RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION OF WOMEN

Persecution of Christian women worldwide has risen dramatically in the last year as a new study released by Open Doors International (ODI) found that forced marriages have increased by 16%, and physical violence against women has increased 31%.

Gender Specific Religious Persecution (GSRP) has risen to the highest level recorded in the three years since the report was first issued in 2018, as women face a higher potential risk of religious persecution than men. The report’s data comes from the top 50 countries on the group’s annual World Watch List between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sep. 30, 2020.

Helene Fisher, a global gender persecution specialist for Open Doors International and one of the authors of the report, told The Christian Post that the increased threat to women is often because women have fewer rights in most of the top 50 countries for religious persecution. “Because [women] have fewer rights and fewer protections, they’re just an easier target,” Fisher said. “They can also be targeted with impunity, which means that if there is a population that doesn’t want the Christians to thrive, they can go after the women and girls and there aren’t consequences for those aggressors. So, it is a question of the women and girls having fewer rights for legal protections. [Women] are more vulnerable in the society, and they are just the easiest way to disable the Christian population.”

People pray as they gather for a ceremony on Christmas eve at Central Brooks Memorial Church in Karachi, Pakistan, December 24, 2016.

The five most common “pressure points” among women in the top 50 countries on the World Watch List for religious persecution are forced marriage, sexual violence, physical violence, psychological violence and forced divorce. Each category increased since last year’s study.

Ninety percent of the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted report forced marriage as a pressure point, and 86% of countries report sexual violence.

Targeting women, the child bearers, and forcing them to convert is a tactic used to destabilize the future generation of the Church, the development of families and the raising of Christian children.

Trafficking women as a form of religious persecution is on the rise, particularly in Asia and Africa, the report finds. Christian refugees or internally displaced peoples are especially vulnerable to this.

“Trafficking as a form of religious persecution continues to pose a threat in all regions on the World Watch List and it is rising, particularly in Africa and Asia. Globally, 17 countries (up from 10 the previous year) reported incidents of trafficked women and girls,” the report adds. “Countries engaged in conflict were most likely to report instances of sexual violence and trafficking.”

Research from the World Watch List shows more than 340 million Christians globally endure high levels of persecution and discrimination for their faith, which amounts to one in eight Christians around the world.

Jesus told us that persecution of Christians will increase in the last days before His return. It is just one of the end times signs He has given us. Israel, apostasy in the church, Covid and increased lawlessness are other very significant signs.

BIBLE BELIEVING COUNTER-CULTURAL CHURCHES THRIVING

The most common religious identity among young adults in the U.S. is “none,” and the majority of Americans don’t believe it’s necessary for a person to believe in God to be moral and have good values, a new survey has found. The survey on American Life investigating contemporary religion in the U.S. found that among young adults (age 18 to 29), the most common religious identity today is none. More than one in three (34%) young adults are religiously unaffiliated.  Nearly nine in 10 (87%) Americans report they believe in God, but just over half (53%) report they believe in God without any doubts at all. Overall, 42% of Americans have a close social connection with someone who is religiously unaffiliated — up from 18% in 2004.
Additionally, most Americans say it’s not necessary for a person to believe in God to be moral and have good values. Close to six in 10 (59%) Americans say a belief in God is not a precondition to being moral and having good values, while 41% of the public say a belief in God is essential. These statistics, the authors say, mark a “remarkable shift in recent years. The study also found that Americans are almost equally divided over whether it is better to discuss religious beliefs and ideas with those who do not share the same perspective, and most Americans have never been invited to church. A majority (54%) of Americans say they have not been asked to participate in a religious service in the past 12 months or have never been asked.

The survey corroborates a 2019 Pew Study survey that documented the decline of Christians and rise of religiously unaffiliated. Pew noted that the religiously unaffiliated group rose to 22.8% share of the population in 2014, eclipsing the number of Catholics in America, who fell to 20.8%. Christians as a whole fell from 78.4 to 70% of the population between 2007 to 2014, with every major group experiencing a decline. Similarly, the 2018 General Social Survey found that the number of religious “nones” in the U.S. are now statistically equal to the number of evangelicals. Ryan Burge, a political science researcher at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed data from the survey, told The Christian Post that the religious “‘none’s’ are not slowing down.”

THE GOOD NEWS

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, previously said the “increasing strangeness” of Christianity is actually “good news” for the church. “Christianity isn’t normal anymore. It never should have been. The increasing strangeness of Christianity might be bad news for America, but it’s good news for the church. The major newspapers are telling us today that Christianity is dying, according to this new study, but what is clear from this study is exactly the opposite: while mainline traditions plummet, evangelical churches are remaining remarkably steady,” Moore said.

He added that statistics indicate there are honest atheists in America today, and that they are rejecting what’s called “almost-Christianity,” or traditions that “jettison the historic teachings of the Church as soon as they become unfashionable.” “The churches that are thriving are the vibrant, counter-cultural congregations that aren’t afraid to not be seen as normal to the surrounding culture. This report actually leaves me hopeful. The Bible Belt may fall. So be it,” he continued. “Christianity emerged from a Roman Empire hostile to the core to the idea of a crucified and resurrected Messiah. We’ve been on the wrong side of history since Rome, and it was enough to turn the world upside down.”

GOD’S WORD IS INERRANT

PARLER CANCELLED BY GOOGLE, APPLE, AND AMAZON

Dr David Wood explains the significance of this action by Google, Apple and Amazon. The enormity of the censorship taking place in our time is almost beyond comprehension. Imagine, Twitter cancelled the President of the USA’s account, ruling that he was inciting his followers to violence. The power that is now in the hands of the so called elite is frightening. The digital revolution has so changed the world in such a short period of time and yet what is unfolding in the world has not taken God by surprise, it is all prophesied in His book, the Bible. The Prince of this World, Satan is at war with God and one of his greatest deceptions has been to use evolution to convince scientists that the impossible is possible, the world could have made itself from nothing. As a result the Bible is a book of myths and fables.

The discovery of DNA and the fact it is made up of complex information, letters and words that control all the functions and machinery in the cells has made Darwin’s simplistic explanation for the origin of life implausible. The complexity of the information and machinery in the cells is making it harder and harder for scientists to reject intelligent design as the only possible explanation for this complex world, the laws that govern it, and the fine tuning necessary for life on planet Earth. Moreover, it gives greater depth to the Words of the Bible: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

CHRISTIANS MURDERED FOR FAITH ROSE 60% IN 2020

The watchdog organization Open Doors USA says levels of Christian persecution are at a record high around the world, revealing that the number of Christians murdered for their faith rose 60 percent in 2020. Biblical prophecy of the end times prior to Jesus return predicts increased persecution of this magnitude along with pestilences, famine and increased earthquakes in “divers” places. All of which are taking place in our time.

Open Doors announced the 2021 World Watch List this week, ranking the top 50 countries where it is the most dangerous to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Their latest data indicates one-in-eight Christians now suffer for their religious beliefs worldwide. 

In a broadcast carried on CBN News YouTube, Open Doors USA’s CEO David Curry said, “A shocking number this year is that 340 million Christians suffer high levels of persecution and discrimination.” The top 10 countries on the World Watch List include North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India. “The big surprise on the World Watch List 2021 is that extremists and governments are using COVID-19 as a justification to increase persecution against Christians and we see this in several places,” Curry told CBN News. 

“In India, where local governments are using pressure on Christians to withhold food and medical care – over 115,000 incidents of this that we can document,” explained Curry.  “It’s also extremists like in northern Nigeria.  Boko Haram which is attacking Christian villages, knowing that there is nowhere for them to go and they’re taking food and medical supplies. We’ve documented this.  This is happening more and more and that’s on top of the other incidents of persecution. So, there’s this level of intensity that’s been added to because of COVID.”

Curry explained, “There’s 100 million Christians right now in China, and they (the regime) are using their technology to surveil the church. They’re watching their every move. They’re seeing when they go into church. They’re using facial recognition. They’re looking at their searches online. They have a massive surveillance system which is monitoring religious practice in China and it is absolutely chilling, and I think it poses the greatest threat to human rights.” Also, according to the report, extremist attacks spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond. In Nigeria alone, 10 Christians a day are murdered on average due to their religious beliefs. 

FUTURE OF AMERICA – Part 2

2020 has proven to be a challenging year for Christians. But I believe God is using Covid to get His church to move back to church as He had planned it as described in the Book of Acts, largely house churches. Good examples of how God has used catastrophe to refine His church are China and even more recently nations such as Iran. Persecution has refined His church to get it to be totally dependent upon Him, even for survival.

Christians must meet in person for corporate worship. On line communication is a dreadful replacement for real community. Come pandemic or martyrdom, we must find a way to meet in person. Isolated we are prone to wonder from the faith, tempted by the world’s allure, and even more prone to depression.

We were never promised safety in Christ. The opposite is true; we are promised persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). A time is approaching when going to church will be dangerous (and I do not mean because of a virus). Now is the time to prepare and reinforce healthy habits. Instill in your children the need and benefit of attending church weekly. Go and be fed the gospel. Even if your church is not perfect (none are), be present and love others.

On the importance of attending church, it is helpful to look at Mosaic Law. While Christians are no longer slaves to the law. The law reflects the character of God. The law is good, valuable, and worthy of our delight. We can learn much about God’s holiness and desires in the law. Consider the absolute seriousness by which God treats the Sabbath, the day of worship, and rest: Exodus 31:12-17.

God cares deeply about the Sabbath. He cares about how He is worshiped. At one point in time, failure to honor the Sabbath as God intended was a crime punishable by death! Friends, corporate, in-person worship is non-negotiable for Christians. Go to church and do not stop.

If Christians are to spiritually flourish in a nation that hates them, they must dedicate time to understanding the significance of worldview, how it is formed, and how it can rightly engage our culture. The following summary of a Biblical world view is the only one that presents an accurate history of the cosmos:- 1. Creation by God of a perfect cosmos 6000 years ago. 2. Entrance of sin and death by man’s rebellion against God. 3. God’s judgement of the World with the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. 4. Confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel that established the nations. 5. God establishes his nation Israel that would birth the Redeemer, Jesus, God’s Son, born of a virgin. 6. Birth of the church at Pentecost. 7. 2000 year history of the church which is soon coming to its prophesied end with Jesus return, first to rescue the Saints at which time His wrath will be poured out on an unbelieving world. Then Jesus returns to earth with the Saints to rescue His nation Israel at the battle of Armageddon. 8.We then have the Millennium. Jesus will rule the nations with the glorified Saints with a rod of iron for 1000 years.

Part an extract from the article in Patheos: Persecution: The New Reality for Biblical Christianity in America by Jack lee

RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS -THINGS COULD GET WORSE

Martin Isles of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is worth following if you want to keep up to date with what the Australian Governments (State and Federal) are doing to restrict religious freedoms.

Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill 2020

You will be very concerned as Martin is that the bill before the Victorian parliament will see Christians in gaol, e,g. if pastors read sections of the Bible on LGBT issues such as marriage and homosexuality and counsel people according to God’s values expressed in His Word.

SOCIAL MEDIA RESTRICTING THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST

The YouTube Trust and Safety Team is now age-restricting videos explaining basic Christian theology. According to their interpretation of the Community Guidelines, anyone under eighteen years old should not be exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

After watching the video below can I ask you to go to YouTube and type in “How Can God Die?” Note what comes up. Suggest you watch the video it has a powerful message. David Wood produces many excellent videos particularly if you want to be equipped to share the gospel with Muslims.

PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS UNRELENTING

I have placed several posts on Israel Folau (Izzy) on this site demonstrating the persecution that followed him quoting a Scripture on Facebook that said homosexuals are destined for Hell.

Izzy is no longer allowed to play sport in Australia—of every sporting code—and so he has been forced to take up a contract overseas. But that hasn’t stopped a hostile media from relentlessly pursuing him to create a story, even when there isn’t one. Take for instance, this hit piece by the Australian Associated Press published in Yahoo Sport Australia provocatively titled: “Investigation Launched into ‘disgusting’ new Israel Folau Drama”.

It makes the reader ask themselves, “What’s he done this time! Has he learnt nothing about his social responsibilities?” But the truth of it is, nothing. Except of course if you include that he scored a try with his very first touch of the ball – a fact that even the militantly LGBTIQ Sydney Morning Herald had to begrudgingly admit adding that Folau:  “had French supporters on their feet every time he touched the ball in Perpignan.

Fortunately, the unbiased Fox Sports reported the following:

Israel Folau may have been expecting a slightly hostile reception for his rugby league comeback, but his home crowd treated him to a hero’s welcome.

The Catalans Dragons supporters filled the ground with chants of “Izzy! Izzy!” as Folau crossed to score a dream debut try after just five minutes.

The former Wallaby…was mobbed by teammates as he celebrated his first points as a Super League star.

He then received a warm reception on full-time, holding his hands up to the crowd, giving them a clap and a thumb’s up in recognition.

He then wandered around the ground to mingle with fans, stopping to take selfies and chatting with supporters.

But not content to let anyone hold to a different point of view, Yahoo Sports Australia confected outrage even where there was none. For there was apparently one lone protestor who decided to try and make a political statement by bringing a rainbow flag to the game, but was asked to put it away because it was against club policy.

We know from Scripture that persecution of Christians that speak up for God’s values on marriage, gender and hell (as Izzy did) is inevitable. Already we see the church compromising with the world even on marriage and homosexual pastors, totally contrary to God’s will. This is “end times” unfolding in our day.

BIBLE REVEALS ANTICHRIST ORIGIN AND TIMING

Nelson does a great job of unpacking Scripture to reveal what the Bible shows us about end times events and what we are seeing and reading in the media of current events in the Middle East.

I doubt you will hear this message in your local church and the Bible tells us that much of the church will be asleep and even more tragic much of it will fall away and compromise with the world and its values. Hence, God brings on catastrophes to refine/test His church.

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested,” Revelation 2:10 (Church at Smyrna – persecuted church)

‘” I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.” Revelation 3:1-3 (Church at Sardis- dead church)

NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS DECLINING RAPIDLY IN SO CALLED DEVELOPED COUNTRIES

The percentage of younger Americans being raised in nonreligious homes is growing rapidly according to statistics from the Public Religious Research Institute.

Only 65 percent of Americans now identify as Christian while those who identify as religiously unaffiliated swelled to 26 percent of the population. The drop in the number of Americans identifying as Christian reflected a 12 percent decline when compared to the general population 10 years ago. The decline was visible across multiple demographics but particularly among young adults.

Nearly one in five (19%) Americans switched from their childhood religious identity to become unaffiliated as adults, and relatively few (3%) Americans who were raised unaffiliated are joining a religious tradition. This dynamic has resulted in a dramatic net gain—16 percentage points—for the religiously unaffiliated.

In the 1970s, only about one-third (34%) of Americans who were raised in religiously unaffiliated households were still unaffiliated as adults. By the 1990s, slightly more than half (53%) of Americans who were unaffiliated in childhood retained their religious identity in adulthood. Today, about two-thirds (66%) of Americans who report being raised outside a formal religious tradition remain unaffiliated as adults,” PRRI said.

A similar situation exists in the UK, Europe and Australia. Sadly, also many of those that profess to be Christian are not born again believers and are increasingly compromising with the world and its values.

In the last days before Jesus return, He told His disciples we can expect the following:

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24: 9-13

Persecution of Christians is on the increase as we insist on the truth about God’s laws concerning morality, particularly homosexuality, marriage and gender. How soon will it descend to “hated by all nations for My name’s sake.