Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brainwashing and Religious Torture Accelerate in China

Gao Rongrong, in hospital after being tortured by Chinese security forces.

As uncovered in a series of internal Communist Party documents (some of them posted online) the Falun Gong remains the major target of Communist authorities in China with torture (including mental abuse) apparently accelerating throughout the country.

Details of the documents reveal a new three-year, multi-billion dollar campaign targeting Falun Gong practitioners across China.

The campaign’s stated goal is to "transform" 75 percent of all known practitioners, who number in the tens of millions despite eleven years of brutal suppression. Specifically, the campaign calls upon security forces to go into "villages and households" to "educate and conquer" Falun Gong practitioners.

Transformation—a euphemism for forcing practitioners to renounce Falun Gong and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party—has been at the core of the anti-Falun Gong campaign since its inception. As part of the
transformation process, individuals are typically subjected to physical and psychological torture. (report)

"What these documents call for is a campaign of surveillance, extralegal abductions, physical torture, and psychological abuse on a massive scale," says Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang. "The scenes playing out across China could be taken right out of Orwell’s 1984."

"When Chinese authorities talk of ‘transforming’ Falun Gong practitioners, what they mean is torturing out of people the aspiration to be honest, kind, and tolerant. They torment healthy, rational people to the point where the victim either betrays his or her most deeply held beliefs and completely submits to the will of the Communist Party, dies from abuse, or is driven to the edge of sanity. They push practitioners to the point where life is a living hell."

The Falun Dafa Information Center has obtained eight documents from various localities describing a campaign to intensify efforts to transform Falun Gong practitioners from 2010 to 2012. Seven of the documents are available online, while the eighth was obtained from an internal source whose identity and location cannot be revealed for fear of retribution.

Based on details in the documents, the campaign is a multi-billion dollar initiative. On one webpage from Xinglong township in Sichuan province, the instructions call for an increase in funding for transformation
efforts. The document states that “to transform one Falun Gong person costs on average 45,000 yuan [$6,750] nationwide, 40,900 yuan in Sichuan provice, in my township, 39,000 yuan.” Given that Falun Gong practitioners in China number from 20 to 40 million (demographics), the total cost reaches tens of billions of dollars.

Although all eight documents are from the level of county or below, there is little doubt that the instructions originated at the top echelons of the Communist Party. One document explicitly states that the campaign was initiated by the central 6-10 Office, an extralegal security force that has led the persecution of Falun Gong since 1999.

A timeline of Falun Gong abuse and persection as well as this latest report can be found online at The Falun Dafa Information Center here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

International Religious Freedom Day

Around the world (or at least somewhere) today it is observed as International Religious Freedom Day.
A Voice of America editorial states:
"But it takes far more than words on paper to make religious freedom a reality for all peoples of the world. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center [December 2009], an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C., about one third of the countries in the world severely restrict their citizens' freedom of religion. Nearly 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, and religious minorities are the most seriously affected.

But wait, there seems to be some confusion about when exactly this day was created and by whom.

Wikipedia has it as purportedly created to commemorate the Boston Martyrs, "three English members of the Society of Friends, Marmaduke Stephenson, William Robinson and Mary Dyer, and to the Friend William Leddra of Barbados, who were condemned to death and executed by public hanging for their religious beliefs under the legislature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1659, 1660 and 1661."

And this organization (site) has it as being first created in 1959.

Perhaps it doesn't matter.

In any case, the congressional record of October 23, 2003 reads (in part):

Whereas October 27, 2003, marks the 5th anniversary of the signing of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6401 et seq.), creating the Office of International Religious Freedom in the Department of State and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and resulting in a greater awareness of religious persecution both in the United States and abroad; and
Whereas the United States recognizes the need for additional domestic and international attention and action to promote religious liberty: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) designates October 27, 2003, as `International Religious Freedom Day'; and
(2) requests that the President issue a proclamation--

(A) calling for a renewed commitment to eliminating violations of the internationally recognized right to freedom of religion and protecting fundamental human rights; and
(B) calling upon the people of the United States and interested groups and organizations to observe International Religious Freedom Day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

May the light of truth shine forth brightly, now and forevermore.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Capitol Hill Christian Roots

Received a link today from a friend:

David Barton, for those unaware, founded Wallbuilders, and makes those who profess and promote the wall of separation between church and state, cringe.

Certain misstatements, overstatements, turn of phrases aside, it might be fairly wonderful (and empowering) to see America (as a whole; if that's possible even) acknowledge the entirety of it's *rich* heritage and history more and more often (and not simply as Smithsonian Magazine did recently as noted October 3rd) here.)

This really shouldn't be a "right or left" issue, should it?

In any case, that's the bifurcated reality we find ourselves in at present.

Everyone seems to be stuck on their own side whether the subject is religion or politics.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Indonesia is not an Islamic state

An important statement by the Vice President of Indonesia, Boediono, Saturday at the opening of the Global Peace Leadership Conference, organized by Nahdlatul Ulama, a traditionalist Sunni Islam group:
"Although Islam is the religion of the majority of people, Indonesia is not an Islamic state," he said.
Meanwhile, it is noted, the President of Indonesia has himself never strongly addressed the issue of the nation's Islamic radicalism.

As Burhanuddin Muhtadi, an analyst from the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), states it,
“He (President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) is too focused on his own image. He doesn’t want to be considered antagonistic toward Islamic hard-liners.”

The Religious Affairs minister is also chided by Ulil Abshar Abdalla,  founder of the Liberal Islam Network and a Democratic Party politician, for not coming to the defense of the minority Islamic sect, Ahmidiyah, which has been called upon for banishment in "several Islamic gatherings."

Read the full Jakarta Globe article here.

Ahamdiyah was almost banned 2 years ago and the "level of intolerance" has more than doubled during the six years of Yudhoyono’s rule according to results of a recent survey in this other Jakarta Globe report.

And why does it seem that messianic movements are always persecuted?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Messianic Shia sect under investigation in Egypt

Egypt's State Security Investigation Office has opened investigations into 12 Shia Muslim individuals from Egypt, Morocco, Iraq and Australia arrested in September on charges of "promoting Shia doctrines and disparaging Sunni doctrines and the prophet’s companions."

They were also charged with "falsifying" the Muslim holy book, the Quran.
Investigations have so far revealed that the men received funds from "several foreign countries."

Members of the Shia sect claim that one of their number, Ahmed Hassan al-Yamani, who is wanted by police, is the “Awaited Mahdi” or the expected messiah of the Shia faith.

They all confessed to not recognizing Prophet Muhammad's historical successors, who they claim were "elected by men"--with the exception of Ali bin Abi Taleb, who they say was "elected by God." They also reject much of the Hadith, or the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad.

Since the early 2000s, authorities have periodically arrested Egyptian Shia Muslims.

Read more here.

Shia and Sunni differences are fairly significant and go way back.

For something on the historical origins of the split within Islam go here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Religious Freedom in America

A piece in Smithsonian Magazine attempts to clarify while expounding on religious freedom in America, possibly in the name of "balance."

As writer, Kenneth C. Davis states it:

"The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring—and utterly at odds with the historical record."

Well, "the idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom" is simply false and absurd, too.

Religious freedom in America has been earned after much trial and error and continues as an example of a great work in progress.

The historical record is clear for those who care to delve into it fully.

But please, let us all be diligent in that.

Davis concludes with:
America can still be, as Madison perceived the nation in 1785, “an Asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion.” But recognizing that deep religious discord has been part of America’s social DNA is a healthy and necessary step. When we acknowledge that dark past, perhaps the nation will return to that “promised...lustre” of which Madison so grandiloquently wrote.
The Madison "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments" of 1785 (eight years before Jefferson's first draft of their arguably joint and monumental Statute on Religious Freedom) is worth a closer look here.

Meanwhile, Carl Pearlston, an attorney in the Los Angeles area today attempts to answer the question whether America can [still] be called a Christian nation.

In summary, he states:
"We live, not under a Christian government, but in a nation where all are free to practice their particular religion, in accommodation with other religions, and in accordance with the basic principles of the nation, which are Christian in origin. It is in that sense that America may properly be referred to as a Christian nation."
. . . ever onward and continuing