American Health Care Reform – A Good End Does Not Justify Evil Means

LIFESITENEWS

Commentary by Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro Carámbula

(Editor’s Note: Msgr. Barreiro, a Doctor of Dogmatic Theology and attorney with years of experience in international diplomacy at the UN, is head of the Rome office of Human Life International.)

All persons of good will need to understand the clear and present danger with which the US is being menaced by the health reform proposed by the Obama Administration. Abortion will be multiplied, the U.S. will move ahead on the road towards euthanasia, conscience rights will be in jeopardy: but what is worse, the United States would start moving towards a tyrannical, socialist government that would be the source of all sort of moral evils.

The current debate on health care reform has to be framed on the basis on some clear principles that are accessible to all persons of good will. The starting point is that health care is a basic human right. All human beings have a right to life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.

A consequence of this right is that all human persons are entitled to receive from society the necessary conditions to support life. If those conditions to support life were denied, the right to life would become illusory. One of the necessary means is appropriate health care.

This human right is complemented with the duty of each individual person to do all that he can to protect his own life, which at the same time is the first natural inclination that we find in all human beings. In this case the duty of the person is that, through gainful employment, he should be able to support himself and his natural dependents. This self-support should include healthcare.

The question that has always confronted us is when a person, either due to dysfunctions of society or his own personal handicaps, is not able to provide for himself or his family. In this case a Christian view of society on the basis of justice and charity leads to the support of those persons.

The Catholic Church has established hundreds of health care institutions dedicated primarily to assistance of the poor and destitute that could not afford to pay for appropriate health care. A good many non-Catholic Christian groups have also established such institutions.

In the recent magisterium of the Catholic Church, we can see the recognition of healthcare as a basic human right belonging to all human beings. This was proclaimed by Pius XI in his Encyclical letter, Quadragesimo Anno, n. 28, John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, n. 42, par. 3, and Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate, n. 43. This position has been reiterated in letters to Congress by Bishops William Murphy on July 17th and of Cardinal Justin Rigali of August 11th.

The evident fact that society has an obligation to provide health care to those persons who are not able to obtain it by themselves, should not lead to the conclusion that this service should be provided by the Federal Government. A health care system administered by the Federal Government presents a multitude of problems.

Some have ascertained that the health care reform that is currently being considered by Congress is based on the good end of providing health coverage to all those who lack it. But there are reasonable grounds to be doubtful about this. There could be reasonable concern and doubt if that stated good end is just a cover up and a Trojan Horse to promote birth control and family planning, to expand in horrible ways the availability of abortion, to legalize euthanasia and to overwhelm the rights of conscience of all the persons that are rightfully opposed to those immoral acts.

We have to keep in mind that rights of conscience are violated not only by forcing a person to do what is against his beliefs, but also forcing him to refer a patient to another. If the rights of conscience of health care providers, medical workers and other health care personnel like nurses and pharmacists are not respected it would have catastrophic consequences for American society. All Catholic hospitals and probably many others belonging to different religious groups will have to close, and a substantial amount of their health care personnel will have to leave their professions or emigrate.

We also have to consider that this health program or any other administered by the Federal Government is another step towards socialism, and as a consequence towards the establishment of a despotic and dictatorial government.

Today we witness a constant growth of government programs that control increasing sectors of society. Those programs as a whole represent a growing erosion of the legitimate and traditional freedoms of individuals, and of many organic and natural intermediate societies like the family, villages and towns and the States of the Union.

The persons who established the American Republic were well aware of the risks of despotism that go hand in hand with the existence of a powerful central government. They placed in the Constitution all sort of checks and balances. The establishment of a national health care system would be another step towards the erosion of those constitutional guarantees.

A serious concern shared by most persons who are aware of the U.S. health care system’s problems is the continuing massive increase in the cost of that system. The constant growth of the Federal deficit makes it very unlikely that the central government will reduce those health care costs. More so, what is likely to happen is that the establishment of the proposed reformed national health care system will instead expand the cost of that system through a bloated bureaucracy that will actively promote a materialistic anti-life ideology.

The establishment of this health system will be an attack of the organic principle of subsidiarity. Instead, Americans need to design and develop all sorts of initiatives: first, at a local level, and then at a State level, that would provide some guarantees of health care assistance to the poor and destitute. Taking into account the principle of gratuity so well developed in the encyclical of Benedict XVI Caritas in Veritate, the establishment of non-profit medical facilities and non-profit insurance groups should be encouraged. In the current demographic circumstances those institutions should give a priority to the protection of well established large families.

Last, but not least, the cost of the proposed system should be taken into account. During this time of economic crisis, the tax burden upon American citizens should not be increased. But it should also be considered that excessive taxation not only paves the way towards despotism, it damages the economy. It paves the way towards despotism because one of the guarantees of personal freedom, the establishment of a family patrimony, would be eroded by overtaxation. It damages the economy by killing economic incentive and eliminating disposable income, two of the growth engines of a free market economy.

All persons of good will should make a serious effort to understand the deleterious implications of the Obama administration’s initiatives and oppose this health care reform, through prayer and all possible moral and legal means.

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Jailed Iranian Women Refuse Court Pressure To “Deny Christ”

By Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Chief International Correspondent

TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)– Two young Iranian women who may face the death penalty for converting  from Islam to Christianity have told a court that they will not abandon their faith in Christ, despite harsh treatment in one of Iran‘s most notorious prisons, Christian trial observers confirmed to Worthy News Monday, August 10.

Maryam Rustampoor, 27, and Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, appeared Sunday, August 9, in front of a ‘revolutionary court’ in the capital Tehran where they were pressured to return to Islam, according to well-informed Christians linked to Elam Ministries, a group supporting Iran’s growing church movement.

“Though great pressure was put on them, both women declared that they would not deny their faith,” the Christians said.

Both women, who reportedly suffer health problems, were detained March 5 for converting to Christianity. They endured solitary confinement, interrogations “for many hours while blindfolded” and other mistreatment in Tehran’s Evin prison, well-informed Christians said.

LONG ORDEAL

“During their five-month ordeal, both have been unwell and have lost much weight. Marzieh Amirizadeh is in pain due to an on-going problem with her spine, as well as an infected tooth and intense headaches,” they added.

“She desperately needs medical attention. Two months ago the prison officials told her the prison had proper medical equipment and that they will attend to her, but so far no proper treatment has been given.”

During Sunday’s court hearing the prosecution reportedly asked the two women if they were still Christians. “We love Jesus,” and “Yes, we are Christians,” they were overheard answering repeated questions.

Asked whether they “were Muslims and now have become Christians,” the women reportedly replied: “We were born in Muslim families, but we were not Muslims.” They also said they had “no regrets,” despite their imprisonment.

“RENOUNCE FAITH”

The prosecution allegedly demanded that the women “renounce” their faith “verbally and in written form,”  but they refused saying: “We will not deny our faith [in Christ].”

During one tense moment in the questioning, Rustampoor and Amirizadeh made reference to their belief that God had spoken to them through the “Holy Spirit“, observers said. After a deputy prosecutor reportedly told them “It is impossible for God to speak with humans.”  Amirizadeh apparently wondered: “Are you questioning whether God is Almighty?”

The prosecution was heard telling her that she is “not worthy for God to speak to you.” Amirizadeh reportedly countered: “It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy.”

After they were told to return to prison and think about their options, the two women were heard saying: “We have already done our thinking.”

VERDICT UNCLEAR

It was not clear if and when a judge will give a verdict in the case, which has been monitored around the world. Under Iran’s strict apostasy laws, any Muslim who leaves Islam can face the death penalty.

However in what is seen as a positive development, the women have been allowed to be represented by a lawyer, for the first time since their detention earlier this year, observers said.

“Despite the concentrated effort of officials to pressure them into recanting their faith, Maryam and Marzieh love Jesus and they are determined to stand firm to the very end no matter whatever happens,” Iranian Christians added. “They have demonstrated their love for Jesus and would offer their lives for Him if they were called to do so.”

The women reportedly said after Sunday’s hearing: “If we come out of prison we want to do so with honor.” Rights groups have pressured Iran to release the women without charges.  The case has come to symbolize the pressure faced by former Muslims in the Islamic nation, which has experienced calls for more reforms and violent anti-government protests following the recent disputed presidential election.

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Opposing rally has ‘pridefest’ fans enraged

WND

Christians promoting ‘God Has a Better Way’ event

By Bob Unruh

Homosexuals planning for tomorrow’s Pride Charlotte festival in Charlotte, N.C., are enraged because the Coalition of Conscience has set up a Christian event, called “God Has a Better Way” nearby at the same time.

Michael Brown, who is director of the Charlotte-based coalition, said hundreds of people from area churches are coordinating the rally that will be unique.

“Nothing like this has ever been done in conjunction with a gay pride event in any city before, and those who join together on this day will be part of history in the making,” he said.

Brown told WND that when his ministry moved into Charlotte several years ago, his goal was to reach out to individuals with compassion and resist homosexual activism with courage.

Since the strategy was adopted, the homosexual event has been moved out of a public park and onto private property, and the goal now is to say, Brown said, “This [pridefest] is not welcome, but at the same time we care about you as individuals, friends and neighbors.”

But homosexual activists apparently aren’t listening.

At the pro-homosexual TruthWinsOut.org, a commentary said, “Brown has since launched an online initiative titled ‘God Has A Better Way,’ in which Brown claims that his agenda is ‘Spirit-birthed’ – a statement of sheer, unapologetic blasphemy.”

The website’s attack continued, “Brown refers to his crowd’s ‘biblical convictions’ but his ‘convictions’ in no way resemble the message of the Gospels or, for that matter, much of Hebrew Scripture. Brown appeals for gay people not to be mean-spirited – but he fully intends to remain as mean-spirited and warlike.”

Another site, InterstateQ, said, “This time, Brown’s twisted logic won’t be enough to save him from his own words. The disturbed and maniacal history of his verbally violent, militant and extremist rhetoric serves as its own ironclad indictment. He can no longer hide or run from this history, and neither can he sweep it under the rug.”

Sarcasm ruled on Lavender Liberal, which wrote, “‘We understand, of course, that in your eyes, our biblical convictions constitute hate, and it is hurtful to us that you feel that way.’ Awwwwww! It’s ‘hurtful’! Mikey’s dainty little feelers are hurt!

The commentary continued, “If there is a god, or a thousand gods, or no god, you know nothing of the ‘love’ you have twisted, corrupted, and aborted from that Holy Book of yours. Your ‘message’ no more resembles that of your fabled Jesus than Pat Boone resembles Big Mama Thornton.”

Several of the condemnations of the Christian rally went further, too:

On the BoxTurtleBulletin site, “jimmy” said, “I will have my pepper spray, spring loaded baton and taser if these nutcases even get near me! I have used them before and will use them again on these nutjobs!”

Another comment on the “joemygod” site was, “Nail them all to crosses and let the corpses rot as a warning to other Jesus-pig people.”

Brown told WND that his event is supported by Lou Engle, the national director of “The Call to Action,” seeking to bring cultural change through prayer and fasting.

He also said other national ministries are looking at the model being used in Charlotte.

Brown said his “God Has a Better Way” rally will require participants to sign statements affirming, “I will not engage in hate speech, name-calling, or angry rhetoric; I will seek to befriend those who oppose me; I will seek to overcome bad attitudes with good attitudes; I will seek to be a living example of Jesus; I will not violate the law.”

“We have great love for the gay and lesbian community,” Brown said, “and have always treated them with dignity and respect; at the same time, we take strong exception to the gay activist agenda and will be sending a message to the city and the nation that God Has a Better Way.”

Rally participants will meet at Charlotte’s First Baptist Church at noon and will talk together to the Pride Charlotte rally. The group has a permit for an event on property across the street from the homosexual celebration.

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Arab Christian Group Claims First Amendment Rights Denied On Public Property

FOXNEWS

By Maxim Lott

The leader of an Arab Christian evangelical group filed suit against the city of Dearborn, Mich., claiming the city violated his First Amendment right to distribute literature on public property.

The incident occurred last month at the city’s annual Arab International Festival, an event that attracted 300,000 visitors and has provided a favorite evangelizing venue for the group, Arabic Christian Perspective, whose members have attended for the past five years.

George Saieg, Arabic Christian Perspective’s founder, says trouble started when he called the Dearborn police to let them know his group would be returning to the festival.

City police told Saieg that, unlike in previous years, his group would not be allowed to distribute material on the sidewalks, and that Arabic Christian Perspective could either rent a stand at the festival or be assigned a specific location at which it could distribute its literature.

“I told him, we are between 70 to 90 people. We cannot be in one corner of the festival,” Saieg told FOXNews.com. “But he did not give me any choice but that.”

With the help of the Thomas More Law Center, a conservative Christian legal group, Saieg sought a temporary injunction to stop the city from preventing his group from distributing materials on the sidewalk. But the petition was denied, and the group was permitted to distribute literature only at one location within the festival.

Saieg alleges in his complaint that the spot was a particularly bad one, and that his group was able to distribute only 5,000 packets of literature and Bibles — a fraction of the $50,000 worth of materials that they had prepared. In past years, he said, when they were allowed to distribute on the sidewalks, they were able to give out most of their literature.

Now Saieg is suing to get the city’s action declared unconstitutional and to make sure that it has access to the sidewalks at next year’s festival.

But city officials say they acted correctly.

“One federal judge has already agreed with us and denied a temporary injunction,” Mary Laundroche, Director of the Dearborn Office of Public Information, told FOXNews.com. “The judge agreed with us that what normally would have been public sidewalks were actually part of the festival life during the festival.”

She added that members of Arabic Christian Perspective were free to preach on the sidewalks, just not to distribute materials.

“They were free to go throughout the crowd and talk with people at any time. They were just prevented from distributing materials, which was a public safety issue — they could block vehicle and pedestrian traffic.”

She said the city allowed all groups to rent tables at the fair, and several local Christian groups did so.

“They [Arabic Christian Perspective] could have followed the guidelines and rented a booth,” Laundroche said. “Another Christian group had come to volunteer at the festival, and they were very well received. The organizers said how much they appreciated their services.”

Organizers also said there have been complaints about Arab Christian Perspective in the past.

“They are very aggressive. A lot of our participants felt that they were trying to convert the younger generation, and they did not appreciate that,” Fey Beydoun, the executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event, told FOXNews.com.

She said that restricting Arabic Christian Perspective members from the sidewalks was not a matter of discrimination.

“There were no groups at all that were allowed to pass out materials on the sidewalk. We had approximately eight other Christian groups that were allowed to pass out materials at their tables,” she said.

Saieg said he has photos in his legal complaint that show other groups handing out literature on the sidewalks. Beydoun said if that is true, “it could have been an oversight on our part.”

She added that some local Christian leaders have taken issue with Saieg’s brand of evangelizing.

“They littered this place with their literature,” the Rev. Haytham Abi Haydar, who heads the Arabic Christian Alliance Church, told FOXNews.com.

“Just look at the conclusion of these guys — that Muslims are trying to create Shariah Law in the U.S., [which creates] fear with Christians. But Muslims are not here to radicalize or evangelize the U.S. … [Saieg’s] philosophy and his ideas are not welcome here.

“It is unfortunate that we have another Christian person who is not welcome here, but the Christian community here — believe it or not — has told George Saieg that he is not welcome.”

Whether Saieg is welcome or not, two First Amendment experts said sidewalks are usually considered “traditional public fora” in which distributing materials is considered protected speech, and the city’s defense of its action does not appear constitutionally strong.

“It is a bedrock First Amendment principle that public sidewalks must generally be open for the exchange of information and ideas,” said Tim Zick, a law professor at the College of William and Mary and author of “Speech Out of Doors: Preserving First Amendment Liberties in Public Places.”

“Distributing literature is, without question, a form of protected speech,” Zick said. “Indeed, some of the earliest free-speech cases upheld the right to distribute literature on the public streets and sidewalks, to audiences that were not always pleased with the messages.”

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh said allowing religious groups to rent stalls did not preclude them from distributing literature on the sidewalks.

“The existence of an option to rent a stall doesn’t let the city take away a group’s right to leaflet,” he said. “Leafleting can reach a broader audience than the stall can, since leafleters can walk around.

“Leafleting is also free. City of Ladue v. Gilleo, a 1994 Supreme Court precedent, makes clear that such cheap means of speech generally can’t be restricted on the grounds that the speaker can still use other, materially more expensive (and less effective) forms of speech,” Volokh said.

Aaron Caplan, a law professor at the Loyola Law School Los Angeles, said the case is ultimately likely to turn on many factual questions.

“I think it turns on whether access is controlled — are there gates, tickets, booths, do we expect certain patterns of traffic? I think the central question on both of these theories is going to be, is this really a non-exclusive license that [organizers] get at festivals, or is it a non-exclusive license that [organizers] often get for street fairs?” Caplan asked.

Saieg alleges in his complaint that the sidewalks were not fenced off, and that Dearborn never specified in their permit that the sidewalks were to be part of the festival.

“If you go to the city’s actual ordinance about public fora, it provides for open access, and would have allowed Arabic Christian Perspective to conduct its activities there,” Saieg’s attorney, William Becker, said. “But the restrictions adopted by the city are unconstitutional on their face, and as applied.”

The city will file its response to Saieg’s complaint next month.

“Often times, these cases become very fact specific,” Caplan said. “I think the judge is going to have a lot of factual questions before the case really begins.”

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Giant Webcast Thursday to Educate and Mobilize Pro-Life Americans Against Great Dangers of Obama Health Care Bill

LIFESITENEWS

Coalition of leaders alarmed that pro-lifers unaware of what is at stake with Obamacare

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 17, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A coalition of prominent pro-life leaders has arranged a giant, Stop The Abortion Mandate live webcast for the public this coming Thursday, July 23, to alert Americans about the great dangers of the Democrat-proposed health care bill. David Bereit, a coalition member and leader of 40 Days for Life, told LifeSiteNews that he is temporarily de-emphasizing his current 40 Days for Life tasks to concentrate on this issue because of its extreme importance. He is concerned that pro-lifers are not aware of what is at stake with the health care bill.

Connie Marshner, a well-known Washington pro-life political organizer, warned today that “this is the biggest issue since Roe v Wade. This is not just about funding. Everyone will be forced to have abortion coverage.” Further, she warned, the effect of successful passage of the Health Care bill will dramatically change the pro-life movement as we know it “because every doctor and health care worker will be forced to be involved in abortion.”

The pro-life webcast’s promotional material states that “Powerful abortion industry lobbyists and Washington, D.C. bureaucrats have just launched a massive effort to mandate taxpayer-funded abortions as part of their proposed trillion-dollar healthcare takeover.”

They list four main results of what they call “this abortion industry power-grab”:

  • Impose one of the cornerstones of the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) by stealth
  • Force taxpayers to fund a huge abortion industry bailout — something the majority of Americans oppose, and certainly cannot afford in these tough economic times
  • Mandate that virtually every American be forced into a health plan that includes abortion coverage
  • Require honorable medical providers to violate their consciences and perform abortions — or risk losing their jobs

The one-time-only LIVE webcast event will take place this Thursday, July 23, at 9 PM Eastern (6 PM Pacific, 7 PM Mountain, 8 PM Central.)

The live webcast, for which there is no charge, will be approximately 70 minutes long and will be accessible even to Internet users with only a dial-up connection. Participants who register for the event will be able to listen in on the live audio and submit questions.

During the event, the following nationally known leaders will be heard:

  • MIKE HUCKABEE, Former Governor and Presidential Candidate
  • DR. CHARMAINE YOEST, Americans United for Life
  • TONY PERKINS, Family Research Council
  • FR. FRANK PAVONE, Priests for Life
  • MARJORIE DANNENFELSER, Susan B. Anthony List
  • DOUGLAS JOHNSON, National Right to Life Committee
  • TOM MINNERY, Focus on the Family
  • CONGRESSMAN CHRIS SMITH, U.S. House of Representatives
  • KRISTIN HAWKINS, Students for Life of America
  • CONGRESSMAN JOE PITTS, U.S. House of Representatives
  • DR. RICHARD LAND, Southern Baptist Convention
  • CARMEN PATE, Point of View Radio Show
  • DAVID BEREIT, 40 Days for Life

The Webcast organizers state that those who join the webcast will discover:

  • The shocking facts about the sweeping legislation that the political power brokers are trying to ram through before Congress goes on summer recess…
  • The devastating implications of the proposed mandates — facts the abortion industry doesn’t want Americans to hear…
  • Why respected leaders, national organizations, and pro-life people are joining together in record numbers to challenge this attempted power-grab…
  • The exact action steps YOU can take to make a difference at this crucial moment…

Registration for the event is accessed at http://www.stoptheabortionmandate.com/. Registration also allows those who are unable to be online at the time of the webcast to later access a recording of the webcast audio.

Organizers are hoping that 100,000 people will participate in this very urgent and unique education and action event.

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BREAKING NEWS: Prominent Vietnam Pastor Flees Encircled Home; Wife Beaten, Dissidents

WORTHY NEWS

By Stefan J. Bos,

ANOI, VIETNAM (Worthy News)– A prominent Mennonite pastor and religious rights advocate has escaped from his besieged home in central Vietnam after “several months of police encirclement” to seek “help, food and medication” for his children and frail wife, who has been abused by police, dissidents said in messages obtained by Worthy News Monday, July 20.

Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh “successfully fled out of his home” in Hoa Lu commune of the central city of Pleiku, early Friday, July 17, added Viet Si, an official of the International Movement for Independence, Democracy, Civil and Human Rights in Vietnam.

He, “fled out of his home after under several months of police encirclement…to seek help, food and medication to save his wife and three [young] children from starvation and serious sickness,” Si said in a letter to the United States embassy in Hanoi, seen by Worthy News and its partner agency BosNewsLife.

“After realizing his escape, police got in his home to search but was unable to find him…They got so mad and turned around to assault his wife badly and threatened to deskin his three little toddlers,” Si wrote.

“We have been seeking urgent intervention and humanitarian assistance from concerned political authorities, religious leaders and people who have cared about religious freedom, human and civil rights for citizens in Vietnam,” he explained.

DETAINED AND INTERROGATED

Chinh’s whereabouts were not immediately clear Monday, July 20. The pastor, who was reportedly detained and interrogated as recently as May 14-26 because of his church work, said earlier that a dozen police guard his house around the clock and that they set up a nearby checkpoint after his release from Gia Lai jail on May 26.

Chinh has told reporters that since 2003 he has been under pressure to dissolve his and other growing Mennonite churches he supervises, and that regional officials banned his preaching activities in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.

“They don’t want religion to develop among ethnic [minority] communities” in the Central Highlands region,” he told U.S. funded Radio Free Asia (RFA)recently. “I am a [minister] preaching the Gospel and the chairman of Vietnamese People’s Christian Evangelical Fellowship,” which represents Mennonite and related evangelical churches and groups.

In recent years, security forces also repeatedly raided and attacked his home and church, the pastor said, while Gia Lai and Kontum provincial authorities allegedly also confiscated his motorcycle and mobile phone.

Chinh’s escape from his besieged home Friday, July 17, came shortly after his wife was allegedly earlier beaten by police June 6. She was shouting about the disappearance of laundry hung outside to dry when police arrived and assaulted her, he told RFA in a recent telephone interview. Police struck him too, Chinh said, and later stopped him from taking his wife to the hospital.

WIFE “CANNOT EAT”

“My wife stood in front of the house and shouted, ‘Who stole my stuff?'” Chinh recalled.”She said police were here 24/7, so who could come and steal our stuff? Then some police from the PA-38 unit [for political and religious affairs], who stand guard outside my house, jumped in and beat my wife until she was hurt,” he said.

“When I tried to intervene they beat me up too. Then another seven or eight police from the checkpoint joined them and beat my wife, kicked her, until she fainted. She’s confined to bed now, she cannot eat, she has vomited blood, and she is having difficulty breathing.”

Police have denied wrongdoing. “Nobody hit her-he made that up…Nobody set up a checkpoint at her house,” said a police officer at Hoa Lu commune, Phan Ngoc Doan, contacted by telephone. However, “I can’t talk about this now,” he told RFA.

There has been mounting international concern about the pastor’s situation, which is viewed by rights groups

as part of a wider crackdown on Christian groups in the Communist Asian nation. United States Representative Ed Royce reportedly raised Chinh’s case June 6 in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak and a Vietnamese community group in California.(With sources in and outside Vietnam).

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China “Detains” Christian Teenagers For Organizing Youth Camp

Worthy News

BEIJING, CHINA At least five Christians, including two teenagers, were behind bars Wednesday, July 15, in China’s Shandong province, where worshipers and rights investigators said security forces raided a Christian youth camp and abolished a house church.

In the latest incident a Christian youth camp in Tengzhou city was raided Monday, July 13, and the five Christians were sentenced to up to 15 days “administrative detention”, said advocacy group China Aid Association (CAA).

It came after a house church was in Dongyong city was reportedly July 5. Authorities also confiscated the Christians’ property, including projectors, televisions, computers, computer tables, musical instruments, audio equipment, furniture and other items, witnesses said.

Additionally police allegedly seized the students’ mobile phones, Bibles and “other daily necessities”. Police reportedly told Christian leaders that, “It is forbidden for those under 18 to believe Christianity, and even those above 18 years old are not allowed to organize or participate in religious activities without permission.”

BELIEVERS “INTERROGATED”

CAA told Worthy News that police “interrogated, threatened and beat Christian youth in the Hubin police station, then released the majority of Christians.”

However, “the five Christians ” who organized the camp, including a 16-year old boy identified as Shao Yuju, and young woman Wang Si-Ping, 19 are still being held by the Tengzhou Public Security Bureau, CAA added.

Police allegedly did not provide the detained Christians with food or water for almost two days, and the Christians were reportedly suffering from hunger and dehydration.

There was no immediate confirmation from officials. CAA said the youth and three other Christians, identified as Christian men Wang Chang-Yin, Qiu Jia-Cun, and Gong Cun-Ling, were in a state of shock.

It said dozens of other Christians were recovering from their experience in Dongyong city where security forces raided and closed down the house church July 5.

Dongyong is a twin-city of Midland, Texas, CAA said. Christians have linked the reported crackdown to concerns of Chinese authorities about the spread of Christianity, but officials have denied wrongdoing.

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IRS tells pro-lifers to give up 1st Amendment

FROM WND

Requires affirmation they will not ‘protest’

The Internal Revenue Service has told members of the Coalition for Life of Iowa they would have to give up their 1st Amendment rights in order to be recognized as a non-profit organization, according to a complaint being pursued by members of the Thomas More Society.

The organization incorporated in 2004 as a not-for-profit under Iowa law and has been operating strictly within the guidelines for groups set up for religious, educational and charitable purposes, a letter sent to the IRS last week said.

“As detailed in its … narrative, the Coalition for Life carries out its tax-exempt work by sponsoring educational forums and coordinating with other like-minded groups to educate the public and otherwise promote sanctity of life principles,” the letter continues.

“The Coalition is aware that from time to time, individuals who may or may not be involved with the Coalition gather for prayer outside of a Planned Parenthood facility. These gatherings are consistently small (ten or fewer people), peaceful, not in any way disrupting, and consist solely of silent and spoken prayers,” the lawyer wrote.

However, an IRS agent then contacted the Coalition, through its president Susan Martinek, demanding to know whether the group “engaged in any ‘picketing’ or ‘protest’ activities at Planned Parenthood. … You then asked Ms. Martinek to have all Coalition Board members sign a statement that the Coalition will not ‘picket’ or ‘protest’ outside of Planned Parenthood or similar organizations and will not ‘organize’ others to do so,” the law firm’s letter said.

Concerned over the sudden restrictions on free speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion rights, the Coalition contact legal counsel, and attorney Sally Wagenmaker said she contacted the IRS about the issue.

“You expressed the legally erroneous view that the Coalition is not allowed per se to engage in ‘advocacy’ as a section 501(c)(3) organization,” the attorney said.

“The IRS’ requests come perilously close to violating the First Amendment constitutional rights of the Coalition’s supporters, and they are not otherwise germane to the Coalition for Life’s pending … application. As you acknowledged verbally to me over the telephone, the Coalition’s application is now ripe for approval. The IRS’s delay and questioning … constitutes unnecessary and prejudicial interference with the Coalition’s legal right to a tax-exempt determination.”

“This is the way government oppression creeps into a society,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. “It starts when the government targets, and attempts to intimidate and silence the grassroots dissenters who will not dance to the tune of the Obama administration’s radically pro-abortion policies.”

“This is not only political intimidation by the Internal Revenue Service but it is a blatant violation of First Amendment rights,” Brown said. “Neither the Coalition for Life of Iowa nor any other educational and advocacy organization should be subjected to such discriminatory scrutiny. This is a clear case of government repression.”

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India Hindu Militants Attack Missionary School, Christians Say

WORTHY NEWS

NEW DELHI, INDIA

Staff of a missionary school in India’s eastern state of Andhra Pradesh faced another day of anxiety Thursday, July 8, after Hindu militants attacked and threatened to kill them for allegedly converting Hindus to Christianity, Christians said.

Witnesses said at least three Hindu militants raided the Good Shepherd School in the village of Ippallapally on May 29, hitting several teachers and warning them to stop working in the village. They apparently also called them several derogatory names and threatened to kill them.

Raj Kumar, the school’s principal, suggested in published remarks he was shocked about the attack. “We have been doing social work in this village for the last three years, and have been involved in educational and community development programs,” he said in a statement distributed by advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC).

However, “While we were advertising for new students in the village, three Hindutva activists approached us and abused us.” Hindutva is a term used to describe movements advocating Hindu nationalism in India.

EXTENSIVE SCHOOL

The Good Shepherd School is a missionary school with seven staff members, and teaches 134 students from ages three to six, ICC said. It apparently includes in its curriculum a Biblical approach to science and ethics.

The school filed a complaint with the police, who reportedly promised to investigate. However Christians said they were still awaiting concrete actions against suspects Thursday, July 8.

The latest incident came amid reports of several attacks against India’s Christian minority. “This incident illustrates that radical Hindu persecution of Christians in India is a common occurrence,” said ICC Advocacy Director Jeremy Sewall.

“Hindu persecution of Christians in India is a common occurrence. Christian teachers ministering to India’s children risk their lives to bring the Gospel.”

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Concerns Over Jailed Iranian Christians Amid Political Turmoil

WORTHY NEWS

By Stefan

TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)– As the world focuses on the political turmoil in Iran, two detained Christian women are “in danger of being forgotten” amid concerns they may face execution, Iranian Christians said Tuesday, July 7.

Marzieh Amirizadeh, 30, and Maryam Rustampoor, 27, have been held for over four months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison apparently for converting to Christianity from Islam.

Iranian Christians and rights investigators said the two young women, who were arrested March 5, suffered sleep deprivation as part of police interrogations and were held in solitary confinement for three weeks in May and early June.

Later, they were put together in one small cell for about two weeks before being moved to a larger area to make place for other inmates as many protesters were detained following last month’s disputed presidential elections, said Christians with close knowledge about the situation.

About 600 women were reportedly brought to Evin prison during the protests.

EXECUTION PENDING?

There was still no clarity regarding the case of the two Christian women, Tuesday, July 7, with one judge reportedly telling them they were both to be executed as ‘apostates’. “Maryam and Marzieh have responded with courage, however, telling the judge to ‘expedite his sentence’,” said Pray for Iran, an Internet initiative of Iranian churches.

After international pressure, the Iranian Government’s Parliamentary Committee reportedly removed articles stipulating the death penalty for apostasy from the Islamic Penal Code Bill, but the changes have to be approved by legislators.

“Until the Islamic Penal Code Bill is finalized by the Iranian Parliament and Guardian Council, there is still a danger that the judicial committee’s revisions may not be taken into account,” explained Alexa Papadouris, Advocacy Director of Britain-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious rights group.

Apostasy along with murder, adultery, rape, armed robbery, and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Iran, and last week Iranian media reported that at least six people were hanged for murder in the same prison where the two Christian women are held.

“GREAT COURAGE”

Yet, “Maryam and Marzieh have demonstrated great courage and trust in God.

They believe the promise of Jesus that they will be given the words to speak when they are taken before judges,” said Sam Yeghnazar, founder of Elam Ministries, an organization supporting te growing churches in Iran.

Elam Ministries said the outcome of the “political turmoil” in Iran “could crucially impact the level of suffering” of the two women and other Christians who were formerly Muslim.

Besides Amirizadeh and Rustampoor, over 50 Christians were arrested, some being held for weeks in solitary confinement, several Christian sources said.

At least eight prominent Christians were killed since 1979, Elam Ministries added.

IRAN HARD-LINERS

“If the position of hard-liners is strengthened there is a real danger they could unleash more persecution against the church,” the group added.

Elam Ministries linked the attacks to concern among Iran’s leaders about the spread of Christianity in the Islamic nation. “Because Iran is a strategic gateway nation, the growing church in Iran will impact Muslim nations across the Islamic world.”

The group said in 1979, there were less than 500 known Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. “Today the most conservative estimate is that there are at least 100,000 believers in the nation.”

Church leaders have reportedly said that they believe “millions” can be added “to the church in the next few years-such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime.”

OPPOSITION LEADER

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi vowed Monday, July 6, to continue his campaign against the re-election of the perceived hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

However Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned demonstrations and accused Western leaders for their alleged “meddling” in Iran’s internal affairs, threatening to respond with a “Iron fist.”

At least 20 protesters and eight members of the feared Basij militia have died in recent protests, officials said. They include Neda Agha Soltan, a 26-year-old woman who was shot and killed by a suspected militia sniper.

Pictures and video footage of Soltan, with blood pouring from her mouth and nose as a few Iranian men struggled to save her, have became a powerful symbol of the protests taking place over Iran’s disputed presidential election.

Authorities have reportedly forced her family to leave their Tehran home, and refused to return her body for a proper funeral.

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