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Arson Attacks Hit Churches in Tamil Nadu, India
Hindu extremists suspected.

By Our Southern India Correspondent
HYDERABAD, India, July 16, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Three church buildings were set ablaze in six weeks in the state in southern India with the most attacks against Christians this year, sources said.

In one case, a church building in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state was burned to ashes after Christians refused to donate to an annual Hindu festival, they said. Members of Kingdom of God church were on their way home after an evening service on June 11 in Seekanankuppam, Kanchipuram District when their building was torched.

Pastor Arul Ruben was leading Bible study in Paramankeni, a village two and a half miles away, when he received a call about the fire.

“I received the call around 8 p.m., immediately asked the local pastor in Paramankeni to continue the service and rushed to Seekanankuppam,” Pastor Ruben, 37, said. “In 20 minutes I was able to reach it, but by that time, nothing was left – the fire had spread all over.”

Area Christians and neighbors tried to help Pastor Ruben douse the fire, but eventually firemen had to be called in to put it out. The pastor reported the attack the next morning at the Koovathur police station. Losses were estimated at approximately 100,000 rupees (US$1,450), he said.

Hindus in nearby villages became furious last year when no one from the 25 Christian families attending the church contributed to the annual Hindu festival held each May, and none contributed this year, Pastor Ruben said.

“[Last year] they humiliated the Christians for their non-participation and issued threats that the church would be destroyed if any Christian refused to contribute to the Hindu temple for the annual celebration of their deity,” he said. “Even this year, they visited the Christian families and asked them to donate for the celebration, but nobody contributed. When the festival is over, just when we were glad for the peace and harmony around us, we get to see the church turn to ashes.”

In addition, a Hindu cemetery is located about 300 meters away, said a church leader identified as Pastor Benjamin.

“Behind the church, the Hindu residents from nearby villages demanded that the church be closed down so a short-cut way can be paved for Hindus taking their deceased for cremation,” he said. “They even carried the dead via the church premises to the cemetery. They stopped after the area president intervened and warned them that it is not right, and that they must avoid entering the church premises and take the long route instead.”

Son of church founder Joshua Anthony, who established the fellowship in Seekanankuppam 23 years ago, Pastor Benjamin said the congregation has also seen “immense opposition” in the past five years because their building was located along a national highway, the East Coast Road (ECR), connecting the state capital, Chennai, and the former French colony of Puducherry.

“The area is in demand because of the ECR route, and random businessmen and real estate dealers constantly ask us to vacate,” the pastor said. “They told us the land can be of best advantage for commercial use.”

The site is also in demand as many tourists traveling to Pondicherry use the ECR route.

On top of these issues, a music academy in the same area wrongfully registered the church’s land in its name, he said.

“It was a long battle, and with the help of the area leaders we were able to get the piece of land registered in the church’s name,” he said.

Buildings in Flames
In Puducherry, Karaikal District, passers-by who saw the Bible Presbyterian Church building in flames on May 25 alerted neighbors and Pastor David Santosham.

“It has been nearly two months, and police could not find the culprits,” Pastor Santosham told Morning Star News. “I met the sub-inspector of police recently, and he told me that the investigation is underway. We are building the church again by the grace of God. Please pray for the construction work.”

A neighbor who is an active member of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has opposed the church’s services since 2012, he said.

“I submitted a petition to the National Commission for Minorities in 2012, but was attacked again in 2016 while repairing the roof,” Pastor Santosham said.

In Thiruvannamalai, an Advent Christian Church building on May 5 was set on fire by miscreants who ran away when neighbors spotted them, pastor Govrathnam Anbarasan told Morning Star News.

“That week, we conducted a VBS [Vacation Bible School] program for children in the church,” he said. “There was opposition from Hindu fundamentalists in Thiruvannamalai, but we continued the church services.”

Children rehearsing a skit to perform the next day had left for their homes by the time the arsonists jumped into the compound and set fire to the structure’s coconut-leaf roof, he said.

“As the roof was woven with coconut leaves, it is enough to ignite a small portion and the fire can spread all over easily in short time,” Pastor Anbarasan told Morning Star News. “I was visiting a believer’s family about three miles away to pray for their son.”

Police have taken no action since church leaders filed a First Information Report at Thiruvannamalai police station, he said.

“Since the past two months, we have been worshipping in open air under a tent,” he added. “A relief organization had come forward promising to help, but I received nothing from them. We don’t have enough means to rebuild the church, even if temporarily.”

Last year, a pastor’s home and church building was burned down after villagers belonging to Vanniyar, a caste-based Hindu-sect, put their faith in Christ. The church in Attipattu village, Cuddalore District, was strongly opposed by hard-line Hindus who label Christianity as a religion of lower castes.

Violent Trend
Nehemiah Christie, director of legislations and regulations of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches in Tamil Nadu, told Morning Star News that violent trends against Christians are increasing as elections grow closer.

“On one side, we see the Hindu extremists barging inside the churches and attacking pastors, and the other side is what goes on behind us – in remote areas, they are burning away churches, especially those with roofs of tar sheet or coconut leaves, so fire can be spread speedily and easily, and before anybody can notice the perpetrators, they escape from the spot.”

Tamil Nadu was previously known for upholding secularism and unity, Christie said.

“The brotherhood Tamilians share irrespective of their caste or religion is today under threat, with political figures attempting to spread hatred against Christian and Muslim minorities for their political agenda,” he said. “In every case of arson, the police conveniently register it as fire accident due to short circuit, and they refuse to register the suspects’ names. But in reality, it is targeted violence to create communal disharmony between the Hindus and Christians.”

Hindu nationalists seek to create fear in Christians, especially new converts, that there can be church fires at anytime, so that especially the illiterate in remote areas won’t dare enter a church service, he added.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo 1: Charred remains of Advent Christian Church building in Thiruvannamalai, India. (Morning Star News)

Photo 2: Burnt pages of Bible of Kingdom of God church building gutted by fire in Tamil Nadu, India. (Morning Star News)

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© 2018 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. https://morningstarnews.org

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Islamist Violence against Christians in Uganda Injures Pastors, Stops Church Services
Threats compel pastor to send his children to another village.

By Our East Africa Correspondent
NAIROBI, Kenya, July 13, 2018 (Morning Star News) – In further anti-Christian hostilities in eastern Uganda, Muslims knocked a pastor unconscious at a debate and Islamist threats in another village put a halt to worship services.

Threats by Muslims in Mazuba village, Namutumba District, stopped worship services in a half-constructed church building and led the pastor to send his children to another town, he said.

“The church members are now living in great fear for their lives and have stopped attending church services,” pastor Maseruwa Budallah told Morning Star News.

The 55-year-old pastor had resettled his family in Mazuba five years ago after fleeing persecution by Muslims in Sironko village, 70 kilometers (43 miles) away. In April, Muslims in Mazuba noticed that some Muslims had become Christians and were attending his church, and Muslim schoolchildren learned from Christian children that the pastor had left Islam to become a Christian.

Word that he was a convert from Islam spread quickly, and Muslim schoolchildren began bullying the pastor’s eight children, Pastor Budallah said. As area Muslims threatened to kill his children, the pastor and his wife felt compelled to send them to a boarding school in another town.

At beginning of the year Pastor Budallah donated a part of his land for construction of a church building. After walls had been built, however, area Muslims learned that he was a convert from Islam and put a stop to construction, he said. Besides confronting the pastor – telling him to stop construction as well as discontinue worship services – they have sent him threatening messages, he said.

“We know your tricks, that your intention of building the church is for you to convert our members to Christianity,” they wrote in a letter to him on May 8. “If you continue building the church, then you are risking your life as well as the life of your church members.”

Pastor Budallah also received threatening messages from his relatives back in Sironko, he said.

“You have refused to come back home, and we hear that you have started building a church for infidels,” read one text message. “Know that Allah is going to deal with you soon, and you will not finish it nor pray in it.”

Debate Violence
In Butaleja District, also in eastern Uganda, a pastor was knocked unconscious when irate Muslims threw rocks at him and other church leaders during a debate on Christianity and Islam in Kuwait village, sources said.

A stone struck pastor Tom Palapande, 38, in the head during an open-air debate on June 21, part of a two-week evangelistic campaign. The first week featured only evangelistic events, and the second week included debates with area Muslims about Islamic and Christian scriptures, the Trinity and the Sonship of Jesus, among other topics.

The first three debates took place without incident, but in the fourth debate about Jesus as the Son of God, a sheikh found himself ill-prepared and left in the middle of the event, sources said. Embarrassed Muslims in the crowd responded by throwing stones at Pastor Palapande and shouting the jihadist chant, “Allah akbar,” they said.

“A big stone hit the pastor’s forehead, and the stones as well injured three other church leaders who were close to the pastor at the podium – Moses Balabye, Agrey Gibenya and Milton Magezi,” a church leader told Morning Star News.

Pastor Palapande said that he regained consciousness in a Kuwait clinic and was later transferred to a hospital in Mbale.

“This is not the first time when Muslims attacked us, especially when they lost debates in Nasenye, Nabiganda and Bumadanda,” Pastor Palapande told Morning Star News by phone. “I was beaten up, and it was falsely reported in a local newspaper as well as the local radio station that I am disrespecting the religion of Islam. This is a calculated move to tarnish my name.”

He appealed for the government of Uganda to protect him and to stop Muslims from assassinating his character.

“The perpetrators of this heinous crime must be found and punished to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.

Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, with many concentrated in the eastern part of the country.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: A stone knocked pastor Tom Palapande unconscious at a Muslim-Christian debate in eastern Uganda. (Morning Star News)

###

© 2018 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. https://morningstarnews.org

Tweet: https://twitter.com/morningstarnewz/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorningStarNews

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Sudan Returns Church Building Closed Four Years Ago
A rare reversal amid demolitions and closures.

By Our Sudan Correspondent
JUBA, South Sudan, July 12, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Authorities in Khartoum, Sudan have handed back a church building that they had padlocked four years ago and threatened to seize, Christian leaders said.

A Sudanese church leader involved in the return of the Khartoum Christian Center building, owned by the Sudan Pentecostal Church (SPC), told Morning Star News that national security officials called him and other church members and returned it to them last month. Amid a wave of church closures and expulsions of South Sudanese Christians, Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) had closed the church in August 2014.

Government officials had said they closed the church building, which served as a worship venue for 20 years, because it was on land designated for office space. Though government officials stated that the closure was temporary, they gave no timeline, and church members feared the government would sell it. The government notified SPC leaders of the 500-member church that they should look for another place of worship since the space was designated for offices, an SPC leader told Morning Star News at the time.

The government gave no reason for returning the property to the church, but Christian leaders said they suspect foreign pressure played a key role. Morning Star News broke news of the church closure in early September 2014.

On Sunday (July 8), SPC leaders led a thanksgiving service attended by Christians from various churches in Khartoum at the site. High profile church leaders and government official attended the service, sources said.

The Rev. Philemon Hassan, chairman of National Baptist Church in Sudan, delivered a sermon urging the congregation to give thanks to the Lord for the return of the building. Those in attendance expressed their appreciation.

“Khartoum Christian Center (KCC) opens officially today amidst great bursts of spontaneous joy, praises and dancing to the Lord,” said one church leader after the service.

Another church leader expressed joy after learning the building had been returned.

“At last Khartoum Christian Center is returned back to the church by the authorities,” he said. “Christians are working tirelessly to wash the hall and clean up piles and piles of garbage inside the building. Glory to God for answering the prayers of God’s people who prevailed in prayers.”

Official had also confiscated a vehicle when they closed the church.

“The vehicle is among our demands to be handed over to the church,” an SPC leader said.

In its campaign to rid the country of Christianity, church leaders say, Sudan has designated at least 25 church buildings for destruction.

Church Elder Interrogated
On July 1, NISS officials summoned an elder with the embattled Bahri Evangelical Church in north Khartoum over his protest against the notorious agency’s confiscation of two of his vehicles in 2013.

Elder Noh Manzoul Musa was interrogated about his demand for the return of the vehicles, he wrote on his Facebook page shortly after his release.

Musa asked Christians across the world to stand with him and support him in prayer as he takes legal action against NISS for confiscating the vehicles without any explanation. He said NISS agents were not happy to learn of a lawsuit he filed against them in a Khartoum court.

“I am safe, thank God for the brethren who supported me,” he wrote.

His appeal attracted support.

“May the Lord be with you and give you grace and wisdom and strength to make you climb all mountains easily,” Sudanese Christian Amer Kodi wrote in a Facebook response.

A Sudanese Christian who lives abroad, Shandenii Adam, urged him to stand firm as he fights for justice for Christians in Sudan.

“Brother Noh, take courage and be strong for our Lord God is with you,” he wrote. “Do not be afraid, but say the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

The Bahri Evangelical Church belongs to the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC). Leadership of the SPEC remains in the hands of government-appointed committee members even after a court ruled in November 2016 that the appointments were illegal, sources said.

Harassment, arrests and persecution of Christians have intensified since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011. The Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments announced in April 2013 that no new licenses would be granted for building new churches in Sudan, citing a decrease in the South Sudanese population.

Sudan since 2012 has expelled foreign Christians and bulldozed church buildings on the pretext that they belonged to South Sudanese. Besides raiding Christian bookstores and arresting Christians, authorities threatened to kill South Sudanese Christians who do not leave or cooperate with them in their effort to find other Christians.

Sudan fought a civil war with the south Sudanese from 1983 to 2005, and in June 2011, shortly before the secession of South Sudan the following month, the government began fighting a rebel group in the Nuba Mountains that has its roots in South Sudan.

Due to its treatment of Christians and other human rights violations, Sudan has been designated a Country of Particular Concern by the U.S. State Department since 1999, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended the country remain on the list in its 2017 report.

Sudan ranked fourth on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians face most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Sudan Pentecostal Church building in the heart of Khartoum. (Morning Star News)

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© 2018 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. https://morningstarnews.org

Tweet: https://twitter.com/morningstarnewz/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorningStarNews

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Pressure on Christians Heats Up in Nepal
Various legal means invoked to harass pastors, others, sources say.

By Our South Asia Correspondent
NEW DELHI, July 11, 2018 (Morning Star News) – In a rash of recent actions against Christians in Nepal, an alcoholic who became violent during an intervention had Christian leaders arrested on forcible conversion charges, and a foreign couple was deported.

Isak Tamang of the Shreejanga Free Church and pastor Dip Rai of the Chengbung Free Church were arrested on July 2 in Taplejung District, in eastern Nepal, accused of forcible conversion and assault. Two other Christians, David Limbu and Shristi Limbu, were arrested in the same case.

An unidentified Christian woman had asked leaders at Shreejanga Free Church to help her husband, who is not a Christian, with his drinking problem, and he was staying on the church premises without access to alcohol, according to pastor Kuber Gurung, a Religious Liberty Forum Nepal (RLF-Nepal) leader based in Dharan.

During his stay he grew violent over the lack of alcohol, attempted to harm himself and others and had to be controlled by force, Pastor Gurung said. When church leaders took him to a prayer tower in Jhapa for prayer and counselling, he filed charges and the Christians were arrested, the pastor said.

Police and the chief district officer had suggested a way to settle out of court, but the man demanded 500,000 rupees (US$4,507), which the pastors said was far beyond their ability to pay, according to RLF-Nepal sources.

“We hope the [local] administration will bring out some solution, because their demand of 5 lakh rupees is too much for a poor pastor to pay,” pastor Tanka Subedi, chairperson of the RLF-Nepal, told Morning Star News.

Deportation
On Friday (July 6), the government deported De Vera Richard and his wife Rita Gonga on charges of forceful religious conversions. Richard is a citizen of Philippines, while his wife is an Indonesian national.

They were living in Nepal on a business visa granted on Nov. 28, 2017 and were working at a restaurant in Pulchowk, in Lalitpur Metropolitan City, known historically as Patan. The restaurant where they worked, Sigma, is operated by a Singaporean citizen.

The government alleges that the couple, which worshipped at Every Nations Church in Kumaripati, were functioning as pastors of the church, in violation of the terms and conditions of the business visa. They were fined 50,000 rupees (US$450). They were not jailed but have been barred from entering Nepal for a year.

The government reportedly looked into their case after a complaint was registered against them on May 21, prompting an investigation by the Department of Immigration.

“This decision of deportation of the couple is too much, especially when it comes from the government in a democratic country like Nepal,” said Pastor Subedi of the RLF-Nepal. “The government allows them to do business in our country, and because they are Christians, they will certainly attend a church and participate in the community.

“But objections are raised by the government when they practice their faith. We have many Indian pujaris [Hindu temple priests] and a lot of Thai monks in Nepal; the government seems to have no problems with them, but only with Christians.”

Evangelizing is prohibited under Nepal’s new constitution, passed in September 2015, as it was under the previous constitution. While the new constitution establishes Nepal as a secular and democratic republic, its definition of “secular” appears to protect Hinduism and allows others only to worship in their own faiths. Article 26 forbids anyone to “convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of other people.”

While evangelizing has long been illegal in Nepal, advocacy groups have recently detected increased enforcement and other anti-Christian efforts as officials seek to placate Hindus incensed that the new constitution did not re-establish a more prominent place for Hinduism.

Under the Criminal (Code) Act of Nepal, enacted in October 2017, those convicted of evangelizing or forcible conversion can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined 50,000 rupees (US$450).

Christians Freed
In Tehrathum District in eastern Nepal, a district court on Monday (July 9) acquitted six Christians arrested on May 8 on charges of distributing Christian literature.

The Christians, four from Nepal and two from India, were arrested and kept in judicial custody for 15 days before being bailed out. Dinesh Subba, Ashish Subba, Dipak Subba and Manatula Dhital all reside in Jhapa in Nepal. The two Indians are Barshiya Dhital from Sikkim and Pawan Rai from West Bengal.

Authorities released their vehicle, also impounded at the time of their arrest.

The arrest of the Christians came a few days after local media reported a statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali accusing Christian organizations of doing social service work with intent to convert people. He reportedly said that action would be taken against people and organizations involved in religious work, particularly Bible distribution.

“This has shown us that the legal system and court is trustworthy, but the police are not trustworthy,” Pastor Subedi said. “The way these Christians were arrested and kept in custody for 15 days is frustrating.”

Rash of Incidents
Christians have suffered a series of incidents in Nepal since March, according to the RLF-Nepal:

On March 22, a Christian woman was reportedly arrested on false charges of being involved in religious conversions and hurting religious sentiments. Sonia Chanda Thakuri was arrested along with her 6-month-old baby and kept in custody for a week. Her sister, Elina, was also accused in a complaint filed on March 7.

On April 28, a Catholic church building in the Kohalpur area of the Banke District was set on fire. Members of Hindu Jagran Nepal threatened to destroy it on April 30. At least two members of the church were reportedly forced to convert to Hinduism.

On April 30, Devi Rai and another Christian were arrested in Chitwan District on charges of forceful conversion and hurting religious sentiments. They were reportedly released after a few days.

On May 8 in Kathmandu, three women were arrested from a church on charges of attempting to convert through inducement. A Hindu extremist group had filed a complaint against Sumitra Gauli, Radhika Maharjan and Phuldevi Bhattarai.

On May 10, Hebron Church in Hilihang Rural Municipality-6, Panchthar District, was set on fire. A youth conference had just concluded at the church site the previous day. On the same day, another church building in Doti District was torched.

On May 12, Mahima Church in Dhangadhi, Kailali District, was bombed. The bomb was thrown into the church building after the assailants broke one of the windows. On the same night, another church building in Kanchanpur District also was reportedly bombed, resulting in loss of furniture and fixtures.

On May 19, authorities closed down a Christian orphanage, New Vision Children’s Home, and arrested the manager, Jyoti Gurung, wife of pastor Chandra Gurung, selectively enforcing a largely ignored requirement that the orphanage be registered. The shelter housed five boys and four girls who were sent to other orphanages.

On May 19, two Christians were arrested from Morang District in eastern Nepal. Bhim Bahadur Pradhan and Nabin Kumar Mandal were arrested when they were preaching about Christ at a home. Local residents accused them of hurting religious sentiments.

On June 15, Deepu Karmachari was arrested on charges of evangelizing. Karmachari, 50, was preaching at the home of Khushbu Kamat when a young man noticed her and called police, who then arrested her. She was kept in the custody for one day.

A landlocked country between the giants of India and China, Nepal is said to be more than 75 percent Hindu and 16 percent Buddhist. Christians are estimated to make up nearly 3 percent of Nepal’s population, and Muslims 4.4 percent.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Pashupatinath temple outside Kathmandu, Nepal. (Wikipedia, Sebbe xy)

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© 2018 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. https://morningstarnews.org

Tweet: https://twitter.com/morningstarnewz/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorningStarNews

Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Christians in Rajasthan, India Harassed with False Charges, Church Leaders Say
Jailed evangelists preach to would-be murderers.

By Our India Correspondent
NEW DELHI, July 9, 2018 (Morning Star News) – When evangelists in India were accused of fraudulent conversion in a village at a time when they were hundreds of miles from it, they knew powers beyond their control were at play.

Pastor Kasiram Meghwal, 46, was leading his church in Choru, Rajasthan, 410 miles from the village near Khajuwala where he was accused of trying to fraudulently convert people on May 20, his attorney said.

Evangelist Sahiram Nayak, 34, lives 136 miles from Khajuwala in Sri Ganganagar and was attending his church in Rai Singh Nagar at the time, the lawyer said. A third accused Christian, 32-year-old pastor Vijender Singh, was leading Sunday service at his church in a different area of Khajuwala at the time of the alleged fraudulent conversion attempt at Hindus’ homes, according to the attorney.

The three Christians came together in the Khajuwala area on May 22 to proclaim Christ to villagers, but the First Action Report (FIR) filed by area resident Rameshwar Lal alleges that on May 20 they offered him 100,000 rupees (US$1,450) and 50,000 rupees (US$730) to another area Hindu to convert, attorney Subodh Mathews told Morning Star News.

Having obtained bail for a previous false charge, the three Christians were devastated to be jailed again on May 24 under a statute against “outraging religious feelings.” Their plea for bail was denied.

“We wept before the Lord, but we never abandoned our faith,” Pastor Singh told Morning Star News. “We met many people inside the prison, including a few people who told us that they were in the habit of committing murders for money, and that they related to some extremist religious groups as well. They told us that they would have gladly killed us, had they seen us outside.”

Undaunted, the Christians told the convicts about Christ and held a Sunday worship service inside the prison on May 27, he said.

“We got the opportunity to share inside the jail to murderers,” he said.

With much difficulty they were able to obtain bail on May 29 and were released.

Entrapped
On May 22 they distributed Christian literature and New Testaments among families of village 16 BD and then went to the home of Kaku Singh in village 14 BD, near Khajuwala in Bikaner District, Rajasthan, Pastor Singh told Morning Star News. After inviting them in, Kaku Singh told them that his wife was suffering from cancer, he said.

“We shared the gospel with him and prayed for his wife and decided to leave,” but Kaku Singh insisted on offering them tea, Pastor Singh said. While the three evangelists were waiting, Rameshwar Lal called them out of the house on the pretext of asking questions about the literature they had given him earlier, the pastor said.

When they stepped out of the house, a man named Darshan Singh suddenly attacked them, he said.

“He caught me from my collar, slapped me and pushed me down,” Pastor Singh said. “He started to verbally abuse us using filthy language. They punched Sahiram too.”

Soon a mob of about 80 people surrounded them, carrying wooden sticks with intent to attack the Christians, he said.

Though Kaku Singh would file the first case against them, he objected to the mob dragging the three Christians towards the main road with the intention of killing them, the pastor said. He said that as the mob shouted, “We will kill you today,” Kaku Singh called police to keep them from being killed.

Police soon arrived and took the Christians into protective custody, or otherwise they would have been killed, Pastor Singh said. The three Christians were arrested under Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offenses.”

A police officer told the Christians that he immediately rushed to the site because he was aware of how Christians are being targeted in India, the pastor said.

Surrounding the police van carrying the three evangelists, the mob demanded that they be handed over to them or they would set fire to the police van, he said.

“The atmosphere got very tensed,” Pastor Singh said. “It was dangerous.”

Police managed to bring the Christians to the Khajuwala police station for questioning. Officers treated them with respect and consideration, the pastor said.

“While we were there, the sitting Member of Legislative Assembly [MLA], Dr. Vishwanath Meghwal, who belongs to the BJP [Hindu extremist Bharatiya Janata Party], kept calling the police inspector and kept pressuring him to question us thoroughly,” Pastor Singh said. “The policeman, exasperated by the frequent calls of the MLA, finally asked him to come to the police station and satisfy himself by interrogating us.”

Kaku Singh accused the three Christians, all members of the Brethren Assembly, of trying to lure him and Lal to convert to Christianity.

The next day, May 23, after the Christians had secured bail and were walking out of the police station, they were arrested again, this time based on a separate complaint dated May 20 and submitted by Lal, who had called the Christians out of Kaku Singh’s home. His FIR alleges that the Christians offered him 100,000 rupees (US$1,450) and 50,000 rupees (US$730) to Kaku Singh, and they were re-arrested under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code for alleged “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion.”

Since being bailed out, two court hearings have passed, one on June 5 and another on June 30, though no formal charges have been filed. Church leaders believe the accusations are rooted only in the desire to harass the Christians.

T.J. Joseph, senior leader of the Brethren Mission, said legal proceedings could harass the evangelists for years.

“Though they have been bailed out, they have to travel long distances for every court date of theirs,” Joseph told Morning Star News.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist BJP, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: (From left) Sahiram Nayak, Vijender Singh and Kasiram Meghwal. (Morning Star News)

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Traumatized Widows in Kenya Face Ordeal of How to Press On
Gruesome Islamic extremist attacks leave lasting scars.

By Our East Africa Correspondent
NAIROBI, Kenya, July 6, 2018 (Morning Star News) – One year after several Christian women lost their husbands to Islamic extremist attacks in coastal Kenya, they have few means of supporting their children.

Gone is the Non-Governmental Organization aid initially offered to them at a camp for internally displaced people. The women, each with three to seven children, left the camp in January after Kenyan officials told evacuees that it was safe to return to their homes.

“At the moment I am experiencing sleepless nights thinking of what my children are going to eat and how they will remain in school – I cannot afford the payment of the school fees,” a mother (name undisclosed for security reasons) of seven children told Morning Star News. “And some of the children are crying for Dad and wish he was around to provide for them.”

One of the widows, still traumatized from the attack by Al Shabaab militants in Lamu County that killed her husband in July 2017, is taking medication and receiving counseling in order to cope, a native Christian worker who requested anonymity told Morning Star News.

“Most of these women are traumatized and depressed,” the worker said. “Their lives are becoming unbearable, as all the family responsibilities fell on their shoulders after their husbands were killed.”

When knife-wielding Al Shabaab militants from Somalia attacked Jima and Pandanguo villages a year ago, the widows heard them say, “We have to get rid of the Christian men, and then subject their wives to Islam and make them dress like Muslim women,” said the worker, who receives support from several Christian donors but is associated with no aid organization.

Eight of the 10 women were widowed in the attacks last year; two others were widowed in June 2014 Al Shabaab assaults that began in Mpeketoni and reached areas near Pandanguo, killing at least 57 non-Muslims.

One widow, a mother of two, said she is afraid to return to the farm she and her husband worked in Pandanguo.

“My husband was brutally murdered by the Al Shabaab, and these memories are coming to my mind now and then, which has made me to be very forgetful,” she said.

Another widow who has five children said she is finding it difficult to pay rent.

“I have decided to rent a one bedroom house for my five children,” she said. “We are so crowded that it is becoming a health hazard for us.”

The widows have been surviving on minimal support from well-wishers, said the worker, who appealed for prayer, financial assistance and counseling for them.

“When such serious tragedies befall families, a few months’ help is not enough,” she said. “We need to visit these people and continually pray for them.”

Al Shabaab rebels have launched several attacks in northeast Kenya since Kenyan forces led an African coalition into Somalia against the rebels in October 2011, in response to terrorist attacks on tourists and others on Kenya’s coast.

Kenya ranked 32nd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Kenya’s Coast Province. (Wikipedia)

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.

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Two Pastors, Mother of Eight Shot to Death in Plateau State, Nigeria
Seven other Christians killed in Miango area.

By Our Nigeria Correspondent
JOS, Nigeria, July 5, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Thousands of people attended the funeral yesterday of a pastor, his wife and another church leader, all killed by suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen on June 27 in central Nigeria.

The three Christians were ambushed and shot to death as they returned to Miango, Plateau state, after visiting relatives in Baduru village, Kaduna state who had been attacked by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, the Rev. Ayuba Ahmadu, senior pastor of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Miango, told Morning Star News.

The Rev. Micah Wujit, 46-year-old associate pastor of the ECWA congregation in Miango, and his wife Ruth Wujit, 35, leave behind eight children, Pastor Ahmadu said. Emmanuel Tingo, pastor of the church’s English-speaking congregation, leaves behind his wife and three children, he said.

Their corpses were found at about 11 a.m. June 28, he said. The two pastors were natives of Baduru village, Kaduna state.

Besides at least 218 people slain in predominantly Christian areas around Jos on June 23-25, seven other Christians were killed in villages around Miango in June, sources said. Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacked Kwall, Kpachudu and Hukken villages, said area resident Patience Moses.

On June 19 in Kwall village, in the Bassa Local Government Area (LGA), the secretary of the ECWA church in Kwall, Danjuma Edo, and his family members were slain in their home by Fulani herdsmen, she said. Killed were Edo, 40; Mary Danjuma, 34; Sibi Baba, 21; and Ayo Danjuma, 18.

“They were killed at about 11:30 p.m. on June 19 as they were sleeping,” Moses said. “On June 17 in Kpachudu village, a man named Sarki, 20, a member of ECWA church there, was ambushed and slaughtered at about 9 p.m. And on June 16, in Hukken village, two other Christians were killed by the herdsmen, a woman and her son.”

Godiya Abass and her 11-year-old son, Friday Emmanuel, were killed as they worked on their farm at about 10 a.m., Moses said.

The attacks in the three villages preceded the slaughters in predominantly Christian villages in the Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Bokkos LGAs in Plateau state.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Ruth Wujit, slain along with her pastor husband and another church leader in Miango, Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of ECWA)

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Death Toll in Jos, Nigeria Attacks at 218, including Pastor, Wife and Son
Christian leader arrested for protests of killings.

By Our Nigeria Correspondent
JOS, Nigeria, July 2, 2018 (Morning Star News) – An Assemblies of God Nigeria pastor, his wife and son were among at least 218 people killed in Muslim Fulani herdsmen attacks on predominantly Christian areas near Jos on June 23-25, a denominational leader said.

Two days after the general superintendent of the AG-Nigeria denomination, the Rev. Chidi Okoroafor, reported the deaths of the Rev. Musa Choji and family members in the Barkin Ladi area near Jos, the federal government on Thursday (June 28) ordered the arrest of a pastor who organized protests of the killings, Christian leaders said.

The Rev. Isa Nenman, a pastor in Jos, was arrested on Thursday after the protests reportedly resulted in property destruction when he led demonstrators to the Government House, the residence of the governor of Plateau state, on Wednesday (June 27). Nenman is northern zone chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Plateau state chapter.

“Following yesterday’s peaceful protest by CAN supported by youth groups, the CAN chairman, Northern Zone, is in police custody, and there is a directive from Abuja to make arrests,” Paul Dekete, one of the facilitators of the protest march, said in a press statement.

The protest saw thousands of Christians dressed in black marching to the Governor’s House to demonstrate against incessant attacks on Christians in the state by armed Fulani herdsmen. Prior to the protests, Christians in Plateau state had observed two days of fasting and prayer on Wednesday and Thursday (June 27-28).

The protestors carried a placard calling for the government to “Declare Fulani herdsmen as terrorist,” and another one that read, “Ransack Fulani settlements.” The protests started peacefully, but after the governor declined to receive them, protestors reportedly tried to storm the premises, threw stones at cars and offices and chased government officials.

Killing of Pastor
The AG-Nigeria’s Okoroafor said the herdsmen in the June 24 attacks burned down the worship auditorium where Pastor Choji served.

“We received with pains in our heart the brutal killing of our pastor, the Rev. Musa Choji, his wife, his son and many other Nigerians including women and children, and also the burning of our church,” Okoroafor said. “The leadership of the Assemblies of God Nigeria calls for serious prayers and asks the government to do her expected responsibility by fishing out perpetrators of this ungodly act.”

CAN national leaders last week reported that 218 Christians died in the June 23-25 attacks.

CAN President Samson Ayokunle said in a press statement that the Christians were killed in 44 villages across the local government areas of Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos, and Jos South, all in Plateau state.

“As the umbrella organization for all Christians in Nigeria, we are at pains at the tragedy that has befallen our members,” Ayokunle said. “We mourn the death of over 200 Christians slaughtered on the Plateau at the weekend, and we passionately appeal to the [Muhammadu] Buhari-led administration to rise up and put a stop to further killings of innocent people, including defenseless women and children.”

Ayokunle, also president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC), said CAN obtained reliable information on the number of dead from June 23 to June 25 from local government areas around Jos.

“Apart from the total number of the deaths, there are still missing persons,” he said. “Many people also sustained various degrees of injuries.”

The Nigerian government should ensure that Christians are protected from further attacks, he said.

“CAN calls on all security agencies to wake up to their constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and property,” Ayokunle said.

He urged them to be proactive, saying mobilizing troops and policemen after the havoc has been done does not make sense, and that a government that cannot protect its citizens is a failed government.

“CAN is, once again, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to replace all the security chiefs and the Inspector General of Police, because they have overstayed their welcome,” he said. “It is ridiculous and embarrassing that in the last three years, none of these criminals have been apprehended, detained, arraigned and convicted.”

This failure to prosecute is emboldening the herdsmen to kill the innocent with impunity, he said.

“We are approaching a state of anarchy faster than we can imagine,” he said. “Why are we following the footpath of Rwanda daily with these unprecedented killings and mass burials when we are not at war? ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Protestors on their way to Plateau state governor's residence in Jos, Nigeria. (Morning Star News)

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© 2018 Morning Star News. Articles/photos may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News. https://morningstarnews.org

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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Hindu Extremists Launch Multifaceted Attack on Pastor, Son in Southern India
Church leader threatened with execution.

By Our Southern India Correspondent
HYDERABAD, India, June 28, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Falsely accused of running a brothel, a badly beaten pastor in Tamil Nadu state jumped out of a moving car to save himself from Hindu extremists who were threatening to kill him.

The hard-line Hindu mob had attacked pastor Jayaseelan Natarajan on June 20 as he and his son visited their church construction site in the Thozilpettai area, Karur District, in the state in southern India, the 50-year-old pastor told Morning Star News.

“We are facing lot of opposition from people who don’t want a church in the area,” he said.

Leader of a house church in the Thozilpettai area for 28 years, Pastor Natarajan purchased the land for the church building in 2012, but area residents have blocked its completion.

“Since the past six years they are resisting the construction work,” Pastor Natarajan said. “They would dump garbage and animal waste on the church site. It was nasty, and always doubled the work as we had clear the mess and restart the work again.”

When he politely requested they refrain from throwing waste on the site, the Hindu villagers “picked a huge fight,” he said. “After many clashes, just recently, we resumed the construction work. At present only 20 percent of the work remains.”

On the evening of June 18, his 27-year-old son, Samuel Natarajan, went to water plants on the church premises. The pastor said a liquor shop owner affiliated with the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), identified only as Kumar, told his son to come out of the building and asked, “Who is the woman you brought here?”

“Samuel explained to him that he had only come to water the plants, and that there was nobody,” Pastor Natarajan said. “Kumar kept watch on him and sent a group of men inside the building to look for the woman.”

The group returned saying they had found no woman there, he said, adding, “Kumar said he would kill me and my son.”

They left but returned two days later to try to secretly monitor the site.

“Kumar saw us and blew whistles, and immediately a mob of 20 barged inside the compound,” the pastor said. “We asked what was wrong and why they were entering the premises. They paid no heed, picked up flower pots and smashed them.”

The mob struck his son with wooden sticks, but then he was able to flee as the mob turned on the pastor.

“They chased me and beat me badly,” Pastor Natarajan said.

Bleeding, he called for an ambulance, but Kumar and his gang kept it away, telling the driver, “Nobody is injured here,” he said.

“I walked limping and bleeding around the street and pleaded for the ambulance to stop and told the driver that I was the one who called, but he told me he is only supposed to pick up people from the point/address they mention, and that he can’t pick me up,” Pastor Natarajan said.

He had walked some distance when one of Kumar’s colleagues, an attorney identified only as Gobi, began following him.

“He first hit me and then forcefully pulled me inside his car,” he said. “He ordered the driver to take us to a desolate place and said that I should be killed at that spot. By God’s grace, after traveling about a kilometer or so, there was a traffic circle and speed breakers on the road, and the driver slowed down the car. I quietly loosened the car’s door to my side and jumped out quickly.”

After Pastor Natarajan fell onto the road, Gobi got out of the car, held him by the collar and took him to the police station a few yards away, he said.

Incomplete Police Report
Gobi told police that Pastor Natarajan and his son were involved in adultery and running a brothel in the Thozilpettai area, Pastor Natarajan said.

The church leader called an attorney friend who urged police to get him medical care, as his hand was broken. Officers sent him to a nearby government hospital.

The next day an officer identified as Vel Murugan from the Pasupathipalayam police station came to record his statement, but the officer refused to record how Gobi had forced him into the car and threatened to kill him, he said.

“He simply wrote a short note that Kumar and a mob of 15-20 miscreants have attacked,” Pastor Natarajan said. “When I inquired why he did not want to take my complaint against Gobi, he threatened me that there will be a counter-complaint against me if he took down Gobi’s name.”

Gobi has close local political connections, sources said.

“It has been a week, and no action has been taken against the attackers, Kumar and his gang,” attorney Ranjendran Ramasamy told Morning Star News. “Police refused to register an FIR [First Information Report] based on Pastor Natarajan’s complaint. This shows how politically powerful the attackers are, that even police can’t name them in an FIR.”

Hostilities in Tamil Nadu
So far this year, there have been 32 cases of verified attacks on Christians in Tamil Nadu, the most in any southern state in India, according to religious freedom advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India. ADF-India has recorded 114 verified incidents throughout India so far in 2018.

Last year in Karur District, Hindu extremist mobs disrupted church services in four different churches, scattering worshippers, according to attorney Ramasamy, locally known as Tamil Rajendran.

The Hindu extremists abruptly brought to a halt worship services at Unnatha Aseervatha Church in Sukkaliyur, Believer’s Church in Vengamedu, Paraloga Church in Pasupathipalayam and New Assembly Church in Aravakurichi, he told Morning Star News.

At another church on Aug. 6, 2017, a leader from the extremist group Hindu Munnani in Karur District warned pastor Raja Thangam that a mob would be sent to attack him if he failed to stop worship services, sources said.

The next Sunday, on Aug. 13, a mob of 20 Hindu Munnani members stormed into the church service, attacked Pastor Thangam and brought him to the Kulithalai police station.

En route they stopped at a mutton shop, where the mob verbally abused the pastor and slapped his face, before they filed a complaint in an attempt to force police to file serious charges against him.

When officers refused, the Hindu extremists forced Pastor Thangam to submit in writing that he would conduct no further church services.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Pastor Jayaseelan Natarajan. (Morning Star News)

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.


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Slaughter of More than 200 People in Plateau State, Nigeria Shocks Christians
Church building, pastor’s house among destroyed properties.

By Our Nigeria Correspondent
JOS, Nigeria, June 27, 2018 (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen with machetes and firearms slaughtered more than 200 people in 10 predominantly Christian communities near Jos, Nigeria on Saturday, Sunday and last week in what a cattlemen’s spokesman admitted was likely retaliation for stealing cows.

Police in Jos said only 86 people had been killed in the predominantly Christian areas, but area residents and morgue sources informed Morning Star News of many more corpses. Dogo Nvou of Nghar, Gashish District in the Barkin Ladi area, said Fulanis killed more than 70 people in his village alone.

“My uncle, his wife and many relations [were] killed,” he said in a text message. “Over 70 people in my village have been killed. It is only the Lord that can comfort us all.”

The weekend (June 23-24) attacks took place in the predominantly Christian villages of Xland, Gindin Akwati, Ruku, Nghar, Kura Falls, Kakuruk, Rakok, Kok and Razat, sources said. The villages are in the two districts of Gashish and Ropp in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area (LGA).

“In Nghar village alone, about 70 corpses of Christians were recovered and the entire village has been burnt down by the Fulani herdsmen,” area resident Thomas Chuwang, 45, told Morning Star News by phone on Monday (June 25), adding that the victims there were members of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN).

A Morning Star News visit to the morgues at the Jos University Teaching Hospital and the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, Jos, showed that 216 corpses from the weekend attacks had been taken there, according to sources who requested anonymity.

Plateau Gov. Simon Lalong reportedly said the attacks killed more than 200 people and displaced thousands of others who lost houses and crops.

“The gory pictures of the killing of innocent citizens, women and children continue to torment our hearts, and it sends the serious message that something drastic needs to be done comprehensively, to nip once and for all the ugly menace of attacks that has come to be associated with suspected militia herdsmen,” Lalong said. “These reoccurring attacks have regrettably opened up space for all manners of criminality by criminal elements and conflict merchants, who engage daily in cattle rustling, theft, banditry, gun running and other forms of crimes amongst our citizens.”

In Xland and Gindin Akwati villages, the herdsmen killed about 60 Christians, area resident John Isa told Morning Star News by phone.

In Kakuruk village, the herdsmen burned down the COCIN worship building, including the pastor’s house, said area resident Christiana Audu, 35.

“The church building, pastor’s house and many other houses were destroyed by the herdsmen as they set fire on houses,” Audu said in a text message to Morning Star News. “I saw one corpse as I was escaping. More than 200 of us have escaped to the military base near our village.”

Istifanus Gyang, a member of Nigeria’s National Assembly, on Monday (June 25) issued a statement in Jos decrying the attacks, which took place in the areas he represents in Plateau state, describing it as “…painful holocaust, ethnic cleansing and genocidal killing of my people under the watch of a government that has abdicated its primary constitutional responsibility of safeguarding lives of law-abiding citizens.”

The state government has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in parts of the state.

Herdsmen’s Admission
The chairman the north-central chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Danladi Ciroma, on Monday (June 25) condemned the attacks but said they were most likely “retaliatory.”

“As much as I don’t support the killing of human beings, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission,” he said. “Fulani herdsmen have lost about 300 cows in the last few weeks – 94 cows were rustled by armed Berom youths in Fan village, another 36 cows were killed by Berom youths. In addition to that, 174 cattle were rustled.”

Area Christians question how villagers untrained to handle cattle could have “rustled” the high number of cows that Ciroma claims, especially with military check-points mounted throughout the state that would make it difficult to move such a quantity of livestock.

In the past eight years, more than 50 Christian villages in the Barkin Ladi and Riyom areas have been sacked and taken over by the herdsmen, Christian community leaders say.

With the cattle breeder spokesman’s admission that Fulani herdsmen likely carried out the attacks, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and human rights advocates demanded the arrest and prosecution of the assailants.

“Lives of domestic animals are more valuable than human lives in my country,” human rights advocate Agbo Madaki reportedly said. “If any group is taking responsibility and government fails to do anything, it would appear that the killers enjoy some measures of protection from the government of the day. It behooves the government as the custodian of security in Nigeria to arrest the perpetrators of this dastardly act, so that those who have been killed can rest in peace.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings, but human rights advocate Femi Falana reportedly said the failure of his government to arrest the assailants “will attract an institution of a case against the federal and state governments for condoning crimes against humanity and genocide.”

“If Your Excellency does not take appropriate action to stop the killings in Plateau, we shall not hesitate to report the authorities of the federal government and the Plateau state government to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for condoning crimes against humanity and genocide,” he said.

In a press statement, CAN leaders called on the government to immediately arrest and prosecute the killers.

“We noted that the affected communities are yet to come out with the exact figure of the death toll, but we are alarmed that no fewer than 86 lives, as confirmed by the police, have been lost, including defenseless women and children,” they said. “Of what relevance is the intelligence gathering by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies? If communities can be attacked and hundreds slaughtered without security organizations providing rescue efforts, then, it becomes obvious that the Nigeria’s security system has been compromised.”

Buhari met with state officials, security leaders and traditional leaders on Tuesday (June 26) and later said he would not relent in his responsibility to protect the lives of Nigerians.

Prior Killing
Three days before the weekend attack, herdsmen killed a Christian family of four in Kai village, also in Barkin Ladi LGA.

Reports from the area indicate the COCIN church members were attacked in their home on June 20 at about 8 p.m. Police spokesman Mathias Terna Tyopev issued a press statement on Thursday (June 21) identifying the victims as Dauda Mahan, 54; Mangai Agwom, 46; Christian Mangai, 15; and John Mangai, 10.

The Rev. Benjamin Kwashi, Anglican archbishop of Jos Archdiocese, commented on the attacks in a Facebook post.

“When leadership at any level, including religious, turns its back on the sufferings of orphans, the poor and widows, its next and only option is embrace of wickedness, unexplainable greed and shameless display of God forbidden evil,” he wrote. “The poor are dying defenselessly, BUT their blood is crying in the land...Judgment is coming.”

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 14th on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved.

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Photo: Thomas Wurim, a Christian lecturer at the Plateau State Polytechnic, was among those killed by Muslim Fulani herdsmen at Dorowa Babuje village. (Morning Star News)

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Morning Star News is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that relies solely on contributions to offer original news reports of persecuted Christians. By providing reliable news on the suffering church, Morning Star News’ mission is to empower those in the free world to help and to encourage persecuted Christians that they are not forgotten or alone. For free subscription, contact editor@morningstarnews.org; to make tax-deductible donations, visit https://morningstarnews.org/donate/? or send check to Morning Star News, 34281 Doheny Park Rd., # 7022, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624, USA.
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