As we conclude the Christmas season, we here at home enjoyed our friends and family and prayed for “Peace on Earth,” as well we should. But, during this time, we must not forget our Christian brothers and sisters around the world—in Nigeria, India, Burma (Myanmar), China and elsewhere—have been targeted through attacks and arrests this Christmas season because of their Christian faith.
In Nigeria, seven Christians were ambushed and murdered the day after Christmas by radical Islamic Fulani herdsmen. Christians in Nigeria were also targeted during the New Year when their churches were attacked in different cities around the country.
In India, multiple groups of Christians attending Christmas gatherings were attacked by Hindu extremists or had their worship services disrupted by police. In one attack, “[a]round 20 masked men barged into the Sunday worship service,” and used “swords, knives, iron rods, glass bottles, stones and other sharp objects” to attack the Christians. Other worship services were disrupted by police, who raided churches and the homes of pastors, arresting the pastors and other Christian leaders.
In Burma, six Christians were injured when the Christmas worship service they were attending was attacked by men who “stoned [the] house full of worshipers for an hour.”
In Egypt, Christians celebrate Christmas in the first week of January instead of at the end of December. Because of previous attacks during the Christmas season as well as recent attacks targeting minority Coptic Christians, “Egyptian authorities have strengthened checks and security measures around the churches and most important Christian places of worship in the capital, Cairo.”
In Laos, there were multiple instances where Christians were arrested and detained by police officers this Christmas season. Reportedly, the worshipers and church leaders were arrested “for illegally gathering for worship without the government’s permission.” In addition to arresting and detaining the worshipers, police officers “returned to the village church and destroyed the stage and church’s sound system. The police [also] cut off power to the church and confiscated three cell phones.”
And in parts of China, the crackdown on Christians continued as local police officers raided and occupied churches, confiscated church property, and banned Christians from attending church. One church was raided by more than 10 police officers, and the church’s books, Bibles, and computers were forcibly removed. In addition to raiding the church, the local police replaced the church door lock and attached a seal to prohibit members from entering.
Another Chinese church was raided by more than 60 police officers who seized thousands of church books, took down the personal information of every member in attendance, and read out loud law enforcement notices that declared that the church was an illegal gathering, and had engaged in illegal publishing and fundraising. The police officers also confiscated all Bibles, and all church members were notified that they were banned from meeting at that church and should instead only meet at government sanctioned churches.
Each of these incidents are merely examples of the hostility toward Christianity that exists today. This is why it is so important that we remain aware of what is going on in the world, and why we must engage to help protect those who are vulnerable and innocent and cannot protect themselves.
We here at the ACLJ are committed to fighting for freedom of religion all around the world. We defend people who are targeted for their faith, like Pastor John Cao, a legal permanent resident of the U.S., who has been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in China for almost two years. We advocate for people like teenager Leah Sharibu, who is being held captive by the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, because she refuses to recant her faith. And we will continue to push for meaningful action that results in justice and aid for those victims of genocide and atrocities in places like Iraq and Syria.
Stand with us as we fight for justice and for the right of all people to freely worship.
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