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In a tribal village in India during the season of preparation for Advent on a late November night, a mob attacked more than 100 of the community’s Christians. About 50 people armed with homemade weapons targeted Christians in the Sukma district of India’s Chhattisgarh state, burning Bibles and destroying property in the early hours of Nov. 25.

For these humble Christian villagers — like so many other persecuted believers around the world — the Christmas season is a time of heightened persecution and fear. For some Christians living in India’s rural areas, associating with holiday festivities can make them targets.

Non-Hindu religious minorities in India often endure intense social hostility and violent mob attacks by radical Hindu nationalists any time of year. Fear of being attacked by Hindu radicals has, at times, caused Indian churches to cancel official Christmas celebrations.

Indian Christians are not the only ones fearing increased persecution around the holidays. Christians in neighboring Pakistan also have cause for concern at Christmastime. Sudden bursts of mob violence fomented by Islamists are a risk for Pakistani Christians, a small minority making up less than 3 percent of that country’s population.

Dec. 25 is a public holiday in Pakistan, but it celebrates the birth of the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, rather than the Son of God. Major Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter can inspire attacks against churches in Pakistan.

This issue is so widespread that security forces deployed to protect churches and Christmas celebrations last December. More than 1,000 police officers protected Christian houses of worship in Islamabad alone. While it is good that Pakistani officials took this step, the fact that it was necessary is a clear indication of the risks of being a Christian and celebrating Christian holidays in Pakistan.

In Iran, the government poses the greatest threat to believers at Christmastime. The Iranian regime is known for cracking down on Christians around the holiday, likely because Christmas gatherings create easy targets.

Dabrina Bet Tamraz, an Assyrian Christian from Iran, knows this well. Her father pastored a church and spent years appealing his prison sentence in Iran before fleeing to Europe. She told Al Arabiya, “Christmas celebrations make it easier for Iranian authorities to arrest a group of Christians at one time.”

Recounting a 2014 family Christmas gathering, Tamraz said, “My brother opened the door only to be confronted with about 30 plainclothes officers who pushed their way in. They separated men from women and conducted strip body searches. Three people, including my father, were arrested and charged with acting against national security and conducting evangelism.”

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Through Christmas crackdowns, Iranian authorities hope to suppress the underground church, which is composed mainly of converts from Muslim backgrounds. The regime feels threatened when people leave the state religion, and it takes every opportunity to contain the expanding underground evangelical church.

The story is different in secretive North Korea. The North Korean regime has made a concerted effort to eradicate religious belief, meaning any expression of faith poses serious danger. Christians are prohibited from practicing their religion, and Christmas is not acknowledged.

Instead, on Dec. 24, North Koreans are encouraged to celebrate the birthday of Kim Jong Un’s deceased grandmother, Kim Jong Suk, with pilgrimages to the town of her birth. Yet signs of Christmas exist in the capital of Pyongyang. Christmas trees can be found in high-end restaurants and stores, complete with decorations and strings of lights.

In North Korea, however, these symbols are stripped of any religious connotation, and they are often kept up year-round, further removing the trees from their place in Christmas traditions. It is bizarre that while North Korea detains tens of thousands of Christians in labor camps, restaurants and stores use decorations from a holiday celebrating the Christian Savior.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, may we remember persecuted Christians across the globe who do the same, though at great risk to themselves. Ultimately, however, the men and women who seek to crush Christianity will be disappointed.

More than 2,000 years ago, Christ was born in the humblest of places to a community not well-liked by its rulers. It was into this context that God chose to send His Son to offer salvation to mankind. For persecuted Christians around the world, the hope of the gospel celebrated at Christmas is a light that no force of darkness can extinguish.

Arielle Del Turco is FRC’s assistant director of the Center for Religious Liberty.



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COVID-19 Bill

Biden’s COVID-19 Bill Would fulfill Democrats far-left wish list

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It’s increasingly clear that the Biden administration’s nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package would appease special-interest groups rather than address the needs of those who actually need relief.

While about $1 trillion still sits unspent from previous relief bills, Biden’s bailout legislation would fulfill Democrats far-left wish list.

Among the many things that are unrelated to COVID-19 are a pension bailout, which could cost more than $60 billion, and a $350 billion bailout for states and localities.

Instead of a commitment to unity and working with Republicans to pass agreeable solutions, Democrats have decided to abuse the budget-reconciliation process to push through legislation that eclipses previous federal spending sprees.

They’re going to bail out special-interest groups and enact some of the worst fiscal policies this nation has ever seen. And unlike all five previous coronavirus relief efforts, this bill doesn’t have bipartisan support. 

This latest legislation is also the opposite of targeted: It throws billions and billions of dollars of good money after bad policies, using taxpayer funds for expensive bailouts that are unrelated to COVID-19 and unnecessary.

Predictions of plummeting state and local revenue have not come to pass. One recent report showed that tax revenue decreased only marginally, with 21 states reportedly seeing revenue growth in 2020.

In Kansas, tax revenues are already up now from where they were in fiscal year 2020, and neighboring Oklahoma is already projecting a $1.2 billion increase in its next fiscal year’s budget.

One bailout that’s included in Biden’s COVID-19 bill is an estimated $60 billion for pensions. Using coronavirus relief funds to bail out these pension funds is unfair to taxpayers, as many of the pensions have been mismanaged and continue avoiding reforms that would prevent insolvency.

As the former state treasurer of Kansas and trustee of the state’s pension program, I know that important management decisions can be made to ensure programs remain solvent.

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In Kansas, we proved it’s possible. Unfortunately, many in Washington think the answer to every question is to rack up billions, or even trillions, of dollars in debt on America’s credit card.

With such a dire budget situation at hand, Congress must ensure that any relief passed is targeted. Every dime spent on interest payments means less will go to what our federal government was designed to do by our Founders.

Uncontrolled spending by our federal government isn’t without consequence. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that $2 trillion in spending could shrink the economy by about $100 billion over the next decade, and with the national debt topping $27 trillion, our budget will have to shift over the coming years to accommodate larger and larger interest payments.

The Kansans I represent don’t want Washington to spend trillions of their taxpayer dollars on partisan projects. They want lawmakers just to work on crushing this virus so we can get back to building our families, businesses, and communities.

This nearly $2 trillion bill isn’t the right approach. It’s not targeted and is full of partisan handouts that have little or nothing to do with COVID-19.

Congress should instead be focusing on policies that increase job opportunities and wages for all workers, not mortgaging our futures.

It was just a year ago that we saw the results of tax and regulatory reforms; namely, the first actual wage growth in decades and historic lows in unemployment.

In order to return to that booming economy, we should focus on defeating the virus and reopening our country.

(daily signal)

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Democrats

Video: “Democrats’ stimulus relief bill is ‘too costly, corrupt, liberal’ – McCarthy

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy provides insight into the coronavirus stimulus bill saying the bill is “too costly, corrupt and liberal”.

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(Fox News)

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Video: Glen calls Biden’s CBO nominee Neera Tandem “corrupt” and a “slanderer”

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Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald tears into President Biden’s CBO nominee Neera Tandem calling her “corrupt” and a “slanderer.”

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