In light of the recent deportation measures taken against Christians from Michigan, many who have lived in the USA for decades, Catholics and Protestants have been working together to fight for those arrested by immigration:
Top U.S. Catholic leaders have joined leading evangelicals in condemning the arrests of hundreds of Chaldean Christians across the U.S., as relatives in Detroit continue to protest against immigration authorities.
“While we urge review of these Christian and Chaldean Catholic cases in light of the situation in Iraq, we note that some of these individuals have orders of deportation because they have committed serious criminal offenses in the past,” read the letter on Monday to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly.
The letter was signed by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, as well as the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, among others.
The statement agrees that, as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have pointed out, those arrested with serious criminal offenses need to be punished accordingly.
“After serving their sentences, however, we believe it would not be just or humane to deport a person who has integrated into American life and poses no evident risk to the local community,” the Catholic leaders added.
“The fact that they have a significant risk of experiencing persecution and even possible bodily harm because of their faith is, from our moral perspective, an important factor to be weighed in the calculation to deport.”
The Catholic News Service reported on Monday that relatives of the arrested Chaldean Christians have been protesting in Detroit, holding up signs, crosses, and American flags in front of the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building.
Democratic Rep. Sander Levin, who backed the protests, said: “We are here on behalf of the Chaldean community, proclaiming this as not only a Chaldean issue, but an American issue. We’re saying to ICE, let there be time for justice. Sec. Kelly said, ‘We’re only going after the ‘worst of the worst.’ There arrests have been made without regard to what crime has been committed, or what sentences have already been served.”
As Immigration officials have previously said, the arrests in May and June have been part of efforts to “process the backlog” of “Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses.”
Notable evangelical leaders, such as Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have spoken out against the arrests, however.
“This is wrong, wrong, wrong. A death sentence for those we should be protecting,” Moore wrote in a tweet on Saturday, referring to the threat of genocide the Christians face in Iraq at the hands of the Islamic State terror group.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, who has backed President Donald Trump on a number of his refugee and border protection policies, also warned of the dangers of deportation.
“I find it very disturbing what I have read about Chaldean Christians being rounded up by U.S. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) for possible deportation. I would encourage the president to have someone investigate these cases thoroughly,” Graham said in a Facebook post on June 16.
“I understand a policy of deporting people who are here illegally and have broken the law. I don’t know all of the details, but I would encourage our president to give great consideration to the threat to lives of Christians in countries like Iraq.” (source)
Earlier this year, we reported that the USA was for the first time added to a list of nations to watch for the persecution of Christians. Be not deceived, these “immigration raids” on Middle Eastern Christians living in the USA has nothing to do with immigration laws at all. It is simply a calculated attack made against Christians using immigration as a cover. As we wrote,
We’ve been warning you this was coming. We’ve said that Christianity in the USA has been in decline and that if things did not change, Christians would become an unwanted group subject to the same discrimination and even attack as Christians are in other countries are every day. In other words, the horrors of the old would eventually come to the new world.
If this is what 2016 brought, then what does 2017 have in store?
Stay alert, because as society embraces paganism and rejects the Gospel, the horrors that the paganism of old once poured out across the Earth will return in equal proportion, and it will strike at anybody who calls himself a Christian. In the words of Ben Franklin, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
For over a year, Christians in the village of Saft Al-Kharsa have been trying to get a permit to build their church and the government keeps delaying them. For the time, they have been forced to worship in local community center. According to a recent report, local authorities seized the building from the Christians and then to make matters worse took all of the furniture, icons, and other objects and dumped them in the street:
Authorities in Egypt reportedly raided a church-owned building that was being used by a local Coptic Christian community for worship and chained down the doors so that Christians could no longer enter the building.
After police removed furniture, Christian iconography and other items from the building, they closed down the building using chains, an unnamed Christian villager told ICC..
“During the early hours of Friday, June 16, we [Christians] were surprised to find the furniture, rugs, icons, pictures, and worship utensils … had been thrown outside and the building closed down with seals and chains,” the Coptic Christian villager was quoted as saying. “We took the belongings into our homes. We don’t know why the police did that.”
The press release notes that the building had been used by the local Coptic Christian community as a church and a community center. The local Christians have tried to have the building legally recognized as a church since 2016 but have faced backlash from radical Muslims and resistance from the government.
“We were livid at the recent police raid against the building. The behavior by the police was inexplicable,” the church’s priest told ICC. “I demanded the Interior Minister [launch] an urgent investigation into the incident.”
The day after the government raided the church, 50 religious leaders met with Gov. Habib and demanded an adequate church building for the Christians in Saft Al-Kharsa and that the building be licensed as a community center that can legally hold worship services.
However, ICC states that the governor claimed that the building was in a state of disrepair and that he ordered it to be demolished.
“Clerics reminded the governor that this building was not life-threatening and that they had been trying to gain legalization in accordance with the law since 2016,” the press release explains, adding the governor eventually ordered the building be reopened as a community center. However, the governor ordered that no worship could be held there until a permit was received from the prime minister. The governor promised to address the prime minister about this issue in a timely manner. (source)
Christianity has been destroyed in Iraq, as since the turn of the millennium almost a million Christians have fled for their lives as Islamic terrorists have persecuted them in the most horrible of ways. As Iraq struggles to rebuild, those few remaining Christians in Iraq are still persevering in hope, saying the no matter how much evil their Muslim neighbors may have done to them, they will still forgive them. In their words, ‘they throw stones at us, and we throw bread at them’:
Jumana arrived in Baghdad when the self-proclaimed Islamic State began to sow terror throughout Iraq. During her time in the country, she has seen firsthand the unshakable faith of Iraqi Christians.
“There is a saying in Iraq: ‘They throw stones at us and we throw bread at them. ‘ It means that they always return good for evil, and the truth is that I have been able to see it with my own eyes. The Iraqi Christian is a Christian. A Christian does not seek revenge on anyone. This is how they are.”
She has also seen the example of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who had to flee persecution from the jihadists in Mosul. Now, they have returned to Baghdad to open a medical clinic that helps Muslims and Christians in a country where terrorism is an almost daily occurance.
“Iraq is the country most affected by terrorism. In 2016 alone, 17,000 people died of terrorist attacks. In a city like Baghdad, every day there is an attack.”
One of the most terrible was in the shi’ite district of Karrada, where these sisters give refuge to families in their school. Here last year, a car bomb killed 300 people in this mall. At the end of May of this year, another attack claimed by ISIS killed almost 20 people in an ice cream parlor. This group of Christians prayed a few days ago at the scene of the attack. They did it for peace and for their country, which has been immersed in an intermittent war since the late 1970s.
Jihadism, war and economic precariousness have led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Christians from this land, evangelized by Thomas the apostle in the first century. It is estimated that in 2003, there were about one million Christians in Iraq. Today there are no more than 200,000.
“A lady from the parish told me she had a total of 600 in her family. Now there are three. But I am still optimistic, because I have lived through the war in Lebanon, where many people also left, and then many have returned. Now that there is more peace, and people – if they do not return – continue to help rebuild the country from their new country.” (source)
Now it is important to emphasize that being merciful to others does not mean allowing others to take advantage to the point of destruction. This is a sin because it is a form of suicide. However, to be a Christian means to bear hardships more so than one would normally bear on his own power and doing so with the grace of God, returning good for evil and loving even those most difficult to love.
Christians in Egypt have been severely persecuted by Islamic terrorists, and many live in fear for their lives. In a story out of Egypt, a 10-year-old boy was with his father when ISIS soldiers stopped their car. Upon learning that the family was Christian, they dragged the boy’s father out and murdered him in front of the boy while shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’:
A 10-year-old Egyptian schoolboy who witnessed the brutal murder of his father by Islamic State militants in Minya, where 29 Christians were slaughtered in May, says the jihadists cried out “God is great” every time they shot a follower of Jesus Christ.
Mina Habib told Reuters in a piece published Tuesday that his father, one of the 29 believers massacred on May 26 when IS stopped three vehicles on their way to a monastery, was killed specifically for his Christian faith.
“We saw dead people, just dumped on the ground,” the boy, who is now receiving therapy at a local church, said of the attack.
“They asked my father for identification then told him to recite the Muslim profession of faith. He refused, said he was Christian. They shot him and everyone else with us in the car,” he said of his father, Adel.
Mina said the 15 gunmen shot Christian children dead, but he and his older brother, Marco, were spared.
Three vehicles were attacked that day, with a bus and car transporting children and families being the fist targets.
The extremists reportedly shot out the windows, took the women’s jewelry, and asked victims whether they were Christians before killing them.
“They saw us in the back of the truck. They made us get down and a man wearing camouflage like the army pointed his gun at us, but another one in all black told him to let us go. Every time they shot someone they would yell God is great,” the 10-year-old added.
He said the radicals had Egyptian accents, and most of them were wearing masks.
The killing of the 29 Christians was only the latest attack on Egypt’s minority Coptic community, which has been terrorized by Islamic radicals for years, with the attacks increasing with IS’ rise in the region. (source)
Muslims in Pakistan routinely use ‘blasphemy’ as a way to harass, extort, and even murder Christians they do not like. In a story coming out of Pakistan, a Christian man repaired a Muslim man’s bicycle and the Muslim refused to pay. When the Christian confronted him about payment, the Muslim man accused him of ‘blasphemy’ and now he could face the death penalty:
A Pakistani Christian man has reportedly been arrested on charges of blasphemy after a Muslim man accused him of insulting the Muslim prophet when asking to be paid for a bicycle that he had repaired last week.
Ishfaq Masih, a 23-year-old father of a 2-year-old baby who runs a repair shop in the Green Town area of Lahore, was accused last Thursday of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad and could face the death penalty if convicted of the serious charge, Morning Star News reported.
Mahmood Masih, Ishfaq’s brother, told the Christian persecution website that the blasphemy allegation stems from an argument that his brother had with a Muslim man named Mohammad Irfan after Irfan tried to weasel out of paying for the costs of a bike that Masih had repaired.
Masih explained to Morning Star News that Irfan told his brother that he could not demand money from a “Mirasi.”
According to the Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva, which learned of the case through the Pakistani Center for Law and Justice, the Muslim man told Masih: “I am a Sadhu (Indian word meaning religious ascetic) person and you should have to give me free services.”
However, Masih reportedly responded by saying: “I only believe in Jesus Christ not others, so please give me the payment since I repaired your bicycle.”
“During the argument, Irfan said that he obeys only one master, Prophet Muhammad, to which Ishfaq said that he was a Christian and his faith ends at Christ,” Mahmood Masih explained. “Upon hearing this, Irfan raised a clamor that Ishfaq had blasphemed against Muhammad. Soon a mob gathered at the spot, and someone called the police, who took Ishfaq into custody.”
Considering the fact that blasphemy is illegal in Pakistan and can be punishable by death, blasphemy accusations are often used by Muslims in Pakistan to settle scores against Christians and other nonreligious minorities.
Additionally, blasphemy allegations often lead to societal violence, as was the case in November 2014 when a Christian couple was burned to death by a Muslim mob after they were accused of desecrating a Quran.
Human rights activists have pressured Pakistan for years to repeal or change its policy so that it doesn’t lead to the victimization of religious minorities.
Masih’s attorney, Riaz Anjum, told Morning Star News that the one who filed the police report accusing Masih of blasphemy was Mohammad Ishfaq, the landlord of the building that houses Masih’s repair shop. The First Information Report was filed under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code.
According to the penal code, an offense under 295-C is punishable by death or life in prison. Earlier this month, headlines were made after a court in Punjab province sentenced a 30-year-old Shia man to death over an alleged blasphemous posting on Facebook.
Anjum said that Ishfaq’s FIR claimed that there are five men who can act as witnesses to say that Masih had insulted the prophet Muhammad.
However, Anjum explained that the FIR is contradictory because none of the other men mentioned as witnesses were present when the alleged act of blasphemy occurred.
“Irfan had gathered the other men, including the complainant Mohammad Ishfaq, and they then concocted the allegation against Ishfaq Masih and got him arrested,” Anjum explained. “The FIR is quite weak, as it does not contain any specific blasphemous words that my client may have allegedly said.”
“It also shows that the police did not even bother to investigate the charge before registering a case against the poor man,” the lawyer added. “This is the routine practice of the police in blasphemy cases, and it’s a shame that nothing is being done to stop it.” (source, source)