Apart from attacks from rogue extremist Islamists, one pattern emerging in recent times, is that of increasing official state harassments of Christians and Christianity.
A clear case is Gambia declaring itself an outright moslem nation, justifying this by citing a figure of 90% moslem population and referring to her erstwhile secular status as a legacy of the country’s colonial past. This now means that the country would be ruled by strict sharia law, and previous coercions of Christianity carried out under the banners of private hisbahs are now covered by the nation’s constitution. As it were, Gambia is poised to go the way of Somalia which officially adopted Sharia in 2009, and Sudan which was proclaimed an Islamic nation by Omar Al-Bashir, following the secession of South Sudan in 2011, Today these two countries are among the most dangerous places on earth to be called a Christian.
In Sudan, around mid December, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) took into detention, Telahoon Nogose Kassa, Pastor at the Khartoum Bahri Evangelical Church. Pastor Kassa has been valiantly resisting the bid by Muslim investors in concert with government officials to take over the Church land, after having demolished part of its worship centre. Kassa showed that the Church had proper documents affirming its rightful ownership, and he has been networking with other Christians to resist the government officials. For these efforts, apparently, Pastor Kassa is currently languishing in Kobar Prison. Also arrested by the NISS, about a week to Christmas, were Pastors Kowa Shamaal and Hassan Abdelrahim, both leaders of the Sudan Church of Christ (SCOC). They too have been strongly objecting to government demolition of SCOC worship buildings in the country.
Following the July 2011 secession of South Sudan, Sudan in early 2013 announced stoppage of allocation of land for Church buildings, claiming Christians barely existed in the country again. Furthermore, Churches deemed to have belonged to South Sudanese were bulldozed and the land confiscated in the name of the government. The SCOC church however had been established in 1998 and had duly obtained the land currently being challenged by the authorities. According to the Morning Star News, as at December ending, the whereabouts of Pastors Kowa and Hassan “were …. unknown.”
Apart from Somalia, Sudan, and the Gambia, another Islamic country that did not mince words in her stance towards Christianity is Brunei. In announcing a formal proscription of any celebration of Christmas, the sultan claimed, that such celebrations could “damage the beliefs of the Muslim community." Any form of celebration, including wearing a Santa hat could attract a five year jail term. Christmas had been proscribed in Somalia for identical reasons. Contrast all these with the clamours from muslims in Christian nation demanding special rights during Islamic holidays, including the Ramadan!
In Bangladesh, several Christian leaders received, instead of Christmas greetings, menacing text messages through their mobile phones. According to the Bangladesh Christian Association, between October and December 2015, at least 37 Christian leaders received such messages threatening their lives. And the threats were actually followed up by actual attacks in a number of cases. “Christians are very much afraid,” said Rev Aniruddha Das, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Bangladesh. However, “we must remember that we are children of this land and we cannot give in to threats.( http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Fear-at-Christmas-in-Bangladesh-as-two-bishops-receive-death-threats-36257.html)
Indonesia reportedly has the largest moslem population of any country in the world. Officially a secular country, exception was made for the Aceh province to operate under Sharia. The province has been witnessing a rash of church building demolition, which was accentuated towards the end of the year. Though government promised security for Christians to celebrate Christmas, (a move seen to reflect more efforts to keep ISIS away from Indonesia than to protect Christians), things were different in Aceh.
Christians were requested to either celebrate Christmas on 23rd December, or else go do so out of town. Failure to comply, there would be no security guarantees. The Christians chose to defy the order.
Troubles had started in Aceh on Oct 13 when response to the torching of yet another church provoked a riot from church members in which a moslem was killed. The ensuing settlement demanded the demolition of 11 of the 24 churches in the region. The remaining 13 churches were to seek re-registration under stringent conditions that include obtaining signatures from moslems and other non-christians in the neighbourhood.
Even in the other regions of Indonesia not under direct Sharia rule, it wasn’t an especially rosy Christmas for many churches who had to conduct their services in the open – their church buildings having been demolished. The GSK Yasmin church in particular marked its 100th service in the open, outside the parliament building in Jarkata. Many of the church buildings were pulled down by moslem mobs who gather in hundreds armed with axes and petrol. They claim that the Churches do not have proper building permit. Even though such actions are not sponsored by the Indonesian state, government is apparently helpless to intervene.
Even when the cases have been adjudicated upon at the courts, that did not cut any ice with the Jihadists. For instance the ruling of the Supreme Court that the GKI Yasmin church in Bogor (60 kilometres outside Jakarta), should be allowed to worship in their building was ignored with impunity by the Mayor of Bogor who kept the building under seal. Since Indonesia passed its Religious Harmony law in 2006, more than 1,000 Christian churches have closed while others have been prevented from being built.
The good news from Indonesia is that despite these persecutions, the growth of the Church continues (see http://www.worthynews.com/22470-indonesia-churches-close-christianity-grows) .
But we have more grim news from Uganda. Supposedly a Christian nation, the 11% moslem populations have been perpetuating unspeakable havocs, particularly in the East, where they form a tyrannical uncontrollable majority. See the article “Sad Tales from Eastern Uganda” below for a short chronicle of some of the dastard events that happened in December 2015 alone.
In the western nations, where the muslims do not yet have sufficient numbers to directly attack Christianity, the atheists and new agers continue to fill the gap. For examples of ridiculous litigations and court injunctions curtailing the celebration of Christmas in the US, see the article Celebrating Christ’s Coming by Terry James. Terry lamented that referring to the season as Christmas is now forbidden, not just in several public schools and institutions in the United States, but also within a growing number of corporate entities and organizations.
Elsewhere in Latin America where the catholics top the population charts and call the shots, the pressure is intense on evangelicals to convert to Catholicism or leave town. As reported by Worthy News, seven evangelical Christians were imprisoned on December 15 2015 in Chiapas, Mexico, for their refusal to follow the example of eight other evangelical families who had succumbed to the incessant pressure to convert to Catholicism. (See http://www.worthynews.com/22468-mexico-seven-evangelicals-jailed). With no response coming from the state authorities, the situation is repeating itself throughout the rural regions of Chiapas and other states including Oaxaca, Guerrero, Hidalgo and Puebla (See http://www.worthynews.com/18254-protestants-in-mexico-persecuted-for-refusing-to-renounce-their-faith) .
At the time of this report in Nigeria, embattled top politician Jim Nwobodo of Enugu state not only switched political camps but also renounced his membership of the Anglican Communion for Catholicism. As is required in such a situation, Mr Nwobodo also had to repeat his marriage in the catholic church (see details at http://www.punchng.com/jim-nwobodo-dumps-anglican-church-weds-in-catholic-church/)