Irish pro-lifers vow to fight on after poll supports repeal of abortion ban

Irish pro-life campaigners campaigning for the protection of the eighth amendment. (PHOTO: LoveBoth Project Facebook page)

Originally published in Life Site

Pro-life groups in Ireland say they’ll regroup and keep fighting to defend unborn children as the battle shifts to rearguard action after Friday’s majority vote for legal abortion.

Nearly 66% of a 64% turnout of Irish citizens voted to repeal the country’s Eighth Amendment, which recognises the unborn child’s right to life, in a result pro-life leaders described as tragic and heartbreaking.

Health Minister Simon Harris said after Saturday’s vote count he would ask for cabinet approval as early as Tuesday to turn the government’s draft law into a proposed legislative text, the Guardian reported.

Harris said he’s hoping to bring in legislation on abortion in “early autumn” and Irish Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said the law will change within six months to allow abortion.

Holding the Prime Minister to his promise
“We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances,” countered Dr Ruth Cullen, spokesperson of the LoveBoth campaign, on Saturday.

“He gave his word on this, now he must deliver on it. No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach’s promises in this regard,” said Cullen, as quoted in the Irish Catholic.

Pro-life activist Cora Sherlock, deputy chair of the Pro-life Campaign, reiterated in a tweet the day before the referendum that the government was proposing unrestricted abortion.

“Tomorrow’s vote is about abortion on demand. It’s not restrictive, it’s not limited. A vote for repeal would introduce abortion laws more extreme than the law in Britain where 1 in 5 babies are lost to abortion,” she noted.

She tweeted Saturday the fight wasn’t over.

“We now have to hold the government to what they have said, that they want to see a situation where abortion will be rare,” Sherlock told Reuters.

She told the Irish Independent that she was “very, very upset” by the vote.

“I will accept the will of the Irish people, at the same time I will make it very clear what I feel of the campaign that has taken place,” she said. “We will now regroup and find out what our next move is.”

What the draft law allows
The government’s draft law will allow abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, after a three-day waiting period, according to the Guardian.

The proposed law permits abortion after the 12th week on the grounds of alleged risk to the mother’s life or “serious risk” to her health, or for alleged fatal foetal abnormality, and with approval by two doctors.

It will restrict abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy but allow it at any stage for alleged fatal foetal abnormality.

“We will oppose that legislation,” John McGuirk of Save the 8th campaign noted in a statement Saturday. “If and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland, because of the inability of the government to keep their promise about a GP-led service, we will oppose that as well.”

Irish-American founder Chris Slattery of the New York-based Expectant Mothers Care, urged pro-life advocates in Ireland to launch “alternative to abortion” centres aimed at those with unplanned pregnancies, reported the Irish Times.

“Pro-life outreach” to expectant mothers is needed in Ireland given the “now, inevitable, upcoming launch of abortion facilities, sooner or later,” said Slattery, who travelled to Dublin to campaign to save the amendment.

People celebrate Ireland repealing abortion restrictions. (PHOTO: Reuters)

International response to the repeal
“They’re calling it a landslide — I call it a national tragedy,” Franklin Graham posted to Facebook.

Charisma News reports Graham as going on to say:

“So now, what they have decided is that the stronger have the right to take the life of the weaker. At least 33% of the country got it right. Just because the majority who voted say that murdering the unborn should be legal, doesn’t mean that it’s right. Just because the Hutus in Rwanda had a majority and wanted to kill all the Tutsis, that doesn’t make it right. For many years in the United States, the majority thought slavery was okay and should be legal, but that doesn’t make it right. No matter what country you live in, everyone needs to remember that you will stand before God one day and give an account for your actions — and it may be sooner than later.”

Human Life International Ireland described the referendum as “a day when we, as a nation, have rejected God by rejecting the unborn children He will gift us with — little ones, made in His image and likeness,” in a Saturday statement from executive director Patrick McCrystal.

The Knock-based affiliate of American Human Life International is going to “tackle the roots of the crisis” by educating people on the “eternal, unchanging and liberating truths of the Catholic faith,” beginning with a conference on Humanae Vitae in Dublin this summer.

“There has been an unprecedented amount of prayer and fasting in the build-up to this moment from the remnant of the faithful in this country, and around the world. We have repented. We have wept for the sins of our people, and we are convinced that the Lord has heard our prayers,” McCrystal wrote.

“We must endure this pain as a purification for our collective sins and then we must step forward in total faith that the Lord will rescue His beloved people. Following the crucifixion is the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he added.

“With God’s help, as a nation, we will rise again.”




Thousands march for life in London

The march for life in London, United Kingdom.

Originally published in The Christian Institute

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to share a pro-life message.

The fifth annual UK March for Life reportedly attracted 4 000 supporters, with pro-lifers marching through Westminster.

The attendance is a record high for the event, which was held in the capital for the first time.

Roman Catholic Bishop John Keenan urged pro-lifers in attendance to continue taking a stand in public.

“You have no idea of the galvanising effect your courage will have if you stand up before the British media courageously, even under attack, and be pro-life. You’re setting the seeds of the next generation.”

“We will win this battle by truth, but we will win it even more by courage”, he added.

Clare McCullough of the Good Counsel Network and Rachel McKenzie of post-abortive support group Rachel’s Vineyard spoke at the event.

In total, there have been nearly 9 million abortions in Great Britain since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed.

Significantly, mothers who had been helped to choose life stood on the platform alongside their children.

On the other side of the world, over one million people marched for life across several countries in Latin America.

In Peru, a reported 800 000 attended a pro-life march in the capital city of Lima, while in Colombia, 400 000 people took part in marches in 53 cities around the country.




Former Muslim plants first church town has seen in 700 years

Urim Bogaj.

Originally published in CBN News

A man is helping take the gospel to the four corners of the earth by planting the first church a town in Kosovo has seen in 700 years.

It’s a story with an unlikely beginning.

Urim Bogaj grew up in a Muslim family that hated Christians.

But everything changed when his aunt converted to Christianity in 1999 just after a bloody war rocked the small Southeastern European country.

She shared her new faith with 15-year-old Urim, who found it hard to accept.

“It was hard to listen to her. To receive what she had to say. We always knew that Christians were serpents. Serpents were evil. I did not want to become a Christian,” he told Peter Wooding from the Global News Alliance.

However, Urim continued reading the Bible and eventually gave his life to Christ.

His family was shocked by the news of his conversion. Despite this, he shared the gospel with them and his entire family renounced Islam.

Now, he has planted a church in Malisheve, the first one the majority Muslim town has seen in 700 years.

“There were challenges. There were different problems. Persecution of every kind,” he said.

Urim is calling on the global community of believers to pray for the work he is doing there.

“As the first generation of Christians, we need your prayers to pray for us to be standing strong for Christ…to finish the race and go to the end.”




Sweden tries to ‘starve’ out Christian asylum seeker

Aideen Strandsson.

Originally published in CBN News

Aideen Strandsson is a woman without a country.  She may live in Sweden, but she is a stateless person, with no passport, no citizenship and no way to get a job. She lives every day with the knowledge she could be deported to her native Iran where, as a Christian, she would face grave danger.

Sweden remains defiant against global anger
The world was outraged when the Swedish government decided to send Strandsson, who is a Christian and former Muslim, back to Iran where she could face prison, rape and even death. But a worldwide outcry over her situation has apparently not changed anything.

After CBN News first brought the former Iranian actress’s story to the world stage, the government of Hungary offered her asylum, and many people from around the world contacted the Swedish government asking it to reconsider.

“It was really like a miracle for me,” Strandsson said, “When so many people in America called the Sweden embassy. Many people sent comments to me and said ‘you are welcome to our country.'”

But Sweden’s migration board told CBN News none of that matters. Aideen’s case has been turned over to border police for deportation.

Now Strandsson waits in a kind of legal limbo.

‘Stuck’ between citizenship and deportation
“Aideen’s situation is not at all uncommon in Sweden,” says Swedish Attorney Gabriel Donner. “There are a fair amount of people who get stuck in between. So you have these curious cases where nothing is really dealt with and you cannot get ahead.”

Swedish attorney Gabriel Donner represented 160 Christian asylum seekers last year alone.

And he says by remaining in Sweden, Strandsson is running the risk of deportation.

Her dream to live freely as a Christian
Aideen Strandsson came to Sweden from Iran in 2014 on a work visa and adopted a Swedish last name. She Left Islam and became a Christian in Iran after seeing a video of Muslims stoning a woman to death and then having a dream about Jesus.

When she arrived in Sweden, she requested a public baptism.

Strandsson said, “I wanted to be baptized in public because I want to say I am free, I am Christian and I wanted everyone to know about that.”

Which means the Islamic government of Iran knows.  And because she starred in films and a TV series in Iran, it makes her an even bigger target if she is sent back.

What’s next: Possible prison and deportation to Iran
Donner says it’s not clear if or when that might happen.  “When it comes to the border police, Sweden’s backlog is growing and growing and growing. Right now it’s about two years and growing. This is contrary to European union law but no one cares.”

Aideen would first be sent to prison in Sweden while authorities made arrangements to fly her to Iran, according to Donner who said, “This is real prison conditions. They’re not allowed to speak on the telephone. They’re not allowed to be on a computer, not allowed to get in touch with anybody, they wear prison clothes. If they have to be transferred anywhere, they’re transferred in chains.”

Swedish authorities would then contact the Islamic Republic of Iran and tell them Aideen is coming and when to expect her, even though Sweden’s migration board says, on its own webpage, that it will never deport asylum seekers to nations where they face danger, and doing so is a violation of the Geneva convention on refugees.

Sweden’s migration board says it cannot comment on her case.

Unable to work: Swedish government tries to ‘starve’ her
Aideen spends her days helping at church or training in Tae Kwon Do. She has earned a black belt, but the migration board took her certificate because she is not a legal resident.

She landed a job with the technology giant Ericsson as a computer programmer, but the Swedish government wouldn’t allow that either. Sweden ignored Ericsson’s plea to let her work for them.

Donner says “the idea is to starve you so you tell them to send you out.”

But she’s staying in Sweden because her family is here and because she says Jesus told her to not be afraid.

Strandsson and other Christian asylum seekers in Sweden have faced deportation at the same time that the Swedish government has given 150 protected identities to former ISIS fighters who have returned to Sweden, so that they can find jobs.

There will be no such help for Aideen.

“There have been fast lanes for Syrians and Somalians, but not for Iranians and definitely not for Christians,” Donner says. “We have one judge here in Stockholm who has never said yes to any Christian.”

Sudden arrest and departure
If Strandsson is about to be deported, will she receive a warning letter first? “She doesn’t necessarily get anything,” Donner says.  “They can just turn up and can turn up any time.”

Strandsson admits, “I don’t know what will happen to me in the future, but I should say thank you for everything. I can never find the words to say thank you to CBN and to all the people who tried to help me.”

 

 




Belgian Red Cross to remove its iconic crosses to not offend non-Christians

The Belgian branches of Red Cross have been instructed to remove the iconic cross from all buildings and signage so as to not offend Muslims and non-Chrisitans. (PHOTO: Breitbart London)

Originally published in The Christian Post

The Belgian branches of the Red Cross have been told they must remove the organisation’s iconic red crosses from building walls amid concerns that the Christian symbol will offend non-Christians.

Breitbart News reported Monday on a translation of a 7sur7 article where André Rouffart, president of the Red Cross in Verviers, reveals that the Belgian branches were asked by the Provincial Committee of the Red Cross in Liège to “respect the principles of the Red Cross” of religious neutrality and remove the cross because it might offend Muslims.

The Red Cross was founded in the 19th century by Jean-Henry Dunant, a devout Christian who was also part of the creation of the Young Men’s Christian Association.

Today the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies states that it provides disaster and health emergency relief to vulnerable people “without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.”

It also states that it follows the principle of neutrality, which does not allow it to “take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.”

Volunteers and members have been pushing back against the decision to remove the crosses from buildings, however.

TruNews shared one translation from an aid worker who reportedly said: “Let things be as they are. We said Christmas holidays, now winter holidays. The Christmas market in Brussels has become the Winter Pleasures.”

“For a certain part of the population — because of the Muslims — the crosses were removed in the Red Cross houses and, more particularly, in that of Verviers,” the aid worker added.

A flag is pictured on the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 2 2017. (PHOTO: Denis Balibouse)

Rouffart has argued that the pushback is a “tempest in a teacup,” however, in an attempt to dismiss concerns.

The Decline of Christianity across Western Europe continues to be widely reported, though some incidents, such as a French court decision in October to remove a giant cross atop a statue of Pope Saint John Paul II, have sparked protests and backlash.

Close to 350 people came out to protest in Ploermel against the decision that deemed the cross to be a violation of church-state separation laws, organising under the banner of “Don’t touch my cross.”

Some of the protesters held up signs such as “Stop Christianophobia” in French, though the social conservative and French nationalist party Debout la France party was also in attendance.

“[Secularism] is not to cut the roots of our country,” Dupont-Aignan, the founder and president of the Debout la France, said at the event.

“Why the state council on the one hand authorises the burkini and on the other wants to destroy the cross?”

Beata Szydło, Prime Minister of Poland, where John Paul II was from, separately offered to take the statue and “save it from censorship.”

Szydło called out the “dictates of political correctness” and the “secularisation of the state,” which she accused of promoting “values which are alien to our culture, which leads to terrorising Europeans in their everyday life.”




Nick Vujicic thanks God after 400 000 come to Christ in Ukraine

800 000 people in the streets of Kyiv Ukraine attending a Life Without Limbs event where 400 000 people came to know Christ. (PHOTO: Nick Vujicic)

Originally published in The Gospel Herald

Limbless evangelist Nick Vujicic has thanked God after his team witnessed 400 000 people repent of their sins and begin their spiritual journey with Jesus Christ at a recent event in Ukraine.

“The biggest event that our team at Life Without Limbs has seen and maybe the largest event ever in Europe – 800 000 people in the streets of Kyiv Ukraine! Thank you God,” Vujicic wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“400 000 repented of their sins and began their spiritual journey with Jesus — Now LWL celebrates the witness of 1 million decisions to walk with and trust God in everything face to face,” he added.

Vujicic, 33, also said he recently stopped in Russia on his evangelism tour, where he stayed for 40 hours.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to meet the President this trip but we continue to plant seeds of love and hope across this country until some unique doors open to share — thank you for your support,” he wrote in an update.

Vujicic was born without arms or legs, and was given no medical reason for this condition. Despite the challenges he’s faced, he is today a world-renowned inspirational speaker and author.

On the Life Without Limbs website, Vujicic said he started his ministry to encourage others who, like him, have faced “countless challenges and obstacles,” to remember that with God, anything is possible.

“Life Without Limbs is all about sharing this same hope and genuine love that I have personally experienced with people all over the globe,” he said. “It’s been said that doors open to a man without arms and legs much more easily than to anyone else, we thank God for providing that privilege. I’ve been invited into very unexpected places to share about my faith in Jesus Christ and literally millions have responded.”

The evangelist said he’s travelled to over 63 countries to share the gospel, and his “greatest joy in this life is to introduce Jesus to those I meet and tell them of His great desire to get to know them personally by allowing Him to become their Lord and Saviour.”

“Because of the ministry of Life Without Limbs, God has used me in countless schools, churches, prisons, orphanages, hospitals, stadiums and in face-to-face encounters with individuals, telling them how very precious they are to God,” he said. “It is our greatest pleasure to assure people that God does have a plan for each and every life that is meaningful and purposeful, for God took my life, one that others might disregard as not having any significance and He has filled me with His purpose and showed me His plans to use me to move hearts and lives toward Him.”




Anglican church in Scotland disciplined over same-sex marriage

Welby says he is unclear on whether homosexual sex is sin

Originally published in The Christian Institute

The Anglican church in Scotland has been disciplined for dropping the biblical definition of marriage, Justin Welby has announced.

In June, The Scottish Episcopal Church stated that its understanding of marriage was no longer one man and one woman, but instead merely “in accordance with the civil law of Scotland”.

It will now be barred from decision-making processes within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Grief
Speaking during a meeting of Anglican leaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “There were a lot of expressions of disappointment, strong feelings from many of the provinces.”

But he added, “it was more of a family that’s having to face the fact that something’s happened that is causing grief than a sort of club that doesn’t like one of its members”.

The leader of the Scottish church was adamant that it had made the right decision and in recent weeks its churches have held same-sex weddings.

Rejection
Last year, the US Episcopal church was suspended from the Anglican Communion for three years for “a fundamental departure from the faith” over marriage.

It changed its church law in 2015 to remove reference to marriage as being between a man and a woman.

GAFCON, a conservative grouping of Anglicans said at the time that the “continuing brokenness of the Communion” has been caused by “the persistent rejection of biblical and apostolic faith”.

No clear answer
Earlier this week, Justin Welby said he could not give a clear answer on whether homosexual sex is a sin because of major differences in the Anglican church globally.

He said: “I am having to struggle to be faithful to the tradition, faithful to the scripture, to understand what the call and will of God is in the 21st century and to respond appropriately with an answer for all people – not condemning them, whether I agree with them or not – that covers both sides of the argument.

“And I haven’t got a good answer, and I am not doing that bit of work as well as I would like.”




Christian Hungary defies European Union on migrants

Budapest, Hungary (PHOTO: CNN screenshot).

In a time when most of Europe is in the grips of atheism, there is a nation where Christianity seems to not only be holding its own but some say is thriving.

Imagine a government that is unabashedly Christian, that thinks Christian values are worth defending, that wants to protect and even nourish the family.

Welcome to Hungary.

Hungary’s constitution is explicitly Christian and says that marriage is between one man and one woman and that life begins at conception. It even includes the phrase, “God bless the Hungarians.”

Hungary’s Faith Church, with 300 branches, is one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Europe, with 70,000 attendees.

Help for persecuted Christians
And the Hungarian government has taken on the role of protecting Christianity. It’s even set up an office to help persecuted Christians worldwide.

When CBN News revealed the story of Sweden’s threat to deport Iranian actress Aideen Strandsson back to certain prison and torture in Islamic Iran, only one nation stepped up and offered her asylum: Hungary.

The Hungarian government says, “Taking in persecuted Christians is our moral and constitutional duty.”

Returning to its Christian roots
Hungarian policy analyst István Pócza says Hungary has only returned to its roots as a historic bastion of Christianity, dating back over a thousand years.

“Hungary wants to protect the European values, European Christian Jewish values,” he told CBN News.

Christianity in Hungary has survived almost 200 years of Muslim Ottoman rule and Soviet Communist domination.

Secretary of State Zoltán Kovács told us, “You have to stick to your traditions and legacies. Europe’s legacy is a Christian legacy, not necessarily in a religious form but most definitely in a cultural form.”

Resisting islamisation
And it’s this belief that has Hungary locked in a battle with the European Union over migrants.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Mihály Orbán has accused the European Union of trying to Islamise Europe, and Hungary has infuriated Brussels by building a fence to keep illegal migrants out.

Orbán has essentially told the European Union to take a hike when it comes to open borders. Hungary has seen the terrorism and chaos caused by migration in Western Europe and has said, “not here.”

The European Union has even gone to court to force Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to take in migrants. Mr Oban has accused Brussels of “blackmail.”

“Securing the borders to stop illegal migration is indeed a solution, and this is actually the only way to reinstate law and order at the borders of the European union and not the other way around,” Kovács told CBN News.

Islam matters
Kovács says it matters that most of the migrants trying to enter Hungary are Muslim. And he says Western European nations are paying a heavy price by pretending that Islam doesn’t matter.

“We’ve been living with and close to Islam for centuries in the past and we know about it. So, that’s why it does matter who has come in and in what manner people are coming,” Kovács told CBN News.

Orbán is no Putin – or is he?
Orbán is often portrayed in the western media as a version of Vladimir Putin, an undemocratic strongman. In fact, at an EU summit in 2015, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly greeted Orbán with the words, “Hello, dictator.”

Hungary is most certainly not a dictatorship. But Orbán’s critics accuse him of corruption and using the instruments of government against his political opponents, including the recent billboard campaign against billionaire George Soros.

Tamás Lattmann of the Institute of International Relations told us, “What we see in Hungary today is the shameless use of public money, of tax money to formulate pro-government messages.”

Bulcsú Hunyadi of the Political Capital Policy Research and Consulting Institute said, “Since 2008 the Hungarian government headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been continuously weakening the system of checks and balances and weakening democratic institutions.”

But Orbán, a man who even his critics concede is a skilled politician, doesn’t seem to have a serious political rival, and he will probably remain in power, meaning Hungary’s standoff with the European Union over migrants is likely to escalate.

Is also means that Hungary will continue to have a government that thinks Christianity is worth protecting.




Thousands of pro-lifers on the march in Croatia

2017 March for life in Zagreb, Croatia [PHOTO: Facebook]

Originally published by The Christian institute

Thousands of ordinary people committed to the sanctity of life marched to show their support for the unborn in Croatia’s capital city.

An estimated 15,000 people marched in Zagreb with over 5,000 people also demonstrating in Split earlier this month.

The march is one of a number of pro-life events that have been taking place around the world so far this year.

Croatia currently allows abortion on demand for the first ten weeks of pregnancy.

Banners with the slogans “Chose Life” and “Life is always a Gift,” were on display. Organisers said the aim of the march was to “draw attention to respect of every human life – from conception to natural death”.

A pro-life petition, believed to have tens of thousands of signatures, will be presented to the Croatian Government.

Earlier this year, the Constitutional Court of Croatia recommended that the existing abortion law is changed by Parliament within two years.

In recent months, pro-life events have taken place around the world, in countries such as America, Canada and Italy.

Last week in the UK, thousands of people took to the streets of Birmingham to share their pro-life message, despite opposition from pro-abortion activists.

Marchers congregated at Victoria Square to hear from speakers and to voice their opposition to the Abortion Act – 50 years after it was passed.




Trump urges Turkey’s President Erdogan to release jailed Christian pastor

US President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House yesterday. (PHOTO: Reuters)

US President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the entrance to the West Wing of the White House yesterday. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Originally published in Christian Today

President Donald Trump has used a White House meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to urge the Turkish leader to expedite the release of jailed Christian pastor Andrew Brunson.

Brunson has been detained since October when he and his wife were held on immigration violation charges after running a small church in Izmir, Turkey. His charges have since escalated to accusations of terrorism, though Turkey has produced no evidence for their claims.

Trump met with Erdogan yesterday and reportedly took the opportunity to pressure him to secure Brunson’s release.

“President Trump raised the incarceration of Pastor Andrew Brunson and asked that the Turkish government expeditiously return him to the United States,” the White House said in a press release following the leaders’ meeting, according to the Daily Caller.

The American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a religious freedom advocacy group, announced on Monday it had submitted a formal statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council over Brunson’s case.

The ACLJ appealed to the UN for Brunson’s quick release, and said that Turkey was violating essential principles of liberty and human rights on the basis of his peaceful Christian expression.

Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ wrote yesterday in praise of Trump’s advocacy with president Erdoğan.

Andrew and Norine Brunson were arrested in October following a crackdown after a failed military coup.

“Last week, I urged the president and the vice president when I met with them in the White House to raise Pastor Andrew’s case with Turkish leaders. Today, they did just that, raising his plight directly to President Erdoğan,” he wrote.

He reported that Trump had raised Brunson’s case three times during the meeting.

He added: ‘This is exactly what we asked the president to do and is a major sign of significant progress toward bringing Pastor Andrew home.’

It is not clear how Erdogan responded to Trump’s appeal, but he made no public statement on the matter. In the joint White House press conference, Trump said the US’ relationship with Turkey would be unbeatable.