Please pray for Christian ex-magistrate Richard Page

Christian Concern
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Donate online

Prayer Alert

Richard Page’s case is being heard at Croydon Employment Tribunal today
This morning, Tuesday 13th February, Croydon Employment Tribunal will hear the case of Richard Page – a Christian who was removed from being a magistrate after he expressed his belief that children do best with a mother and a father.

The case is scheduled to last for five days.

Please pray for a fair, just outcome for Richard.

Richard Page was first challenged by his seniors in late 2014 when, after hearing an adoption case, he could not agree with his fellow magistrates that placing a child into the care of a same-sex couple was ‘in the child’s best interest’. Richard came to his decision having weighed the evidence presented to the Court and therefore, in good conscience, could not vote to make the order. He was subsequently reported for his actions, reprimanded, and forced to attend ‘re-education training’, which he duly did.

In March 2015, Richard took part in a national television programme in which he clearly stated that at present, there was not sufficient evidence to convince him, as a magistrate, that placing a child in the care of a same-sex couple was in the child’s best interests, and therefore he could not make such an order. Richard believes the political move by the government to place children with same-sex couples lacks any solid, reliable psychological or educational research concerning the effects on children.

Richard’s media comments were again brought to the attention of his seniors and an investigation was carried out by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s disciplinary panel. They recommended to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor that Richard should be removed from office.

“I have to act on the evidence before me”

Commenting on his sacking, Richard Page, who has worked in the field of mental health for 15 years, said: “As a highly experienced magistrate, I have made judgments on thousands of cases and in each case, have come to my decision based on the evidence, and the evidence alone, placed before me and my colleagues. That is the oath which I took when I became a Justice of the Peace.

“When you sit in a Family Court, you have a huge responsibility to ensure the overall well-being of the children who are being recommended to be placed into new families. You weigh the reports and references before you and the evidence you hear. In the case of same-sex couples adopting children, it has only been a relatively short time that same-sex couples have been able to adopt and foster and therefore, there has not been time for a proper analysis to be carried out into the effects such placements have on the children’s educational, emotional and developmental well-being.

“As a magistrate, I have to act on the evidence before me and quite simply, I believe that there is not sufficient evidence to convince me that placing a child in the care of a same-sex couple can be as holistically beneficial to a child as placing them with a mum and dad as God and nature intended.

“I am surprised that this Lord Chancellor should seemingly pander to the new political orthodoxy when what it amounts to is social experimentation on the lives of the most vulnerable children in our communities.

“To punish me and to seek to silence me for expressing a dissenting view is deeply worrying. I shall challenge this decision as it is deeply illiberal and intolerant. It is vital the family law courts always have in mind the best interests of the children.

“I cannot believe that the establishment is trying to silence someone like me who has served it wholeheartedly all of my working life.”

“The new political orthodoxy”

Richard is supported by the Christian Legal Centre and represented by its Standing Counsel, human rights barrister Paul Diamond.

The Christian Legal Centre’s chief executive, Andrea Minichiello Williams, commented: “The Lord Chancellor has removed Richard from the magistracy for allegedly being ‘prejudiced’ and for speaking out in the media about what has happened to him.

“This unmasks the face of the new political orthodoxy; it is unkind. It tries to silence opposing views and if it fails it crushes and punishes the person who holds those views.

“To remove someone like Richard from the bench is modern-day madness. He has a lifetime of public service and expertise in mental health. He is motivated by his Christian faith and a deep compassion for people.”

The case is scheduled for five days – please continue to pray for Richard and for Paul Diamond as he represents him.

Advertisements

Pray for the Family of a Murdered Burmese Christian

Feb. 08, 2018 | Myanmar

Pray for Christians Suffering from Recent Attacks in Nigeria.

These mass killings NEVER reach world news!

Muslim Fulani herdsmen have long sought to remove Christians from grazing lands, but in recent years their close ties with Boko Haram have worsened attacks.

Muslim Fulani herdsmen have long sought to remove Christians from grazing lands, but in recent years their close ties with Boko Haram have worsened attacks.

Feb. 08, 2018 | Nigeria

Pray for Christians Sentenced to Prison on False Charges

Feb. 08, 2018 | China

Move in Pakistan to outlaw spurious blasphemy allegations.

Pakistan government unveils historic fatwa against Islamic extremism and vigilante “blasphemy” attacks


8 February 2018

The Pakistan government has unveiled an historic fatwa (religious ruling) condemning Islamic extremism and vigilante “blasphemy” attacks, in a potentially positive development for the country’s minority Christian community.

By issuing the fatwa with the support of 1,829 religious leaders – who are signatories to the document officially released on 16 January – the Pakistani government is addressing extremism from a religious perspective.

The fatwa declares that terrorist activity against the state, and in particular suicide bombings, are  haram (forbidden under Islamic law). It also states: “We believe that spreading sectarian hatred, armed sectarian conflict and imposition of one’s religious ideologies by force are contrary to the Shariah/teachings of Islam”, adding that there is a “religious obligation” to confront “evil” extremist ideology. It should be noted however that “extremism” in the context of the ruling is defined as views deemed to be outside the body of mainstream Islam – this differs from typical Western definitions, which define “extremism” in relation to issues such as democracy, human rights and freedom of religion.

The document also says it is “unacceptable in Islam” that any group “takes [the] law into its own hands, [and] declares people infidels” – a statement which is understood to refer to the country’s controversial “blasphemy” laws. Instead, the fatwa asserts that “only the State has right to implement punishments on citizens.”

Some of the most vocal opponents of politicians who have proposed changes to the “blasphemy” laws are among the signatories to the fatwa. But it remains to be seen whether their support of the religious ruling will result in real and lasting change to the treatment of Christians and others accused of “blasphemy”, or reduce the number of spurious allegations.

Global Christian News http://www.globalchristiannews.org/article/pakistan-unveils-historic-fatwa-against-blasphemy-vigilantes/

Brixton Prison chaplain fired by Muslim boss.

Christian Concern
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Donate online

Breaking News

Volunteer Chaplain excluded from prison in move to wipe out “Christian domination”

Pastor Paul Song, volunteer Chaplain for nearly 20 years, excluded from HMP Brixton by a Muslim Senior Chaplain

A highly-respected Christian volunteer Chaplain at HMP Brixton has been removed from chaplaincy work, and an internationally-respected Christian coursebanned by a Muslim Senior Chaplain, in an attempt to wipe out “Christian domination” at Brixton prison.

Pastor Paul Song moved to the UK from South Korea in 1992 and began working as a full-time minister at London Shepherd Church in 1996. In 1998, he started using his one day off each week to volunteer alongside 15 other Christians at HMP Brixton, and he was taken on as a Chaplain at the prison on 1st March 1998.

Sign and share the petition to reinstate Pastor Song
Paul and others started running the internationally-respected Alpha course at HMP Brixton in 1998, and have been doing so for nearly 20 years. In recent times they also ran the ‘Just10’ course created by Canon J. John – all with the blessing of the former Senior Chaplain, Reverend Phillip Chadder. The demand for the courses was considerable, with around 70 prisoners signing up for each course, and waiting lists having to be created.

Over the 19 years, the volunteer Chaplain developed strong relationships with the prisoners, the Senior Chaplain and other staff, and many prisoners became Christians and had their lives transformed. Paul had full security clearance for all his activities in HMP Brixton, and had even been given keys to the prison as a sign of the high esteem in which he was held.

“Discriminatory agenda”

Imam Mohamed Yusef Ahmed took over as Senior Chaplain in 2015, and with the Imam’s arrival, things changed drastically. Paul Song explains: “Imam Mohamed’s discriminatory agenda was clear from the outset. He began scrutinising the material for each of our courses, commenting that the material was ‘too radical’, and that the Christian views expressed were ‘extreme’. He paid scant regard to the fact that the courses are mainstream Christian courses, used by churches throughout the world. He also said he wanted to ‘change the Christian domination within HMP Brixton’.”

Imam Mohamed asked Paul to stop running the courses, which he reluctantly agreed to, though Paul carried on going into the prison to meet with prisoners. At no point were complaints made by prisoners either about the content of the courses or Paul’s attitude towards any of the prisoners.

Pastor Song excluded

In August 2017, Paul received an email from Imam Mohamed saying: “You do not have permission to enter the wings and nor do you have the permission to speak to any prisoners here at HMP Brixton. If you do turn up to here without my prior permission from me, your keys will be confiscated and you will be walked to the gate.” Pastor Song was not informed of any substantive grounds which may justify his removal.

Bemused by the email, and having no awareness that anything was wrong, Paul met with the Imam, during which he was again told that he was no longer welcome at the prison and he had ‘no right to appeal against’ the decision. Again, no reasons were given.

Paul received a letter from Graham Horlock (Head of Reducing Re-Offending at HMP Brixton) on 4th September 2017, informing him for the first time that an accusation had been made that Paul called a prisoner a “terrorist”, and stating that the decision to remove him from his role applied “permanently with immediate effect”. This was the first occasion on which Paul heard about the allegation – which Paul denies. Paul was initially promised that the Equalities Department would investigate the accusations, though the decision to exclude him was made without the Equalities Department first delivering their findings.

Since the decision, the prison has ignored requests to provide information on the name of the alleged complainant and a copy of his statement. Paul has submitted written representations to HMP Brixton, and after being kept waiting for 5 months without explanation, he received an email from the Prison Group Director at the London and Thames Valley Prisoners on 11th January noting that “the exclusion [from HMP Brixton] is permanent“.

“I worked alongside the prisoners in harmony”

Commenting on the outcome, Paul says: “When speaking with prisoners, staff members or anyone else, I would never make offensive comments. The Bible exhorts believers to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, and to ‘let thy light shine before men’; and so being intentionally offensive would violate these commandments.”

The whole reason I served at the prison was because of my desire to bring the good news of the gospel to people, regardless of their religion or background. I believe that it has the power to transform the lives of all who believe, and so I would never do anything which may cause an individual to not want to hear the Christian message.”

“The prisoners who attended the Christian courses were of different religions, sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds. Some of them were violent and held views which strongly opposed mine, yet I never made any judgemental or stereotypical comments to any of them. For 19 years, I served with an exemplary record. I worked alongside the prisoners and other staff members in harmony, recognising our differences and praying that they would come to faith, but equally respecting their decisions and background. I would have had plenty of opportunities to make offensive comments should I have wanted to, and yet during this time, no complaints were ever made about me.”

“Christian ministry is essential for rehabilitation and transformation”

The Christian Legal Centre is supporting Pastor Song. Andrea Williams, chief executive, comments: “To call this Christian who has served without a blemish for almost 20 years an extremist defies belief.

“Pastor Song’s work with prisoners has been shut down for no good reason, denying prisoners of life-giving ministry.

“We are considering legal action against Brixton Prison which has acted unlawfully by removing Christian services from prisoners without fair process. We are seeking justice not just for Pastor Song but for the prisoners who want to see him.

“Christian ministry in prisons has a long history, and its presence is essential for the rehabilitation and transformation of lives. Paul’s work has led to many prisoners in Brixton turning their lives around, and so it is shocking that prisoners who are desperate for a new way of life should now be prevented from seeing Paul.”

“I would have had nowhere to turn”

Former prisoner Jeremy Conlon has spoken out in support of Paul’s work in the prison: “Prison is a tough place to be, though Paul was a light in the darkness for me and many others. Paul’s humility, wisdom and gentleness amazed all the prisoners, and he gave us a much-needed opportunity to receive prayer, to discuss issues we were struggling with and to ask questions. I cannot speak highly enough of him, and am deeply saddened by the way in which he has been treated“.

Another former prisoner at Brixton, Peter Levy, says: “Paul’s continued support for me and other prisoners, even after the course had finished, brought us all hope of a new way of life. He even met me at the prison gates on the date of my release and took me for food, and helped me work through the family and work issues I was having at the time. Without him, I would have had nowhere to turn, and to think he was doing all this voluntarily is amazing”.

Watch the video

Help us reinstate Pastor Song

Please sign our petition to show your support for Pastor Paul, so that prisoners can continue to benefit from his life-changing ministry.

It’s easy to sign – it only takes a minute.

Sign and share the petition to reinstate Pastor Song

Tell others about our ministry

Please use Twitter, Facebook and email to let others know.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Visit our website
You are subscribed with the following email address:
julikenn@doctors.org.uk

Want to update your contact details or change which emails you receive?
Update your details here.

Want to leave our list?
Unsubscribe here.

Christian Concern
70 Wimpole Street
London W1G 8AX

Phone: 020 3327 1120

info@christianconcern.com

www.christianconcern.com

Copyright © 2018 Christian Concern

‘Christian Concern’ is a trading name of CCFON Ltd.
CCFON Ltd is registered in England and Wales (Company Number 6628490).
Registered office: 70 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8AX.

CHINA: Over one hundred Christians sent to “re-education” camps in Xinjiang

In recent months, more than one hundred Christians have been sent to “re-education” camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. In these camps, also known as “study centres” or “mind-transformation centres”, they are taught how to be loyal to the communist ideology. Bob Fu of China Aid describes the camps as “black jails (intensive brainwash camp)”.

Most of the detained Christians are ethnic Uighur converts from Islam who, in recent years, have been caught up in the government’s anti-terrorism crackdown on violent Uighur separatism and militant Islam. Security in the region has become even more important to the government in the context of President Xi’s aim of reopening trade routes through Xinjiang.

On 22 January, Radio Free Asia reported that approximately 120,000 Uighurs were being held in “political re-education camps” in Xinjiang’s Kashgar prefecture. They were detained for offences including using Western social media apps, travelling abroad in Muslim countries, having a relative who had travelled abroad, having a relative convicted of a crime, having the wrong content on a mobile phone and appearing too religious.

A source told World Watch Monitor that members of his church were sent to a “re-education” camp without knowing when they would come back. Some were detained for a month but some for six months or even longer. One or both parents were taken from some Christian families.

A woman married to a leader of a community with many Christian converts from Islam told World Watch Monitor, “I don’t know where my husband is right now, but I believe that God still uses him in prisons or camps. Sometimes I am worried that he doesn’t have enough clothes to keep warm in the prison.”

Another woman whose husband was taken for “re-education” and who now supports other women in her situation said, “I am afraid it will affect my children too. The teacher in the school is paying special attention to my children after the authorities told the school about my husband. 

Intense surveillance

The Wall Street Journal says that Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi (pictured), “may be one of the most closely surveilled places on earth. Security checkpoints with identification scanners guard the train station and roads in and out of town. Facial scanners track comings and goings at hotels, shopping malls and banks. Police use hand-held devices to search smartphones for encrypted chat apps, politically charged videos and other suspect content. To fill up with gas, drivers must first swipe their ID cards and stare into a camera There are armoured cars on the street, police stations on every corner and tons of surveillance cameras.”

Anyone entering a large building encounters airport-style security, those entering shops must pass security guards armed with batons, and security cameras and microphones are everywhere. People who live in Xinjiang are checked many times a day as they go about their business, and Uighurs have become reluctant to go out because of the risk of being picked up by the police. The authorities collect personal information from Uighurs and rate them as “persons of interest”, designating each one “safe,” “average” or “unsafe”. (The photo shows police on patrol in Kashgar.)

Government-registered churches are required to scan everyone entering Sunday services. As they enter, they must show their ID cards and an alarm sounds if they work for the government or a public institution. For this reason, many Christians have stopped going to registered churches and now meet in smaller groups.

World Watch Monitor source said, “I feel like I live in a big prison.”

Alimujiang Yimiti

Alimujiang YimityAlimujiang Yimiti (43) is a Uighur Christian from Xinjiang province who has been in prison since January 2008 and is serving a 15-year sentence for “illegally providing state secrets to foreigners”. The charge relates to his meeting Christians visiting from the US. A former Muslim, Alimujiang became a Christian in 1995, and prior to his arrest he worked as an orchard manager and led a house church in Kashgar.

Background

When Xinjiang became part of China in 1949, Uighurs made up the majority of the region’s population; only six percent were Han Chinese. As Xinjiang developed, the Chinese government encouraged Han emigration into the region, and now approximately forty percent of Xinjiang’s population of 23 million are Han Chinese (almost nine million) and about 44 percent are Uighur (about ten million, mostly Muslims). The third biggest population group is ethnic Kazakh.

In September 2017, Radio Free Asia reported that almost no Han Chinese are being held in the Xinjiang “re-education” camps, and that the number of detainees in theSecurity forces in Kashgar region’s south – where the Uighurs are concentrated – far surpasses that in the north.

In 2017, President Xi installed a new Xinjiang party leader, Chen Quanguo, who previously managed a five-year crackdown on ethnic dissent in Tibet. Mr Chen pioneered the use of “convenience police stations” in Tibet and, under him, Xinjiang’s police force has grown enormously.

Arrests in 2017 

In late January 2017, over eighty Christians were arrested in Xinjiang province for attending house church meetings. They were Han Chinese, not Uighur. Public security bureaus raided a network of house churches and accused at least eighty Christians of “engaging in religious activities at non-religious sites”. The house churches had refused to join the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, the organisation through which the Chinese Communist Party controls Protestant churches. After interrogation, the Christians were released.

Earlier in January 2017, police officers in Wusu in Xinjiang province raided a house church prayer meeting, said the gathering was illegal and took away ten Han Chinese Christians. The authorities released those who were elderly or sick, but six women were detained for 15 days and fined 1,000 Yuan each (€137) for “gathering and praying under the name of Christianity”.

(BBC/China Aid/Christian Solidarity Worldwide/Guardian/Radio Free Asia/Reuters/Wall Street Journal/World Watch Monitor)