Sunday, September 04, 2016

The 3 - September 4, 2016

In this week's edition of The 3, I provide an update about Russia's new anti-evangelism law that has already resulted in arrests of Christians.  Also, in Iran, five Christians were recently arrested and taken away from their families; plus, apparently communication with them has been eliminated.  And, the top story involves two recent studies that provide a sobering look at the gay lifestyle and debunks some of the talking points of the gay agenda.

3 - Prosecutions expand in Russia under new law prohibiting sharing faith without a permit

About a month and a half ago, new restrictions that were anticipated to have a chilling effect on Christian evangelism were handed down in Russia.  A Christianity Today story had this explanation:

To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.

A recent Meeting House Front Room blog post highlighted the story of a missionary who was in the process of returning home to the U.S. as the result of his arrest.  I cited a Baptist Press article, which said that police had entered Independent Baptist missionary Donald Ossewaard's Sunday morning Bible study in his home, which had 15 students, arrested him and fined him 40,000 rubles, which is about $600. Ossewaard says that he will leave the country. He has appealed the charges against him. There have also been some veiled threats reported against his life.  His wife, Ruth, has already returned home to Illinois.

That story referred to a story on the Forum 18 website, which said that there had been five others arrested under the law: another Baptist who was fined 5,000 rubles; a Hare Krishna, who was acquitted; a Protestant, fined 50,000 rubles; a Pentecostal, who was to appear in court Aug. 29, and a Seventh-day Adventist, who was awaiting a trial date.

Last week, the Moscow Times reported the story of a Ukrainian religious leader, Sergei Zhuravlyov, who is a representative of the Ukrainian Reformed Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior.  He is accused of spreading hate speech and maintaining ties to an illegal organization. In an Aug. 27 blog post, he said he was arrested while preaching before the St. Petersburg Messianic Jewish community and accused of violating a provision of Russian anti-terrorist legislation that bans illegal missionary activity.

Zhuravlyov was released on bail, and the case was sent to court.

2 - Five Christians arrested in Iran

It was reported last week by the website Middle East Concern that five Iranian Christians were on a picnic with their wives when security officials from the Ministry of Intellegence and Security raided the picnic and separated the men from the women. According to the August 29 report, the Ministry officials took the five men away and family members are unsure about their whereabouts.

One of the men, Amin Nader Afshar, asked to see the arrest warrant, which the officials did not produce.  He was then beaten.  Another of the men, Ramiel Bet Tamraz, is the son of Assyrian Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz, who was arrested in 2014 on the day after Christmas at a Christmas celebration at his home. Afshar was also arrested at the same time.

Victor was charged verbally with “conducting evangelism”, “illegal house church activities” and “Bible printing and distribution”.  He was released on bail on March 1, 2015, and Afshar had been released on bail in February of that year.

According to the report, it is "feared that the aim of the MOIS officials is to force confessions and to extract 'evidence' against the victims of the 2014 Christmas arrests."

1 - New studies released concerning gay behavior

Recently, there have been two reports released regarding homosexual behavior.  One was released by two authors affiliated with Johns Hopkins University and published on The New Atlantis website.  I shared on a Front Room blog post from a summary found on the National Organization for Marriage website, which notes four major findings of the study, according to the editor of The New Atlantis, Adam Keiper:

  • The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property—that people are ‘born that way'—is not supported by scientific evidence
  • Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex—so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman's body' or ‘a woman trapped in a man's body'—is not supported by scientific evidence
  • Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery. 
  • Non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity
The Centers for Disease Control has released a study that, according to The Federalist website, finds that, using more than 15,000 respondents and other data, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) students face more bullying, participate in far more relationship abuse, and are more likely to use drugs and drink alcohol.

The CDC relates that 2 percent of students identified as gay or lesbian, while 89 percent said they are heterosexual. Six percent defined themselves as bisexual, and 3 percent were not certain.  According to the story:

The study asked students about more than 100 different activities, from drinking milk to suicide attempts. Key findings on dangerous activities include: students who had engaged in bisexual or same-sex sexual relationships were far more likely to drink alcohol, use drugs, smoke cigarettes, and use hard drugs. They were also twice as likely as heterosexual teens to be threatened or injured on school property by a weapon, and more than twice as likely to miss school for “safety concerns.” More than one-third of LGB students said they faced bullying on school property, as well.

But, the article also points out that relationship violence among those same-sex-attracted teenagers is far higher than violence among heterosexual teens.

And, while the study authors suggest solutions that include policies promoting “school connectedness and a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment for all students,” including “gay/straight alliances” and the use of “inclusive words or terms,” Catholic University Professor Paul Sullins points out that the study's "main finding is that risky behavior across the board is much more prevalent among LGB youth. They are more likely to engage in risky sex, substance abuse, and violence of all kinds. Less likely to wear seat belts or eat breakfast. More likely to be depressed (feel sad) or attempt suicide.” He concluded: “LGB sexual identity or having same-sex partners is positively correlated with almost every risk behavior measured on the survey."

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