We Persevere: Roundup 10 – Week of August 7 2016

We Persevere is a roundup of news regarding religious freedom and the persevering church at home and abroad.

United States: Last week, a group Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders released a statement in defense of the religious freedom of private colleges and universities in California. Current legislation pending in the California State Senate threatens to strip some private colleges and universities of an exemption that protects them from lawsuits and allows them to function as faith-based organizations. The effort, spearheaded by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, includes signatures from 145 religious leaders. Read more…

UPDATE: Faced with intense opposition from religious colleges in California, a state Senator said Wednesday he has decided to amend a bill by dropping a provision that would have allowed gay and transgender students to more easily sue private universities for discrimination if they are disciplined for violating church teachings. Read More…

France: “The attack on the French priest last month, though not unlike many others happening daily, is different because it marks the first documented case of ISIS attacking a gathering of Christians during a worship service in a Western country. People are taking notice because, suddenly, they can picture this happening in their own churches.” Of course, African Americans are historically acquainted with assaults on churches and parishioners, and Christians on the continent of Africa where anti-Christian hostility is de rigeur face such tragedies every day. Read more…

Iran: 35-year-old Maryam Zargaran has ended her 11-day hunger strike in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. She was sentenced to four years in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic government through collusion and gatherings.” She was initially arrested in the winter of 2013 for alleged “actions against national security” through her Christian activities.

She was held in temporary custody of the Intelligence police for three days while they raided her house and seized anything they could find related to her Christian faith. She was then transferred to Evin prison for interrogation where she was held for 19 days. Eventually, she was released on bail until the date of her trial. A diabetic Maryam began the hunger strike in order to receive desperately needed medical attention outside the prison walls. Read more…

North Korea: “Before they eat something, children are told to thank the Leader for giving them the food. When I got to South Korea, I was amazed to see Christians thanking their heavenly father, in much the same way I observed in North Korea.”

Defector Jung Gwang Il, who now calls himself “Free Man,” provides a glimpse inside the hermit country. He also discusses his stealth methods of seeding this closed culture with news of the outside. Read more…
There are several ways you can BE the media concerning global religious liberty violations:

  • Connect with Christian Groups: Follow Christian groups active in trying to prevent the genocide. Smaller agencies like International Christian Response, Barnabas Fund work to equip and support indigenous partners on the ground who can speak into and about their own culture with accuracy and firsthand knowledge.
  • Become a Timeline Advocate: Careful here… only share stories form vetted sources such as organizations with partners on the ground. International Christian Response, Barnabas Fund offer excellent cultural analysis and consistently provide vetted content as well as insightful cultural analysis.
  • Go Regional: Pay attention to regional and international news outlets and wires. Their steady drip of small-scale atrocities can lend a sense of the breadth of the genocide.

Karen Ellis explores the zones where identity, human rights and theology intersect. She has performed, spoken and lectured internationally; in her twenty year career, she has been seen in classrooms, conferences, on radio, television, film and onstage. Karen holds a Master of Arts in Religion (Theological) from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Master of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama. Karen travels and teaches alongside her husband, theological anthropologist Dr. Carl F. Ellis, Jr.