we suggest one or more of the above
items be used instead.
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----------------------------------------------------

The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this
RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray
specifically and regularly for religious liberty
issues, and in particular to uphold the Church
where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner
of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.