Satanic Temple Wants Followers to Force Christian Bakers to Make a Cake to ‘Honor Satan’

“If you can’t get a cake for your same-sex union, we’ll host a party in your honor at The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem and order a cake that praises Satan from your offending discriminatory ‘religious liberty’ enthusiast,” Greaves said.  

Temple, out of its dissatisfaction with Christian-owned bakeries that decline to make cakes celebrating same-sex “weddings,” is now asking its followers to force bakers to make a cake for Satan.

The group says that it came up with the idea in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case soon to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“[B]ecause sexual orientation is not a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, (whereas race and religion are), there is a good chance that the right to discriminate against gay couples will be affirmed as a constitutional liberty,” it wrote.  Out of the Satanic Temple’s fears that the court will likely rule in favor of the cakeshop, it has asked that those “who feel alienated or oppressed by the privileged status that religion holds over sexual orientation” contact religious bakers and order a cake to “honor Satan.”  

It asserts that the bakeries will not be able to say no since religion is considered a federally-protected class.

“Because religion is a protected class, a baker may refuse service to LGBTQ people, but they may not refuse service based upon someone’s religion. If they aren’t willing to make a cake for same-sex unions, let’s have them make a cake to honor Satan instead,” spokesperson Doug Messner, who goes by the name Lucien Greaves, said in a statement on Thursday.

However, as previously reported, while the Satanic Temple contends that it is a religious group, it also notes on its website that it is “non-theistic” and does not believe in Satan or the supernatural at all, but only views the devil as a metaphor and a “symbol of the eternal rebel.”

“[W]e do not promote a belief in a personal Satan,” its FAQ section explains. “To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.”

Some, therefore, consider the group as essentially an atheist effort to make a point about religion.

The Satanic Temple acknowledged to the Daily Caller this week that it is particularly upset that Christian bakers have declined to create baked goods for same-sex ceremonies because many members of the devilish group identify as homosexual.

“A lot of our membership is also homosexual as well, and I feel like there’s obvious reasons for that,” Messner said. “You know, we’re very into that kind of thing. There’s no issue of tolerance with us. And a lot of people who have grown up gay feel very alienated from traditional religion. So we have a very high population of LGBTQ community also as membership of the Satanic Temple.”

As previously reported, in 2015, during the unveiling of its Baphomet statue in Detroit, attendees shouted “Hail Satan” as two shirtless men pulled off the cloth that covered the figure and then embraced and kissed each other in front of the statue.

The group wrote in Thursday’s press release that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of religious bakeries, the Satanic Temple will host a party for Satan in “honor” of every unsuccessful attempt to order a same-sex “wedding” cake from a Christian baker.

“If you can’t get a cake for your same-sex union, we’ll host a party in your honor at The Satanic Temple headquarters in Salem and order a cake that praises Satan from your offending discriminatory ‘religious liberty’ enthusiast,” Greaves said.  

According to the Scriptures, one of the signs of the last days is that mockers and scoffers will arise, living in accordance with their own fleshly lusts.

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts,” verse 17 reads. “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

The Matthew Henry Commentary on this passage describes such persons as “sensual men separate from Christ and His Church, [who] join themselves to the devil, the world and the flesh by ungodly and sinful practices.”

“We must watch over one another faithfully, yet prudently reprove each other, and set a good example to all about us. This must be done with compassion, making a difference between the weak and the willful. Some we must treat with tenderness. Others save with fear; urging the terrors of the Lord,” he continues. “All endeavors must be joined with decided abhorrence of crimes, and care [must] be taken to avoid whatever led to, or was connected with fellowship with them—in works of darkness—keeping far from what is or appears to be evil.”

[written by Heather Clark]

Pope Accused of Material Heresy for First Time Since Middle Ages

Pope Francis is known for being more liberal than his predecessors, often embracing modernism, which is seen in Catholicism as the antithesis to definite truths, which are God-given, eternal, not to become “provisional and subject to revision.”

In a move unprecedented since the Middle Ages, 62 clergy and lay scholars from around the world have issued a formal filial correction to Pope Francis accusing him of “propagating heresies” about “marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments.”

“Respectfully insisting” that the Pope condemns the heresies that he has directly and indirectly upheld, the letter suggests that the Catholic leader’s unorthodox views have “caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church.” The Pope has yet to respond to the accusations.

According to the National Catholic Register, the 25-page Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis (A Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies) was delivered to the pontiff at his Santa Marta residence on August 11. It accused him of propagating heresies, including allowing some divorced or remarried Catholics to receive communion.

Pope Francis is known for being more liberal than his predecessors, often embracing modernism, which is seen in Catholicism as the antithesis to definite truths, which are God-given, eternal, not to become “provisional and subject to revision.” In a trip to Lund, Sweden in 2016, the Pope came under Catholic condemnation when he visited the Lutheran Church of Sweden that is said to “accept contraception, abortion, homosexuality, and female clergy, all of which are strictly and unalterably forbidden in the Catholic Church.”

The same year, he made an official statement in Amoris laetitia (Pope Francis’ book, translated as The Joy of Love) calling for acceptance of non-traditional lifestyles and those who practice them, challenging the long-held Catholic condemnation of homosexuality. The Pope has even been compared to Protestant leader Martin Luther, to whom he has given “explicit and unprecedented praise” despite the fact that Luther’s attempts to reform the Church ended in a great schism.

The letter, dated July 16th, 2017, was signed by 62 Catholic leaders, including the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X Bishop Bernard Fellay, former president of the Vatican Bank Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and German intellectual Martin Mosebach. This is the first filial correction addressed to a reigning Pontiff since Pope John XXII was reproved in 1333 for saying that those who died in grace do not see God face-to-face until the Last Judgment, where Catholic belief holds that those who die in the faith do indeed immediately meet with God.

The letter reads that it is with their “profound grief” but moved “by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself” that they must address “a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies affected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.”

Those who signed stress that they are not accusing the Pope of the formal sin of heresy, which is a heretic opinion expressed willfully and deliberately, knowing of its contradiction of some revealed truth. Rather, they accuse him of ‘material’ heresy, in which an opinion unknowingly contradicts the teachings of the Church, leading Catholics into false doctrines.

This is the sixth major initiative since September 2015 in which clergy and lay scholars have condemned the Pope’s liberal teachings and controversial passages in Amoris laetitia that contain “a number of statements that can be understood in a sense that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals.” These previous initiatives garnering hundreds of thousands of signatures from individuals and associations from around the world, none of which have garnered a Papal response.

[written by By  ]

 

Ritual killings on the increase in Nigeria

The bodies of a negligible number eventually seen are dumped either on the roadsides, bush paths or inside gutters. They are often mutilated and their vital organs removed. A few weeks back, there were shock waves across the nation, as cases of the discovery of kidnappers’ dens in parts of Lagos metropolis surfaced in the media.

A crowd at the ritualists den in Lagos
A crowd at the ritualists den in Lagos

It is fast becoming an everyday occurrence across the country. In recent times, thousands of people lose their lives in an inexplicable manner. In fact, hardly does any day pass without the gory news of people being murdered in most gruesome manner for ritual purpose.  

Almost on a daily basis, many police stations nationwide are flooded with reports of missing persons. Available records, according to reports, show that less than 10 per cent of such persons ever return home. While a scary 90 per cent of them are never found.

The bodies of a negligible number eventually seen are dumped either on the roadsides, bush paths or inside gutters. They are often mutilated and their vital organs removed. A few weeks back, there were shock waves across the nation, as cases of the discovery of kidnappers’ dens in parts of Lagos metropolis surfaced in the media.

The most notable being the one at Obadeyi in Ijaye area of the state. As revealed by the then state Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, the dungeon was discovered through the joint efforts of security agents and members of the public.

The den was reportedly discovered after a highway sweeper with the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) raised the alarm when she heard the voice of a woman calling for help from the canal. Following the discovery, the Lagos State police command arrested seven persons suspected to be ritual killers. As this was still raging, another hideout of suspected kidnappers emerged in Ile-Zik, near Ikeja.

The Ikorodu axis of Lagos State has, for some time now, also assumed a kind of notoriety on issues of suspected ritual killings. Badoo cult group has held a firm grip of this area which they have literarily turned to a den of terror. In most of their operations, they would enter into target homes after cutting the burglar-proof bars and hack their victims to death.

“The private parts of a woman were messed up in one of their evil operations. And they often rape their female victims and use them for rituals,” a resident of Ikorodu, said. Similar cases of underground dens as sites of dark practices are not also new in other parts of the country, according to reports. One of the most shocking was the ‘forest of horror’ in the Soka area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. It was reportedly chanced on by a motorbike rider.

The forest had over 20 decomposed human bodies and hundreds of human skulls at the time of the discovery. About 20 people were rescued from it. Behind all of these, however, is the desire for illicit wealth by misguided individuals. They are, unfortunately, in large numbers.  

Scores of people thronged the Oyo State police headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan to catch a glimpse of the four suspected ritual killers. They could not hold back their tears as one of the suspects, Tunde Jimoh, gave a chilling description of how they tricked their victim, Akintoye Oyeyemi, into a deep forest and murdered him in cold blood. Looking deceitfully innocent, Jimoh said: “I am a business man who deals in cashew nuts. My brother’s friend came to him and said he would pay the sum of N10 million for a business transaction.

When he was saying this, my friend was with me, he then sold an idea to me that we should kidnap him and rob him of the money. “The victim called us that he was coming to Ajase; it was there we kidnapped him. After moving deep into Igbo Nla (thick forest), I parked the bike that we used. I then pointed the gun at him. He was afraid and surprised. He then said was it because of the money he had on him that we wanted to kill him. He dropped his bag and started running away.

I shot and killed him. We then took his bag and found only N100,000 and some clothes in it.” Recently, another report of ritual murders including that of one-year-old Success lme in Calabar, hugged media headlines. Her heart was reportedly ripped out from her small body.

This was discovered in a church along with other items for occult rituals. There is also the case of Pastor Samuel Okpara in Ahoada East Local Government Area of Imo State, who was kidnapped, killed and cannibalised by suspected ritual killers.

Okpara was purportedly beheaded and his liver and intestines allegedly used for pepper soup and plantain porridge. His was also a horrific narrative. In Minna, Niger State, Abdulrashed Aminu, 22, and Ismaila Mohammed, 27, were equally caught with a fresh human head about 9pm along Minna Paikoro road’s junction during a stop and search operation not too long ago. The beheaded eight-year-old boy was later identified as Hassan Abubakar of Bakajeba village in Paiko Local Government area of the state, according to police.

Not too long ago, a Nigerian woman living in Bavarian, Germany, who identified herself simply as Mrs F. Owodunni, alleged foul play after his 20-year-old son visiting Nigeria was said to have committed suicide. She doubted such claim and insisted that her son may have been killed for ritual purposes. According to a petition she sent to the Federal Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Homicide Section, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, Owodunni said she started suspecting underhand dealings after people close to the boy began to avoid her phone calls while the boy was with them in Nigeria.  

She said: “I am writing a petition about the suspected murder of my son, Edwin, 20, and I am a citizen of Germany. My son had been coming to Nigeria to visit his father and this trip was his fourth. Edwin came to Nigeria on March 16, for the burial of his paternal grandmother in the village at Owerri.

“He was expected to return to Germany on April 7. He was communicating with me (via phone). He called on April 12, to inform that he had extended his flight to May 12, as he wanted to spend more time with his father.

That was the last time the family here in Germany heard from Edwin. All efforts to reach Edwin’s father proved abortive. All efforts to reach my son also proved abortive. “But to our surprise, we were told that Edwin had committed suicide.

We got this news on June 26, while he allegedly committed suicide about three months ago in his father’s village in Owerri.” She said the boy was buried without her knowledge. This fueled her suspicion that her son may have been a victim of ritual killing.

“To this end, we want the police to thoroughly investigate this case to unravel the mystery behind the death of my son,” she begged. Ernest Nmezuwoba, father of Victory Chikamso, the eight-year-old girl abducted, raped and killed by suspect, Ifeanyi Dike, the 200 level Physics student of the University of Port Harcourt, who recently escaped from police custody in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, is also lamenting. Nmezuwoba said his joy has been cut short and that he may never recover from the trauma the death of his beloved son has left him with.

There are countless other outpouring of anguish by parents and relatives of those suspected to have been killed for ritual purposes. Incidentally, such nuisances are often not enough to deter the evil doers. Early in the year, a Mass Communication undergraduate of the Cross River State University of Technology, Joy Odama, reportedly died in circumstances believed by her parents to be ritualistic. She was said to have gone to the home of an Alhaji to seek financial help with the knowledge of her mother.

In another case, a 300-Level student of the Benue State University, Grace Onaivi, went missing and her body later found, mutilated with some parts missing, in a manner suspected to be ritual killing. Her corpse was dumped along a road in Lokoja, Kogi State. Also, a 400-Level student of the Osun State University, Rofiat Damilola Adebisi, was reportedly killed in a similar manner while on her way to a religious programme. Just like that of Onaivi, her corpse was also discovered two days later with vital parts missing.

Two suspects who were arrested confessed she was kidnapped and “sold” to a herbalist for N10,000. Just recently, a 16-year-old secondary school student, Raimi Fatai, equally suffered the same fate in Abeokuta, Ogun State. His killing was said to have followed the administration of suspected liquid substance on him by his three classmates during a moneymaking ritual. Before then, the Ondo State Police Command had arrested a 44-year-old, Shaba Samuel, for allegedly beheading his three-year old niece, Dieko Adunbarin for same purpose at Ikara Akoko area of the state. Everywhere, hundreds of Nigerians lose their lives to ritual murderers.

The killers usually go in search of human parts such as head, breast, tongue and sexual organs at the request of shamans, juju priests, and traditional medicine practitioners. These witchdoctors often require these parts for some sacrifices or for the preparation of assorted magical potions.

The beliefs in dogmas, myth, and magical thinking, many believe, fuel this evil practices. Ignorance, poverty, desperation, gullibility, and irrationalism, hold others hostage to this brutal act. Regrettably, many of those suspected to be ritual killers, even when they are arrested, often escape the long hands of the law.

[copied from Niaja News and Events]

Update on the Ikorodu ritual killing: Pastor kills boy, buries head at church’s altar

Eric, who was said to be a friend to the victim’s father, allegedly stole the boy around 11.am on Wednesday, after his father left him in his care. It was gathered the suspect was said to have taken the boy to the pastor’s church where they beheaded and buried him between 2.am and 4.am

Remember the story of the unidentified man (pictured above) that  was allegedly caught yesterday afternoon in Ikorodu carrying the head and decapitated body of a school boy in a sack. Well, here is an update on the story.

The police in Lagos on Thursday arrested a pastor for allegedly beheading a 7-year old boy and burying his head at the church’s altar.
The command’s spokesman, Olarinde Famous-Cole, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) confirmed the arrest to newsmen, stressing that the suspect was arrested with an accomplice at Ikorodu.

Famous-Cole said the policemen arrested one Eric, whose confession led to the arrest of the pastor and the recovery of the boy’s body. “On investigation, one of the suspects, Eric confessed to the crime.

He led a team of policemen to Odokekere/ Odogunyan in Ikorodu area to apprehend Oyekan, who later led the team to where the seven-year-old boy was beheaded and his head buried. “They hid the body inside canal.
The two suspects involved have been arrested and the body and the head of the boy were brought to the station.

It had earlier been reported that the pastor, identified as Adedoyin Oyekan and one Eric were arrested at Odokereke, Odogunyan of Ikorodu on Thursday.

Eric, who was said to be a friend to the victim’s father, allegedly stole the boy around 11.am on Wednesday, after his father left him in his care. It was gathered the suspect was said to have taken the boy to the pastor’s church where they beheaded and buried him between 2.am and 4.am yesterday.
When the victim’s father came back to take his son, Eric claimed he had sent him home. Eric opened up during interrogation and led detectives to the pastor’s place where the child’s mutilated body was buried.

“Investigation has commenced and the case would be transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos”, Olarinde said.

The suspects were rescued from being lynched by some angry residents of the area after committing the offence at 16, Apata Abo Street, Odokekere, Odogunyan.

The police spokesman said investigation was still on.

written by  Motunrayo Ogundipe

 

Woman Convicted of Aiding Murder Sues to Stop Prison System From ‘Imposing Strong Christian Values on Inmates

Webber-Dunn claims that she has been “damaged” by her encounters with Christian messages at Topeka Correctional Facility, she is seeking an injunction prohibiting the prison system from displaying such messages and symbols throughout the all-women’s prison and “imposing strong Christian values on inmates” throughout the state.

TOPEKA, Kan. — A Thelemite woman who is serving a 40-year sentence surrounding the murder of her husband has filed suit against the Kansas Department of Corrections in an effort to force the prison to stop “imposing strong Christian values on inmates.”

The American Humanist Association (AHA) filed suit on behalf of Shari Webber-Dunn, who follows Thelema, a mystic philosophy developed by occultist Aleister Crowley that is based on the mantra “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” Thelemites identify as anything from atheists to polytheists.

According to the lawsuit, Christian prayers and messages are posted on bulletin boards throughout the Topeka Correctional Facility, with one board including an envelope where inmates may submit their prayer requests.

“Don’t worry: God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears, and He will deliver,” one of the messages reads.

“In happy moments, praise God. In difficult moments, seek God. In quiet moments, trust God. In every moment, thank God,” another exhorts.

Christian films are also broadcasted on facility televisions, and Christian music is played in the background while inmates participate in a crochet program for charity. A large cross is additionally displayed in a basement room used for various gatherings, including Christian worship services.

“Webber-Dunn views the cross as disrespectful to all non-Christians and as echoing the oppressive message that Christianity looms over the inmates at all times and they are powerless to do anything about it,” the suit reads.

In June, Webber-Dunn submitted a request that the Christian messages be removed from the bulletin boards and that the cross be covered when not in use for worship services.

Because she has not received a response, she filed suit this week, claiming that “imposing strong Christian values on inmates … violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

“Defendants’ actions, failures to act, and policies described above lack a secular purpose, have the effect of promoting, favoring, and endorsing religion—particularly Christianity—over non-religion, and result in an excessive entanglement between government and religion, thus violating the Establishment Clause,” the legal challenge reads.

As Webber-Dunn claims that she has been “damaged” by her encounters with Christian messages at Topeka Correctional Facility, she is seeking an injunction prohibiting the prison system from displaying such messages and symbols throughout the all-women’s prison and “imposing strong Christian values on inmates” throughout the state. She is not eligible for parole until 2034.

Historic American statesman Daniel Webster, who held office both in the House and Senate, once said, “If the power of the gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end.”

Noah Webster, known as the father of American education, also said, “All the miseries and evils which men suffer from—vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war—proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

written by Heather Clark

 

NM Mennonite Church Becomes First in Denomination to Appoint Openly Lesbian Head Pastor

Lea’s hiring at Albuquerque Mennonite comes as she was in her third year of residency at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She served at Baptist churches in states like North Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. She also served as the interim pastor of Houston Mennonite Church while the church’s pastor, Marty Troyer, was on sabbatical, Mennonite World Review reports.

(PHOTO: TWITTER)

A Mennonite church in New Mexico became the first church in its denomination to select an openly LGBT person as head pastor. The Albuquerque Mennonite Church announced Monday that it selected Erica Lea, an open lesbian, to be its new lead pastor.

Lea is a graduate of Truett Seminary at Baylor University, where she was introduced to Anabaptist theology, and has served in a missionary and pastoral capacity for over 10 years.  According to Mennonite World Review, the church stated that it stands behinds Lea’s “strong call to connect with and serve people affected by current immigration policies and racial, social and economic discrimination — as well as a call to provide a beacon and safe haven for the LGBTQ community.”

Lea’s hiring at Albuquerque Mennonite comes as she was in her third year of residency at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She served at Baptist churches in states like North Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. She also served as the interim pastor of Houston Mennonite Church while the church’s pastor, Marty Troyer, was on sabbatical, Mennonite World Review reports.

“She is passionate about strong Anabaptist ministry and brings a heartfelt theological commitment to her adopted faith family,” Troyer was quoted as saying. “While she served at Houston, our congregation experienced the best pastoral ministry has to offer: preaching, caring and management.”

“Erica is also passionate about Mennonite emphasis on peace witness and radical hospitality,” Troyer added. “Her ministry is rooted in the belief that all people are welcome, and that community is the deepest expression of God’s desires.”

According to the Mennonite World Review, Albuquerque Mennonite Church consists of about 150 members and officially became a LGBT “welcoming community” in 2007. However, it did not immediately join the Brethren Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Interests.

“Our congregation has a majority of attenders who did not grow up Mennonite — who, like Erica, have chosen to join our faith community,” Andrew Clouse, a member of the church’s search committee, stated. “We look forward to finding more ways of articulating and sharing an Anabaptist faith that can flourish in locally derived expressions of Jesus’s call to discipleship, peacemaking and justice. We think Erica is well-equipped to help us do this.”

The website PinkMenno.org lists over 70 Mennonite Church USA congregations that are “willing to state publicly that they are welcoming to all, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

According to Sojourners, Mennonite Church USA claims over 70,000 adult members and several openly LGBT individuals serving in associate pastors roles in churches across the nation.

In February, it was reported that the Allegheny Mennonite Conference licensed an openly married lesbian woman, who is an associate pastor at a Mennonite church in Hyattsville. The pastor, Michelle Burkholder, became the third openly LGBT minister credentialed for pastoral service in the Mennonite Church USA.

But as Sojourners points out, “The membership guidelines of the MCUSA define marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman, categorize ‘homosexual…sexual activity as sin,’ and forbid MCUSA pastors from performing same-sex marriages.” Sojourners notes that the denomination has no plans to revisit its guidelines until 2019.

In 2015, Mennonite Church USA passed a resolution stating, “We acknowledge that there is currently not consensus within Mennonite Church USA on whether it is appropriate to bless Christians who are in same-sex covenanted unions.”

“Because God has called us to seek peace and unity as together we discern and seek wisdom on these matters, we call on all those in Mennonite Church USA to offer grace, love and forbearance toward conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways, seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters related to same-sex covenanted unions,” the resolution, titled “Forbearance in the Midst of Differences,” states.

[written by Samuel Smith]

Pentecostal Pastor Seeks Asylum in Germany, Fears Being Declared a Terrorist by Russia Gov’t

“Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.”

(PHOTO: REUTERS/DAVID MDZINARISHVILI)A man passes a church during a sunset in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, July 11, 2017.

A Pentecostal pastor has applied for political asylum in Germany and is living there as a refugee with his family, saying that he is fearful of being arrested and treated as a terrorist back home in Russia.

“It is very dangerous to return to Russia. There, I will be declared a terrorist and put behind bars,” pastor Alexey Kolyasnikov said in an interview with Germany’s Deutsche Welle.

Kolyasnikov, his wife and three daughters have been living in a refugee camp in Leverkusen since July. The pastor explained that he chose to go to Germany because “the Protestant Church here is strong.”

The pastor alleged that he has been investigated by Russian authorities simply for practicing his faith. He revealed that one evening back in 2014, he held a gathering with his Pentecostal congregation at a cafe in Sochi, since they do not own a church building.

Kolyasnikov explained that police officers and members of Russia’s main intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service, appeared during the Bible reading, and accused him of holding an unauthorized gathering.

The pastor said that one young woman, who six weeks prior to the incident started attending the meetings, turned out to be aiding an FSB member, and later testified in court against him.

Kolyasnikov was punished with a fine for  organizing “an unauthorized gathering,” which led to him filing an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.

A letter sent to the public prosecutor’s office of the southern Russian Krasnodar region revealed that Kolyasnikov was also accused of being part of “pro-West Protestant religious movements” and supporting Ukraine in its ongoing strife with Russia.

The pastor insisted, however, that he condemns all forms of violence and bloodshed, and said that he does not understand why he is being mistreated.

He recalled another incident back in 2012, when an FSB major spoke with him in relation to terrorist investigations in Russia, and demanded that he provide a list of his congregation members, along with their personal details.

A number of Christian pastors have reportedly been arrested in Russia after the country’s notorious “anti-missionary” laws, officially aimed at tackling possible terror activities, took effect last year.

Sergei Zhuravlyov, a representative of the Ukrainian Reformed Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior, was one of the first Christian leaders arrested last year while he was preaching before the St. Petersburg Messianic Jewish community.

Zhuravlyov was accused of “fomenting negative attitudes toward the Russian Orthodox Church,” and of having ties to the Ukrainian nationalist political party called Right Sector, which is banned in Russia.

The controversial law, which bans evangelism outside of churches, led to thousands of churches in Russia fasting in opposition back in July 2016.

“This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. At that time confession of faith was permitted only in church,” said Hannu Haukka, president of Great Commission Media Ministries.

“Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation. These anti-terrorist laws are some of the most restrictive laws in post-Soviet history.”

Norway-based group Forum 18 reported in August that evangelical Christians make up the majority of the 181 cases that have so far been prosecuted by Russian authorities under the law.

The report noted that officials have cracked down on prayer meetings at homes, and on posting worship times on a religious community’s website, which police have interpreted as  banned “missionary activity.”

written by Stoyan Zaimov  

No Charges Planned for Priest Accused of Misspending Charity Money

After a financial review of St. Ignatius Parish in Kingston in May, Fr. John Chmil notified church officials that about $130,000 earmarked for charity had been misspent.

KINGSTON — A Catholic priest accused of misspending funds collected for charity will not face criminal charges and will likely return to some form of ministry, according to the Diocese of Scranton.

After a financial review of St. Ignatius Parish in Kingston in May, Fr. John Chmil notified church officials that about $130,000 earmarked for charity had been misspent.

Fr. Chmil resigned and the diocese said it was cooperating with law enforcement to determine if any laws were broken.

The Luzerne County district attorney’s office indicated that because Fr. Chmil did not profit from the misuse of funds, no criminal charges will be filed.

Fr. Chmil has repaid about $72,000 in an effort to restore the misused money.

The diocese plans to have Fr. Chmil return to some form of ministry “at an appropriate time.”

Parish removes priest who asked middle school students during confession if they masturbated or watched porn

“I think he was trying to get them to really discern and be in touch with any sinful behavior they had,” McNeil said. “So I think it was a case of, from what we know right now, a case of trying to be too helpful.”

An associate pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church has been dismissed from the parish after asking middle school students during confession if they masturbated or watched pornography.

Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor and spokesman for the Archdiocese of Omaha, said the Rev. Nicholas Mishek, 26, is an inexperienced priest who was overzealous in his questioning and made a lapse in judgment. He has been removed from St. Robert Bellarmine, but the archdiocese will work with him to review the training he received in the seminary.

“There was this line of questioning that’s unacceptable, and he asked two questions that are particularly unacceptable,” McNeil said. “And parents reacted strongly, and should have, and we responded to that.”

 

Mishek was ordained in June and received a favorable report from the seminary, McNeil said. There are no prior complaints or incidents involving him, McNeil said.  

Parents at St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic School received a letter Monday signed by Principal Sandra Suiter and the Rev. Steven Stillmunks, the parish pastor, outlining the incident that happened last week and the school’s response. The K-8 school is near 120th and Pacific Streets.

 

According to the letter, on Friday morning, a parent notified Suiter that Mishek had asked inappropriate questions of seventh- and eighth-graders during confession Thursday.  Several parents stepped forward with similar stories..

 

The letter states that during confession, Mishek asked seventh- and eighth-graders if they cheated, lied, watched pornography or masturbated.

It was later discovered that he had asked fifth- and sixth-graders “similar inappropriate questions” during confession Wednesday, though those questions were worded more vaguely, such as “have you ever viewed or watched inappropriate shows or videos?”

The letter says that within 10 minutes of the first parent complaint, Suiter reported the allegations to Stillmunks. He was traveling out of town but turned around to return to the parish and contacted the archdiocese.

By 1 p.m. that day, Stillmunks dismissed Mishek from his duties at St. Robert Bellarmine, a decision supported by Archbishop George Lucas, McNeil said.

“We are grateful to those parents who came forward and notified us in such a timely way,” Suiter and Stillmunks wrote in the letter. “Because of their quick response, we were able to take necessary steps immediately. We especially want to thank our brave students who knew this was inappropriate and voiced their concerns to their parents.”

Mishek did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The World-Herald.

A parent meeting is scheduled for tonight at the Mainelli Center at the church. Officials from the school and parish and the manager of the Archdiocesan Office of Victim Outreach and Prevention will attend.

Homeroom teachers talked to students in grades 5 through 8 to let them know whom they could talk to if they had any concerns or questions.  “In future days, additional conversations will take place with our students about the sacrament of reconciliation,” the letter said.  

McNeil said confession is not supposed to be an interrogation, and priests are trained to let whoever is confessing lead the conversation.

“There are parents who are Catholic who have experiences of their own with the sacrament of reconciliation who know questioning is not a usual or encouraged practice,” McNeil said. “The nature of those two questions, they thought that was a little personal and maybe too invasive.”

Students at Catholic schools may go to confession weekly, monthly or around holy holidays, McNeil said. Kids are often given a handout to prompt reflection, called the examination of conscience.

 

“I think he was trying to get them to really discern and be in touch with any sinful behavior they had,” McNeil said. “So I think it was a case of, from what we know right now, a case of trying to be too helpful.”

 

No decisions have been made about Mishek’s next assignment, and there’s no effort underway to remove him from the priesthood, McNeil said.

“There wasn’t a civil offense, not a canonical offense, not a criminal offense, none of that,” he said.

[written by Erin Duffy]

Pakistan Christian teen detained over ‘Koran burning’

In Pakistan, it is illegal to drink, eat or even smoke in public during Ramadan. You can be sent to jail, heavily fined, or may even be beaten by vigilantes.

Pakistani police have arrested a Christian teenager after he was allegedly caught burning pages of the Koran. It’s the latest incident in Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy-related arrests and vigilante killings.

Pakistan Blasphemie Proteste gegen Mädchenschule in Lahore (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)

Police said Sunday that Asif Massih, an 18-year-old member of the minority Christian community, was caught “red handed” desecrating the Muslim holy book, the Koran. The incident took place in the central Punjab province.

“On the night of August 12, police received a complaint that a Christian boy has been found burning pages of the holy Koran outside the shrine,” Asghar Ali, a police official, told the AFP news agency.

Another security official, Pervaiz Iqbal, said a crowd of 200 people had gathered outside the police station demanding that Massih be handed over to them for vigilante punishment.

“We then secretly moved the culprit to the police station in Wazirabad where he was interrogated and confessed to his crime,” Iqbal said.

A sensitive matter

Massih was charged under section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code that makes the death sentence mandatory for insulting Islam.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan’s Islamic identity.

In April, 23-year-old journalism student Mashal Khan was killed by a vigilante mob over allegations of blasphemy in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Mardan.

At least 65 people have been murdered by vigilante mobs over blasphemy allegations since 1990.

Living in fear

Pakistan’s Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.

One of Pakistan’s most high profile blasphemy cases is that of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was found guilty of committing blasphemy while working in the fields in 2009 and was sentenced to death. In 2014, her death sentence was upheld by the Lahore High Court. Amnesty International called the verdict a “grave injustice.”

Read: Asia Bibi’s appeal against death penalty – A test case for Pakistan

In one case, a young girl between the ages of 10 to 14 years with Down syndrome, was accused in August of 2012 of burning pages upon which verses of the Koran were inscribed. Rimsha Masih was taken into police custody and only released months later, when charges were dropped. The case caused an uproar in her home town and beyond and sparked riots and violence against Christians in the region. In 2013, she and her family relocated to Canada.

In 2014, a Christian couple was beaten to death for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran. Their bodies were subsequently burned in a brick kiln.

State support

Pakistan’s liberal activists blame their country’s authorities for emboldening religious fanatics.

In June, a Pakistani court sentenced a man to death for committing blasphemy on Facebook.

“This vigilantism is being supported by the state as well as the judiciary. Religious clerics are fanning hatred. Even the civil society has failed to perform its duties,” Aatif Afzal, an Islamabad-based rights activist and communication strategist with a media development organization, told DW.

Government critics and secular writers in Pakistan fear religious extremists and the government alike when it comes to blasphemy allegations, which are enough to put them in prison or get vigilante mobs to lynch them.

Read: Blasphemy allegations – the new way of muzzling free speech in South Asia

The “abduction” of liberal bloggers in January – allegedly by Pakistan’s security forces – and the lynching of a secular journalism student shocked activists and the journalist community in Pakistan. There has been increased social media vigilantism, which is forcing critics of the government and military as well as human rights activists to censor their thoughts and words.

Activist Afzal says that blasphemy violence will not stop in Pakistan until the government takes firm action against vigilantism and those who wrongly accuse people of blasphemy.

“It can be a defining moment in Pakistan’s war against religious extremism. But I am afraid the political parties will not act. They are only interested in securing their vote bank,” Afzal told DW, adding that Pakistani civil society will continue to build pressure on the government to reform blasphemy laws.