Christian Leaders Mobilizing Online to Combat Alarming Growth of Antisemitism

Aiming to collaborate, mobilize and provide next steps to combat an alarming rise in antisemitism, the American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) network recently convened with pastors and Christian leaders from across the nation for a series of webinars, discussing the explosive growth of antisemitism in the United States. According to ICEJ USA Director Dr. Susan M. Michael, they won’t be the last.

REPORT: Number of Christians Martyred for Faith Rose Sixty Percent in 2020

Levels of Christian persecution are at a record high globally, according to watchdog organization Open Doors, who announced the 2021 World Watch List today via press conference. A comprehensive research-based report, the annual World Watch List ranks the top 50 countries where it is most dangerous to be Christian – and exposes startling shifts in the landscape of global religious persecution.

Six Ways to Remember Persecuted Christians in 2021

As Christians face rising persecution worldwide, many of us are looking for ways to connect with those who suffer for their faith.

Supreme Court Vacates California Order

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated the lower court orders involving the emergency petition of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry. The Court stated in its order:

“The application for injunctive relief, presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court, is treated as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, and the petition is granted. The September 2 order of the United States District Court for the Central District of California is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to remand to the District Court for further consideration in light of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 592 U. S. ___ (2020).”

Tuesday, Liberty Counsel filed the final reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its request for an injunction pending appeal in the churches’ federal lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional worship ban and discriminatory treatment. The emergency petition also requested the extraordinary relief that the Court alternatively consider it as a petition for writ of cert before judgment. Today, the Supreme Court granted the petition, vacated the lower court orders, and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its ruling last week that granted an injunction pending appeal for churches and synagogues in New York.

The restrictions against places of worship in California are more severe than those in New York. Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders ban ALL in-person worship for 99.1 percent of Californians.

Harvest Rock Church has multiple campuses in California, including in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Irvine and Corona. Harvest International Ministries (HIM) has 162 member churches throughout the state. Irreparable harm is being suffered every day as the churches remain subject to the unconstitutional restrictions, coupled with daily criminal threats, fines, and closure.

The Code Enforcement Division for the City of Pasadena and the Criminal Prosecutor have threatened criminal charges, fines, and closure for being open for worship against the governor’s orders and local health orders. The letters threaten up to one year in prison, daily criminal charges and $1,000 fines against the pastors, staff, and parishioners.

The discrimination has become more obvious and severe in Gov. Newsom’s new “Blueprint” issued on August 28, 2020, which established a system of four Tiers. The “Blueprint” discriminates against religious meetings in churches and places of worship in every Tier. The chart attached to the petition makes this discrimination very clear. For example, the consequence of the sea of purple in the “color-coded executive edict” is that indoor worship services are completely prohibited for 99.1 percent of Californians, including most of Harvest Rock and HIM churches. However, warehouses, big box centers, shopping malls, liquors stores, family entertainment and destination centers, gyms, fitness centers, and museums receive preferential treatment with either no capacity limits or no numerical limits.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court provides great relief for churches and places of worship. The handwriting is now on the wall. The final days of Governor Gavin Newsom’s ‘color-coded executive edicts’ banning worship are numbered and coming to an end. It is past time to end these unconstitutional restrictions on places of worship.”

Liberty Counsel provides broadcast quality TV interviews via Hi-Def Skype and LTN at no cost.

(SOURCE: Liberty Counsel via Christian Newswire)

Despite Multiple Death Threats, Prophet Diligently Preaches the Gospel in Africa

A former drug addict, Leon du Preez doesn’t care what it takes to carry out his mission. No matter what, he has vowed to bring the gospel and a supernatural encounter to the next generation in South Africa, even if it costs him his life.

Star Bails on Anti-Trafficking Charity Over False Claims

Hollywood star Melissa McCarthy gave into her critics late last week, pulling her support from Exodus Cry, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Kansas Middle School Ends Operation Christmas Child After Atheist Complaint

A Kansas middle school has decided to stop its participation in a popular Christmas program that collects toys, school supplies, and hygiene products for needy children after an atheist organization told the school such an effort was unconstitutional.

Liberty Middle School located in Pratt, Kansas was to participate in Operation Christmas Child, an annual program of the Christian nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency led by Franklin Graham. The shoeboxes are filled with gifts and distributed by the charity to children around the world. In addition to the gifts, they receive a small booklet that tells of the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) notified the superintendent of the Pratt school district that a concerned staff member complained to them about the middle school’s Christmas project.

Court Pleads in Favor of Paralyzed Pakistani Christian Shot Over Snack

The international affiliate for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), the European Centre for Law and Justice’s (ECLJ) office in Pakistan, the Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), has secured a big victory for a Christian family.
Waqar Masih, a 27-year-old Christian man, was shot four times by two Muslim men, Muhammad Shahbaz and his accomplice, Muhammad Qasim, for selling them stale betel quid called paan, an after-dinner treat that consists of betel leaves filled with areca nut, slaked lime and various other ingredients.

Waqar owned a snack and cold drink shop in December 2012. The defendants lived in another village about 4 km away and had been to his shop a few times. On Dec. 30, 2016, Muhammad Shahbaz and Muhammad Qasim came to Waqar’s shop and asked for betel quids. When Waqar asked them to pay, Shahbaz told him that the leaves were stale and they were not going to pay; instead, they insulted him, swore and left.

A few minutes later, both Shahbaz and Qasim came back and asked Waqar how a churha (a pejorative term for Christians) could treat them with such disrespect. Then Shahbaz and Qasim shot Waqar four times, with one bullet landing in his backbone. Waqar suffered serious injuries and was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, he was left paralyzed due to the injury in his spinal cord.

The police arrested both Shahbaz and Qasim, recovered the weapon and charged them with inter alia, section 324 (attempted murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Our attorneys on the ground represented Waqar alongside the public prosecutor. In Pakistan, victims of crimes are allowed to have private attorneys represent them in addition to the prosecutors to make sure their interests are well-represented.

After a long trial which was recently interrupted by closures due to COVID-19, the court finally heard the final arguments. The court gave its decision on Oct. 28, 2020, noting in the judgment that “both accused committed the [crime] in furtherance of their common intention.” The court also found that Waqar Masih “sustained severe injuries” and “[a]s a result … became paralyzed and now is in a wheelchair.” The court further noted that “the [eyewitness] account is fully supported by the medical evidence. The motive has also been prov[en].”

The court held that the case has been proven “beyond any shadow of doubt against both the accused persons … and in [the court’s] view, the accused committed a very brutal act and attempted to [kill] Waqar Masih [over] a very petty matter, therefore, the accused Muhammad Shahbaz is convicted under section 324 PPC and is sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment” and the “accused Muhammad Qasim is convicted under sections 324 and 34 PPC and is sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment.” Both defendants were sentenced to more imprisonment under other sections, but the magistrate ordered the sentences to run concurrently because a magistrate of his rank can only sentence up to seven years imprisonment. The court also fined both defendants 1,710,107 Pakistani rupees (approximately $10,663) to be paid to our client.

After the court announced its decision, we spoke to our client and his father. They both said they first give thanks to God for this decision and then to the ECLJ’s office in Pakistan for standing with them for over three years and fighting in court at every step.

At the ACLJ, we want to also thank all of our supporters, who, while they are behind the scenes and not in the courts with us, pray for us and support us so that we can represent our brothers and sisters around the world.

While this is a victory, we believe the punishment both defendants received is not adequate according to the crime. Waqar was paralyzed as a result of his injuries and may not ever be able to walk. Therefore, we are appealing this decision so that the sentences are ordered to run consecutively. If we win on appeal, Shahbaz will serve 10 more years, and Qasim will serve six more years.

(Source: ACLJ via Charisma News)

Alito: ‘Religious Liberty Is in Danger of Becoming a Second-Class Right’

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is sounding an alarm about ongoing actions that undermine religious liberties and individual freedoms in America, whether from COVID or from pro-LGBT hardliners.

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