The U.S. State Department has released the 2011 report on international religious freedom. While significant areas of concern are present, there are also some signs of hope. The website with the report is quite helpful and easy to navigate. Visit: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/religiousfreedom/index.htm

 
 

2 Comments

  1. pavelkla says:

    Persecution of Pastor
    Sunday Adelaja in Ukraine: 08/22/2012

    Time for the
    world to act

    By Segun Olanipekun

    In
    August 2011, I had a marathon interview in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, with Pastor
    Sunday Adelaja, the Nigerian-born founder and senior pastor of the Embassy of
    God Church in Ukraine about his pace-setting ministry, his perennial ordeal at
    the hands of the Ukrainian government and the local Orthodox Church. The
    interview which covered a range of issues was part of a Christian communication
    project about to formally unfold. But for exigencies, part of it has to be used
    for this write-up in order to drive home the kernel of the persecution Pastor
    Sunday has been going through under the present regime in Ukraine. As at the time of the interview, many people did
    not know (and I am sure even up till now), that Pastor Sunday, as he is fondly
    called, is under probation in Ukraine.

    This
    type of probation is not the one commonly known as a period of tutelage or apprenticeship
    under a master before proper certification. But in the classical sense of the
    post-communist Ukrainian society it connotes absurd restrictions on his freedom
    of movement; something akin to a humiliating conditional freedom. It is like a war
    of containment normally reserved for enemy of the state.

    It
    is a probation that prohibits Pastor Sunday from travelling out of Ukraine. It
    also subjects his actions and activities in and out of the church to state
    surveillance. Like a criminal under parole, he is constantly under watch. That
    has been his experience since 2009 when he was fraudulently framed in a ludicrous
    charge that he was a scammer along with some of his church members in a failed
    real estate business he knew nothing about. The frivolous charge by Ukrainian
    Interior Ministry accuses him of defrauding the country’s citizens of money, an
    amount which the ministry’s Department for Media Liaison and International
    Activity then put at $100m.

    In
    spite of consistent denial of the allegations by Pastor Sunday, a testimony
    corroborated several times by the actual owners of the business, King’s
    Capital, the state and its propaganda apparatchik continue to rubbish the name
    of the man of God through a deft use of both local and international media

    To reiterate his side of the story, Pastor
    Sunday was again asked during the interview to explain the genesis of this
    allegation. Here are his words as recorded unabridged: "Apart from persecutions, I do not think I face any challenge. I
    am enjoying the ride. I call myself pastor without tears. But the greatest
    challenge I face now has to do with government, society and persecution. I am
    undergoing one right now. There is a case in court. It is a case that involves
    members of our church that have investment company that collapsed during the
    recent economic meltdown, lost money and
    the government found it as a good opportunity, a good excuse to charge me to
    court. I have survived 22 court cases so far. This to the government was a good
    one because members of our church were involved. The only thing the police were
    asking me is: Do you know them? And my answer is: I know them.

    “So
    as long as I know them they believe I must be involved. So it is just a way to
    be able to corner me. They have been looking for a way and Satan did a good job
    this time. He gave them a good excuse. The people who started the company are
    not denying it. They say it is our own; pastor does not have anything to do
    with it. But the media, the government do not even talk about them but they are
    only focusing on Pastor Sunday. They only need the big name; the one that can
    be sensationalized and scandalized. But they would fail as they did in the
    past.”

    In
    a nutshell, this is the story of the alleged scandal or Ponzi scam for which
    Pastor Sunday has been put in a box, fettered in his ministry work and
    disallowed to travel out of Ukraine to preach the gospel to the world. To
    compound the case, the neighboring country, Russia Federation, also declared
    him persona non grata, allegedly fearing
    that his charismatic approach to Christianity would "corrupt” the age-long
    orthodoxy of the Russian Native church and its citizens generally. As a matter
    of fact, this false fear is one of the underlying contentious reasons he and
    his ministry are also facing persecution in Ukraine. Apart from state hostility
    to him, the Ukraine Orthodox Church is falsely accusing him of spreading “strange”
    Christian doctrine and of using voodoo to attract new members to Embassy of God
    church. Whereas the truth is that the church has been experiencing phenomenal
    growth because it cultivates, as an evangelistic priority, the salvation of the
    jetsam and flotsam of the society, namely, the lowly, the alcoholics, drug
    addicts, prostitutes, mostly people on the fringe rather than the elite. These
    were souls massively saved and rehabilitated through the power of the living
    word, rescued from crashes in life and restored to wholesomeness.

    Many
    of these born-again and redeemed people are today members of the more than
    25,000 congregation and playing prominent roles in Ukrainian public life. For
    instance, a judge in the country’s highest court and a one-time mayor of Kiev
    are members of the church while many others are competently leading several
    nongovernmental organizations that are improving the conditions of the people
    in different spheres of life.

    In
    spite of these good works, Pastor Sunday continues to suffer a barrage of
    misinformation and to face hostility from the state. And in a bizarre twist to
    the on-going case, latest report from the church says that Pastor Sunday was
    invited on August 21, 2012 to the police station where the charge against him
    was “re-qualified from fraud to organizing a criminal and dangerous bandit
    group that specializes in committing heavy crimes. In this new case Pastor
    Sunday is being charged as the head and organizer of this dangerous criminal
    bandit group.”

    In
    addition, the report states that all the five people accused along with him
    were arrested by the police while Pastor Sunday has been asked to report to the
    police station by early next week. The church fears that this invitation and
    the deliberate change of the charge to a criminal one are part of the plot to
    jail the innocent pastor as he is seen to be a threat to the present
    government.

    One
    reason this conclusion may be true is that the members of the Embassy of God
    church took active part in the demonstrations that ushered in the successfully
    carried out Orange Revolution between November 2004 and January 2005 during
    which the present president Viktor Yanukovych’s rigged election victory was
    resisted through series of protests and acts of civil disobedience. A re-run gave victory to his then opponent,
    Viktor Yushchenko. But he won back the presidency in 2010, and it looks like
    his administration thinks it is payback time for anyone who played prominent
    role in the Orange Revolution. This is not a far-fetched deduction if it is
    recalled that the former prime minster, Ms. Yulia Tymoshenko, is already imprisoned in spite of global
    protests against the trumped up charges against her, the unfair trial and
    unjust jailing. Without doubt, the present Ukrainian regime still exhibits
    vestiges of the draconian communist mentality. This is the more reason while the
    world, especially the Christendom, must rise up against these false allegations
    and the imminent unjust trial of Pastor Sunday. We cannot wait any longer.

    Pastor
    Sunday has suffered a lot of indignities in the course of preaching the gospel
    to a post-communist society in Ukraine. Like a stoic believer that he is, he
    has borne with grace incidents of bananas being thrown at him at a public event
    just because he is a Black missionary in a predominantly White society. For
    many years, the church was not granted the right to acquire land for its own building;
    the members had to move from one open place of worship to another, inclement
    weather notwithstanding. While there is no doubt that Pastor Sunday is beloved
    by overwhelming members of his congregation, the truth is that he is intensely
    hated by the extreme right wing and the state in Ukraine. There is no justification
    for this blackmail and ordeal, especially for a person who has spent most of
    his adult life in the host culture and speaks Russian fluently to the detriment
    of his mother tongue.

    So while we pray and ask God to intervene on
    behalf of his servant, the global church has a responsibility to speak truth to
    power in Ukraine that “Enough is enough? The Ukrainian authorities should be
    told in clear terms that the case has dragged on for too long, without Pastor
    Sunday being formally taken to court but kept waiting in suspense. The authorities
    should let Pastor Sunday go and continue to serve the Lord unfettered, because
    the word of God cannot be chained.

    Dr.
    Olanipekun, a former political editor of NAN is President of ChristNoW
    Publishing House, Inc, Washington DC Email: soacom11@gmail.com

  2. Well glad that US finally came up with freedom of religion documents but it is still hard to apply it in the real world with people imposing their religious ideologies on certain individuals.

 
 
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