||FIRST, THE NEWS:
CHURCH OF SAINT ATHANASIOS IN DHERMI, ALBANIA COMPLETELY DEMOLISHED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
from Orthodox Christian Mission Center
(26 Aug) Today before dawn, at around 4 o’clock in the morning, in order not to confront the residents of Dhermi in Himara, the Orthodox church of St. Athanasius was secretly and insidiously destroyed by construction inspection forces which were brought from other areas of the country. It was dejecting and offensive to see the Holy Gospel, the icons and the sacred objects buried under the rubble. This act reminds us of the desecration at St. Mary's Church in Permet, where the holy objects were thrown into a garbage truck.
From the beginning, those who had planned the destruction of this holy place were contradictory, megalomaniac and inconsistent throughout their statements, claims, and actions. They stated that the church was an illegal construction recently built. However, the church was erected by the faithful at the dawn of Democracy (over 20 years ago), in the same place where the old church had been destroyed by the Communist Regime. They said that it was a monument of culture but this is not true. They stated that it was not under the possession of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, but documents prove the opposite. They stated that the concrete layer was laid at the walls of the historic old church and then it was flattened etc.
This event is a violation of the universal right of belief promulgated in the Constitution of the State, which privately undertakes the demolition of an object of religion to establish another one by undertaking initiatives and commitments that do not belong or comprise with the internal religious issues. Such irresponsible and reckless actions endanger religious harmony in the country bringing up conflicts among religions and religious communities. [read more...]
KYRGYZSTAN: DECEASED PROTESTANTS DENIED BURIAL IN STATE-OWNED CEMETERIES
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service
(20 Aug) in early August, Osh City authorities and a local Imam did not allow a Protestant Christian woman to bury her deceased 25-year-old son in the cemetery in the District where they live and where their relatives are buried, local Protestants complained to Forum 18. The son had recently died in a car accident. Protestants asked not to publish their names or the names of the woman or her relatives for fear of state reprisals. "After negotiations with the Osh City authorities, they were allowed to bury him in a different cemetery, in a District of Osh far from their home, where adherents of various religions are buried," Protestants added. However, even to be able to do that "under pressure from the local Imam who recited Muslim prayers, the mother was made to renounce her Christian faith."
Local people and Muslim leaders, with the connivance of local authorities, have long obstructed or denied burials according to their own rites to deceased Protestants, Baha'is, Jehovah's Witnesses and Hare Krishna devotees - especially those of ethnic Kyrgyz or ethnic Uzbek background -in village graveyards which they insist are only for Muslims. The authorities appear content to allow local imams to control who is buried in state-owned cemeteries, not owned by religious communities. Police often back obstructions of burials, in some cases actively participating in burial denials. The authorities' failure to ensure people may bury their dead in the way they would wish causes deep distress to the family and friends of the dead and their communities.
Asked on 19 August why the Osh authorities did not allow a young Christian man to be buried in the cemetery near his home where his relatives are buried, Kanatbek Abdurahimov, representative of the State Commission for Religious Affairs (SCRA) in Osh, claimed to Forum 18 that it is a "Muslim cemetery." But, he added, "he was finally buried in another cemetery." He maintained that "this is a sensitive issue we cannot interfere in," but did not explain why the authorities cannot intervene to allow individuals of any faith or none to be buried in local cemeteries. [read more...]
RUSSIAN CHURCH LIKENS ATTACKS ON ORTHODOX UKRAINIANS TO SOVIET-ERA PERSECUTIONS
(26 Aug) The Moscow Patriarchate has expressed concern over the seizing of Orthodox churches in Ukraine and criticized its law enforcement authorities for inaction. "Over the past year since the civil standoff began in Ukraine, dozens of clergymen representing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been attacked, many dozens of churches have been seized or set ablaze. For some of the clerics, the violence shown towards them by their attackers proved fatal," the head of the Synodal Information Department Vladimir Legoyda was quoted by his spokesperson as saying.
He said the last time radicals seized St. Vladimir Church (which belongs to the UOC-MP) near Kiev "is sticking out even from the sad catalogue of incidents associated with attacks by radical and splinter groups on churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church." Legoyda recalled that the attack was committed in the middle of a prayer service at the church. This "inevitably brings up the memory of grim pictures of the executions of the Orthodox priests in the 1920s-1930s." [read more...]
KAZAKHSTAN: FINED AGAIN FOR NOT PAYING EARLIER FINE
by Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service
(17 Aug) North Kazakhstan Regional Justice Department, responsible for the execution of court decisions, brought a case against Yevgeni Lyakhov, member of a Baptist church in the village of Novoishim. They were seeking to punish him for refusing to pay a fine imposed in April 2014 for exercising the right to freedom of religion or belief. Lyakhov had been fined 185,200 Tenge for "illegal religious activity."
Lyakhov's congregation, like other congregations of the Council of Churches Baptists, refuses to seek state permission to exercise the right to freedom of religion or belief. Members of the Council of Churches are frequently fined for meeting for worship without state registration. They operate a policy of civil disobedience, refusing to pay fines as they do not consider they should be fined for meeting for worship. Those refusing to pay have been imprisoned for up to 15 days. One Baptist, Nikolai Novikov, even faced the prospect of criminal prosecution, though officials have said the case will be closed. [read more...]
UKRAINE PRESIDENT APPROVES STRATEGY FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
(27 Aug) The national strategy for human rights aims to rally society around the awareness of values of human rights and freedoms, which should be protected on the basis of equality and without discrimination. In addition to the various aspects of human rights, the National Strategy briefly touches on issues of religious freedom. In particular, to ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, it provides for “improvement of the procedure of state registration of religious organizations and coordination of peaceful assemblies of a religious nature.”
As reported by the Institute, certain provisions of the fifth paragraph of Article 21 of the Law of Ukraine “On freedom of conscience and religious organizations” currently contradict to Article 39 of the Constitution of Ukraine and discriminate against believers and religious organizations as they provide for permissive procedure and require a 10-day notice about organizing a peaceful religious event. In addition, in order to create an effective system of prevention and combating discrimination, the National Strategy seeks to “ensure effective investigation of crimes committed on the grounds of racial, national, religious and other intolerance, and bringing those responsible to justice.” [read more...]
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN ROMANIA
from Acton Institute Blog
(17 Aug) In response to an overstated blog about sex trafficking in Romania, this article explains that Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel has been unequivocal in his condemnation of human trafficking. The following is from a statement he made in 2009: "Given the fact that the trafficking in persons is a well-organized trans-national criminal phenomenon that cannot be separated from the international migration, the interventions for combating the phenomenon must involve the combined efforts of all the countries affected. We think the trafficking in persons is a serious sin as well as a social danger which affects the dignity of the person, depersonalises the human being, destroys humans physically and spiritually, and turns them into slaves, into merchandise, with no value as persons, into a source of profit, implicitly degrading the human society. God has not given the right of life and death over a human being to anybody, and nobody is entitled to change the human person into an object of profit."
If anything, the crisis Patriarch Daniel pointed to has only become much greater in light of the mass exodus of migrants leaving war-torn Africa and the Middle East. We see this now almost daily in places like Greece and Italy. A recent report in a Serbian news portal highlighted fears that the whole of Syria will soon pass through Serbia. Could Romania do a better job on human trafficking? Absolutely. The U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, in its 2015 report on trafficking in Romania, says the country “demonstrated weak efforts to protect trafficking victims, as the number of victims identified far exceeded services available to assist them. The government relied on NGOs to identify and assist victims, but did not provide any financial support due to a legal preclusion of direct funding for NGOs.” Trafficking problems are not unique to the Romanians. The State Department, for example, said the Netherlands “compliles with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” but also described grave problems there in “sex trafficking, forced labor... and forced criminal activity.”[read more...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
KAZAKHSTAN: TWO-MONTH SECRET POLICE DETENTION - PROSECUTION TO FOLLOW?
from Forum 18 News Service
PATRIARCH KIRILL HOPES FOR INTERACTION BETWEEN UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES
THE LOVE OF CHRIST WILL REIGN VICTORIOUS IN CRIMEA AND DONBASS
from Russian Evangelical Alliance
AS WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE CONTINUES IN UKRAINE, CHURCHES AID NEEDY CIVILIANS
from Mission Network News
CONFERENCE OF UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX BISHOPS OUTSIDE UKRAINE ON ANNIVERSARY OF UKRAINE’S INDEPENDENCE
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
LEONID KRAVCHUK AND VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO DISCUSS CHURCH CRISIS IN UKRAINE WITH PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE
from Russia Religion News
METROPOLITAN HILARION: EVERY HUMAN BEING HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO FOLLOW CHRIST
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
CALL TO PRAYER FOR NEW BELIEVER ARRESTED IN KAZAKHSTAN
from Mission Eurasia
CROATIAN ARCHBISHOP AND SERB ORTHODOX CHURCH HEAD CALL FOR UNITY OF CHRISTIANS
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Let's keep the comments coming! When you've finished reading, leave your COMMENTS in our Hosken-News Blog below. Thanks!
Two weeks ago Cheryl and I were blessed to be invited to the wedding of Evan and Fatemia, people we've worked with at FOCUS+Pittsburgh. Evan came to us over a year ago, having just gotten out of prison for a drug crime. He became a Christian while in prison, and his life has really turned around. We helped him get a job, then he found an apartment and shortly after that he met Fatemia, another person we had helped with a resume and job search. It's a great privilege to be part of God's work in changing lives! Here we are with them after the wedding:
Our Agape Restoration Society home page now shows our work with FOCUS+Pittsburgh helping people find homes and jobs. Some people we work with are living on the street, others with relatives or friends. Some have recently lost a job, others have just been released from prison or been out of work for several months. Yesterday Carmela, a lady who has been out of work for about four months and we've been helping for a few weeks, came in to tell us that she's gotten a job in one of the openings we helped her apply for! These are just a few examples that keep us going.
As Romanian Patriarch Daniel stated in our sixth news article, "We think the trafficking in persons is a serious sin as well as a social danger which affects the dignity of the person, depersonalises the human being, destroys humans physically and spiritually, and turns them into slaves, into merchandise, with no value as persons, into a source of profit, implicitly degrading the human society. God has not given the right of life and death over a human being to anybody, and nobody is entitled to change the human person into an object of profit." Not only islamic or former communist societies, but our own society is guilty of a long history of slavery, oppression, lynchings, rapes and racial discrimination. Treating "the human person into an object of profit" is subject to God's judgment:
"The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived wantonly with her, will weep and wail over her, when they look at the smoke of her burning, standing far away for the fear of her torment, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For your judgment has come in one hour. The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more; merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, all expensive wood, every vessel of ivory, every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble; and cinnamon, incense, perfume, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, sheep, horses, chariots, and people's bodies and souls.'" (Rev. 18:9-13)
Please support Agape Restoration Society by e-check or credit/debit card: click on the "Donate" button there.
The Paganization of America, Part 2
Elevating the concept of liberty to the status of an absolute turns liberty into a god or goddess. Did you know that the French artist who designed and constructed the Statue of Liberty modeled it after a pagan goddess?
In the last two weeks we've witnessed drastic swings in the stock markets of China, Japan, Europe and the United States. This was brought about by the devaluation of China's currency, which threatened to bring on "currency wars" - other nations also devaluing their currencies in order to compete better in international trade. The final result of such actions, however, is rapid inflation and the plundering of the poor and the elderly whose limited finances are stretched to the breaking point.
When stock markets no longer serve the purpose of financing honest buyers and sellers of goods and services, but rather become the domain of mega-banks and giant investment funds near-instantaneously squeezing tiny slices of profits via electronic day-trading, the markets become subject to vast, rapid fluctuations. The honest small business owner loses his shirt in such a violently rapacious environment. When central banks create trillions of dollars out of thin air to bail out investment funds and private banks that went under by lending to totally unqualified home buyers, the common taxpayer is stuck with the bill in the form of higher taxes and inflation. Is that liberty, or debt slavery?
We also witnessed this week the celebration of New Orleans' recovery after Hurricane Katrina struck that city ten years ago. Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were devastated and left homeless. The storm surge, as high as 15 to 30 feet above normal sea level, flooded 80% of New Orleans, had affected about 60 miles of Louisiana coast, much of the Mississippi coast, and came several miles inland. Large swathes of this area that are located under sea level were to be protected by seawalls against the flooding that comes with hurricanes.
Now the new higher, stronger seawalls, built at the expense of billions of tax dollars, are supposed to protect that sinful city against such a catastrophic event for the next 100 years. But the rise of temperatures causes melting of glaciers and polar ice and more violent weather, bringing sea levels ever higher and increasing the risk of other Katrina-size hurricanes much sooner than in 100 years, producing another failed bailout at taxpayer expense.
"The rest of mankind, who were not killed with these plagues, didn't repent of the works of their hands, that they wouldn't worship demons, and the idols of gold, and of silver, and of brass, and of stone, and of wood; which can neither see, nor hear, nor walk. They didn't repent of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their sexual immorality, nor of their thefts." (Rev. 9:20-21)
What is the cause of all this?
Continue reading in our Hosken-News Blog.
Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Family values: "He who does not engage in propagation of the race is as though he had shed blood." - the Talmud