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Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

It seems that a week cannot go by without news coming in of some new persecution of Christians. Recently, however, the fastest growing center of Christian persecution is not in the blood-soaked ground of the Middle East but in Asia. According to the annual Open Doors World Watch List, Asia is “the new hotbed of persecution for Christians.” In India, a rise of Hindu extremism has seen dozens of Christians assaulted, beaten and murdered, while a rise in radical Islam in both Indonesia and Pakistan has led to an increase in the number of Christians who have been arrested and murdered simply for trying to practice their faith.

Laos and Myanmar have also seen a rise in Christian persecution. Buddhist-led sectarian repression in Myanmar has hit Christians hard while Laos made headlines due to the triple bombing of churches in May. Concerningly, the bombings were believed to have been tied to an upcoming election.

Christians in East Asia have fared little better than their brothers and sisters in South-East Asia. North Korea remains the world’s most anti-Christian country for the 18th year in a row, and China has earned international condemnation for its sudden and chilling crackdown on all religious freedom. In fact, Open Doors UK and Ireland’s chief executive, Henrietta Blyth, stated that religious persecution was worse than it had been in decades. “Alarmingly,” she said, “Some church leaders are saying it’s the worst since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.” Mao’s so called Great Leap Forward, of course, ended with over 50 million of his own people dead. Given that many records were deliberately destroyed, most people believe that number was likely far higher.

The claims of high Christian persecution are supported by the abhorrent actions of Chinese officials. Many Christians have been arrested, detained, and perhaps most alarmingly, simply disappeared altogether. Those who have managed to get messages out from the oppressive communist regime have also stated that arrested Christians face torture.

“The report confirms my impression of what’s going on around the world and confirms my knowledge of what has been happening in China,” said Yang Fenggang, the founder of the Centre on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University. “Under Xi Jinping, the suppression of Christian churches and other religious organizations is being carried out nationwide with unprecedented determination.”

Perhaps the only good news to come out of this is that China will not and cannot succeed in returning to the days of Mao when the state could simply eradicate any group that opposed it. “It is simply impossible to return to the Cultural Revolution to completely eradicate religions, because there are simply too many Christians today,” said Yang. This may be cold comfort, but it is comfort nonetheless. Besides, religions in China are not as defenseless as they once were when Mao arranged for their slaughter. Christian persecution is on the rise, but the eyes of the world are watching. Hopefully, that will be enough to discourage the worst abuses. If not, it will at least bring aid to those who suffered the most for their faith.

We want to know what you think.

Lindsey Armstrong | Wikimedia.com

Lindsey Armstrong | Wikimedia.com

When does art cross the line from making a statement or provoking discussion to mocking a person’s faith? That was the question that an Israeli museum is grappling with after a sculpture nicknamed “McJesus” angered Christians in Haifa. The sculpture in question featured a life-sized Ronald McDonald hung on a cross in the same manner as traditional depictions of Jesus. The sculpture sparked violent protests and the Ministry of Culture threatened to defund the museum where it was displayed, the Haifa Museum of Art.

“This work does not belong in a cultural institution supported by state funds,” said Cultural Minister Miri Regev. Regev stated that the sculpture made “a mockery of the crucifix, the most important religious symbol for Christians around the world.”

The debate, however, quickly became more complicated when Israel’s Department of Justice intervened and disagreed with the position of the Ministry of Culture. “It is forbidden to block funding to cultural institutions because of the content they exhibit,” said Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber. Zilber further stated that the government financial support did not give the government leave to censor the artwork displayed in the museum.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel threw its support behind the Department of Justice. “The Minister of Culture seems to have made a quantum leap,” said ACRI legal advisor, Dan Yakir. According to Yakir, the attempt to threaten the museum into removing the piece violated freedom of speech and expression.

The discussion over McJesus comes when nations across the world seem to be moving away from freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of religion in favor of attempting to create the impossible ideal of “freedom from offense.” The reality is, however, that there is no way to insulate people from offense, but that has not stopped governments and courts from overstepping in an attempt to do so. Nissim Tal, the director of the Haifa Museum of Art has made his opinion on such overreach quite clear. He stated that they would be leaving the sculpture on display as a way of “defending freedom of speech, freedom of art and freedom of culture.”

So far, Israel has favored Tal’s position by continuing to display McJesus. Ironically, however, the artist himself is unhappy with the decision to keep his piece in the museum, but for completely different reasons. Jani Leinonen supports a Palestinian group that discourages doing any sort of business with Israel.

What will happen with McJesus is unclear, but it is good to see people holding fast in favor of freedom. Even if they might be better in this case to listen to the artist. It is, after all, his expression that he is asking to be removed.

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faith-christian-jesus-walking-sand_credit-lightstockChristians around the world have spoken! A series about the life of Jesus just became the number one crowdfunded series in entertainment history.

“The Chosen,” the first multi-season series of its kind about the life of Jesus has beat out “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” which raised $5.7 million, previously holding the record as the number one crowdfunded film or TV project in history.

The series, directed by Dallas Jenkins is set to be released this Easter.

“When we started this whole thing I’d be impressed if we brought in $800,” Jenkins told Fox News. “The notion that we could start from scratch and shatter the all-time crowdfunding record was ludicrous, but this whole year has gone to show that there’s a passion for something different.”

At the end of 2017, The Chosen Productions partnered with distributor VidAngel and released a pilot on social media to see if there was a real desire for this content. The pilot alone was seen by 15 million people, asking if they wanted to fund a show like this and investors said they did.

“The vast audience for high quality, faith-based entertainment – all too often overlooked and underserved by Hollywood – made a loud and unmistakable statement that they’re so eager for content that resonates, they are willing to fund it into existence…,” Matthew Faraci, Executive Producer of The Chosen, told Fox News. “Backed by our army of 15,000 passionate investors, we’re excited to see how far we can take this series.”

It is clear that people are hungry for Christian entertainment content now more than ever. We can look at projects like The Passion of the Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, which is still the highest-grossing independent film of all time. The Bible series, produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey is the highest-rated cable broadcast of 2013.

The pilot episode can be watched below.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

It is sad when a country’s record of religious persecution is so poor that its actions do not even cause surprise anymore. Despite billing itself as a developed and free country, China is nothing of the sort. The basic rights that the Constitution guarantees Americans in the First Amendment do not exist under China’s communist government. As such, it comes as, unfortunately, no surprise to hear about China’s continuing persecution of Christians.

China has made headlines around the world recently for its mass arrests of Christians, “reeducation” camps for Muslims, ominous disappearances of Catholic priests and announcement that it intended to rewrite the Bible to fall more in line with the communist party’s agenda. Given the numerous reports of torture smuggled out of China, some elements of Christian persecution become little more than background noise. That does not mean, however, that they are any less part of China’s ruthless crackdown on religion.

Recently, approximately 30 government officials inspected a government approved church and insisted that the first of the Ten Commandments had to be removed from the church. Apparently, President Xi Jinping opposes the famous statement “You shall have no other gods before Me.” When church members protested, the officials asked them, “Who dares not to cooperate? If anyone doesn’t agree, they are fighting against the country. This is a national policy. You should have a clear understanding of the situation. Don’t go against the government.”  Going against the government in China, of course, could easily lead to the death of a person and even their family.

Christian churches have been facing ever increasing restrictions in China. Crosses have been removed, churches are being ordered to register all members of their congregations and arrests have steadily climbed. One Christian stated that Chinese officials are “trying to corrupt our faith and make us betray God.” The reason, of course, is that in China, “religious citizens must first worship the Communist Party,” said Jiang Tao. “Only then can they worship their God.” Indeed, Chinese Christians have been ordered to remove posters of Jesus and replace them with President Xi, a man who has been referred to as “lingxiu,” a title last used by Hua Guofeng and Mao Zedong. The resurrection of a title largely associated with the man who had nearly 100 million of his own people murdered is concerning especially with Xi’s crackdown on religion. Mao himself was known to have actively worked to destroy any form of religion in China during his Cultural Revolution. One can only hope that matters improve for Christians in China before Xi follows in Mao’s footsteps and turns China red with blood rather than communism.

The return of Christ has been on the minds of many Christians recently. With climate change, fighting between nations, and changes in our political sphere many believe these events fill the prophecies within the Book of Revelation.

Televangelist Frank Amedia is one of those believers. In a recent video, he stated that Donald Trump‘s Space Force was part of a plan to help with Jesus Second Coming.

Amedia predicted early on that the Trump administration would develop some task force for space. He now believes it has a bigger significance.

“I’m not going to get more into that now. Read Revelation. You read into it and see what you think. The Space Force and command was prophesied of God; somehow it centered into the spirit of this president and vice president, and the vice president himself is heading this up, and they’ve done a lot, they’ve made up a lot of ground in a year and a half. We need to see a lot more. We need to be a dominant space force in all the earth, and that will cause peace,” Amedia said.

Furthermore, Amedia stated the Trump’s presidency as a whole, and his conflict with European Leaders, are all a part of God’s larger plan. Amedia believes Trump was sent to help “halt globalization.”

Amedia is a former Trump campaign adviser and founder of the Trump-supporting POTUS Shield network of “apostles” and “prophets”. You can watch his full discussion on the topic below.

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