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Protest in the Philippines against the legalization of divorce

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Philippines – A Philippine church official has expressed surprise over the speedy acceptance of a bill in the country’s parliament that would legalize divorce.

On Feb. 6, the House Committee on Population and Family Relations approved in principle the Marriage Dissolution Bill, a measure equivalent to divorce in other countries. Said the Philippines, aside from the Vatican, is the only state that does not have any law on divorce.

“I was surprised at the speed at which the committee accepted the bill,” said Father Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the public affairs office of the Catholic bishops’ conference.

“I was expecting exhaustive deliberations and discussions would be conducted on the measure,” he said, adding that the public deserves to know what is in the bill.

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon described the acceptance of the proposed measure as alarming,news reported.

“I hope Congress will not approve it. More family problems will be created with divorce,” he said.

Father Melvin Castro, spiritual director of the group Pro-Life Philippines, said “exhaustive discussion” on the issue should have been carried out.

“With the sensitivity of the issue and the magnitude of its effects, Congress should allow open, honest and exhaustive discussion and debate on the issue of divorce,” he said.

Earlier, the Catholic Council of the Laity of the Philippines issued a statement expressing opposition to the divorce bill. The group said the Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly provides that divorce is “immoral” because it introduces disorder into the family and into society.

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Christian orgs in China drop ‘Jesus’ from book titles to circumvent internet censorship

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Internet censorship targeting Christians in China has become so severe that even official government-sanctioned Christian groups are now using the Chinese pinyin initials “JD” to replace Chinese characters for “Christ,” according to U.S.-based China Aid.

Two official government-sanctioned religious organizations — the Christian Council of China and the Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches of China — have updated titles and descriptions of all their books on “Tianfengshuyuan,” their official WeChat book store, reported China Aid, which exposes abuses and promotes religious freedom, human rights and the rule of law in China.

“In their official WeChat store, not only ‘Christ’ becomes ‘JD,’ ‘Jesus’ also becomes ‘YS,’ and ‘Bible’ becomes ‘SJ,’” wrote Fuzeng Xing, dean of Chung Chi Seminary of Chinese University of Hong Kong, on his Facebook page, the group noted.

On March 30, 2018, the “Holy Bible” was removed from all online booksellers across China, including Taobao, Jingdong, WeChat store, Dangdang, Amazon China, and other online platforms.

As a result, many online religious bookstores have shut down.

Bitter Winter, a publication that monitors religious liberty violations in China, reported earlier this month that Chinese Communist Party officials in Luoyang, a prefecture-level city in Henan’s central province, searched a local printing house for banned religious materials.

“Any religious content makes the issue political, not religious. Although banners on the streets say people are allowed religious beliefs, the only faith they can practice freely is that in the Communist Party,” a store manager told Bitter Winter.

Because inspections are “too rigorous,” the manager said he refuses to print religious materials. “They checked my storehouse, scrutinized all records, and even looked at paper sheets on the floor to see if they have prohibited content. If any such content is found, I’ll be fined, or worse, my business will be closed.”

Last month, a Chinese Christian online bookstore owner was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined nearly $30,000 for engaging in what the regime deems as “illegal business operations.”

Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported at the time that in September 2019, Chen Yu, who operated his online bookstore in Zhejiang province’s Taizhou city, was detained for selling unapproved religious publications imported from Taiwan, the U.S., and other countries.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 200,000 RMB ($29,450), according to a document from the People’s Court of Linhai City, shared by Father Francis Liu from the Chinese Christian Fellowship of Righteousness.

In 2018, the Chinese government banned the sale of Bibles at online bookstores across the country to comply with a “white paper” that dictated compliance with the “core values of socialism.”

Australia’s ABC News reported at the time that copies of the Gospels had been removed from online retailers following the release of a regime document, titled “China’s Policies and Practices on Protecting Freedom of Religious Belief.”

The white paper declared that Chinese faith communities “should adhere to the direction of localizing the religion, practice the core values of socialism, develop and expand the fine Chinese tradition and actively explore the religious thought which accords with China’s national circumstances.”

China is ranked as one of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians, according to Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.

The communist regime’s crackdown on religious freedom has also led the U.S. State Department to label it as a “country of particular concern” for “continuing to engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

In a recent interview with The Christian Post, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo said it is “certainly the case that the Chinese Communist Party [engages in] efforts to stamp out religious freedom every place that they find.”
Sources:Christian Post

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Family of Christian Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy in Pakistan Goes into Hiding

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Pakistan– According to the Independent Catholic News (ICN), the wife and family of Asif Pervaiz have gone into hiding after Pervaiz was sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. Pervaiz was awarded the death sentence on September 8, 2020, nearly seven years after his arrest.

“She is in hiding because she feels threatened,” Release International, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, told ICN. “She is trying to keep her three sons and daughter safe.”

On October 2, 2013, a Muslim named Saeed Ahmeed Khokar accused Pervaiz of sending him blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone. Blasphemy charges under Sections 295-A, 295-B, and 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code were registered against Pervaiz at the Green Town Police Station in Lahore.

When Pervaiz became aware of the charges, he went into hiding. On October 9, after a week of searching for Pervaiz, police arrested several of Pervaiz’s relatives, including two brothers-in-law and his mother, Naseem Akhtar. According to Akhtar, police told her they would kill Pervaiz when they found him unless she helped them located her son.

Akhtar led the police to the home of Waseem Anwar, Pervaiz’s brother. There, police beat Waseem until he confessed to knowing where Pervaiz was hidden. On October 10, 2013, Pervaiz was arrested by police in Sahiwal.

According to Pervaiz’s family, Pervaiz and Khokar were coworkers at a garments factory named Shami Textile, located in the Youhanabad neighborhood of Lahore. At work, Khokar often pressured Pervaiz to convert to Islam, which Pervaiz refused. Prior to October 2, Pervaiz reportedly lost his mobile phone’s SIM card and did not request the company to deactivate it. According to Pervaiz’s family, Khokar used the lost SIM card to send the blasphemous text messages he used to register a false accusation against Pervaiz.

In Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. Accusations are highly inflammatory and have the potential to spark mob lynchings, vigilante murders, and mass protests.
Sources:persecution

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