'Intense hatred' toward Christians

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Bill Bumpas (OneNewsNow.com)

cross broken shatteredExtremism, injustice, and lawlessness – religious persecution of believers goes unabated in several Asian nations, with death and imprisonment often the result. OneNewsNow spoke with two watchdog groups about some recent tragedies.

Extremism in Indonesia

Watchdog groups are reacting to Sunday's deadly bombing of three churches in Indonesia that killed at least ten people.

The leader of Open Doors USA says his heart goes out to the Christians who were affected by the attacks in Surabya. David Curry says it's hard to imagine a mother and father persuading their children to commit murder and suicide, but that's what happened in Indonesia's second-largest city.

"It shows really the intense hatred that exists within extremist groups toward Christians," he tells OneNewNow. "This was an ISIS-identified attack, this family had been radicalized in Syria, and ISIS has stated they want to eliminate Christians. They want to set up caliphates in places like Indonesia."

Curry argues his case that people within the Muslim faith need to address this strain of radical extremism because "to say it has no connection to Islam is wrong."

"It clearly has some connection to theology," he continues, "because they're using theology as a weapon to radicalize people – so it needs to be addressed within Islam. It's not just a political issue; it's not just a terrorist issue. It's an issue for theologians and for people within Islam to stand up and let their voice be heard on this and to condemn these attacks and to do what they can to protect these churches in Surabaya and Jakarta and elsewhere."

Curry says churches need to be places of refuge where people can come in and worship freely without fear of violence.

Injustice in Philippines

Two Catholic priests have been killed in the Philippines in a four-month span, and a spokesperson for International Christian Concern is calling on authorities there to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice.

A 37-year-old Catholic priest, Father Mark Anthony Ventura, was laid to rest earlier this month after being fatally shot (on the morning of April 29) in the northern Philippines shortly after the conclusion of Mass. The suspects have yet to be captured. Another case remains unsolved from December when a 72-year-old retired Catholic Priest was fatally shot.

"The intensity of this type of killing is very alarming because it shows that [the lives of] even religious clergy can be taken [lightly] and the government seems to be not really doing its best to capture the suspects," says Gina Goh, regional manager for International Christian Concern.

It's essential for the government to bring the suspects to justice, she argues. "Because if you let this type of killing with impunity continue to go on, then I think ... the suspects ... will just think the government doesn't care – [they'll think] We can continue and go on and just kill whoever stands in our way. And so there's no justice."

Goh admits she has her doubts about how committed the Philippine government will be in seeking justice due to its past human rights record.

Lawlessness in India

Another state in the country of India has approved what is known as an "anti-conversion" law, and local Christians are concerned Hindu radicals will use the new law to harass the community's Christian leaders.

Uttarakhand has become the seventh state to put the law into effect. William Stark, also with International Christian Concern, says local Christians fear they will be punished for sharing their faith and for proclaiming the gospel. He says in other states that have passed some similar law, Hindu radicals have used it to attack Christians. He offers an example:

"You have a Christian pastor – he's giving a Sunday sermon or he's out there doing outreach or something like that – and a group of Hindu radicals will walk up to him, beat him up, bring him to the police station; and they'll tell the police officers [he] was engaged into forced conversions," Stark describes.

"Instead of the Hindu radicals – who have literally just assailed this person – being arrested, the poor, beaten pastor is put in prison for forced conversions and is now on the line to potentially get five years in prison."

Stark sees a clear conflict in that India is allowing states to pass anti-conversion laws. He points out the constitution of India gives citizens not only the freedom to choose their religion, but also the freedom to propagate their religion.

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