THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO THE MARTYRS OF THE FAITH WHO SUFFER TORTURE, IMPRISONMENT AND DEATH FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST
More Christians have been Martyred in the past 100 years than in all prior 1900 years combined. And the Persecution of Christians is growing. Today more Christians are Persecuted for their faith than ever. In many Nations right now, Christians are: Persecuted, Tortured, Imprisoned, and even Martyred for their Faith in Jesus Christ.
Hundreds of Christian Martyrs around the globe are dying for their faith
100 million Christians around the globe are currently suffering persecution for their faith. Most often persecution takes the form of imprisonment, abuse, and hostilities. In some cases, however, Christians are asked to face more than scorn, prison, or the loss of health—they are asked to face death.
These individuals are the Christian martyrs of our faith. Jesus said in Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
During the first century, almost all of Jesus’ disciples suffered martyrdom for his sake. Peter was crucified upside down, Mark was torn to pieces, and Paul was beheaded. As Christianity spread throughout Europe and the British Isles, countless numbers of Christians were tortured and burned at the stake. And few can forget the moving story of Jim Elliot and four others who ventured into the Ecuadorian jungle, never to return.
This history reminds us of the great price that belief in God may demand and the great impact that such a sacrifice can have.
But that history has not ended.
Today there are still many Christians martyrs, those who give their life for their faith. Every year and on every continent men and women face death because of their belief in Jesus Christ. They are the Christian martyrs of this century; the fathers, mothers, grandparents, and children who have lost their lives for the sake of the gospel. Around the world the light of their testimonies continues to shine. Their impact is immeasurable and their stories should not be forgotten.
Please keep this little girl and the persecuted church around the world in your prayers.
Hindu extremists may have burned a 10-year-old Christian girl’s face, inflicted shrapnel wounds on 40 percent of her body and forced her family to hide in a forest and flee to a refugee camp in Orissa, India, but her plight hasn’t shaken her faith and thankfulness to God this season.
“Christmas is a time to thank the baby Jesus who saved me from the fire and saved my face which was disfigured and wounded,” Namrata Nayak told Asia News.
Nayak’s face was severely mutilated after Hindu extremists bombed the home where she was staying on Aug. 26. They broke into the house and burned it while Nayak and her siblings hid in a small bathroom. Before exiting the home, they left a bomb in a dresser, according to the report.
While the little girl surveyed the destruction, the bomb detonated and burned her face.
The explosion also lodged shrapnel into her face, hands and back.
Nayak’s mother, Sudhamani, came running out of the forest where she was hiding.
“We saw everything burned, and feared that everyone had died in the flames,” Sudhamani said. “Instead, thanks to God, everyone was safe. Only that my daughter had been wounded. But Jesus took care of her. We took her to the hospital in Berhampur, still unconscious and badly hurt.”
Nayak spent 45 days recovering in the hospital. Despite all her troubles, she is cheerful and giving thanks to God for healing her.
“There is so much pain and suffering, and I don’t know how long the special forces will protect us,” she told Asia News. “But Christmas is a time of gratitude. I am afraid that my people will still be attacked, but this is our life. If God has saved me, he can save other Christians too.”
The Hindu attackers have vowed to launch another widespread assault on Christians during Christmas. The violence began after Christians were blamed for the death of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati on Aug. 24. They continue to be persecuted even though Maoists openly admitted to murdering Saraswati.
Hindus have offered money, food and alcohol to anyone who murders Christians and destroys their homes – especially pastors. Thousands of homes and churches have been destroyed, and Christians have been forced to flee the violence. Many have been doused with kerosene and torched after refusing to renounce their Christian faith.
Nonetheless, Nayak urges India’s Christians to forgive their Hindu attackers.
“[W]e forgive the Hindu radicals who attacked us, who burned our homes,” she told Asia News. “They were out of their minds, they do not know the love of Jesus. For this reason, I now want to study so that when I am older I can tell everyone how much Jesus loves us. This is my future.”
Nayak said her life plan is to share the message of God’s love.
“The world has seen my face destroyed by the fire, now it must come to know my smile full of love and peace,” she said. “I want to dedicate my life to spreading the Gospel.”
10 Year Old, Mutilated For Her Faith, Forgives.
Pakistan: A Prayer for Asia Bibi
Sandul Bibi recently met with VOM friends in Pakistan to celebrate one year since her release from prison. Sandul was arrested in October, 2008, and falsely charged with tearing pages from the Quran. During the time of celebration Sandul and the other believers took time out to pray specifically for Asia Bibi, another Christian in Pakistan who is currently facing a death sentence for alleged blasphemy against Mohammed.
This video includes Sandul’s prayer for Asia, as well as her comments about Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that are so often used against Christians.
Testimony:Pastor Florescu couldn't bear to watch his son being beaten by the Communist officers. He had already been beaten himself, and he had not slept for two weeks for fear of being attacked by the starving rats the Communists had forced into his prison cell. The Romanian police wanted Florescu to give up other members of his underground church so that they, too, could be captured.
Seeing that the beatings and torture weren't working, the Communists brought in Florescu's son Alexander, only fourteen years old, and began to beat the boy. While Florescu watched, they hammered his son's body unmercifully, telling the pastor that they would beat his son to death unless he told them the locations of other believers.
Finally, half mad, Florescu screamed for them to stop.
"Alexander, I must say what they want!" he called out to his son. "I can't bear your beatings anymore."
His body bruised, blood running from his nose and mouth, Alexander looked his father in the eye. "Father, don't do me the injustice of having a traitor as a parent. Stand strong! If they kill me, I will die with the word Jesus on my lips."
The boy's courage enraged the Communist guards, and they beat him to death as his father watched. Not only did he hold on to his faith, he helped his father do the same.
A testimony of Dr Daniel Wong, a professor at The Master's College, who faced persecution as a Christian first hand from Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution in China. Visit The Master's College.
OPEN DOORS INTERNATIONAL - Serving the persecuted church
A pastor imprisoned for his faith in Eritrea recently wrote to his wife:
God, by His holy will, has prolonged my prison sentence to five years and four months. I very much long for the day that I will be reunited with you my dear wife, our children and God's people in the church.
My dear, listen to me - not only as a wife, but also as a Christian woman who has come to understand who God is and how deep and mysterious His ways are. Yes! I love you, I love the children, and I would love to be free in order to serve God. But, in here, God has made me not only a sufferer for His Name's sake in a prison of this world over which Christ has won victory, but also a prisoner of His indescribable love and grace. I am testing and experiencing the love and care of our Lord every day.
When they first brought me to this prison, I had thoughts which were contrary to what the Bible says. I thought the devil had prevailed over the Church and over me. I thought the work of the Gospel in Eritrea was over. But it did not take one day for the Lord to show me that He is a sovereign God and that He is in control of all things - even here in prison.
The moment I entered my cell, one of the prisoners called me and said, “Pastor, come over here. Everyone in this cell are [unsaved]. You are very much needed here.” So, on the same day I was put in prison, I carried on my spiritual work.
My dear, the longer I stay in here, the more I love my Saviour and tell the people here about His goodness. His grace is enabling me to overcome the coldness and the longing that I feel for you and for our children. Sometimes I ask myself, "Am I out of my mind? Am I a fool?" Well, isn't that what the Apostle Paul said, “Whether I am of sound mind or out of my mind, I am Christ's!”
My most respected wife, I love you more than I can say. Please help the children understand that I am here as a prisoner of Christ for the greater cause of the Gospel.
Today I will live in the awareness that God is in
control of all that happens in my life. My suffering
can contribute to the spiritual strength of others.
Please pray for the wives and families of pastors imprisoned for their faith. Pray that they will be strengthened and an encouragement to others, despite their own pain.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS) - A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks
THAT THE GENUINENESS OF YOUR FAITH, BEING MUCH MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD THAT PERISHES, THOUGH IT IS TESTED BY FIRE, MAY BE FOUND TO PRAISE, HONOR AND GLORY AT THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
1st Peter 1:7
BLESSED are those who are PERSECUTED for RIGHTEOUSNESS' sake, for theirs is the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
"The bloodof the martyrs is the seed of the church."
- Third-century scholar Tertullian:
his words continue to ring true
Send Letters of Encouragement
WRITE TO IMPRISONED CHRISTIANS: Each month VOM posts a Christian prisoner at www.prisoneralert.com. That Web site enables you to write letters to Christians in prison - and includes encouraging phrases that are translated into the language of the prisoner! The site also lets you write letters to government officials. Pray for God to encourage imprisoned believers... then be part of the answer to your prayer by writing them encouraging letters!
There is a true story of a small village in India. And in this village there was this family that came to a saving faith in Jesus Christ as Savior Lord. This agitated the village so much and everybody became so upset that an angry mob gathered and shoved them into the public square.
The village chief confronted them and he said to the man, "If you and your family will not recant your faith, you all will surly die!"
The man didn't know what to say or what to do. The only thing that came to mind for him were the words of a song that he himself had composed when he had first surrendered his life to God. And so he began to sing,
"I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back."
Powerful video of a young girl who refuses to deny Jesus Christ
Yubelina Thanks You for Your Letters
Yubelina was badly injured during an attack on her Christian village. As she ran from her attackers, she spilled a kerosene lamp that ignited and burned her face.
SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS
In Ambon, Indonesia, a Christian youth camp was held in early 1999 with the theme “Soldiers of the Cross!” The camp was attacked by an angry group of Muslim extremists and a 15-year-old boy named Roy Pontoh was singled out for carrying his Bible and interrogated.
When asked, “Who are you?” he replied, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” The angry mob chopped at his left arm with a machete. The questioning continued, “Who are you?” And again Roy answered, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” Then they chopped at his right arm.
When they tried to force him to say, “Allahu Akbar,” he replied, “As far as I know, Jesus Christ is the only Lord.” Now the seething angry crowd cut open his stomach and demanded again, “Who are you?” With his last breath, Roy gasped, “I am a soldier of Jesus Christ.” The mob cut off his head and threw his body in a ditch.
Martyrdom may be the end result of those who endure. In addition to Jesus, three martyrs are named in the New Testament—John the Baptist, Stephen and James. Some of the unnamed heroes of the faith mentioned in Hebrews 11:37 were also martyred.
Martyrdom is described as a legitimate response to persecution. This is not easily understood in our day and in our culture that specializes in personal “rights” and the avoidance of suffering. But a special crown is awaiting those who lay down their lives for their faith.
The appropriate response to persecution that one chooses depends on that person’s intimate relationship with God the Holy Spirit and openness to His direction.
No doubt if you and I had talked to Roy Pontoh before his death, we may not have detected such bravery and loyalty to Jesus. Roy passed the hot water test with flying colors. He graduated to a special place with his Lord as a victorious overcomer.
Overcomers are like tea bags. You have to put them in hot water to know how strong they are!
Today I will live in faith and assurance that even in the test and threat of death I can be a victorious overcomer.
Pray that all those who may face physical death today for the cause of Christ will walk in faith and realize they will never die.
PADINA - THE STORY OF A FORMER MUSLIM WHO IS NOW A CHRISTIAN
For those who share our faith but not our freedom.
Nearly 70% of the world's population live in areas of severe religious restriction. Many of these people are Christians
ONE WITH THEM
Revelation 2:10 " Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life".
THIS PRAYER IS REALLY ABOUT UNDERSTANDING THE COST TO FOLLOW JESUS (LUKE 14- 25). DO WE IN AMERICA UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN WE COME JESUS THAT THERE IS A COST TO FOLLOW HIM. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE MANY WHO PROFESS JESUS IN AMERICA WITH THEIR MOUTH BUT DON'T LIVE FOR HIM. MAY WE LOOK TO THE PERSECUTED CHURCH AS AN INSPIRATION AND A MOTIVATION.
Little 3-year-old “Joel” was on his way home from Sunday school when Islamic terrorists ripped his children’s Bible from his hands and tossed it onto a burning pile. Joel ran after his Bible and tried to scoot it out of the flames with a stick. When one of the insurgents saw him, he shoved Joel’s head into the fire and held it down with his boot. “You stubborn infidel,” the man hissed.
PERSECUTION COMES TO AMERICA
Persecution comes to the "Land of the Free''
Kelvin is actively involved at Elizabeth Baptist Church, where he is a deacon and leads a men's Bible study. Inspired by his faith, Chief Cochran wrote “Who Told You That You Were Naked?" a book which details the state of man since the fall of Adam in the Book of Genesis. The takeaway of his book is that only in Christ can men be rescued from their fallen condition and fulfill their purpose as husbands and fathers.
Chief Cochran’s book, "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" briefly discusses the clear biblical teaching that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. The mere statement of this well-known Christian belief, in a book written for men’s Bible study in his off-time, drew the ire of people seeking to redefine marriage who claim that Kelvin, in his official capacity as fire chief, shouldn’t be able to keep his job because his thoughts and beliefs don’t conform to theirs.\
The City of Atlanta initially suspended Chief Cochran for 30 days without pay and ordered that he undergo sensitivity training. An investigation revealed that he had not discriminated against anyone, but at the end of his suspension he was fired. Through their actions, the City of Atlanta is saying that Chief Cochran's biblical values and speech are not only less important than those of people who disagree with the Bible on the topic of sex and marriage, they are punishable by termination.
Faith is not reserved for pastors and chaplains, and the free exercise of religion doesn’t mean that people may only be faithful within the walls of their churches. And yet, Chief Cochran is one of a growing number of people who are being punished simply for being a person of faith. Public officials continue to demand tolerance but refuse to tolerate the views of Christians.
If a fire chief with 30 years of distinguished service can be fired for his faith, what's next? Who’s next?
Alliance Defending Freedom represents Chief Cochran in a suit filed against the City in federal court to vindicate his rights, including his rights to free speech and freedom of religion.
Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran Fired for Faith
Christian Bus Driver Fired for Refusing to Drive Gay-Pride
A dedicated Christian steel worker in Ohio has been fired after he shared his faith and the faith-based movie "Audacity" with two lesbian co-workers, leaving a him, his wife and two kids without any income.
The employment of Precision Strip metal processing worker Chris Routson, who worked on the floor of Precision Strip's plant in Middletown, Ohio, for the last 13 years, came to an abrupt end on Aug. 27 when he was terminated, without severance pay or unemployment, because his lesbian co-workers were uncomfortable with how he indiscriminately shared his faith with them.
Routson explained in an interview with The Christian Post that since he became a Christian about four years ago, he has made a custom of sharing his love for Jesus with all of his co-workers, no matter who they are.
But after Precision Strip hired a lesbian worker about a year ago, Routson knew that sooner or later the act of sharing his faith would come into questionUpon the hiring of the lesbian woman, Routson didn't immediately approach the woman to talk about his faith and prayed that God would eventually present him with the perfect opportunity to do so.
As the faith-based film "Audacity" was released this year to help show that many Christians love homosexual individuals despite not agreeing with their life choices, Routson felt compelled to share the Ray Comfort-produced film with his lesbian co-worker. One Saturday when he was at home, Routson sent a link of the film to his lesbian co-worker via Facebook.
"The week ['Audacity'] came out I shared it with her on her personal messages, and she was already my friend on Facebook, so it wasn't like I forced it on her at all," Routson said. "I just said, 'Hey, check this out.'"
The following Monday, Routson came to work and noticed other workers gathered around the lesbian co-worker. Routson was told that she was uncomfortable being around him because of the Facebook message and he was instructed to visit his manager's office.
"They said, 'Someone said you didn't make them feel comfortable.' I said, 'I sent out a video to share the Gospel just because it talks about homosexuality.' They said, 'You can't do that. You can't do that,'" explained Routson. "So, I said 'I was just trying to share my faith with her and it doesn't matter that I didn't have a chance to work with her, I can share a link on Facebook on my own time right?' They are like, 'No, no, you can't do that. You can't be sharing with people on Facebook because they work here.'"
"They were saying that I can't do that, but I have never seen anything that says I couldn't," Routson asserted.
A day after being called into the office, Routson said that another lesbian worker was hired to work in the facility. Just as he shared his faith with all of his other co-workers, Routson felt compelled to share his faith with the new lesbian worker.
"So, the new girl comes in and it was like any other new person. … We were talking about the Gospel and I shared my faith with her, and at the same time, I shared 'Audacity' with her," Routson said. "I said, 'You got to check out 'Audacity.' At that point, some of the guys, some of my enemies that are there, come around her and talked her into going up front to try and get me fired, and that is what happened."
Routson was again told to go to the manager's office, where he was told to go home for the day. The next morning, Routson was called on the phone and told to come in a few hours later than normal. Upon his arrival to the facility on Aug. 27, Routson was told that his employment was being terminated because he made co-workers feel uncomfortable.
Officials from Precision Strip declined to comment on Routson's termination when contacted by a CP reporter. Since his termination, Routson has acquired the representation of the Ohio-based Christian Law Association.
"If you are put in a situation where you are going to be fired or you are going to be persecuted for your faith, never give into the fear of man, always fear the Lord," Routson said. "No matter what happens, trust the outcome to God rather than trying to think about how we can stop it from happening."
Routson is still in search of employment and has set up a GoFundMe fundraising page to help his family get by while he remains unemployed. Thus far, $4,125 has been donated by 102 different donors.
Blaine Adamson's Conscience: Convictions in the WorkplaceBlaine Adamson, the owner of Hands On Originals, a promotional printing company, has turned down several requests to create shirts based on the message that he was asked to print on them. But when he declined one particular design, he faced charges of illegal discriminationThat order came from the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization (GLSO), and the requested shirt promoted the group’s Pride Parade. Blaine explained that he could not print a shirt bearing a message that conflicts with his faith. He then offered to connect the GLSO to another printer who would create the shirts for the same price that he would have charged.
The GLSO rejected Blaine’s offer and filed a discrimination complaint with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission.
If the situation were reversed, would a homosexual printer be forced to print material stating that homosexuality is morally wrong? Or would an African American be forced to print shirts promoting a Klu Klux Klan rally? Of course not.
But the Human Rights Commission ignored all of this, declared that Blaine was guilty of illegal discrimination, and ordered him to print shirts with messages that conflict with his religious beliefs
A Calgary, Canada, Transit bus driver who refused to drive a Pride bus has been fired, as reported by Calgary Global on September 11, 2015.
A Christian bus driver from Calgary, Canada, has been fired from his job after he refused to drive a rainbow colored bus promoting the city's gay pride event. Calgary Transit has claimed, however, that the Christian was fired for making false statements to the media, and not because of his refusal to drive the bus.
Jesse Rau said back in August that driving the gay-pride bus goes against his religious beliefs, and on Friday revealed that he had been fired from his job."It's something that I 100 percent expected," Rau told reporters, according to Calgary Herald.
"I expected that my job was totally on the line," he added, noting that he had been on the job for a year and was nearing the end of his probationary period. "The fact that they fired me, it's hurtful, but … I knew that was on the table."
The city of Calgary insisted in its termination letter, however, that Rau was being fired due to breaching the city's media relations policy, and not because of his beliefs.
"To be clear you are entitled to your religious beliefs and to express them freely. However, you went beyond that and made false and misleading comments during various media interviews, which resulted in undue controversy and put the reputation of the city at risk."
The letter further states that he is unsuitable for employment and the city has set his status on "do not rehire."
Rau has said he was told that any bus driver might be assigned to operate the rainbow-colored bus, while the city has claimed that they specifically told Rau he would not be assigned the route, CBC News reported.
Calgary's authorities are also claiming that Rau posted "Nazi-related content" on social media.
Rau explained, however, that the image in question, depicting a Nazi shooting a Jew holding a child in the back, is supposed to be anti-Nazi in nature.
"They didn't understand the photo," the bus driver said. "I believe we're losing our freedoms in the West."
Rau said that his opposition to driving the bus has had some effect, as Calgary Transit has decided to actually ask drivers if they want to drive the bus.
"That's awesome. That's how it should have been in the first place," the bus driver said.
Transit Director Doug Morgan insisted that all employees are expected to follow the city's media and public comments code.
"What we want to do is make sure when statements are made publicly that they reflect truthfulness in the corporation and the values put forward by the city of Calgary and council," Morgan noted.
Rau's pastor, Artur Pawlowski of the Street Church in Calgary, has said that he is expecting hundreds of people to attend a rally in support of the bus driver at Calgary City Hall on Oct. 10.
Christian fired for sharing faith based movie 'AUDACITY'
The insanity continues. In America, the Oregon government threatens to take Christian Bakers home for refusing to bake a cake for a wedding couple! Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein missed a deadline to pay a $135,000 fine for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake. Now the state is threatening to place a lien on their home until it's paid. But the couple says they're not backing down.
Christian Bakers May Lose Home for Refusing to Bake Gay Wedding Cake
"UNDER ATTACK" ( Persecution in the west) are you ready for what's coming?
Barronelle Stutzman, the sole owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, has served and employed people who identify as homosexual for her entire career. Despite this, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington Attorney General claim that she is guilty of unlawful discrimination when she acted consistent with her faith and declined to use her creative skills to beautify the same-sex ceremony of a long-time customer, Robert Ingersoll, and another man, Curt Freed “You have to make a stand somewhere in your life on what you believe and what you don't believe,” Barronelle told CBN in an interview. "It was just a time I had to take a stand."
Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse
Never has religious liberty been under greater attack in our nation’s military. Just how bad things are was demonstrated recently in the case of United States v. Sterling.
In that case, the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals held that the Marines could order Lance Corporal Sterling to remove a Bible verse that Sterling had posted in her work station. Sterling, a devout Christian, posted Isaiah 54:17 (“no weapon formed against you shall prosper”) on very small pieces of paper in three places around her work station, to remind herself of the Trinity. As for many Christians, Isaiah 54:17 carried very special meaning for Sterling, and she especially found it encouraging in her work environment. At the time, her work station consisted of a desk and computer which she did not share with anyone else.
Sterling’s superior officer saw the scripture verses, “did not like their tone,” and told Sterling to “remove that,” referring to the Bible verse as a profanity that we will not repeat. When Sterling refused, her superior officer removed the verses and threw them in the trash.
CAMPAIGN TO STOP ISIS GENOCIDE OF CHRISTIANS .....Please pray and support our brothers and sisters who are being so brutally persecuted for their faith...
ISIS continues its rampage of beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement, mass rape, forced evictions, and other atrocities, intentionally targeting Christians and other religious minorities in the region. It’s genocide.
ISIS members have killed Yazidis and Christians by the thousands, have enslaved and raped thousands more because of their religion, and have destroyed their places of worship and their homes. ISIS intends to kill all Christians if they do not convert, pay jizya, or flee. This genocide and terror are leading to the violent suppression of the Christians from their region of origin.
Lt. Col. David Ashley, commander, 5th Space Launch Squadron, leads Airmen during the Patriot's Day Memorial Service held Sept. 11 at Memorial Plaza on Patrick Air Force Base.
The Pentagon has launched an investigation to review the Air Force's actions against 33-year veteran Oscar Rodriguez, who was forcibly dragged away for giving a speech that included the word "God" at California's Travis Air Force base in April.
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James ordered the Air Force Inspector General to review the Air Force's actions against Rodriguez, two days after the group First Liberty, which defends religious freedom of all Americans, sent a demand letter to the Air Force on behalf of the veteran.
"We view the Pentagon's action today as a positive first step towards not only acknowledging that religious scripts may be used at retirement ceremonies, but also ensuring these kinds of situations are not repeated," Mike Berry, director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, says in a statement.
For many years, Rodriguez, who retired as Senior Master Sergeant in 2013, regularly performed a patriotic flag-folding speech at retirement ceremonies, and civic and patriotic events.
Master Sergeant Charles "Chuck" Roberson, a USAF veteran, who retired in April 2016 at Travis Air Force Base, saw Rodriguez perform the flag-folding speech at a friend's retirement ceremony. Moved by the speech, Roberson personally asked Rodriguez to give the same speech at his own retirement ceremony.
When senior officials learned that that Rodriguez's speech would mention "God," they attempted to prevent Rodriguez from attending, but didn't have the authority to do so. Roberson and Rodriguez tried to clear the speech through higher authorities at Travis Air Force Base, even offering to place notices on the door informing guests that the word "God" would be mentioned. But they received no response.
At the ceremony, when Rodriguez began speaking, multiple Airmen physically assaulted him, dragging him out of the ceremony. Travis Air Force Base officials then threw Rodriguez off the base, according to First Liberty.
"To even imagine that I would be removed while the American flag is being unfurled and open—the flag which represents freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press…it's horrifying," Rodriguez was quoted as saying.
"I have given more than three decades of service to the military and made many sacrifices for my country," Rodriguez added. "To have the Air Force assault me and drag me out of a retirement ceremony simply because my speech included the word 'God' is something I never expected from our military."
"Air Force personnel may use a flag folding ceremony script that is religious for retirement ceremonies," the Air Force said in a statement last week. "Since retirement ceremonies are personal in nature, the script preference for a flag folding ceremony is at the discretion of the individual being honored and represents the member's views, not those of the Air Force. The Air Force places the highest value of the rights of its personnel in matters of religion and facilitates the free exercise of religion by its members."
During his 33 years of service, Rodriguez sacrificed greatly for our nation, including losing his business as a result of being called to active duty from the Reserve, Liberty Institute points out. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) spoke of Rodriguez's story from the Senate floor as an example of how our veterans pay a high price to serve our nation.
"The Air Force had no right to assault a citizen, much less a 33-year military veteran, because they didn't want him to mention 'God,'" Berry said earlier. "Mr. Rodriguez has a constitutional right to free speech and religious expression, even on a military base. The military broke the law and abused its power."
Pentagon to Investigate Veteran's Removal From Military Base for Referring to 'God' in Speech
The Family Research Council has compiled a reporting listing 12 cases this past decade in America where Christian business owners have been punished or threatened with punishment for holding traditional beliefs about marriage in order to comply with anti-discrimination laws regarding gay people.
Aaron Klein talked before those gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel about the fallout from he and his wife's refusal to make a same-sex wedding cake
"People of faith have increasingly found themselves being sued (along with receiving censure and hostility) when they refuse to engage in work-related activities that violate their religious beliefs on marriage and sexuality," wrote Travis Weber, director of the Center For Religious Liberty, and author of the "Religious Liberty and the 'Wedding Vendor' Cases" report.
"This scenario has played out most prominently in the wedding industry, where small business owners are being forced to make the choice between violating their faith and freely running their business," he added.
Parts of the report were written by Alliance Defending Freedom.
Weber suggested that public accommodation laws were once part of a "noble" effort to combat state-sponsored racial discrimination, but have since been expanded to compel equal treatment of different types of sexual conduct.
"Though religious freedom can be minimized and curtailed by any number of alleged governmental justifications or rationales, many of the threats to religious freedom (and free exercise, free speech, and free expression) today come in the form of SOGI laws — as wedding vendors refusing to participate in same-sex marriages are sued on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination," Weber explained.
The 12 cases mentioned in the report were organized in chronological order, and largely concerned Christian business owners who have been asked to provide service to gay couples for their weddings, but have refused due to their belief that marriage is solely between one man and one woman.
While a number of the listed cases are not yet settled, and still going through the courts, they all concern people of faith who have been threatened or punished by the government to go against their beliefs.
The list began with the 2006 case of Elane Photography, where Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin refused to provide photography for a same-sex wedding between two women, as it went against their beliefs on marriage. They were sued for their refusal to provide the service, and although they went all the way to the New Mexico Supreme Court, the state's anti-discrimination laws won over their religious freedom rights, and they were ordered to pay nearly $7,000 in attorneys' fees.
As The Washington Post reported, the state human rights commission had found that the Huguenins violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act in their refusal to photograph the wedding.
"When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races," the court argued at the time.
The full list of cases, available on the FRC website, goes all the way up to Carl and Angel Larsen of Telescope Media Group, who are facing the danger of being fined up to $25,000 in damages if they refuse to provide media and film services to gay couples on their weddings — and so they filed a suit earlier this year asking Minnesota law to protect them from being compelled to violate their faith.
The other 10 cases are:
Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (2007)
Wildflower Inn – Jim and Mary O'Reilly (2011)
TimberCreek Bed & Breakfast – Jim and Beth Walder (2011)
Masterpiece Cakeshop – Jack Phillips (2012)
Sweet Cakes by Melissa – Aaron and Melissa Klein (2013)
Arlene's Flowers – Barronelle Stutzman (2013)
Liberty Ridge Farm – Cynthia and Robert Gifford (2013)
Gortz Haus Gallery – Dick and Betty Odgaard (2013)
The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel – Don and Evelyn Knapp (2014)
Brush & Nib Studio – Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski (2016)
FRC's report explains in its conclusion that the First Amendment is meant to protect all Americans and their right to practice their faith.
"Requiring a cake-baker, wedding photographer, or other artisan to promote a message that contradicts sincerely-held, personal beliefs certainly violates the First Amendment," the conservative group argued.
"Compelling artists who support natural marriage to speak a particular message by forcing them to participate in a particular event violates the principles of the First Amendment and oversteps the historical use of public accommodation laws," it added.
Air Force punishes loyal officer over Christian view of marriage, but he won’t go down without a fight
SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A decorated Air Force veteran and aviator was punished because he believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman.
Col. Michael Madrid served in the military for 26 years with a stellar record, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal four times for his “singularly distinctive accomplishments.” As a Lt. Colonel stationed in Wyoming, he also served fellow airmen as a mentor and friend, including one struggling young medical officer.
That medical airman was later found to have committed serious crimes, including prescribing narcotics illegally, performing duties while high, and illegally bringing a loaded weapon onto the Air Force base. The airman, who was openly gay, was court-martialed in 2014.
During the airman's court-martial, Madrid was a potential witness. In an apparent attempt to discredit Madrid's possible testimony, the airman filed a complaint against Madrid, accusing him of making derogatory comments about homosexuals.
"I believe there was an attempt to impugn my character," Lt. Col. Madrid explained. "However, I was never called as a witness and the airman was found guilty.”
Madrid denied the accusations and cooperated with a thorough Air Force investigation. The Air Force concluded that the accusations were completely "unsubstantiated," cleared Madrid of all charges, and the commanding officer overseeing the investigation wrote, "I consider this matter closed."
Later, Madrid was promoted to Chief of Medical Standards at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio and eventually gained the rank of Colonel. He was one promotion from the rank of Brigadier General.
But Madrid's new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy, issued a surprise Letter of Admonishment against Madrid, ensuring he would never be promoted and could be demoted.
Without investigating further, conducting new interviews or looking at any evidence, Maj. Gen. McCoy decided that Col. Madrid's religious views that marriage is between one man and one woman constituted discrimination. McCoy also said Madrid lied in the investigation and was guilty of the gay airman's accusations.
“I feel like the full power of the Air Force is coming down on me because of my faith,” Col. Madrid shared. “Now, after more than a quarter century of service to this nation, I feel like I constantly have to look over my shoulder. It’s incredibly intimidating.”
“I feel like I’ve been singled out because of my faith,” Madrid told Breitbart News. “Now I’m afraid if I say anything about even being a Christian, I’ll step on a landmine that could blow up my career."
“I hate feeling like I have to constantly look over my shoulder to see if someone is coming after me because of what I believe,” Madrid said. “We have many good service members who are people of faith and they shouldn’t have to live in fear of being punished for what they believe. I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else.”
Last week, a legal team from First Liberty Institute took on Col. Madrid's case. The religious freedom defenders immediately sent a demand letter to the U.S. Air Force, explaining that Col. Madrid was denied due process and McCoy’s Letter of Admonishment must be rescinded.
“Colonel Madrid submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him,” First Liberty's Mike Berry explained. “Major General McCoy has no right to ignore the rule of law and arbitrarily decide, more than two years later and without any new evidence, that he can punish Col. Madrid.”
Berry believes Madrid's case is just one of many instances of discrimination against Christians in the U.S. military since former President Obama got rid of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of President Clinton, and aggressively instituted pro-gay and pro-transgender policies in the armed forces.
“Colonel Madrid is the latest victim of the extreme political correctness that is destroying our military,” Berry said. “The military should never discriminate against a service member because of his religious beliefs.”
First Liberty encourages the public to sign a letter of support online.
“Col. Madrid doesn’t hide the fact that he is a devout Christian,” Berry said. “We are concerned that Major Gen. McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Col. Madrid’s traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal.”