Killing of Christians Continues in Run-up to National Elections in Nigeria

Muslim Fulani herdsmen kill 12 at church wedding reception. 

Baptist Bathsheba Emmanuel, 35, was killed at wedding reception near Jagindi, Kaduna state, Nigeria on Feb. 12. (Morning Star News)

JAGINDI, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Nigerian Christians this month prayed that national elections would bring leaders who can stop Islamist attacks on them following killings by Boko Haram extremists and Muslim Fulani herdsmen.

In the wake of a Muslim herdsmen attack on a church wedding that killed 12 Christians Kaduna state in December and Boko Haram attacks that left several Christians dead in Adamawa state this month, the Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) urged Christians to pray from Feb. 10 to Feb. 22 for free and fair elections and the release of Christian high school student Leah Sharibu and others from Boko Haram kidnappers.

“We are to pray for all Christians contesting for one post or the other for the will of God to be done concerning their ambition, and that the powerful in our nation will not be able to manipulate the election and edge them out,” said Ayokunle, also president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. “We are to pray that the general elections should be free, fair and credible, and without violence or any bloodshed.”

Ahead of elections that began on Saturday (Feb. 23), he said Nigeria has been impoverished by visionless leaders, resulting in the suffering of the masses.

“We are to pray…that God should use the process to give the country good and godly leaders at all levels, and that every evil plan against Nigeria be frustrated,” he said. “That God should stop all groups behind the killings in Nigeria and their financiers, and that 2019 should be a new dawn for Nigeria.”

On Wednesday (Feb. 20), hundreds of Christian women from Jagindi, in Jema’a County in Kaduna State, took to the streets of Jagindi and Godogodo towns to protest the killing of 12 Christians at a wedding reception in the Jagindi suburb of Ungwan Pa Gwandara on Dec. 16. They said that after the slaughter, soldiers and police of the Muslim-controlled government in Kaduna arrested Christian leaders without cause.

“At about 9 p.m., there was a marriage feast that was going here at Ungwan Pa Gwandara. From behind the hill overlooking this village emerged armed Fulani herdsmen who shot indiscriminately at Christians from various churches here at the venue of the feast,” Siman Markus, a 42, a parishioner at St. John’s Catholic Church in Jagindi, told Morning Star News. “Twelve Christians who are members of various churches were shot dead instantly, while another five Christians were injured.”

Yohanna Dauda, 47, a parishioner at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Jagindi, corroborated the account, saying it was devastating to area Christians. Dauda and Markus said eight Catholics, two Baptists and two Anglicans were killed. Six of those killed were children.

Markus identified the Catholic victims as Samuel Markus, 28; Glory Bala, 12; Chore Garba, 12; Beyan Avong, 12; Kasham Manasseh, 22; Tanania Francis, 25; Murna Irimiya, 38; and Victoria Solomon, 22; Baptists killed were Bathsheba Emmanuel, 35, and Yohanna Filibus, 12; and Anglicans slain were Friday Yohanna, 13, and Oyo Dauda, 10.

Those wounded were Catholics Francis Markus, 25; Boyi Kyau, 45; Akwaru Danladi, 30; Samaila Bala, 17; Veronica Clement, 23; Golon Sam, 20; Ishaku Boyi, 14; Briskila Solomon, 7; Felicia Solomon, 9 months; Kato Kadima, 14; Wawa Kadima, 12; and Judith Samuel, 2; Anglicans Esther Dauda, 50; Charity Samaila, 20; Samaila Garba, 41; and Janet Shadrach, 22; Baptists Precious Emmanuel, 6, and Paul Akore, 17.

Boko Haram Attack

In Adamawa state in Nigeria’s northeast, Boko Haram jihadists on Feb. 12 invaded four Christian communities in Madagali County, killing several Christians and displacing many others, sources said.

The attacks on Madagali, Gulak, Magar and Shuwa took place at about 8 p.m. and were the third onslaught on these areas in 10 days, following attacks on Feb. 4 and 11. Officials speculated that they were designed to make residents too fearful to vote.

Ruth Gauje, 32, of Shuwa village, told Morning Star News by phone that he saw a fellow Christian shot dead as she fled.

“I saw a man who I know to be a Christian and a member of the Church of the Brethren in Shuwa, my home town, shot to death,” she said. “Also, Bulama, a community leader in Madagali, was shot dead alongside many Christians.”

The number of those killed was unknown; in the Feb. 4 attack, three people were reportedly killed, and one civilian and one solider were reportedly killed in the Feb. 11 assault. Local press reported that soldiers killed most of the Boko Haram rebels in the Feb. 12 attack, citing civilian and military sources.

Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population, while Muslims living primarily in the north and middle belt account for 45 percent.

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

Both presidential candidates in the national elections are Muslims: Incumbent Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Abubakar Atiku of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

While both candidates were promising to rein in violence, Muslim Fulani herdsmen in the past two weeks attacked Christian communities in Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, and Plateau states. Attacked were Kajuru and Jagindi in Kaduna state, Agatu and Gwer in Benue state, Kadarko, Udege, Ugya, and Gadabuke in Nasarawa state, and Barkin Ladi and Riyom in Plateau state.

The United Nations Refugee Agency recently reported said that more than 2.4 million persons have been displaced due to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria’s northern states.

The Rev. Benebo Fubara-Manuel, vice president of the Christian Council of West Africa, also urged peaceful elections.

“Peace is important,” he said in a press statement. “If we kill ourselves because of elections, in the end, who are we going to lead?”

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China’s War on Religion

What China Calls “Sinicization” is What Hitler Called “Nazification” written by Steven W. Mosher

Chinese worshippers attend a mass during the Christmas Eve at a Catholic church in Beijing on Dec. 24, 2018. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

For religious believers in China, things are rapidly going from bad to worse. And the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has made it clear that its “sinicization” campaign—turning churches into an arm of the state—is only just getting started.

The present wave of persecution began last February, when harsh new restrictions on religious activity were put in place. It has continued to pick up speed in the months since, as churches and mosques have been destroyed or defaced.

Catholics have been a particular target, with a number of bishops and priests arrested and some of China’s most famous shrines torn down. As one underground priest recently put it, “Catholicism in China is facing calamity.”

Other Christian denominations are faring little better. The Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, for example, was attacked on Dec. 9. Over 160 members of the congregation were arrested, along with their pastor, Wang Yi, who has been charged with “inciting subversion of state power.”

China’s Muslims are also under siege, especially the Turkish-speaking minorities of the Far West. Over the past year, more than a million Uyghurs and Kazakhs—out of a total population of only 10 million—have been sent to re-education camps. There they are required to speak only Chinese, forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, and told that all religions are nothing more than superstition.

The persecution of Tibetans and Falun Gong adherents is also reaching new heights. Even China’s tiny Jewish community, centered in the ancient city of Kaifeng, has not escaped the wrath of the authorities. In an eerie reprise of Kristallnacht, the authorities trashed their makeshift synagogue (they are forbidden from building a new one), ripping Hebrew scriptural quotations off the walls and filling in the ritual bath with dirt and stones.

It is important to understand that the Party is not beating down believers because these oppose the official state ideology of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” The vast majority accept Communist rule. They just want to be left alone to practice their faiths in peace—a right supposedly guaranteed by the PRC’s Constitution.

The Pastor of the Early Rain Covenant Church, for example, has explicitly said that, following the Bible, he accepts and respects “the fact that this Communist regime has been allowed by God to rule temporarily.” It didn’t keep him out of jail.

The Catholic Church has gone even further in its efforts to appease China, entering into a still-secret agreement with the Communist Party last September over the appointment of bishops. But the Party’s war on religion has continued.

In fact, not long after the Sino-Vatican agreement was signed, the great shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Shanxi Province had its statues removed. A local Party official explained that they had to go because the shrine had “too many statues.”

This is laughable. China is literally littered with statues of past Communist leaders. The problem with those that lined the approach to Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows shrine is that they were the wrong statues. They depicted angels and saints, rather than Commie greats like Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping. Because of this, they had to go.

Even worse, the shrine of Our Lady of the Mountain in Yunnan Province was razed to the ground. Why is the government so determined to deface or destroy such centers of public Catholic devotion?

The real issue, in my view, was that tens of thousands of pilgrims from all over China visited these shrines each year to pay tribute to the Mother of God. Such a public display of loyalty to something other than the Party and its leaders went directly counter to its push for sinicization and could not be allowed to continue.

Some Westerners still seem to believe that sinicization is merely intended to free Chinese Christianity and other religions from foreign entanglements. What it really is, however, is a far-reaching political campaign intended to transform all religions in China into instruments of state control.

This is why the CCP has imposed a whole host of new restrictions on religious activity within China’s borders. And it is also why the state is aggressively invading the sanctuaries of churches it allows to stand.

The authorities are appointing church leaders, including Catholic bishops, who state openly that their primary loyalty is to the Party, rather than to their faith. The Bible is being rewritten under Party supervision to emphasize loyalty to the state. Pastors and priests are being ordered to hang the PRC flag and the portraits of Communist Party leaders above their altars. Those who offer any resistance to the state’s encroachments are accused, like Pastor Wang, of seeking to subvert the state.

This is not the first time this has happened.

After taking power in 1933, Hitler embarked on what he called Nazification. In order to bring the churches into line with the state, pastors and priests were ordered to hang swastikas around their altars, and display his picture in prominent places. Theologians were recruited to retranslate the Bible so that it conformed to Nazi thinking. And those who resisted these encroachments were arrested and charged with treason.

The ultimate goal of Nazification was the worship of the Third Reich and its leader, Adolf Hitler.

Facing intensifying persecution, nearly all of China’s Christian churches are more than willing to “render unto Caesar what is Caesars, and what is God’s unto God.”

Steven W. Mosher is the President of the Population Research Institute and the author of Bully of Asia: Why China’s Dream is the New Threat to World Order.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.