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Crackdown on Chinese churches

Scores of churches around Zhejiang province have been served demolition notices, and many others had their crosses removed.

The reasons vary greatly – from safety regulations to illegal use of land. Christians in the area claim the government is deliberately attacking the growth of Christianity in the area. They have signed petitions and engaged in heated debates with officials about the churches’ fates.

The story made headlines in Chinese papers when thousands of Christians formed a human shield around a large church in Wenzhou, in order to prevent demolition. An agreement was reached by which neither the church nor its cross would be demolished. However, a worshiper said "several" church members continued to occupy the church in case officials reneged on the deal.

Zheng Leguo, the preacher, said other churches were facing similar threats.

The government officially responded to the news a few days later, saying there was no ‘campaign against Christianity’ but that the buildings violated a number of regulations. Feng Zhili, the chairman of Zhejiang’s Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee, also said Christianity’s growth had been “too excessive and too haphazard”.

Praise God for the growth of Christianity in the area, and pray for increasing freedom of religion in the country.


The world’s largest election

Voting began on Monday for India’s 814 million registered voters, the first of nine stages rolling out across a million polling stations.

The election boils down to two heavyweights – the currently ruling ‘Congress Party’ against favourites ‘Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’ (BJP). Observers believe the BJP stand a good chance of winning outright thanks to the charisma and pro-business approach of their leader Narendra Modi.

However, Modi’s publicity is not all good. There was no intervention when major riots gripped his constituency in 2001, in which over 1000 religious minorities were murdered. In 2008, while Orissa constituency was ruled by the BJP, there were prolific and deadly anti-Christian pogroms  - the worst the country has ever seen - at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists aligned with BJP.

While they support democracy, many Christians fear a return to overt persecution under BJP rule. Please pray both for democracy and freedom from persecution in the ensuing winner’s rule.


Afghan counting begins

Afghanistan’s election has now ended and the ballot counting is well underway. Onlookers hailed the event as a success. Voter turnout was large, despite wet weather and Taliban threats, and the voting was largely peaceful.

Meanwhile, others are counting the bodies of loved ones. Around 40 people have died during these elections. Two foreign journalists were shot this week by a police commander in eastern Afghanistan. As they pulled up to a check point in Khost, the commander screamed ‘Allahu Akbar’ and opened fire on their car – instantly killing one and severely injuring the other.

Thank God that only 40 were killed, when it could have been much worse. But do keep the families of those affected in your prayers.


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