Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fred Allen -

Advertising is 85% confusion and 15% commission. Fred Allen

I like long walks - especially when they are taken by people who annoy me. Fred Allen

Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and quoted. -Fred Allen E. B. White (1894-1956) In "1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said," ed. Robert Byrne, 1988. American Comedian

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The arrest and the unknown condition of a Christian Iranian in Mashhad

Farsi Christian News Network (FCNN), reports that at 8 am on December 16, 2009, several security officers entered the home of Hamideh Najafi, a Christian lady who resides in the city of Mashhad, and not only searched her home thoroughly, but also arrested and took her away to an unknown location.

According to this news three security officers, two female and one male, who carried an order for arrest from the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad, entered the home of this lady and after searching the her home seized her personal belongings along with books, CDs, and hand painted portraits of Jesus Christ that were hanging on her walls. According to these officers the existence of these pictures will be sufficient evidence that would convict her in court.

Even though Mashhad is the birthplace of Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, and is considered one of the holiest centers of the Shiite faith (Ghom being the other center in Iran) and also a center of pilgrimage and theological schools, in the recent years there have been significant growth of the underground home based churches.

Mashhad is an ultra-religious city where Rev. Hossein Soodmand, one of the recent Martyrs of the church in Iran was executed on December 3, 1990 at the Mashhad prison and was buried in a trash dump site outside of the city.

According to FCNN, after 10 days of her arrest there has been no telephone contact or visitation granted to the family of Hamideh.

Despite the worries about her well-being and the location of her detention, coupled with her husband’s frantic efforts to contact the Revolutionary Court of Mashhad in order to have information as to the nature of the charges against Hamideh, unfortunately as of now the officials have refused to provide any answers or information. When her husband finally decided to retain a lawyer in order to investigate his wife’s condition, the court officials notified him that the accusations were political in nature and she would be charged for contacting foreign Christian television networks.

This incident is based on the yet-to-be-defined laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding what constitutes a political crime and calling a religious television program does not constitute a political crime.

Its is probable that Hamideh Najafi is currently being held at a detention center on the Vakil Abbad Blvd., next to the Mashhad prison, in order to be fully interrogated and confessions be obtained for future court trial.

She has a 10 years old daughter that is currently suffering from a severe kidney and bladder infection that only her mother is capable of nursing her. According to news received this little girl’s condition, due to missing her mother and being away from her, is not well at all and during the last 10 days, she has not been able to attend school.

The Committee of Christian Activists of the Human Rights in Iran, not only expresses its serious concerns regarding the condition of this Christian woman and the baseless accusations of political crimes that have been filed against her, but it is equally worried about the physical and psychological condition of the 10 years old daughter of Hamideh Najafi who needs her mother, and demands an immediate investigation and speedy freedom of this Christian lady.

contact us

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Charles L.

In his book _The Meaning of Faith_, Harry Emerson Fosdick gave the account of John Quincy Adams, then 80 years old as he met a friend on a Boston Street. "Good morning," said the friend, "and how is John Quincy Adams today?" "Thank you," the ex-president replied. "John Quincy Adams himself is well, quite well, thank you. But the house in which he lives at present is becoming dilapidated. It is tottering upon its foundation. Time and the seasons have nearly destroyed it. Its roof is pretty well worn out. The walls are much shattered, and it trembles with every wind. The old tenement is becoming almost uninhabitable, and I think John Quincy Adams will have to move out of it soon. But he himself is quite well, quite well." This attitude has been called "body transcendence." It means you do not judge yourself solely on the state of your body. Aging does not automatically cause one to be less of a person. We can still maintain many of our abilities. As we grow older, we can continue to acquire wisdom, to love more deeply and to continue to contribute to the life of the world about us. -Charles L. Allen

The Christian is not one who has gone all the way with Christ. None of us has. The Christian is one who has found the right road. --Charles L. Allen (1913- )

When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God. --Charles L. Allen

Monday, December 28, 2009

Archibald Alison-

'What think ye of Heaven and Glory that is at the back of the Cross?' The hope of this makes me look upon pale death as a lovely messenger to me. I bless the Lord for my lot this day.... Friends, give our Lord credit; He is aye good, but 0! He is good in a day of trial, and He will be sweet company through the ages of Eternity. - Archibald Alison was born in 1656 in Carnduff, Avondale, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Archibald participated in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge in June of 1679, and the Battle of Aird's Moss in July of 1680, that saw the death of Richard Cameron, one of the leaders of the Covenanters. He was taken prisoner at Aird's Moss and sentenced to death. He was hanged at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh on August 13, 1680.Archibald's dying testimony, is extracted from the old Scottish book, "A Cloud of Witnesses for the Prerogatives of Jesus Christ", written anonymously.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Isabel Alison -

What shall I say to the commendation of Christ and His Cross I bless the Lord He has made my prison a palace to me. And what am I that He should have dealt thus with me? I have looked greedy-like to such a lot as this, but still thought it was too high for me when I saw how vile I was.- Isabel Alison executed 26 January 1681

Saturday, December 26, 2009


I requested and received an ESV Study Bible as my main present. It looks comprehensive and is on-line too. This is my fourth version.

Up to 1964 AV = KJV
64-86 RSV 65-76 I wore out my Eyre and Spotiswoode Study Bible so bought a wide margin RSV without notes
86-09 NIV Zondervan Study Bible
2010 ESV Study Bible

I do not anticipate needing another sword.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Muhammad Ali (1942-____) -

Float like butterflies, sting like bees!-- Sgt Casius Clay to his MIKE Force unit in Vietnam

If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make something out of you. -- Muhammad Ali

It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up. --Muhammad Ali (1942-____)

The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.--Muhammad Ali (1942-____)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Omar Idn Al-Halif -

Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity. - Omar Idn Al-Halif

Monday, December 21, 2009

Al-Ghazali (d. 1111) -

Just as scholastic theology is used with thinking people concerning the truth, the sword is used with the infidels after informing them with the truth ... so just as it cannot be said that the sword was Mohammad's most eloquent argument, neither can it be said that scholastic theology is the ultimate science. - Ihy'a 'Uloum ed-Din by al-Ghazali, Dar al-Kotob al-'Elmeyah, Beirut, Vol. V, p. 35

…one must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them...If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book &endash; Jews and Christians, typically] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked. A woman and her child taken into slavery should not be separated...One may cut down their trees...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as they require, - Al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi'i, Beirut, 1979, pp. 186, 190-91. [English translation by Dr. Michael Schub]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My daily quotes mailing

11 years ago today I started sending out daily mailings, So far my list has seen 8015 posts and we have 112 members. To get daily quotes send a blank email to
At present I have 112 members and would love to welcome more.

Chanan Alexander -

We have succeeded so completely in expelling particularistic religious beliefs from modern schooling and in providing a dispassionate, objective, scientific, value-free education, that our success is becoming our demise. For when put into practice, dispassionate value-freedom comes to mean that no institution is worth defending and no ideal of ultimate significance. With no conception of things sacred,we can communicate neither a social vision nor a sense of purpose to our youth. -Chanan Alexander

With no conception of things sacred,we can communicate neither a social vision nor a sense of purpose to our youth. ~Chanan Alexander .Director of the Leaders Training Fellowship at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Indian Believer jailed for 'crime' of praying for a friend in hospital

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA reports

Friday, December 18, 2009

Indian believer jailed for ‘crime’ of praying for a friend in hospital and getting beaten up

By James Varghese
Special Correspondent in India for ASSIST News Service
KARNATAKA, INDIA (ANS) -- In another bizarre police interpretation of Indian law, a Christian believer who went to pray for his sick friend at a local hospital, and was then beaten up by a Hindu radical, has been charged for this terrible “crime”.
You would imagine that the man who did the beating would have been the one who was arrested, but that logic often doesn’t work in India.
So for this “crime” of praying and then getting beaten up, the Christian man was arrested and jailed by Karnataka state police after a complaint was registered against him on Tuesday, December 15.
According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Bhaskar was visiting his friend at the hospital and prayed for him. However, he was not aware of a Hindu radical who was present at the hospital and was observing his activities. The Hindu radical then caught hold of Bhaskar and beat him up.
A GCIC source also said that the attacker then informed the local leader of the Hindu radical group, Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS), and others, about Bhaskar’s visit to the hospital and the prayer he had made for his friend.
It is understood that Bhaskar was then taken to the nearest police station by the RSS leaders and one of them filed a false complaint of “forced conversion” against him.
The source said, “After an inquiry, Bhaskar was charged under different sections of the law and he is being kept in Mandya Central Jail.”
As soon as GCIC was informed about what had happened, they immediately began the process of seeking bail for the believer.
In a latest update from GCIC, ANS has learned that Bhaskar, who is married with three children, was released from jail on December 17 at 3.00 pm after their intervention.
Dan Wooding, founder of ANS and a regular visitor to India, said, “If you are planning to pray for a sick person at an Indian hospital, be warned that you may get beaten up and then get charged with a ‘crime’. In most countries, it usually works the other way around.”

In the UK you can merely lose your job if you share your faith with patient or client.

Partying Presbyterians

This is for those who think Calvinists to be dour kill joys.

Lest the ladies wonder what men get up to. Lest they think we men are like the foolish Freemasons, men with secrets. Lest the brothers who did not come remain ignorant of what they missed. Lest Mr Cradock go un-thanked, Here is the Men's Party Report.

It was a night of mussels and meat in abundance. Caterer Cradock is so good I have booked him for the 2010 Valentine's party. He promised salmon. As to liquid refreshments, our Cokeaholic pastor observed, albeit not totally accurately, that it was the first church event with no soft drinks.

But it was not all about food and drink. There was serious games playing. Our fastest thing on two wheels proved he is our best Boy Racer on four virtual wheels too. Though it is whispered that it is his game. The advantage of game ownership did not apply to your correspondent who should have had a second advantage too playing Chronology. He must humbly bow to the superior historical knowledge of young Messrs Barnes and Patterson. Roll on next year to try and regain some pride, and perhaps imbibe some too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

440 miles to say farewell to Brian.

On Monday 7th December I was shocked to learn of the sudden passing of my friend Brian Boddy. He was only 69 and in apparent health until a sudden collapse. A post-mortem revealed brain abscesses due to septicaemia. I left home 6 a.m. with a couple of inches of snow on the ground and paying attention to news of roads affected by snow. The journey was 220 miles north. The M1 was clear but I was held up by a jack knifed lorry blocking a lane of the A1. Once into North Yorkshire I hit heavy snow and off the A1 the road was snow covered. Approaching the village for the funeral I was behind a snow plough and had great difficulty getting enough traction to drive up a slight hill. There was aboy five inches underfoot as I walked up to the church where the hearse was already parked. I had hoped to give a tribute afterwards at the crematorium but was surprised to be told by the vicar, after the service, that due to the snow we were not going to the crematorium. Instead I paid my tribute in the village hall where refreshments were abundant for many mourners had not made it due to the weather. Only two other Nigeria colleagues were there. I had known Brian since our two years together at All Nations Missionary College, 1967 to 69. We both went to Nigeria in 1970 and studied Hausa together in Kano in 1971. We left Nigeria in 1982 but Brian continued there in rural development work until he retired, Well done good and faithful servant. Brian hailed from Bedford originally. We sang Bunyan's,'Who would true valour see'.The trumpets have sounded on the other side for Brian. I was back home by 5 p.m. It had been strange saying farewell in thick snow when we had been together in temperatures up to around 120 F in Nigeria.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851 -

All my theology is reduced to this narrow compass-- Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.-Archibald Alexander (1772-1851)

Do not for a moment suppose that you must make yourself better, or prepare your heart for a worthy reception of Christ, but come at once - come as you are.- Archibald Alexander

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saint Nicholas

From Mark Driscoll, Preaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church

'The larger-than-life myths surrounding Santa Claus actually emanate from the very real person of Saint Nicholas. It is difficult to know the exact details of his life with certainty, as the ancient records are sparse, but the various pieces can be put together as a mosaic of his life.

Who was Saint Nick?
Nicholas was born in the third century in Patara, a village in what is now Turkey. He was born into an affluent family, but his parents died tragically when he was quite young. His parents had raised him to be a devout Christian, which led him to spend his great inheritance on helping the poor, especially children. He was known to frequently give gifts to children, sometimes even hanging socks filled with treats and gifts.

Perhaps his most famous act of kindness was helping three sisters. Because their family was too poor to pay for their wedding dowry, three young Christian women were facing a life of prostitution until Nicholas paid their dowry, thereby saving them from a horrible life of sexual slavery.

Nicholas grew to be a well-loved Christian leader and was eventually voted the Bishop of Myra, a port city that the apostle Paul had previously visited (Acts 27:5-6). Nicholas reportedly also traveled to the legendary Council of Nicea, where he helped defend the deity of Jesus Christ in AD 325.

Following his death on December 6, 343, he was canonized as a Saint. The anniversary of his death became the St. Nicholas holiday when gifts were given in his memory. He remained a very popular saint among Catholic and Orthodox Christians, with some 2,000 churches named after him. The holiday in his honor eventually merged with Christmas as they were celebrated within weeks of one another.

Reformation Controversy
During the Reformation, however, Nicholas fell out of favor with Protestants, who did not approve of canonizing certain people as saints and venerating them with holidays. His holiday was not celebrated in any Protestant country except Holland, where his legend as Sinterklass lived on. In Germany, Martin Luther replaced him with the Christ child as the object of holiday celebration, or, in German, Christkindl. Over time, the celebration of the Christ child was simply pronounced Kriss Kingle and oddly became just another name for Santa Claus.

Santa Myths
The legends about Santa Claus are most likely a compilation of other folklore. For example, there was a myth in Nicholas’ day that a demon was entering people's homes to terrorize children and that Nicholas cast it out of a home. This myth may explain why it was eventually believed that he came down people's chimneys.

Also, there was a Siberian myth (near the North Pole) that a holy man, or shaman, entered people's homes through their chimneys to leave them mushrooms as gifts. According to the legend, he would hang them in front of the fire to dry. Reindeer would reportedly eat them and become intoxicated. This may have started the myth that the reindeer could fly, as it was believed that the shaman could also fly. This myth may have merged with the Santa Claus myth and if so, explains him traveling from the North Pole to come down the chimney and leave presents on the mantle over the fireplace before flying away with reindeer.

These stories of Santa Claus were first brought to America by Dutch immigrants. In the early 20th century, stores began having Santa Claus present for children during the Christmas season. Children also began sending letters to the North Pole as the legends surrounding an otherwise simple Christian man grew.

At the Resurgence, we keep the center of Christmas focused on Jesus; it’s probably what Nicholas would have wanted.

Alcuin (735-804)-

What makes bitter things sweet? Hunger. Alcuin (735-804), in R Lacey and D Danziger, The Year 1000, Little, Brown and Co,GB, 1999, p57 He was responsible for inventing lower case letters.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Amos Bronson Alcott -

Observation more than books, experience rather than persons, are the prime educators. -Amos Bronson Alcott

Thought means life, since those who do not think so do not live in any high or real sense. Thinking makes the man.- Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)American teacher, writer and philosopher, father of Louisa May Alcott

One must be a wise reader to quote wisely and well. - Amos Bronson Alcott, "Table Talk"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Acquittal of Pakistani father and daughterMonday

Acquittal of father and daughter caught up in a discriminatory law of Pakistan

By Anjum Paul and Dan Wooding
Special to ASSIST News Service

FAISALABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Following prayers by Christians around the world, a Pakistani father and daughter have been acquitted and freed after being accused of desecrating the Qur’an, the Muslim Holy book.

Gulsher Masih was a prisoner in the Faisalabad District Jail, while his 20-year-old daughter Ashiyana, was imprisoned in the Jhang District Jail.

Both were victim of section 295-B of Pakistan Penal Code which says, “Whoever willfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Qur’an or of an extract there from or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.” Section 295-B was added by P.P.C. (amendment), ordinance 1 of 1982 during the reign of former dictator of Pakistan General Muhammad Zia ul Haq..

The father and daughter are residents of Gunah Gojra, a village in Chak Jhumra Town of Faisalabad District of Punjab, Pakistan with a 12,000 Muslim population and 13 Christian families, and had been charged with the alleged desecration of the Qur’an.

The complaint was made last year by Muhammad Farooq Alam, who alleged that Gulsher Masih and his daughter had torn the pages of the Qur’an, which they strongly denied. During the court case, when a prosecution witness admitted that he had a personal grudge against the father and son.

Mr. Khalil Tahir Sindhu. Advocate and Parliamentary Secretary of Minorities Affairs and Human Rights of the government of Punjab and a prominent Human Rights Activist was a pro bono-publico in this case.

While talking to ANS he stated that last hearing was completed on December 10, 2009 and a decision was announced today (December 14, 2009) by Mr. Raja Ghazanfer, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Faisalabad.

He said, “One of the prosecution witnesses had admitted before the court that he had a grudge against Gulsher and Ashiyana, his daughter, and that while he and others were in the mosque to offer their prayers, the father and daughter used to put on the loud speaker in the nearby church.”

Mr. Khalil Tahir Sindhu further said that he was hopeful that the case would be in his favor as this was a “baseless allegation” against the victims.

Two other Christians, Mr. James and Boota Masih, have recently been released by the Lahore High Court by the decision of Honorable Justice Najam ul Zaman and Justice Rana Zahid Mehmood who were charged in the same controversial Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code. Mr. Khalil Tahir was also a pro bono-publico in the case.

Rev. Father Aftab James Paul, Director of Interfaith Dialogue of the Diocese of Faisalabad said that there has been a “victory of the truth” and a “message of hope and merriment not only for the Gusher’s family but for all the Pakistani Christians.” He further demanded the government of Pakistan to abolish all discriminatory laws especially section 295 B and C of the Pakistan Penal Code which many Christians believe are wrongly used by the Muslims.

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA

Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (810-870) -

Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror, and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand." Abu Huraira added: Allah's Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures. - Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (810-870), Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220 one of the six canonical hadith collections of Sunni Islam, aka , the religion of peace.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kehlog Albran -

Arguments with furniture are rarely productive.- Kehlog Albran, 1933-?, Author born in Brest-Litovsk, "The Profit"
Is this bio true or is he a joke?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Akhenaton -

Those who gave thee a body, furnished it with weakness; but He who gave thee Soul, armed thee with resolution. Employ it, and thou art wise; be wise and thou art happy.- Akhenaton, Egyptian pharaoh c 1350 BC

Scorn also to depress thy competitor by any dishonest or unworthy method; strive to raise thyself above him only by excelling him; so shall thy contest for superiority be crowned with honour, if not with success.-Akhenaton

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas cake

Christmas cake recipe from my friend Judy.

It's not too late to make your own christmas cake. Here is a recipe that will taste good, even if made at the last minute!


* 2 cups flour
* 1 stick butter
* 1 cup of water
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 cup of sugar
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 cup of brown sugar
* Lemon juice
* 4 large eggs

* Nuts
* 2 bottle wine
* 2 cups of dried fruit

Sample the wine to check quality. Take a large bowl, check the wine again. To be sure it is of the highest quality, pour one level cup and drink. Repeat.
Turn on the electric mixer. Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add one teaspoon of sugar. Beat again.
At this point it's best to make sure the wine is still OK. Try another cup... Just in case. Turn off the mixerer thingy.
Break 2 eggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit.

Pick the fruit up off floor. Mix on the turner.. If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaterers just pry it loose with a drewscriver.
Sample the wine to check for tonsisticity. Next, sift two cups of salt. Or something. Check the wine. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table. Add a spoon of sugar, or some fink. Whatever you can find. Greash the oven. Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over.
Don't forget to beat off the turner. Finally, throw the bowl through the window. Finish the wine and wipe counter with the cat.
Go to Tesco and buy cake.

Bingle Jells!

Christian Democrat Leader Warns Against Islamic Radicalism

Thursday 10th December 2009

Christian Democrat Leader Warns Against Islamic
Radicalism at Muslim "Big Debate on Islamification"
Authorities must down-size West Ham mega-mosque to neighbourhood mosque

A Muslim-organised 'Big Debate on the Islamification of Britain' in central London tonight will hear a warning by Councillor Alan Craig, Leader of the Opposition on Newham Council, that not enough is being done to tackle militant Islam in the capital. He will cite "naive and misguided" tolerance of separatist groups over how places of worship are used to radicalise young muslims. And he will attack the millions of pounds being spent by the government
through The Preventing Violent Extremism Initiative to local Islamic groups and associations which promote a religion incompatible with the values of an open and democratic society. The panel discussion will include representatives from the Church of England, radical political Islam,
the far-right BNP and from the secular British Humanist Association. Councillor Craig - who leads the Christian Peoples Alliance group on Newham Council - will
criticise Labour-run Newham for the support they have given to a proposal by Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat for the construction of a mega-mosque at West Ham, close to the site of the 2010 London Olympics. He will point out how men convicted of planning terrorist attacks suchas the Transatlantic Bomb Plot were associates of Tablighi Jamaat.

Alan Craig will say:

"We live in a democracy and Muslims are fully entitled to mosques. But this secretive separatist Islamic group must not be allowed to construct a huge national landmark mosque that will further promote their divisive and intolerant form of Islam. Labour are both misguided and naive in the support they have given this organisation."

Alan Craig will tell his fellow-panelists that Tablighi Jamaat - just like the BNP - divides communities, builds barriers and spawns hostility and intolerance. And he will cite support for his stance against the mosque by many local muslims and national Islamic leaders. Earlier this year Newham Council gave Tablighi Jamaat a January 2010 deadline to submit their plan for the mosque:

"In our democracy we allow the BNP to promote their odious ideology. Equally we must permit Tablighi Jamaat to promote theirs. But in the masterplan their mega-mosque must be scaled down to the size of a neighbourhood mosque to reduce its anti-social impact. Alternatively the authorities should compulsorily purchase the 18 acre site for wider housing and community use."

In the Islamification debate tonight, Cllr Craig will warmly praise Muslims for putting religion back into public debate in the UK.

He will also argue for zero tolerance of Sharia (Islamic) domestic law in the UK as it is incompatible with European human rights and with equal rights for women; and for a debate to start about banning the anti-social, anti-integration niqab (face-veil) - an issue first raised three years ago by Jack Straw MP and more recently in France by President Nicholas Sarkozy.

The panel debate tonight on the Islamification of Britain has been organised by the Muslim Debate Initiative and will be held at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 2RL starting at 6.15pm.

Representatives from the British Humanist Association, the British National Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance, The Church of England, English Democrats and the Muslim Debate Initiative will sit on the panel.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Child prostitution in India

The last Divya* trial update

Over the past few months, we have updated you several times during the final stages of the trial against Divya’s aunt. Over three years ago, Divya was rescued from her aunt’s brothel, and the trial has now come to a peculiar and unexpected end.

The closing arguments were scheduled for Tuesday. Before the hearing, the judge apparently indicated to Freedom Firm’s public prosecutor and to the brothel keeper’s defence lawyer that he was likely to convict Divya’s aunt on four of the five counts against her. He said that he planned to issue his decision on December 15. After that, the public prosecutor gave her closing argument, followed by the defence lawyer. But as the defence was speaking, Kanchan Undale, the woman on trial for selling her own niece as a prostitute, fell over...dead! She had a heart attack and died right there in the courtroom.

Her death was a dramatic, abrupt, and unexpected end to her trial. Please pray that this exceptional ending will have its own deterrent effect in discouraging others from selling minors into prostitution.

Thank you for your many prayers and your consistent interest throughout this trial.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Girls locked up by brothel keeper to keep from rescue

Two girls were rescued by Freedom Firm and the Pune Crime Branch this past Tuesday. When word of a raid reached the brothel, the girls were hidden and locked on the terrace of the building. After some time, the team was able to locate them and break the lock to rescue them.

The two brothel keepers were also arrested and are now attempting to get out of jail on bail. Please pray for the rescued girls to adjust well to the government aftercare home and respond well to the Freedom Firm social workers who will be visiting them regularly. Also pray that the brothel keepers will be denied bail for several weeks, if not longer.

* Not her real name.
Freedom Firm
78/85, Indu Sadan
Ooty, Tamil Nadu, India
643 001
Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My most unusual speaking invitation ever

If I remember correctly it was about 17 years ago I was invited to address the West London Campaign for Homosexual Equality, my most unusual speaking invitation ever. The invitation came via a borough councillor on the opposite benches who was openly of that orientation and I had entered politics in opposition to such things. Their brochure listed former speakers, a veritable Who's Who of media and arts etc. The only name I recognised who would have stood where I did was Lord Longford. They met in a pub and told me I was to be preferred to his lordship for I only supped their beer not whisky. It was a very civil meeting. I gave a Christian basis for opposing what they wished to do. Since then I think they have achieved most of their aims and the Conservatives, whose councillor I then was have ceased to oppose such things with Cameron voting to repeal Section 28 of the Education Act which outlawed the promotion of homosexuality in schools. I too have seen the light and left the Tories for the Christian Peoples Alliance.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


in order to meet the conditions for joining the Single European currency, all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be made aware that the phrase "Spending a Penny" is not to be used after 31st December 2009. From this date, the correct terminology will be "Euronating". Thank you for your attention.

Health & Safety and Equality Considerations for Christmas Songs

The Rocking Song
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir;
We will lend a coat of fur,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you,
We will rock you, rock you, rock you:

Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons. Therefore faux fur, a nice cellular blanket or perhaps micro-fleece material should be considered a suitable alternative.

Please note, only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have enhanced clearance will be permitted to rock baby Jesus. Persons must carry their CRB disclosure with them at all times and be prepared to provide three forms of identification before rocking commences.

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O ' er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh is considered safe for members of the public to travel on. The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions. Please note, permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

While Shepherds Watched
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around

The union of Shepherd ' s has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year that they should watch their flocks via cctv cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts.
Please note, the angel of the lord is reminded that before shining his / her glory all around she / he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

You are advised that under the Equal Opportunities for All policy, it is inappropriate for persons to make comment with regard to the ruddiness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from the Reindeer Games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence. A full investigation will be implemented and sanctions - including suspension on full pay - will be considered whilst this investigation takes place.

Little Donkey
Little donkey, little donkey on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards with your precious load

The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load that a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry, also included in the guidelines is guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period. Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear face masks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles. The donkey has expressed his discomfort at being labelled ' little ' and would prefer just to be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.

We Three Kings
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable - as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as ' cash for gold ' etc, gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipients name or perhaps give a gift voucher.
We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and suggest the use of RAC routefinder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption. Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Facemasks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels hooves.

Away in a Manger No Crib for a bed - This is definitely one for Social services

Jonathan Aitken ( 1942- ) -

'I will cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism with the simple sword of truth'. These were insensitive words of pride which came back to haunt me. - Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

I was in Chelsea police station where I was charged with perjury and conspiracy to pervert public justice. I spent the next five hours alone in a police cell while waiting for the various formalities such as finger-printing and photographs. I used that time to pray, to meditate and to read all sixteen chapters of St Mark's Gospel, something I had long meant to do at one sitting. This should have been a time of deep despair. The worst day of my life. Not so. For I had such an overwhelming sense of God's presence in the cell with me that I was at peace.- Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

Pride is the deadliest of sins, but I was bursting with pride. -Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

Then Isaiah heard the wonderful words: 'This has touched your lips. Your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for.' And the Scripture goes on: 'Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? And I said: Here am I! Send me.' Note the total unconditionality of that response, 'Send me'. It does not mean, 'Send me, I was going that way anyhow', or 'Send me, I was planning to do that', or 'Send me, I rather like the sound of that idea'. It may mean something much more disagreeable. In my case it means, 'Send me to prison'. -Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

To my eternal shame, I even got my wife and daughter to back me up with witness statements supporting my lie. But then my opponents ambushed me in the middle of the trial with clear documentary evidence that I had told a lie on oath. My credibility as a witness was shattered. I had to withdraw from the libel case. And within 24 hours my whole life was shattered too. The former Cabinet Minister had impaled himself on his own sword of truth, with explosive and apocalyptic consequences. Some people have expressed surprise that I am still in one piece after being so torn to shreds in the onslaught of media vilification and castigation I received at the height of my dramas. A great deal of the criticism of me was vitriolic; some of it was vicious; and I deserved most of it. When these thunderbolts were raining in on me from all directions, I turned to my Christian faith,imperfect though it was, and began to ponder more deeply than ever before on the great themes in the gospels of love, penitence, redemption and resurrection. Although I am sceptical of fox-hole conversion, nevertheless the time when I was at the nadir of my misfortunes was the time when I turned more humbly and penitently than ever towards Our Lord Jesus Christ. -Jonathan Aitken in The Tablet. 12 June 1999

Aitken is a man who fell far to find grace. His writings are great and he is a rivetting speaker.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Omar M. Ahmad and Akbar Ahmed -

Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran . . . should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth. -- Council on American-Islamic Relations Chairman Omar M. Ahmad, speech, July 1998

Interesting to juxtapose with

In the repressive cultural and intellectual milieu that prevails in the modern Muslim state it is wiser for a writer not to write, for a thinker not to think; it is prudent to be a coward.....It is no wonder that most original writers are either abroad or broken or silenced.....Paradoxically a home is provided for them in the West, usually in the USA and the UK which attracts the highest number of intellectual writers from the Muslim world. - Akbar Ahmed, Islam Today, I.B.Tauris, 1999 p150

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Books Read in December 2009 (8)

1. The Pale Horseman (Alfred the Great 2) by Bernard Cornwell

'When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.'— Revelation 6:7-8 NIV This is what the title alludes to but Cornwell never quotes it. His young Northumbrian warrior is in Wessex. He pretends to be a Viking raiding Cornwall when Alfred and the Danes have a truce. This brings down the wrath of Alfred and our hero only survives a trial by combat when the Danes destroy this contest by attacking again. Alfred loses his kingdom and hides in the Somerset levels from where he gathers an army which was to defeat the larger Danish army at a battle which was the pivotal one in the formation of England. Without victory at Ethandun in 878 we would now be speaking Danish. Our hero, wounded in the battled had been bereaved of an infant son, left the mother and lost his mistress in the battle. he fights for but does not respect pious Alfred. He is a pagan at heart like the Danes who raised him.

2. The Lords of the North (Alfred the Great 3) by Bernard Cornwell

Once again our pagan Northumbrian is fighting. He becomes a king maker, slave and victor conquering Durham with his Danish friend. Saxon still clashes with Dane in the north but Alfred has peace in Wessex with the Danish challenger now a Christian. This history continues as a conflict between religions as much as peoples. The author portrays Christianity as a superior magic manipulating relics like sorcery. This series has grown on me. Slight geographical criticism. When was Thirsk ever near a lake? The nearest, Gormire, is 10 miles or so distant.

3. Cry of the heart and Quest of the mind - Anees Zaka and Diane Coleman

This is subtitled, 'an analysis of Muslim and Christian women's search for Truth and Honour'. It is particularly suitable for any non-muslim woman considering marriage to a Muslim or for any Muslim woman also. There is detailed teaching on woman and man from the Bible and the Quran. The place of women in the two religions is contrasted. The Christian gospel is proclaimed. Many Muslim sources are cited to give a fair picture of the inferior status of women in Islamic societies.

4. The King's Son, Or, a Memoir of Billy Bray by Frederick W Bourne

Billy Bray was a drunkard 19th century Cornish tin miner. The book opens with his spectacular conversion. Billy was a man filled with the joy of his Lord. He shouted and danced praise to God. He was poor in this world but rich in spirituality. He preached, built chapels, visited and sick and had a gift for striking pithy words. His was a unique witness.

5. The Ghost by Robert Harris

I found this like a firework that did not go off. At first I was riveted watching the touch-paper burn but the end seemed to lack a proper bang. I see this as a fictional attack on Blair, a man reckoned to have a wife brighter than him though in this case the similarity with Cherie ends there.

6, Sword Song (Alfred the Great 4) by Bernard Cornwell

In the fourth of the series Alfred's reluctant warrior captures London from the Dane's and then rescues the king's daughter. Uhtred is still far from his ambition to take his home castle of Bamburgh from his usurping uncle. He is in Mercia, pagan servant of Christian king. I did not find this as gripping as the previous two volumes but I want to go on to the fifth.

7. The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill by Dominique Enright

A Christmas present for which I am grateful. It makes one laugh. It cheers one up. I may have read half the quotes before but there are new ones and new anecdotes. Great man. Great wit. Great mastery of the language.

8. Nevertheless 2008 by John Kirkby

This is an amazing story of a man who prospered in the financial services industry then was saddled with huge debts. This led to divorce then a second prosperous career in finance. Then he became a Christian, gave up his job and started Christians Against Poverty, a charity which has helped many people out of debt with many becoming Christians in the process. It is a story of remarkable faith, commitment and blessing. It is the story of a man with remarkable financial expertise and perseverance through trials and an organisation which has grown throughout the UK and to the Antipodes. However the story does raise questions. There is an evident strong reliance on words from the Lord, both Scripture texts and prophesies. I believe God has given us 66 books of His word to rely upon rather than direct impressions of what is relevant to our situation. The direct methods of appealing for funds are far from those of men like Mueller and Schaeffer who appealed to only the Lord for direct financial assistance. I am not saying direct appeals are wrong, but here they are abundant including forms in the book itself to enrol contributors. What I believe many Christians will be unhappy with is a preparedness to take unsecured loans at times and also lottery funding. The book is not terribly well written with so much being a diary of the charity's financial crises. However it is a story of a faith work which has been and is a blessing to many.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Eurostar to Brussels

Yesterday morning I was to take the early train to Brussels. Other Presbytery members were going too on the same train so i asked one to book a cab. He said it would be 5.40 am from church. At 5 a.m. I thought I should check my ticket To my horror I realised the train left at 5.55. Mt friends were on a later train. Throwing my packing in my case I phoned for a cab. It was slow coming, arriving about 5.20. I thought I had missed my train. Check in was ending in 5 minutes. I got to the station about 5.45. Approaching the check in I said I was too late. No they said, phoned the train and told me to go through security. I ran to the train. I was in carriage 17, farthest but one. I boarded breathless and a minute later we were off on the 2 hour trip.

Eurostar is one of the world's best transport experiences, smooth, quiet and the fastest way to the continent. It beats flying hands down. You cannot get on a plane a minute before it takes off.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Justice for Duke

(The links to click will not work)

Please stand with CLC and people everywhere to support a good man in his fight for justice

Petition, Campaign, special website and Candlelight Vigil 15 December 2009

In July of this year, Bible-believing Christian Duke Amachree, married and father of 3 children who had served Wandsworth Council as a Homelessness Prevention Officer diligently for 18 years, was dismissed in circumstances Christians and non-Christians alike across the country rightly view as completely outrageous. Please take a few minutes to read this almost unbelievable story and then to take action to help him and to stand up against an injustice that is as appalling as anything I have seen in my many years in this work.

Duke’s story

In January of this year, Duke was helping a client with her housing situation. The client had seen various doctors who had told her that she had an incurable medical condition. Out of compassion for her, Duke commented that sometimes the doctors don’t know everything –and encouraged her to consider putting her faith in God.

The client did not complain to Duke, but did go to his managers to report him. Two days later the managers knocked on Duke’s door as he was conducting another interview, asked him to finish up and then report to the Director’s office.

When he arrived, Duke was told that there had been a complaint and that he was being suspended with immediate effect. His pass was taken away and he was told not to make contact with any of his friends and colleagues or to come near the offices. He was then marched off the premises.

You can see a very short film clip about Duke by clicking here.

Why we must take action in the days to come to help Duke Amachree

At CLC and CCFON we all believe, that this is one of the most appalling if not the most appalling case we have ever seen. The way Duke was treated anyone would think he had been caught viewing pornography on an office computer. Yet all Duke did was extend the hand of compassion to a fellow human being in distress. What’s more, there was nothing in his employment contract to indicate that he was in any way not to speak about God.

Don’t say ‘God bless’ or we'll sack you…

Incredibly, when our solicitor who represented Duke in the initial meeting with the employer asked what would have happened if Duke had simply said ‘God bless you’ to a client, the spokesperson for Wandsworth Council said it would have been advisable not to say that either.

Duke Amachree, a gentle, intelligent and kind-hearted family man living in Britain in 2009 has been found ‘guilty’ of an ‘offence’ which would amaze a visitor from any previous time in the history of Christianity in this country. Out of compassion he offered the hope of God to a woman in need. He breached no part of his contract. Yet he was marched off the premises and, after a period of suspension, was dismissed.

Please help by joining our ‘Justice for Duke’ Campaign in these following ways:

Keep Duke and his family in your prayers over the coming days. This is not an easy time for them and they will be greatly moved to know that there are hundreds or perhaps thousands of people praying for them every day.

Keep an eye on the special website for developments as we count down to 15 December 2009, www.justiceforduke. com

Take a few seconds to add your name to the ‘Justice for Duke’ petition. This will help raise awareness and make a statement that Christians and non-Christians alike will not stand by whilst a good man is treated this way. We hope any reasonable person would agree that a man who has served an employer honestly and diligently for 18 years should not be thrown out of his job just for mentioning God whatever their own beliefs may be, especially when he has no reason to believe his employer would view his words as being a problem. So please forward on to as many of your friends as you can.

If you live in Wandsworth, please write to your MP. A model letter can be found by clicking here for you to adapt, print off, sign and send if you would like to. Please see this link also to find out who your MP is and where to write to them.

Join the Candlelight Vigil outside Wandsworth Town Hall on 15 December (details on the www.justiceforduke. com site as well as on and www.christianlegalc Please let us know if you are planning to come and if you are planning to bring friends by clicking here.This will give us an idea of numbers. There is a map available on the special site. http://www.justicef prayervigil. php

Make a small donation to the Christian Legal Centre if you would like to help us with the cost of the campaign and similar work. You can make a secure Paypal donation on line in seconds by clicking here (other options are also available). All the work we do is free of charge to our clients who are suffering because of living and speaking their Christian values in their everyday lives. Please stand with them and with the work by making a small gift to cover the costs of that work today if you can.

With my thanks and best regards to you all, as always

Andrea Minichiello Williams
Barrister, Director, The Christian Legal Centre & Christian Concern for Our Nation

020 7467 5421
http://www.christia nlegalcentre. com
http://www.ccfon. org

BTW, a police inspector accused of shoplifting remains at work. No suspension.

Christian Arrested for Distributing Tracts

Compass Direct reports.'Protestant Copt, 61, illegally detained then released without charges after four days.

ISTANBUL, October 6 (CDN) — An Egyptian Christian arrested in Cairo for handing out gospel leaflets and held in prison illegally for four days has been released, the freed Protestant Copt told Compass.

Abdel Kamel, 61, was arrested on Sept. 23 in downtown Cairo for handing out copies of a Christian leaflet. As they arrested him, police told Kamel it was “unlawful” to hand out religious information on public roads. When Kamel countered that Muslims commonly hand out Islamic literature, police told him it was “more unlawful” for Christians. Kamel also didn’t have his identification card with him.

Nabil Ghobreyal, an attorney who worked to gain Kamel’s release, said there is no law in Egypt forbidding the distribution of religious material.

Police handcuffed Kamel, put him into a police car and seized his leaflets. Authorities then took him to a police station for interrogation. While in custody, Kamel said, he remained in handcuffs for hours, was thrown to the ground, spit upon and threatened with violence.

Kamel said he wasn’t tortured, but when asked to describe his treatment, he wept uncontrollably.

The lay preacher said he was proclaiming repentance and forgiveness in Christ because he views it as a service to others.

“I love my people,” he said. “I love Egypt, and I feel my service is directed toward the people I love and the country I love.”

Authorities held Kamel for four days without charge and did not allow him to see family members or a lawyer. He said officers did allow him to receive food, medicine and written messages.

Attorney Ghobreyal said that Kamel was an “honest and innocent man” who was arrested illegally. When Ghobreyal approached an assistant attorney general to ask for Kamel’s release, the prosecutor asked him to wait for three days, which Ghobreyal immediately challenged. Ghobreyal said that in free speech cases involving religion, state attorneys are often “loathe” to keep police from breaking the law, or at best “complacent” about letting them make baseless arrests.

Sometime close to midnight on Kamel’s second day in jail, police continued their investigation by going through his apartment and removing all written materials in his house. Describing his apartment in Al-Nakhl as being “ransacked,” he said it was what most angered him about his arrest.

“[The gospel] is all about a message of love, a message of peace,” he said. “There is nothing illegal about it, and it is annoying that they know that, but in spite of that they came there in this manner. It is very bad.”

Kamel said there is a double standard in Egypt when it comes to freedom of religion. He said Muslims in Egypt are allowed to promote Islam using “books, pamphlets and loudspeakers,” but Christians are often forbidden from sharing their faith.

“Why, when we are doing it, are we not even allowed to put our view across?” he said. “Why aren’t we treated the same?”

Eventually Kamel was transferred to a jail in Al Minya, where he was interrogated a second time for two and a half hours. Investigators told him that the pamphlets he distributed did not “insult Islam,” a serious charge commonly on the law books of Islamic-majority countries.

Police made it clear to Kamel that they did not want to release him, Ghobreyal said. They released him grudgingly because they were worried about reports in the media and from human rights groups. He was released without charge.

“The pressure in the media and the announcements made on the Internet helped me a lot,” Ghobreyal said.
Kamel, who describes himself as being a committed Christian for 30 years, said he does not plan to file a complaint against the police but will rather “leave it to God to reward them accordingly.”

His 29-year-old daughter, Mariam Kamel, said that even though she is afraid that police will continue to harass her family, she is thankful to God that police released her father.

“I’ve seen God’s hand in every crisis we’ve had over the past 30 years of his work preaching the gospel,” she said.

She said she was sure her father would return to preaching. Still shaken, her father said he was not so sure.

“Who can carry on in a situation like this?” Kamel said.

Barnabas Fund tells of more suffereing Christians


At least six bombs were detonated across Iraq on Thursday 26 November, killing five people and wounding at least 28. Two Christian buildings were targeted in the city of Mosul. A senior Iraqi church leader reported that the bombs "caused major damage and we cannot pray there." Although there were no casualties at the Christian sites, another Iraqi church leader commented that "these attacks are aimed at forcing Christians to leave the country." At the time of the 2003 US-led invasion, around 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq. But their number has shrunk by a third or more as members of the community have fled the violence and persecution directed towards them.

• Pray for all those injured and bereaved in the recent spate of bombings and that peace and stability will be established in Iraq.

• Pray for Christians in Iraq, that they will find strength and support in our faithful Saviour, and that they will continue to meet together to worship Him in spite of the recent attacks on their churches.


Christians in Egypt have become targets of violence yet again in the early hours of Saturday 21 November, as a Muslim mob attacked Christians and Christian property in the town of Farshoot and neighbouring villages, forcing Christians to seek refuge indoors.

The violence was prompted by reports of sexual abuse against a Muslim girl by a 21-year-old Christian on 18 November. Witnesses say that up to 3000 Muslims gathered outside the police headquarters in Farshoot where the alleged attacker was being detained, pending the results of an investigation and forensic tests, in an effort to kidnap and murder him.

Ten pharmacies and 55 Christian-owned shops and businesses were looted, vandalised and burnt, cars were attacked and some Christian families were thrown out of their homes. At least seven Christians were injured in the violence, including one Christian leader who is currently in hospital with a fractured skull. The mob made wooden crosses and burnt them in the street. According to one witness, "We have never been so frightened and humiliated in all our lives ... our religion, and our Lord, were openly insulted."

Although security forces were deployed, witnesses report that they took no action to stop the violence and were stationed simply to protect the Farshoot police headquarters after the angry mob showered it with stones, entered and attacked officers.

No Sunday services were held on 22 November in the area owing to concerns over the safety of Christian congregations. Christians condemn the alleged rape and protested at the scale of the retaliation. One prominent Christian leader reported that the attacks were apparently pre-planned, which would suggest that the allegation of "rape" was used as a pretext. He also commented, "An individual incident does not call for an attack on masses of peaceful Christians."

• Pray for the Christians in Farshoot and neighbouring villages, that they will be able to rebuild their lives without fear of further attacks.

• Pray that the attackers will turn from their violence and come to know and love the Lord Jesus.

• Pray that the Egyptian police will protect all citizens from violence, whatever their religion.


Members of Wanbang Missionary Church had to meet outdoors for worship on Sunday 22 November after having been forcibly evicted from their church building earlier that month. On Thursday 12 November Chinese Public Security officials sealed off the doors and locked the church.

On the morning of 22 November, three pastors of Wanbang church were summoned to a Shanghai police station for interrogation on suspicion of "engaging in illegal organisation and activities". They were held until the afternoon. Despite intimidation from local authorities and the detention of the pastors, more than 500 dedicated church members gathered outdoors to continue the scheduled worship services.

Since the building's closure, the authorities have been unsuccessful in preventing meetings of the church. On 15 November ten police officers attempted to obstruct Pastor Cui from attending church. Members also received threatening text messages defaming the church and saying that the service had been cancelled. In spite of this, over 700 people turned up to the outdoor prayer meeting that day.

In preparation for the mid-November visit of President Obama to China, the Shanghai authorities launched a city-wide search for members of Wanbang church, attempting to break up prayer and worship gatherings. All seven pastors were also issued with official notices to stop their "illegal religious activities", which declared their pastoral status as "self-claimed illegal preachers". On 8 November, the church website was forcibly shut down by the government's censorship office to prevent negative reporting prior to Obama's visit.

• Pray for Christians in China, that they will know the comfort and strength of the Lord Jesus at this time, and that they will continue to have the courage to meet in the face of such opposition.

• Pray that the Shanghai authorities will reverse the ban on Wanbang church and stop hounding it.


A 16-year-old Christian girl, Silva Kashif, was walking alone near her home in Muslim-majority Khartoum, when she was arrested by police for wearing a knee-length skirt, which is considered 'indecent' in Sudanese law. She was immediately presented before a judge, who sentenced her to 50 lashes. Although the law states that under-18s should not be lashed, Silva's parents were not even aware that their daughter had been arrested until after the punishment had taken place.

Silva is originally from the South of Sudan, which is Christian-majority. The skirt and blouse she was wearing were normal for Southern Sudanese. But sharia (Islamic law) is in force in North Sudan, including strict regulations about women's clothing, which are applied to Christians as well as Muslims.

• Pray for healing for Silva and that she and her family will be able to forgive those who imposed and carried out the punishment. Pray that the Khartoum government will soften the impact of sharia for the mainly Christian Southerners who are living in North Sudan.


In late October security forces in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, began evicting hundreds of Christian students from their temporary accommodation in the city. Some 700 were expelled from a municipal building and others from a campground.

The students belong to SETIA Bible College, which was forced to vacate its own campus in July 2008 following a violent attack by a Muslim mob. The college had taken refuge in the temporary locations, which provided housing and classroom space. But recently the Indonesian Supreme Court ruled that the land and buildings belonged to a foundation, and the police moved in to clear the site.

The provincial government has offered to house students at an office building in the city, but SETIA officials said that it was unfit for habitation. "A barn for water buffalo is much nicer than that place," said the college secretary.

• Pray for the students and staff of the college, that satisfactory accommodation will be provided for them, and that they will soon be able to return to their own premises without fear of further violence.

• Pray for Christians in Indonesia facing obstruction, harassment and physical attacks because of their faith.


Please keep praying for Maher el-Gohary and his 15-year-old daughter Dina, who are now in hiding because of several fatwas calling for a death sentence on Maher, and who have been banned from leaving the country. Dina has written a heartfelt letter to US President Obama asking him to use his influence to help them. Dina writes, "Mr President Obama, we are a minority faith in Egypt. We are treated very badly ... we are imprisoned in our own home because Muslim clerics called for the murder of my father, and now the government has set for us a new prison, we are imprisoned in our own country."

Maher, an Egyptian Christian convert from Islam, applied to have his identity card changed to reflect his conversion. Identity cards are vital in Egyptian society, and being considered legally as "Muslims" creates huge practical problems for Egyptian Christians from a Muslim background. Like all Egyptian converts from Islam, Maher was unsuccessful in applying for the change.

• Thank God for Maher and Dina's strength in the Lord Jesus. They have said they will not revert to being Muslims "even if we have to live on the streets. We love our Lord Jesus and we have left Islam for good." Pray that Egypt will grant recognition of their new faith to converts from Islam to Christianity and will allow Maher and Dina to live openly as Christians.

• Pray that Western political leaders will use their power and influence with political leaders in Muslim countries to work for the good of Christian minorities, particularly converts from Islam


Praise the Lord for the safe release of Maryam and Marzieh, two Iranian Christian women arrested in March for converting to Christianity from Islam. The women were released without bail on 18 November after 259 days in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. In October the charge of anti-state activity against the women had been dropped by the Revolutionary Court, and their case was transferred to a general court for consideration of the remaining charges: converting from Islam and propagation of Christianity. These charges have not yet been dropped.

Maryam and Marzieh say, "Words are not enough to express our gratitude to the Lord and to His people who have prayed and worked for our release."

• Give thanks for the release of the two women, and continue to pray as they recover from their ordeal and face the future.

International Website:
United Kingdom Barnabas Fund, 9 Priory Row, Coventry, CV1 5EX
Tel: +44(0)24 7623 1923, Fax: +44(0)24 7683 4718, email:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A sermon on the skyline.

I find the City of London depressing. If you look at old paintings, one building dominated the skyline: St. Paul's Cathedral. Cathedrals are usually on the highest ground of a city, like Durham, and dominate the landscape like Ely. They are architectural statements of the lordship of Christ over all life. But now in The City it is the temples of mammon which dominate and give us dark shade on the streets. Money rules and not only in the West. Visiting Dubai I noticed how insignificant are the mosques compared with all the newly built tower blocks in this Babel of the Gulf.

I understand that no-one in the Muslim world should build a minaret higher than the ones in Mecca and that in a city, the minaret should be the tallest tower. Certainly no church building should be allowed a taller spire or tower.

Now the citizens of Switzerland have voted to prohibit new minarets. I can understand why but there is something there that I find to be a denial of liberty, albeit of the liberty of those who repress other religions when they rule the roost. I think another solution could have been found. Christian countries could restrict the height of minarets in any given town tho at least 20 feet lower than the tallest church. That sends out a suitable message I believe.

But let me end on a positive note. There is a church in the City where one may stand on its front steps and see the figure of Justice with her scales on top of The central Criminal Court, The Old Bailey. Looking above and beyond is the golden ball atop the dome of St Paul's, and on top of the globe, the cross. The line of sight is up from Justice to the cross. Grace triumphs over judgment. There is a sermon on the skyline.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Message from the President of the Christian Peoples Alliance

This week has seen yet further attacks on the conscience and liberties
of Christians in the workplace. Secular intolerances of all kinds are
trying to close down the public space in which Christians can act and
speak. No political party in Parliament is standing up against this.

We can expect the Equalities Bill to make life harder for Christians
and churches who wish to stand by biblical values.

At the same time, we see public disaffection with the secular parties
and a turning to apathy, despair and extremist positions.

The Christian way is to witness to a different possibility - of lives
changed by the power of the Gospel and communities transformed by
faithful Christian service and action. (See how the CPA does this by
visiting )

In Britain, Christians have a duty to hold fast to what is good. We must
not give up in bringing transformation and the spirit of hope to our local
neighbourhoods. Overseas - in places such as Pakistan, Nigeria and
Egypt - we see the reality of true Christian sacrifice as they face real

As a party in the Christian Democratic tradition, the Christian Peoples
Alliance is regularly contacted by Christians overseas who say they are
inspired by our political witness. It is no con-incidence that in the past
few days these have come from the 'frontline' - from Pakistan and from

With the UK General Election not far away and local elections coming at
the same time, how will politics make a difference here? Let me tell you.

Not long ago I was at the AGM of a major Christian charity. A senior member
of its leadership team told me that the answer to the mood of anti-Christian
intolerance in Britain is for millions of ordinary churchgoers to stand up and
be counted. He thought some kind of collective statement on Facebook
might achieve this. Of course, lots of different answers are needed. But the
easiest way for Christians to stand up to the secular onslaught whilst serving
in the gentle Spirit of Christ is to use your vote and to offer an alternative.

At the darkest times in our nation's history, Christians have come forward
to make a difference and be the change our country needs. In other countries
in Europe, Christians across the denominations have formed parties to stand
in elections. By God's grace, that is what the Christian Peoples Alliance is
doing in Britain. We have a moment of change coming. We need you and those
you know in your church to play a part.

The CPA has councillors elected in London who demonstrate the difference
Christian Democracy can make. But we want to see more elected. It costs
nothing to be a local Council candidate. And it is amazing how the other
parties and the newspapers respond! Where I live in Kingston upon Thames,
13 members of my church allowed their names to go forward as candidates
in Council elections 3 years ago. We made front page newspaper headlines
and showed practical Christian alternatives to current problems. In other
boroughs, secular politicians started to notice the difference churches make.

Will you consider doing the same in your Council district? Do you know people
in your church who will be the difference this country needs? Even if they don't
get elected, CPA Council Candidates are a beacon of hope and a good way
of making the secular parties sit up and notice the work of the Christian
community. The CPA team is small and made up entirely of volunteers. But we
can help you in the process of standing for election. Just email me and I will
put you in touch with others where you live. Together we can make an impact.

So far in London, where every borough has elections next May 2010, we have
people coming forward wanting to make a stand. But we need more willing to
be candidates. And we need more co-ordinators. And of course we want to
see candidates standing outside London in other districts where there are

Lastly, there is the General Election. Please pray for Christians in all parties.
And please consider whether God is calling you to run for Parliament. Today
on the radio there was a discussion of the likely possibility of a 'hung' Parliament
where no party has a majority. In these circumstances, parties have to work
together. The objective of the CPA in the future is to enter coalition government
to pursue Christian aims and values. By standing today, we intend to make a
major impact in the politics of tommorrow.

Yours with Advent greetings,

David Campanale
CPA President
07873 625396


A spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals. -SPIRO AGNEW, Denouncing Moratorium Day protest against Vietnam War; in NY "Times," 20 Oct 69

In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. -SPIRO AGNEW, Speech, San Diego, 11 Sept 1970.

Monday, November 30, 2009

‘Equal Opportunities’ means that Homosexual Rights Trump Christian Rights

Christian Legal Centre reports,

‘Equal Opportunities’ means that Homosexual Rights Trump Christian Rights in Employment, Court rules.

Christians in employment in the UK will no longer be able to act according to their consciences and the rights of homosexual couples trump those of people of faith.

This is the clear message from the Employment Appeal Tribunal ruling issued today.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has today ruled that Gary McFarlane, a Christian counsellor who worked for Relate, was not unfairly dismissed or discriminated against when he was sacked for his orthodox views on sexual relationships which meant that he could not give an unequivocal commitment to help same-sex couples improve their sex lives.

The 48 year old father of two, who is also a solicitor and a former elder of a large multicultural church in Bristol, believes the Bible teaches that same-sex sexual practice is contrary to biblical teaching and therefore that he should do nothing which endorses this activity. Mr McFarlane had no objection to others in Relate counselling couples needing advice on same-sex activity, but for him it was a simple issue of conscience.

After managers at Relate made the decision to sack Mr McFarlane in March 2008, and after internal procedures had been exhausted, Mr McFarlane took his case to the Employment Tribunal claiming unfair dismissal and discrimination contrary to the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. In January 2009 the Tribunal ruled that he had not been discriminated against or unfairly dismissed. Mr McFarlane then appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal which ruled today to dismiss Mr McFarlane’s appeal.

Mr McFarlane, a father of two children said: “This decision is a stark warning to people of conscience in this nation that as a result of 12 years of Labour rule, the British establishment no longer values the democratic rights of its citizens to hold conscience as a matter of principle”.

“Society is the worse for not allowing people of conscience to be free to exercise legitimate rights”

Mr McFarlane was supported in his appeal by the Christian Legal Centre which instructed leading human rights barrister, Paul Diamond, and Mr Thomas Cordrey to represent him.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of CLC said: “Mr McFarlane was quite prepared for other counsellors to help same-sex couples in psychosexual counselling. He simply asked that on the rare occasions he was asked to do the same, his employer roster another counsellor to handle the case. This would have respected both the best interests of the counsellor and client”.

“The seriously worrying underlying point in this case, which the Court has refused to accept, is that for religious belief to be protected it is necessary to uphold the right to manifest that belief. The effect of this judgment is to rule out any expression of deeply-held conscience, even when the expression is limited to a very reasonable, practicable and sensible request to be assigned work such that worker and client are best served and that the work is tenable for the worker. This ruling goes against all notion of religious conscience protection and also against common sense”.

“Time and time again in British Courts we see that freedom of religion, Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, offers no protection whatsoever to Christians and other people of faith with a conscience.”

“Mr McFarlane will be appealing this decision. We will take this as far as is necessary, even if we have to go all the way to the Supreme Court and then Europe. We will press on until justice prevails”

Christmas not holidays

One my way to church I see two hube billboards which raise my temper. Coc-Cola says happy Holidays and Waitrose tells me its the only place to be at Christmas. I should love to deface the ads but instead, there is this.

*Twas the month before Christmas, When all through our land,*
*Not a Christian was praying, Nor taking a stand.*
*See the PC Police had taken away, the reason for Christmas - none could say.* *The children were told by their schools not to sing, About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*
*It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say, December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.*
*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit,*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*
*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod, *Something was changing, something quite odd! *
*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa, *In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*
*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down, At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.*
*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears, You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.*
*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty, Are words that were used to intimidate me.* *Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen* *On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!*
*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter* *To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*
*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*
* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*
*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded* *The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*
*So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'* *Sipping your Starbucks, You listen to me.*
*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*
*Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday!*
Please, all Christians join together and wish everyone you meet MERRY CHRISTMAS Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

Jonathan Agnew -

He didn't quite manage to get his leg over. ~ Jonathan Agnew (with Brian Johnston - after Ian Botham had spun around off balance and tried to step over the wicket unsuccessfully. (1991)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Agesilaus -

If all men were just, there would be no need of valor~Agesilaus (444-400 BC) from _Plutarch, Lives, Agesilaus_, sec. 23., king of Sparta, of the Eurypontid dynasty, ruling from approximately 400 BC to 360 BC

As he was dying on the voyage back from Egypt, he gave instructions to those close to him that they should not be responsible for making any image of his person, be it modeled or painted or copied, "For if I have accomplished any glorious feat, that will be my memorial. But if I have not, not even all the statues in the world—the products of vulgar, worthless men—would make any difference."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pakistani Christian on Run from Taliban Death Threat

Islamic extremist sermonizing leads to altercation at barbershop in South Waziristan By Dan Wooding Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Compass Direct News ( has revealed that a young Christian man is in hiding in Pakistan from Taliban militants who are seeking to kill him for “blasphemy” because he defended his faith.
The Compass story says, “In February Jehanzaib Asher, 22, was working in a barbershop his family jointly owns with his cousin in Wana, South Waziristan – a Taliban stronghold in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan’s northwest – when the Islamic militants showed up to try to convert him to Islam.
“It was not the first time the Taliban’s Noor Hassan had delivered strident sermons to him and his relatives, and this time Asher decided not to listen silently. He defended Christianity by citing verses from the Bible, and Hassan and another Islamic militant viciously beat him – breaking his left leg and some ribs and leaving his left hand non-functional.”
He told Compass that he only defended Christianity and did not comment on Islam. “One can bear the death of one’s father or mother, but can we keep listening to insults of our religion?”
Asher said that the Taliban militants began spreading the word to local residents that Asher and his cousin Christopher Masih had blasphemed Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. His picture was posted at check-points in an attempt to help the Taliban and other Islamists identify and kill him.
Earlier this month, Asher told Compass that he had disguised himself as a Muslim with a long beard and left Wana.

Friday, November 27, 2009

John Paul II -

It is not possible to speak of the right to choose when a clear moral evil is involved, when what is at stake is the commandment Do not kill!- John Paul II (1920-)

It is important to speak of suffering and death in a way that dispels fear. Indeed, dying is a part of life. - Pope John Paul II in Austria: Message to the sick and suffering June 1998

I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person.- Evangelium Vitae- Gospel of Life- Pope John Paul II - 1995

While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in it's final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of " the strong" against the weak who have no choice but to submit. - Evangelium Vitae-Gospel of Life Pope John Paul II- 199

The right to profess the truth must always be upheld, but not in a way that involves contempt for those who may think differently. ~John Paul II

Did you ever read the Koran? I recommend it. What the Koran teaches people is aggression; and what we [Christians] teach our people is peace. . . . Christianity aspires to peace and love. Islam is a religion that attacks.If you start teaching aggression to the whole community, you end up pandering to the negative elements in everyone. You know what that leads to: Such people will assault us. ---Pope John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla] (1920- ) (In Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi's _His Holiness: John Paul II and the Hidden History of Our Time_ [1996])

Murder is murder is murder. - John Paul II to the IRA , Ireland, 1979, quoted in Brenda Maddox, Maggie the First Lady, p134

Power is responsibility: it is service, not privilege. --- John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla] (1920- ) _An Invitation to Joy_ [1999]

The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn.-John Paul II, London, 9 June 1991

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.- John Paul II, 1986

The Islamic Law of Apostasy

The Islamic Law of Apostasy: join our campaign for its abolition
Throughout 2009 Barnabas Fund has been running a campaign for the abolition of the Islamic apostasy law, which imposes very serious penalties on Muslims who choose to leave their faith. All schools of Islamic law specify the death sentence for apostasy, and converts face a range of other punishments, including the loss of their families and property. The law also provokes powerful hostility to apostates among Muslims.

But change is possible. Some progressive Muslim scholars have argued that the apostasy law should be abandoned, so that people can leave Islam without fear of reprisals. And in a very encouraging development, just last month a group of mainstream Muslim leaders in Britain declared that no-one should be coerced into remaining a Muslim: “It is important to say quite simply that people have the freedom to enter the Islamic faith and the freedom to leave it” (Contextualising Islam in Britain, Cambridge: Centre of Islam ic Studies, 2009, p.75). These brave voices will be strengthened by non-Muslims also calling for repeal of the law.

Below you will find an important article by Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, which explains how Christians should respond to the issue of apostasy (and blasphemy) in Islam. In response to this, we invite you to sign our petition against the apostasy law, and to encourage your church and Christian friends to sign it too. The more signatures we have, the more impact we can have.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo
International Director, Barnabas Fund

Apostasy and Blasphemy in Islam: What should Christians Do?
From the Foreword to Freedom to Believe (McLean, VA: Isaac Publishing, 2009). Also published in Barnabas Aid Novemb er/December 2009.

Michael Nazir-Ali

The Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali

The Qur’an is fierce in its condemnation of apostasy (ridda) and of the apostate (murtadd). Theirs, according to it, will be a dreadful penalty (‘adhbun ‘azmun). This sentiment, which occurs in Sura 16:106, is re-expressed in other ways in other suras (chapters of the Qur’an). The interesting point to note is that the various threats of judgement and of punishment seem to relate to the next world or to life after this earthly one, rather than to this world and to this life.

Against this, we have the unanimous position of the various schools of Islamic law (fiqh) that shari‘a lays down the death penalty for adult male Muslims in possession of their faculties who apostatise. Some schools also prescribe a similar punishment for women, whilst others hold that a woman apostate should be imprisoned until she recants and returns to Islam. In addition to this, should an apostate somehow escape the ultimate penalty, his property becomes fai’, i.e. it becomes the property of the Muslim community, which may hand it over to his heirs; his mar riage is automatically dissolved and he is denied Muslim burial.

How then did such a major difference arise between the prima face teaching of the Qur’an and the provisions of shari‘a as codified by the various schools of law? The answer is that the death penalty for apostasy is to be found in the hadith, the various collections of traditions about the Prophet of Islam’s sayings and doings, and it is also found in the sunna of Muhammad and of his closest companions, the reports about their practice.

Commentators on the Qur’an, both ancient and modern, sensing this tension, have attempted to find passages that could be interpreted as teaching the death penalty for apostates. Thus 2:217, which speaks of the barrenness of an apostate’s life and work, in both this world and the next, is interpreted as meaning that apostates will be punished both in this world and in the next. Similarly, passages such as 4:88-89 are taken as justification for inflicting capital punishment on apostates.

On the other hand, there are those who take as their point of departure the Qur’anic silence on penalties in this world for apostasy. They either minimise the force of the traditions that require it or reject them altogether. It is said, for example, that the traditions that speak of the death penalty for apostates are weakly attested or from an unreliable source. If they contradict the Qur’an they are to be rejected as an accurate account of what Muhammad may have said. They are also to be rejected if they do not cohere with other accounts of his behaviour or speech.

Others point to the supposed practice of the second Caliph ‘Umar, who disliked the extreme penalty for apostasy and was followed in this by some of the early fuqaha or lawyers. More recently, this view has gained currency in some circles close to Al-Azhar As-Sharif, the premier place for Sunni learning, located in Cairo, Egypt. According to these scholars, the traditional time given to an apostate to repent must be extended to the whole of his life.

Many scholars claim that the punishment for apostasy in the time of the Prophet and of his Companions arose because rejection of the Islamic faith was linked to rebellion against the nascent Islamic state. So the punishment was not so much for apostasy as for treason. The well-known scholar, Sheikh Qaradawi, whose opinions are widely studied and followed, relying on the medieval jurist and reformer Ibn Tamiyya, distinguishes between the greater and the lesser apostasy. The lesser apostate, whilst being subject to civil penalties, would not be put to death but those who proclaim their apostasy, thus destabilising Islam and the Muslim umma (or nation), would be. This may be a useful distinction to make but is hardly a manifesto for freedom of expression or of belief.

Although apostasy is punishable by death in only a few countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan (Iran seems to be drawing back from putting it on the statute book, at the time of writing), in fact jurists will sometimes directly invoke the authority of shari‘a to sentence apostates to death. This has happened in both Iran and in Afghanistan. In addition to judicial process, those accused of apostasy can be killed in prison, through torture or poisoning, or by mobs attacking their home or place of work, or even by relatives!

Whilst apostasy, and its penalty, are applicable to Muslims, the offence of Sabb, of insulting the Qur’an or the Prophet of Islam, can also be applied to non-Muslims. Blasphemy against the Prophet is punishable by death, though the method of execution varies from one authority to another. It is this that led the Federal Shari‘a Court in Pakistan to rule out any other penalty but death for blaspheming Muhammad. The so-called “Blasphemy Law” has caused considerable grief for Christians and other non -Muslim minorities since even the expression of their belief can be construed as insulting the Prophet. The Law has also become a way of settling personal scores by accusing one’s adversary of blasphemy. There have been numerous convictions in the lower courts, though fortunately the higher courts have invariably, so far, overturned these verdicts. In the meantime, the family is left destitute and the community from which the accused comes left vulnerable to harassment and intimidation.

The irony is that Muslims claim that their prophet forgave those who insulted him and there are a number of stories to this effect in the sira (life of Muhammad) and in the hadith (there are also other stories that describe how those who insulted him were punished). Which of these attitudes is to prevail in contemporary Muslim societies?

A number of administrative and judicial attempts have been made to ease the lot of those accused of blasphemy and to make it mor e difficult to file charges of blasphemy against someone. None of these has been wholly successful. The law returns again and again to haunt the political establishment and the judiciary. The only solution is for a government to have the courage to repeal it or to abolish or suspend the death penalty altogether, thus leaving other penalties for dealing with alleged cases of “insulting religion” or blasphemy, as indeed existed before the current law was promulgated. Some of the ‘ulama (Islamic scholars) are bound to object to such steps, if the government takes them, and there may well be “popular” movements to resist the repeal or amendment of the law. Such resistance needs to be faced down and genuine objections, such as the claim that Islamic law prescribes qisas or retaliation for murder and that therefore the relatives of the murdered person have the right to seek life for life, or alternatively compensation, will have to be met. It is already the case that qisas cannot be carried out by an individual or group but must be left to the state. If the death penalty were to be abolished or suspended for all serious crime, could not the state order and enable compensation to be paid instead of the death penalty as part of its judicial and executive responsibility? These issues need further exploration but it is clear that the present blasphemy law is neither just nor compassionate and needs to be dealt with while there is opportunity.

Most Muslim countries have subscribed to international treaties, such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights, but they subordinate such agreements to the provisions of the shari‘a, which, in many cases, negates the effect of these documents. In this connection, it is interesting to compare the UN Declaration with the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam. In the latter there is no equivalent to Article 18 (on freedom of thought, conscience and religion) of the former and all provisions are, ultimately, subject to shari‘a. This approach has resulted, again and again, in important rights under Article 18 of the UN Declaration being denied to people in Islamic countries on the grounds that they contravene the provisions of shari‘a. This situation has caused much frustration to human rights activists, constitutional lawyers and even progressive regimes as any provision in law can always be trumped by an appeal to shari‘a.

If the impasse created in this way is to be avoided, it is necessary for leading institutions in the Islamic world to undertake a major reform of shari‘a so that the principles of amelioration and of movement, which exist in at least some of the madhahib, or schools of law, are not only recognised but actually acted upon in both religious and other courts, as there is need. There is also, of course, the urgent task of ijtihad, i.e. a fundamental examination as to how the principles of law to be found in the Qur’an and other sources of Islamic law can be brought into a fruitful relationship with present-day conditions and requirements. This is the case, for example, in the areas of finance, family law, penal provisions, jihad and the treatment of non-Muslims in an Islamic state.

Christians, of course, in the context of dialogue with Muslims and with Islamic religious and political authorities, will encourage those who are struggling to maximise fundamental freedoms in Islamic contexts. They will also be active in advocacy for those who have fallen foul, both materially and spiritually, of traditional understandings of laws and customs regarding apostasy and blasphemy. It remains important to raise awareness of what is happening in so many parts of the world so that people can learn from, pray for and give to those who have become victims of these draconian laws and customs.

The Rt Revd Dr Nazir-Ali was until recently Bishop of Rochester.

“When I am visiting a country where Christians are under pressure, quite often a minister or a lay person will ask quietly whether I know about Barnabas Fund. When I say, ‘Yes,’ their eyes light up and they tell me how Barnabas has encouraged them with a church building, a school or medical assistance. It is this kind of ministry that needs to be supported by prayers and by generosity so that the situation of our brothers and sisters is eased a little by our love.”

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali

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