Pastor Ramon Rigal Was Sentenced on Truancy Charges for Homeschooling His Children
07/13/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 7, Pastor Ramon Rigal, leader of Iglesia de Dios en Cristo, was sentenced to one year of heavy labor and house arrest for choosing to homeschool his children. Rigal has openly stated that his decision to homeschool was largely attributed to his Christian faith.
Diario de Cuba reported that, originally, Guantanamo courts had sentenced Rigal to one year of imprisonment. After appealing, this most recent adjudication led to a modified reduction of the punishment. Rigal confirmed that his legal counsel proved that he did not commit any serious criminal act. Rigal commented on the outcome, “I saw a bit more justice during the trial. We had good representation. Our lawyer demonstrated in every circumstance that we had not broken any criminal law.” Despite a strong legal showing, Rigal would still be penalized with the one-year sentence mentioned above.
Pastor Mario F. Barroso, a religious freedom activist from the Patmos Institute, as well as a close friend of Rigal, clarified to ICC, “Correctional labor is a form of forced physical punishment, where the state typically chooses the locations and the working conditions. People sentenced to this penalty are assigned to a ranch or a farm of some sort, and believe me it’s not light work.”
Rigal’s case has garnered some international attention in previous months. In February, Rigal was arrested because of his actions. This led to protests outside of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC in May. Protesters specifically picketed with signs that read, “Free the Rigals,” but organizers and participants were also focusing on the larger problem of Cuba’s repression and stronghold on education. Cuban law does not permit homeschooling, founded on the claim that it “promotes capitalist values” and thereby conflicts with the regime’s inculcation of socialism.
Rafael Cardona, ICC’s Latin America Correspondent, stated, “It is very concerning and disheartening when a Christian pastor faces harsh punishment simply for deciding to homeschool his children. It is even more egregious when a tough punishment is still issued despite having adequate legal defense and proving that no criminal laws were violated. In Pastor Rigal’s case, we have to be aware that he made multiple attempts to inform the state about the curricula and content of the education, including any religious elements. Nevertheless, the Cuban authorities still proceeded with a sentence that does not seem to fit the offense. Unfortunately, these kinds of repressive measures taken against people of Christian faith happen commonly in Cuba. We will continue to pray for Pastor Rigal and his family.”
For interviews with Rafael Cardona, ICC’s Latin America Correspondent, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator:firstname.lastname@example.org
Last week, Andrew Frost was acquitted of a public order offence charge, where he was accused of causing harassment, alarm and distress to two men in a homosexual relationship.
Andrew was preaching on the streets of Nottingham city centre in March this year. Andrew preached on the consequences of sin, and quoted Luke 13:1-5 and Matthew 15:19.
As he preached, two men holding hands walked by.
Rory Green, a friend of Andrew who was preaching alongside him at the time, gave evidence that the two men shouted abusive comments at Andrew.
Andrew continued to preach from Scripture.
The two men left, but approximately 15 minutes later a woman, who said she was the mother of one of the men, approached Andrew, and accused him of abusing her son and his partner. One of the men then returned and called the police.
The two men claimed that Andrew verbally abused them and directed several lewd comments at them, all of which Andrew denied.
But Andrew was charged under the Public Order Act 1986, “with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.”
Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, Andrew was found not guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court last week. The court also ordered the repayment of his legal fees.
Andrew was represented in court by Christian Legal Centre allied solicitor, Michael Phillips.
Andrew said: “I wanted these men to know the truth, that Jesus can set them free. Because in the sight of God, these things are wrong.”
“I am thankful that the judge saw sense and acquitted me of this charge,” he continued.“Christians need to be free to share the good news of the gospel to anyone who will listen – as we are commanded in Scripture to do.
“I want to say thank you to the Christian Legal Centre for supporting me throughout this process.”
The Swedish Appeals Court issued a decision this week ruling that the government
can force medical professionals to perform abortions. If they refuse, they can lose their jobs. Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish midwife who holds to the Christian faith, has been denied employment at three different medical clinics simply because she will not perform abortions. “Participation in abortions should not be a requirement for employment as a medical professional. In accordance with international law, the court should have protected Ellinor’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience,” said the Alliance Defending Freedom’s International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke. “For that reason, Ellinor is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.” Grimmark lost her initial case in November of 2015 when a district court found that her right to freedom of conscience did not protect her from being discriminated against for not preforming for
“Keowynn” and his family recently moved to a new area to share the gospel with an unreached people group. As his new church grew, however, his oldest son began to reject God. He started drinking and abusing drugs, and he wants nothing to do with his father’s Christian faith. Now he has forced his parents and sister out of their home, claiming it as his own, and the family is living in a straw hut in the middle of a rice field. Despite the difficult living conditions, Keowynn is determined to stay in the area and minister to new believers. Please pray for Keowynn and his family, and pray that Christ will reveal Himself to Keowynn’s son.
Three teenage girls who converted from Islam to Christianity were subsequently raped by their former imams and pressured to return to Islam through marriage to Muslim men. VOM worked with local Christians to rescue and relocate the young women before they could be forced into Muslim marriages, and we have also helped with their education. The youngest is finishing her primary education and is being supported through a safe home project, but the other two had to leave school in order to care for babies fathered by the imams. Pray that these three young women will be able to rebuild their lives and that God will heal the wounds of emotional trauma and isolation they have suffered from their families and community. Pray also that they will grow in faith and nurture the faith of their children.
Nadeem and his wife are bonded brick kiln labourers in Pakistan, and parents of five children aged three to ten. Both are illiterate. Their work is heavy and back-breaking, under the blazing sun.
Nadeem and his family
When Nadeem first began brick-making, ten years ago, he borrowed 42,000 rupees (about £300, €350) from the brick kiln owner. With the passage of time his debt has risen to 215,000 rupees (about £1,500, €1,800). Many brick kiln workers owe money to their employers, for without borrowing it is almost impossible for them to survive financially during the monsoon months when the heavy rain prevents them making bricks. These debts (on which interest is charged) keep the worker “bonded” to their employer, like a slave, unable to leave and seek another job.
Three years ago, Nadeem and his family were sold by his first employer to another brick kiln owner who treated them very badly. Nadeem’s wife fell ill but the brick kiln owner asked Nadeem to use force to make her continue working.
Making bricks is backbreaking work, in slave-like conditions, for Nadeem and his wife, and many Christians like them
Then they were sold to yet another brick kiln owner for the cost of their debt – 215,000 rupees (£1,500, €1,800). Nadeem “signed” the agreement with a thumb-print, unaware that the document was committing him and his family to an even worse position. His new owner wants to have all five children working alongside their parents, to increase the number of bricks produced. So Nadeem cannot send them to school. The family cannot go to church any longer because the owner insists they work on Sundays. Until they pay back the ever-growing debt, they are trapped.
Shocking prison sentences for our Iranian brothers
An Iranian pastor has just paid a high price for refusing to obey official orders about how he should run his church – he’s been given a ten-year jail sentence!
Almost a month after his hearing, Pastor Victor Bet Tamraz has learnt he’s been declared guilty of ‘evangelism’, among other charges. Two Christians on trial with him – Amin Afshar Naderi and Hadi Asgari – also face long prison sentences, on charges which included ‘acting against national security’.
Please pray that God’s peace will fall afresh on Pastor Victor, Amin and Hadi.
The three men appeared in court on June 11 – two-and-a-half years after Victor and Amin were arrested at Pastor Victor’s house in Tehran province on Boxing Day 2014. Hadi was arrested last August at a picnic in Firuzkuh, along with Pastor Victor’s son Ramiel.
Judge Ahmadpour has now sentenced Victor to ten years’ imprisonment, Amin to 15 years and Hadi to ten years plus a two-year travel ban. They plan to appeal.
In a further blow, Pastor Victor’s wife, Shamiran Issavi, has now been charged with ‘participating in foreign seminars’ and ‘acting against national security’. Both she and her son Ramiel are released on bail and are now awaiting trial.
Please ask God to reassure these men of His plans and purposes for their lives–Pastor Victor, Amin and Hadi (Jeremiah 29:11). Pray their appeal will be swift and successful.
Pray that all charges will be dropped against Shamiran, Ramiel and two other Christians arrested at the same Firuzkuh picnic: Mohamad Dehnay and Amir Sina Dashti.
Pray for our entire Christian family in Iran, who will be shaken by Judge Ahmadpour’s verdict: pray they will stand firm in their faith and put their trust in God. Pray that Judge Ahmadpour will recognise that Iran’s Christians want to build up their nation, not ‘threaten its security’.