Petition Tag - religious freedom

1. Defend the Religious Freedom of Churches - Oppose AB 569

Once again California politicians are infringing upon the religious freedom of churches and other religious institutions. AB 569 will prohibit these organizations from holding their employees to biblical standards when it comes to contraception, abortion and sex outside of marriage.

"Every organization that promotes a pro-life message must be able to require its employees to practice what they preach. The right to freely exercise one's religion is enshrined in our Constitution, and has always protected every American's ability to freely associate around shared beliefs and practices. It is unconscionable for any politician to attempt to bridge the sacrosanct religious liberty by inserting themselves into the employee-employer relationship." - Jonathan Keller, President of CA Family Council

This bill was written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (Democrat, San Diego-National City-Chula Vista-San Ysidro). Help us gather a multitude of signatures to remind Assemblywoman Gonzalez that the church is guaranteed a Constitutional right to religious freedom. We will be delivering this petition to her as well as all the other CA Senators who will be considering this upcoming bill in the Senate.

2. Free Iranian Christian Ebrahim Firouzi, Serving 5-Year Sentence For Peaceful Missionary Activities

MARCH 29, 2017--The five-year prison sentence against Christian convert Ebrahim Firouzi for his alleged missionary activities has been confirmed by the Appeals Court in Tehran, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
The ruling, issued on January 15, 2017, also requires Firouzi to spend two years in exile in the village of Sarbaz in a remote part of Sistan and Baluchistan Province, according to an informed source who spoke to CHRI on the condition of anonymity.
The 32-year-old welder has been held in Ward 12 for political prisoners in Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, 32 miles west of Tehran, since 2014. He has been prosecuted three times since 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity and allegedly organizing Christian religious meetings.
When he was first arrested in January 2010, interrogators offered Firouzi freedom if he declared himself a Muslim. He chose prosecution and was convicted by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj of “propaganda against the state” for his religious conversion and alleged missionary activities and sentenced to five months in prison with an additional five-month suspended prison sentence.
Firouzi was freed on June 8, 2011, but on March 8, 2012 he was arrested again for allegedly “attempting to create a website teaching about Christianity” (in order to convert people) and again charged with “propaganda against the state.”
He was sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile by Judge Hassan Babaee of the Revolutionary Court in Robat Karim, 16 miles southwest of Tehran. The decision was upheld on appeal.
The third arrest took place on September 16, 2014. During interrogations in Evin Prison’s Ward 240, Firouzi was put under intense pressure to issue a false confession in return for freedom, but refused, according to an informed source.
In April 2015, Firouzi was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly “creating a group with the intention of disturbing national security” by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court.
Based on the decision by the Appeals Court, Firouzi will remain incarcerated until 2019.
Despite President Hassan Rouhani’s pledges during his election campaign in 2013 that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice,” the targeting of Christian converts has continued unabated under his administration.
SOURCE: Center For Human Rights In Iran

3. Stop Religious Exemption Form Violating Religious Freedom!

I moved to Georgia earlier this year partly because the Georgia law at that time supported a parents right to a religious exemption to vaccinations. The United States Constitution grants all of us the freedom to practice any religion. Until May of 2015 Georgia law upheld our rights to object to vaccination due to religious beliefs. In May, a change was made to the law, requiring a standardized form to be used instead of the previous notarized letter. While I have no objection to signing a required form. I object to the language used in this new form. http://goo.gl/VLocu4

I urge every parent in the state of Gerogia to sign this petition to demand that the language used in this form be changed to reflect the values of the individuals that request religious exemptions.

In the mean time, I urge you to object to signing this form. I will be submitting an addendum to this form instead stating the need for changes.

4. Free Iranian Fariba Ashtari, Serving Two Years For Practicising Her Bahai Faith

Feburary 26, 2015--Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i resident of Yazd, started her two-year sentence on Saturday at the central prison of the city. She is the fourth of the the twenty Baha’is in the province whose sentence has been carried out.

According to HRANA Press, the news portal of Human Rights Activists in Iran, on Saturday, 21 February 2015, Fariba Ashtari, a Baha’i resident of Yazd, presented herself to serve her two-year imprisonment at the city’s central prison. In addition to the prison sentence of two years, she is sentenced to one year of a suspended sentence.

It is worth noting that she is the fourth Baha’i of twenty-four for whom the revolutionary court of Yazd has carried out their sentences, based on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership in the Baha’i community. Before Fariba Ashtari, in recent weeks, Farah Baghi, Navid Haghighi and Shahram Fallah were other Baha’is who have been transferred to prisons in Yazd, Kerman and Arak to begin their sentences.

5. Free Iranian Farah Baghi, Imprisoned For Her Baha'i Faith

HRANA News Agency February 13, 2015 – Farah Baghi, a Bahai from Yazd who has been sentenced to one year in prison and a one-year suspended sentence, has reported to prison in Yazd to begin her sentence.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), she had previously been informed that she would begin her sentence on February 13, but on February 9 security officers appeared at her door to take her to prison.

When she explained that she was summoned to prison on February 13, they agreed that she could take herself to the court offices, on February 10.

Mrs. Farah Baghi is the third Bahai to begin her sentence, out of group of 20 Baha'is who were arrested in Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, Arak and neighbouring areas in August 2012.

6. Free Iranian Baha'i Faith Prisoners of Conscience Navid Haghighi & Shahram Falah

On January 30, two Baha'i faith Iranians, Navid Haghighi and Shahram Falah, reported to begin serving their prison terms (three years each). Navid Haghighi reported to Arak Prison to begin his three-year term, while Shahram Falah reported to Kerman Prison.

Mr. Haghiighi and Mr. Falah are two of twenty Iranian Baha'i faith practicioners who were convicted in a highly flawed trial based solely on politically-motivated charges, which occurred in 2014. Human Rights Watch describes:

Iranian authorities should ensure that prison sentences against 20 Baha’is unlawfully convicted of national security crimes are overturned. Security and intelligence forces arrested the group of 20 in July 2012. Authorities should also halt the Revolutionary Guard bulldozing of an old Baha’i cemetery in Shiraz.

The appellate court ruling, issued on April 13, 2014, follows lower court convictions of the group in 2013 on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “propaganda on behalf of groups or organizations acting against the state.” Several defendants told Human Rights Watch that the convictions followed prolonged periods of solitary confinement and interrogation by Intelligence Ministry agents, who subjected detainees to physical and psychological ill-treatment.

“These transparently political charges make it painfully clear that authorities have targeted the Baha’is not for any crime but because of their religious beliefs,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “It’s hard to understand how members of the judiciary can justify such religious intolerance.”

The ruling issued by branch 1 of Yazd’s Appellate Court, with an average of two to three years per defendant, stems from a campaign targeting Baha’is in central Iran. On July 31, 2012, Intelligence Ministry agents raided the homes and businesses of the 20 Baha’is in the cities of Yazd, Esfahan, Arak, Shahinshahr, Vilashahr, and Kerman. Defendants who spoke to Human Rights Watch described how the agents searched their homes, confiscated personal belongings including birth certificates, bank statements, and religious material, then arrested them and took them to detention facilities in Yazd.

The defendants are out on bail. Fariborz Baghi, who was sentenced to two years in prison and given a one year suspended sentence, told Human Rights Watch that over the course of a month in a Yazd detention facility: “I was subjected to a lot of psychological and emotional pressure…. They told me if you don’t confess to everything we will bring your daughter and your son here too…they did not say what they would do to them.” Baghi’s wife, Nategheh Jafari Naeimi, told Human Rights Watch that agents arrested her and took her to a women’s detention facility, where she was in solitary confinement for 17 days during her interrogation. They later released her on bail.

Another defendant, Iman Rashidi, told Human Rights Watch that one of his interrogators insulted and cursed him and other Baha’is, and struck him on the head from behind on two occasions. Rashidi said he was in solitary confinement for 15 days, and was allowed to contact his family only on his 21st day of detention. The court sentenced Rashidi to three years in prison and a one year suspended sentence.

Several defendants said that during the two-day lower court trial, which lasted about three hours each day, the government provided little evidence substantiating the charges against them:

The judge first read the charges against us aloud and then asked if we wished to defend ourselves. Then he immediately asked us and our lawyer to provide our last defense. I felt as if they had already made a final decision and had issued the verdict before our trial, and before hearing our words and our lawyer’s defense.

Another defendant, who wished to remain anonymous, said that several days after the lower court issued its verdict, a member of the judiciary told him: “In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the constitution does not acknowledge any rights for you. You are not considered citizens. If it were up to me you would not have the right to live, either.”

Mehran Amirabadi, a 45-year-old Yazd resident who was sentenced to a year in prison and a one year suspended sentence, said that the judge accused the group of being in touch with Israel without providing any proof:


They never provided evidence for the charge of “propaganda against the regime”. They just said that all 20 of us were part of an organized network. I asked the judge what evidence substantiated the charges against us. The judge looked at the prosecutor’s representative, who nodded his head. Then the judge answered that the representative of the prosecutor will inform you later.... How can I defend myself if the prosecutor’s representative is going to inform me of the evidence for my charges later? Then, the judge related us to Israel, and [said that] we are in touch with Israel without any proof, evidence, and witness.

Haifa, in present-day Israel, is the faith’s administrative headquarters since 1868, when Haifa was under Ottoman rule. The Iranian government has repeatedly used the connection to accuse Baha’is in Iran of spying for Israel, with which Iran has hostile relations.

The Baha’i International Community says that as of December 2013, there are 136 Baha’is that are in prison in Iran solely on religious grounds. Among those are the seven former Baha’i leaders, who are nearly six years into 20-year sentences in a trial that fell short of international standards. The seven are: Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.

Those arrested on July 31, 2012, are: Farahnaz Misaghian Ardakani, Shabnam Mottahed, Iman Rashidi Azabadi, Fariba Ashtari, Nategheh Jafari Naeimi, Shahram Fallah, Navid Haghighi Najafabadi, Khosro Dehghani Mohammadi, Farah Baghi Asrabadi, Mehran Eslami Amirabadi, Azam Motahari, Azar Meidokht Toloui Mehdiabadi, Safa Golshan, Enayatollah Taghipour, Sasan Haghiri, Shahram Eshraghi Najafabadi, Tahereh Rezaeidashti, Naghmeh Farabi, Vida Haghighi, and Fariborz Baghi.

In a separate development, on or around April 21, 2014, authorities began excavating an old Baha’i cemetery, “Golestan-e Javid” (Eternal Paradise), in the southern city of Shiraz. Two Baha’i residents, who have family buried in the cemetery, told Human Rights Watch that the Revolutionary Guard began bulldozing the cemetery despite efforts by the community to prevent demolition of the site.

Defacing and destruction of religious or sacred sites, including cemeteries where Baha’i leaders and ordinary members of the community are buried, has also been part of the systematic campaign of government repression targeting Iran’s Baha’i community since the 1980s, Human Rights Watch said.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said that his mother’s cousin, who was among a group of Baha’is executed by the government in the early 1980s, was buried in the cemetery, but that since the government confiscated the property in the 1980s the Baha’i community had not been able to use the site for burials. The resident also said that local Baha’is had complained to various governmental authorities to stop the excavation, to no avail.

In a recent interview with the Persian-language Radio Farda, a Baha’i International Community spokesperson, Simin Fahandej, said that the land on which the Baha’i cemetery sits is now owned by a Revolutionary Guard, and that three years ago it announced plans to build a cultural and sports complex on the site. The cemetery’s burial ground holds the remains of more than 900 Baha’is, including “10 women who were hanged in 1983 for their refusal to recant their Baha’i beliefs,” the Baha’i International Community said in a May 8, 2014 statement.

According to the Baha’i International Community, between 2005 and 2012 “at least 42 Baha’i-owned cemeteries were attacked in some manner.”

“The targeting and harassment of Baha’is, both living and dead, shows how deeply entrenched the government’s intolerance is against Iran’s Baha’i community,” Stork said. “Those who are supposed to be protecting the Baha’i community should call a halt to this campaign of repression.”
SOURCE: Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/19/iran-mounting-pressure-baha

7. Free Iranian Christians Seyed Alireza Ali Haghnejad, Mohammad Roghangir and Soroush Rezayi

July 7, 2014--The security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran have arrested three new converts to Christianity, all members of a group called The Church of Iran, in Anzali city.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Seyed Alireza Ali Haghnejad, known as Mathews, a newly-converted Christian from Anzali city was arrested on July 5th.

Mathews is a minister of the church, who was arrested along with Mohammad Roghangir (known as Vahid) and Soroush Rezayi, who are from the same church in Shiraz, in Anzali, at Mathew’s house, on Saturday, July 5.

The security forces seized the holy books, pamphlets and personal computer of Mathews.

Previously, Pastor Yousef Nadar khani, another member of Iran church was sentenced to death, but because of the activities of human rights organizations the sentence was cancelled and he was subsequently released.

Behnam Irani, another member of this church, who is serving his sentence at Central Prison of Karaj was transferred to an unknown location for two weeks last month, despite his bad physical and health condition. He is deprived of all the rights of a prisoners like furlough.

8. Free Iranian Baha'i Faith Citizen Susan Tebyanian

June 10, 2014: HRANA News Agency – Susan Tebyanian, a Bahai from Semnan, was arrested in her home on the evening of May 31st.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), agents from the Ministry of Intelligence searched her home, seized a computer and religious books and images, and arrested her.

Mrs. Tebyanian, who has two small children, had a shop in Semnan until her arrest in April, 2009. In May 2010 she was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime and membership of a Bahai organisation.

She began her sentence in Evin prison on July 1st, 2010. After serving almost 14 months in prison, she was one of the prisoners granted clemency to mark Eid al-Fitr, on August 27 2011.

9. Free Iranian Gonabadi Dervish Ali Karami, Sentenced to 3 Years In Prison

Majzooban, May 7, 2014-- The Tehran Revolutionary Court has sentenced Gonabadi Dervish, Ali Karami three year of imprisonment.

According to reports by Majzooban Noor, Ali Karami was sentenced to three years in prison by the 26th branch of the Revolutionary Court presided over by judge Mohammadzadeh for charges of "conspiracy to disturb the social and national security" (based on article 610 of the Islamic Penal code).

It is worth mentioning that, this Judicial verdict has been issued while Hojatoleslam Ali Younesi, President Hassan Rohani's adviser for ethnic groups and religious minorities, has repeatedly acknowledged that, under the current government , according to Iran's constitution,the legal freedom principle is being considered for citizens but in the meantime Gonabadi Dervishes have been the main victims of the political dispute between Judicial power and The executive power!

Ali Karami was arrested along with more than 15 other lawyers and managers of Majzooban Noor website ( Nematollah Gonabadi Order News Site) in Shahrivar 1390 (September 2011) in Tehran and he was released on bail after enduring more than one month behind bars in solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin prison.

Among those arrested in September 2011, the Gonabadi Dervishes lawyers and Majzooban Noor news website's managers, Hamid-Reza Moradi, Mostafa Daneshjou, Farshid Yadollahi Farsi, Amir Eslami, Omid Behroozi, Afshin Karampour, Reza Entesari and Mostafa Abdi who are currently being held in ward 350 of Evin prison, have been sentenced to a total of over 60 years imprisonment in Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court presided by Judge Salavati.

10. Stop Facebook violating Feedom of Speech

Facebook has violated my American constitutionally rights to free speech to further its perverted sex agenda, that advocates sodomy and other sexual indecencies between people of the same sex.

11. Free Iranian Christian Pastor Behnam Irani, Suffering Poor Health in Prison

Behnam Irani, an imprisoned Christian convert, is in deteriorating health and prison authorities are denying hismmedical care.

According to a report by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), Behnam Irani has a blood infection , and he might be sent to a hospital for a surgeryto remove part of his intestines, which are source of infection.

Behnam Irani has been arrested and tried for “crimes” against national security twice, first in December 2006 and second April 2010. Basically, in this instance, "crimes against national security" meant holding house church services leading Muslims to convert to the Christan faith.

The first time he was arrested was in December 2006. He was released on bail in January 2007. On February 23, 2008 Branch 30 of the Appellate Court in Tehran gave him a five year suspended sentence. Since it was a suspended sentence he was not required to go to prison, but was free on a five-year probation.

On April 14, 2010 Intelligence Ministry officers burst into a house church service, assaulted him and took him into custody. A service was taking place at the time and the security officials interrogated those attending as well as confiscating Bibles, Christian literature and DVD’s. Behnam was in prison for two months then he was released on bail in June 2010. In January 2011 he was tried for and convicted of crimes against national security.

On May 31, 2011 a warrant was issued for his arrest so he turned himself into the prison and began serving a one year sentence plus his five year suspended sentence.

12. Free Abolfazl (Pouria) Shahpari, Member of the Iran Zoroastrian Committee

In late August, 2011 Abolfazl (Pouria) Shahpari, Zoroastrian citizen and member of the Iran Zoroastrian Committee, was summoned to Evin Prison in order to serve his 2.5 year prison sentence.

In February of 2009, Pouria Shahpari was arrested along with his brother Dariush Shahpari by the Intelligence Ministry. They were transferred to Ward 240 of Evin Prison.

According to the Human Rights House of Iran, his charges included anti-regime propaganda, gathering and conspiracy, insulting the Supreme Leader, membership in the Iran Zoroastrian Committee, and blasphemy by propaganda for Zoroastrianism.

He was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison and 74 lashes. The appeals court upheld the sentence.

He has been transferred to Evin Prison in order to serve his sentence. His brother in law, Mohsen(Bahman) Sadeghi Nour is currently held in Ward 350 of Evin prison and the execution branch of Evin Prison has told him that the prison sentence will be carried out for his brother Mohammad Javad (Dariush) Shahpari in the next a few days.

His mother had a heart attack in 2009 after the raid on her house and the arrest of her family members including her husband Abbas Shahpari, her sons Pouria, Jafar and Dariush and her only daughter Negar Shahpari along with her son in law Bahman Sadeghipour.

Mohsen Sadeghipor is the founder of Iran Zoroastrian Committee and was transferred to prison in July in order to serve his 4.5 year prison sentence.

Furthermore, Mojtaba Ahmadi, Mohsen’s cousin, who has been sentenced to 6 years in prison is serving his sentence since May of 2010 without furlough and prison visits. Ahmadi has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for blasphemy and 3 years of imprisonment for gathering, conspiracy and engaging in propaganda which adds up to a total of 6 years.

13. No Chabad, No donations

It has come to light that Northwestern University is severing its ties with the Tannenbaum Chabad House. During a meeting this July with Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin, he was told to “resign from [his] position at Chabad House and leave Evanston,” and that if he did not heed this warning, that Northwestern would end its association with him and Chabad house.

The University’s stated reason, having to do with violations of Northwestern’s alcohol policies, has yet to be backed by any proof or evidence. Despite the unfounded nature of these claims, Rabbi Klein is now cut off from the Northwestern community. It is likely that he will be forced to leave his posts as faculty adviser at Alpha Epsilon Pi, faculty fellow at the Communications Residential College, and University chaplain. As a result, this page was made to support Rabbi Klein’s struggle to stay a part of Northwestern’s community.

The University’s decision to end its relationship with Chabad House and Rabbi Klein will have a purely negative impact on not just the Northwestern Jewish community, but also the Northwestern community as a whole. As a university chaplain, Rabbi Klein worked to foster understanding between faith groups across campus, while as a faculty adviser/fellow at Alpha Epsilon Pi and the Communications Residential College he has improved the lives of countless students with his wisdom and experience at Northwestern. In addition to these University posts, Rabbi Klein also lobbied for the creation of the kosher station at Allison, where students who keep kosher, halal, or simply enjoy eating kosher food can eat as a part of their University meal plan.

However, Rabbi’s accomplishments go far beyond his various posts at Northwestern. The Tannenbaum Chabad House is not just a normal house; it is a second home for Northwestern’s Jewish students, as well as a place of prayer, celebration, meditation, and happiness. Similarly, Rabbi Klein is not just a Rabbi or chaplain; he is a role model, an adviser, a mediator, a teacher, and most importantly a friend, who has positively influenced students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, over the past 27 years.

Northwestern’s disassociation will bring his nearly three decades of service to Northwestern to a screeching halt, making it much more difficult to continue his great and noble work at Northwestern and in the Evanston community. Join this page to show your support for Rabbi Klein and his struggle to stay a part of the Northwestern community.

14. We Support Tannenbaum Chabad

It has come to light that Northwestern University is severing its ties with the Tannenbaum Chabad House. During a meeting this July with Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin, he was told to “resign from [his] position at Chabad House and leave Evanston,” and that if he did not heed this warning, that Northwestern would end its association with him and Chabad house. The University’s stated reason, having to do with violations of Northwestern’s alcohol policies, has yet to be backed by any proof or evidence. Despite the unfounded nature of these claims, Rabbi Klein is now cut off from the Northwestern community. It is likely that he will be forced to leave his posts as faculty adviser at Alpha Epsilon Pi, faculty fellow at the Communications Residential College, and University chaplain. As a result, this page was made to support Rabbi Klein’s struggle to stay a part of Northwestern’s community.

The University’s decision to end its relationship with Chabad House and Rabbi Klein will have a purely negative impact on not just the Northwestern Jewish community, but also the Northwestern community as a whole. As a university chaplain, Rabbi Klein worked to foster understanding between faith groups across campus, while as a faculty adviser/fellow at Alpha Epsilon Pi and the Communications Residential College he has improved the lives of countless students with his wisdom and experience at Northwestern. In addition to these University posts, Rabbi Klein also lobbied for the creation of the kosher station at Allison, where students who keep kosher, halal, or simply enjoy eating kosher food can eat as a part of their University meal plan.

However, Rabbi’s accomplishments go far beyond his various posts at Northwestern. The Tannenbaum Chabad House is not just a normal house; it is a second home for Northwestern’s Jewish students, as well as a place of prayer, celebration, meditation, and happiness. Similarly, Rabbi Klein is not just a Rabbi or chaplain; he is a role model, an adviser, a mediator, a teacher, and most importantly a friend, who has positively influenced students, both Jewish and non-Jewish, over the past 27 years.

Northwestern’s disassociation will bring his nearly three decades of service to Northwestern to a screeching halt, making it much more difficult to continue his great and noble work at Northwestern and in the Evanston community. Join this page to show your support for Rabbi Klein and his struggle to stay a part of the Northwestern community.

15. Processions of the Blessed Sacrament to Save America, in honor of Christ the King, Sunday, October 28, 2012.

During the year of faith, beginning in October of 2012 and culminating on the feast of the Solemnity of Christ the King on November 24, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI has expressed his wish that parishes emphasize liturgy and the Eucharist.

In the United States, while the federal government, via the HHS Mandate, is forbidding Catholics to express our faith through the public ministries of the Church, it is our faith alone which makes us truly free.

According to Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical, Quas Primas, "The annual and universal celebration of the feast of The kingship of Christ will draw attention to the evils which anticlericalism has brought upon society in drawing men away from Christ and will also do much to remedy them. While nations insult the beloved name of our Redeemer, by suppressing all mention of it in their conferences and parliaments, we must all the more loudly proclaim His kingly dignity and power, all the more universally affirm His rights."

16. Stop government-sanctioned suppression of religious freedom in Azerbaijan

There is overwhelming evidence that the institutions of the state of Azerbaijan are being used to perpetrate injustice and suppress a peaceful religious minority, which does no harm to the daily life of the nation.

While the capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku, hosted the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, a showcase to improve its Government’s international image, suppression of and discrimination against a small minority of Protestant Christians is going unheeded.

Such suppression persists in many forms, including laws and judicial decisions which, in their conception or enforcement, are neither general nor neutral. Numerous court cases have demonstrated that the Azerbaijani courts have allowed themselves to be used as tools of the Government in its repression of the media, opposition and civic society.

On 25 April 2012, a Court in Azerbaijan ordered closure of the Greater Grace Protestant Church in Baku. The Court’s decision was based on the allegation that the Church failed to re-register its license, despite the fact that all necessary papers were submitted by the Church in good time. The decision of the Court means that any activity the Church engages in would be illegal and subject to severe punishment. This forced liquidation of a religious group in the country came as a result of the harsh new Religion Law which was passed in 2009.

The decision means there will be no freedom of religion in Azerbaijan without state authorization. The first minority already affected is Protestant Christians and it means that all religious activities by Greater Grace Protestant Church members and other churches will be deemed illegal in the future.

While taking legal action against the Church, the Government authorities have also committed serious breaches of procedural law of the state. The decision of the Court was made despite these breaches.

Full Text of the Petition.
This petition is launched by Wade Kusack, Russian Ministries’ Project Manager for Religious Freedom Issues in Eurasia, who was assisted by Alexander Spak, an English Barrister (LLB (Hons), LLM (Int. BL)).
Russian Ministries is committed to lending its time and effort generously to serve Christians across the globe, helping them stay ahead of developments in their own nations and equipping the Next Generation of Christian leaders worldwide.

17. Free Negar Mulkzadeh And Other Baha'is Arrested For The "Crime" Of A Crafts Fair

On April 2, Negar Mulkzadeh ( نگار ملک زاده ), a Bahai resident of Mashhad, reported to the office of the Ministry of Intelligence in response to a summons, and was arrested. It is not known where she is being held.

She was one of the Bahais involved in organising a handicrafts exhibition to raise money for the disadvantaged, on February 17. Ten Bahais were arrested at the exhibition, held in a private home. To date, six have been released after one month’s detention, and four remain in prison. Their names are Houriyyeh Mohsani, Negin Ahmadiyan, Noghmeh Dhabiheyan and Shayan Tafazzoli (حوریه محسنی، نگین احمدیان، نغمه ذبیحیان و شایان تفضلی).

18. In Defense of Religious Liberty

When the Pilgrims first settled in what is now the United States, they did so to escape the British governments control over their religious liberty. Our forefathers maintained that we are born with unalienable rights that come from God, our Creator, and not the government as witnessed in the First Amendment.

President Obama and the HHS are trying to force religious organizations to go against their religious beliefs and provide services they believe are immoral and sinful. They have given people of faith one year to compromise their ethics and morals or be in violation of the law.

Irish Statesman Edmund Burke said "There is but one law for all, namely, that law which governs all law, the law of our Creator, the law of humanity, justice, equity — the law of nature, and of nations." He further states, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

I am asking for men and women of faith, men and women of conscience, men and women that still believe in our Constitutional Rights, to stand together. Whether you believe in contraception or not is not at issue. Rather, it is whether you believe that the Government has the right to choose what you do regardless of your beliefs.

It is said that there are over 60 million Catholics in the USA. I am setting a goal of only ten percent of them to stand up and be counted. That's 6 million signatures.

I hope that all Christians and people of all faiths recognize the HHS mandate and it's weak attempt at a compromise as an assault to our religious freedom and stand with Catholics as fellow Americans in outrage. If this is allowed to continue, it is only the beginning of the loss of our freedom to our government.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AND BE HEARD!

In closing, St. Teresa of Avila said, "Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he lesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours."

AMEN.

19. Don't Force Churches to Accept Gay Civil Unions

On the 8th September 2011, it was revealed that the English government wanted to force all UK Christian churches to accept gay unions.

After reading these call to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in regards of the idea to make Christian Churches comply with "same sex unions" or face a ban on marriages.

This idea seriously resembles one of a Communist or Fascist. This idea is a huge attack on religious liberty. It's like they're saying that churches are not allowed to disagree with homosexuality or have a stance against it, or otherwise face legal consequences. All in the name of "equality". It's like they're removing their right to disagree. In politics, if a government forcefully removes the right of an institution or an individual to disagree with the state, then that automatically meets the definition of Authoritarianism.

In the United States, even where same-sex marriage is legal, religious institutions have legal protection against having to recognize or perform it. However what they are proposing is that the government should basically trample on the rights of Christian churches and force them to accept civil unions or face legal penalties for refusing to do so. That is not "liberalism" or there so called idea of "equality", it's merely using legal force to keep people in line to your ideas (authoritarianism).

In the USSR there was plenty of "equality", likewise there is in China, North Korea, Vietnam, etc. All of these states had policies which persecuted and suppressed Christians for the sake of "equality", again identical to what you are doing.

We believe that Christians should have liberty too; especially liberty to reject civil unions and gay marriage even if the state itself prohibits it. Why? Because Christians have beliefs and values just like Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Sikhs and just because they are often from this country or "white" does not make it any less of a religion than to face persecution by the state itself.

The two lads setting up this petition are both from a Christian and our church and our beliefs are no business of the state whatsoever, the governments ideas are infringing upon our individual rights and millions of other devout Christians in the United Kingdom. They wouldn't force Muslims or Jews to accept civil unions now would they?

Our Church does not accept civil unions or gay marriage and won't if the state tries to force it upon them. If homosexuals have a problem with our beliefs in this modern society, then they have the liberty not to be involved with us or worship with us, but likewise we also should have the respective liberty to disagree with today's modern obsession with homosexuality.

Please sign this petition and stop this government trying to crush and trample on Christianity

Thank You!

20. Overturn the Death Sentence of Iranian Christian Youcef Nadarkhani for "Apostasy"

Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, lawyer for Youcef Nadarkhani, a Protestant Christian pastor charged with apostasy, refuted reports by some media outlets that his client’s death sentence has been upheld. “Fortunately, on Tuesday, 27 June, Youcef Nadarkhani’s death sentence was overturned by the Supreme Court in Qom and it is on hold until Mr. Nadarkhani repents [i.e. renounces his Christianity]. But still, in this ruling it has been stipulated that in case Nadarkhani does not repent, his case file would once again be sent back to the lower court in Rasht. In a way, a complete overturning of the apostasy verdict depends on Nadarkhani’s repentance,” he told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

“Because apostasy is not mentioned in Iran’s penal code, and apostasy is not considered a crime, then the court has to consider Mr. Nadarkhani’s case in the context of [the crime] ’insulting the Prophet of Islam.’ In this respect, since my client has not made any insults, he can tell the same to the court. Anyhow, that is all in the future and has to do with my client’s explanation. I am hoping that the death sentence will never be confirmed,” said Mohammad Ali Dadkhah about his client’s repentance.

Previously, family members and associates of Nadarkhani told the Campaign that officials from the Judiciary and the Ministry of Intelligence tried to force the pastor to repent and renounce his Christian conversion. So far, Nadarkhani has maintained that he has never done anything against Islam and will not renounce his faith. “Pastor Youcef has not budged,” said a close associate of his from Rasht.

Youcef Nadarkhani is a 32-year old pastor who was born to Muslim parents. He converted to Christianity at the age of 19. Before his arrest in October 2009, Nadarkhani led a congregation of about 400 Christians in Rasht. The congregation is part of a nationwide evangelical group called the Church of Iran, many of whose members have been arrested and prosecuted since 2009. On 23 August 2010, Nadarkhani’s apostasy death sentence was upheld by Branch Eleven of the Appeals Court of Gilan Province. Nadarkhani is currently being held in Rasht Prison, where he was able to visit with his wife in March, after having not seen each other in a long time. Ever since he has once again been denied visitation with his family.

NOTE: Pastor Nadarkhani's lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, mentioned above, has himself been sentenced to nine years in prison for his work as a human rights lawyer. He is appealing this draconian sentence. Please also sign the petition calling for the overturn of this illegal sentence: http://t.co/t5W99kc

If the death penalty is carried out, it will be the first official hanging for apostasy and conversion to Christianity in the last twenty years.

On December 3, 1990, Pastor Hussein Sodmand was hanged in Mashhad Prison for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Pastor Sodmand is the only priest who has been officially executed by the Islamic Judiciary Branch for apostasy and conversion to Christianity.

21. Free Iranian Christian Farshid Fathi, Sentenced to Six Years In Prison

Update: August 10, 2012: The Islamic Republic of Iran's Court of Appeals has upheld Farshid Fathi's six-year prison sentence. He needs our help more than ever before!

Update: April 22, 2012: According to reports Farshid Fathi has been sentenced to six years imprisonment. See below for full update.

February 18, 2012: The trial of Farshid Fathi, a Christian convert who has been held in prison for more than a year, has finally been held after being postponed several times for various reasons.

Mohabat News, mohabatnews.com citing “a knowledgeable source” who sent a report to the agency, Fathi had been arrested more than a year ago during a raid by security authorities in Tehran.

According to this report, the trial, which had been postponed several times, was eventually held on February 5, in a Revolutionary Court based in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Mohabat News said it is being reported that the court will deliver its verdict to Fathi's attorney in three months. However, according to the penal code in Iran, the judge is obliged to issue the verdict not more than one week after the inquiries are completed.

“It seems that such illegal actions had been carried out by security and Revolutionary Courts officials in order to cause the prisoner more serious mental harm. Such actions are regarded as torture from the perspective of a prisoner,” the agency reported on its website.

Mohabat News explained that near the end of last year, when the Norouz celebrations of 1390 (Persian year) were at hand, security authorities informed Mr. Fathi's family that he could be temporarily released after submitting a bail of 200 million Tomans (equal to $200,000 USD according to the exchange rates of that time).

“But when Fathi was ready for his release at the appointed time, and even had collected all his personal belongings from the prison guards and was at the door, they prevented him from leaving the prison in order to make a negative mental impact on him,” the agency said.

The agency added: “This Christian convert is now being held in the general ward of the prison. It is also reported that he is in a good health condition and his family is allowed to visit him according to prison laws.”

Mohabat News stated that Fathi was arrested as part of a broad-planned attack by security authorities on December 26, 2010, right before New Year celebrations.

“At the same time as this attack, a large number of other Christian citizens and members of house churches were also arrested in Tehran and other cities. A majority of these detainees were temporarily released on heavy bails after some months,” the agency reported.

Farshid Fathi, who is 33 and the father of two children, was held in solitary confinement.

“During that time, he was subjected to severe interrogations by Intelligence Ministry's agents. There, he was questioned about who had he shared the gospel with and what foreign contacts he had been in touch with?”

The Mohabat News report continued: “Unfortunately, some people and organizations who are not aware of the facts but who call themselves compassionate towards Christian prisoners, are refusing to give updates in this regard. They even prevent others from publishing news because they think it is not in the interest of Christians and could worsen their situations."

“As a result, some inaccurate reports have been published regarding Farshid Fathi. Although these people try to earn credit for themselves with respect to these prisoners, their ill-advised activities furthers the Iranian government's interest and even contributes to the continued detention of the prisoners.”

Mohabat News commented: “At a time when the General Council of the United Nations has appointed a special rapporteur to investigate human rights in Iran, this ill-informed view has helped enable the Republic Islamic of Iran to remain silent. It fosters a lack of information on the condition of prisoners and also a lack of factual reports to human rights organizations.

“Considering the large number of Christian prisoners that are being held in prisons in different cities across the country, the concern over the condition of these brothers and sisters is not only an issue for their families but it has expanded to become an issue of the whole church of Iran and a continuing prayer request for many believers around the world who share this passion.”

The agency report concluded: “Being transparent and informing the public regarding the condition of Christian prisoners, Mohabat News calls on churches everywhere to pray for the release of Christian prisoners and all other prisoners of conscience and lift their hands to Heaven in unity.”

UPDATE April 22, 2012: According to Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News, reports have been received stating that Farshid Fathi, a Christian prisoner, received a 6 year sentence by the Iranian Revolutionary court. This after more than fifteen months of imprisonment and uncertainty.

Farshid Fathi, whose trial had been postponed several times by judicial authorities, was eventually tried on January, 2012 in a court based in Evin prison after more than one year of uncertainty.

Although the details of his court session have not been published, a knowledgeable source according to the issued verdict said that the court announced his accusations as, "action against the regime's security, being in contact with foreign organizations and religious propaganda".

In an email to The Jerusalem Post in August 2012, Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), wrote: “Iran continues to persecute Christians simply because of their religious beliefs. Sadly, this nation is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to abusing religious and human rights.”

“Iran would prefer that the outside world never know what’s happening to these pastors – the imprisonment, the torture, and the executions,” Sekulow, whose organization aims to promote religious freedom abroad, said. “Iran must be held accountable for this abhorrent behavior. Iran needs to know that the world is watching.”

22. Stop Persecution of Iranian Baha'i Citizen Vajiollah Mirza-Golpour

UPDATE: MR. MIRZA-GOLPOUR WAS RELEASED ON BAIL MONDAY MAY 9L, 2011:
Bahai citizen, Vajihollah MirzaGolpour was released today (Monday, May 9th) on a $10.000 bail.

According to House of Human Rights in Iran,RAHANA, Tonekabon's attorney general issued the bail on Sunday but eventhough Mr.MirzaGolpour's family had managed to provide the bail , the release procedure was not completed as an expert opinion was needed to determine the value of the bail(the document used as the bail) today, with the confirmation from an expert, Mr.MirzaGolpour was released after eleven days of arrest,torture and public insult. (NOTE: This does not mean the end of his persecution, as many prisoners of conscience released on exorbitant bail have continued to face various forms of harassment, including summons to interrogation and even re-imprisonment.)

Previous news of persecution:

Baha’i citizen Vajiollah Mirza-Golpour who had been led around the city with shackles in order to be humiliated has been transferred to the Execution Ward.

His family stated that during their prison visit, he stated that he is held in the execution ward of prison.

His interrogator has informed him that he will undergo a harsh interrogation in the upcoming days. Golpour is suffering from heart problems and is deprived of the basic rights of a prisoner. He has to sleep on the ground in prison.

23. Stop state funding of faith schools

This petition demands that the government stops the state-funding of all faith schools.

The tax collected from the public should not be spent in funding faith schools that may be contrary to the religious or atheist beliefs of those from whom the tax was collected.

Where religion is taught, it is the right of every pupil to learn of all mainstream religions and atheist belief, without bias, pressure and influence, in accordance with Article 9 of the Human Rights Convention 1998. No child should be forced to participate in any religious practise.


This petition is for the right of a pupil to learn of a variety of religions and choose or practise a religion if he/she likes without the objection of the school.
This is not a petition against religious education but against state-funded faith schools, which indoctrinate children in a particular religion.

To quote Richard Dawkins;

"There are nearly 7,000 state-funded faith schools in England. These schools have many special privileges – they can select pupils on the basis of parents’ religious observance, discriminate on religious grounds in the employment of teachers, and teach their own RE syllabus, free of Ofsted supervision and free of any National Curriculum. By the way, RE is the only subject (together with religiously ‘sensitive’ subjects like Sex Education) for which there is no National Curriculum.

Some faith schools, as I discovered while making my recent television documentary, use their state-subsidized freedoms to undermine the teaching of science. It should be unthinkable in the 21st century to have a state-funded school whose science teachers believe the world is less than 10,000 years old, yet that is what I found. And at a school that is little short of a flagship for state-funded Muslim education, I found the pupils regurgitating the Koranic claim that salt and fresh water do not mix. Once again, with the blessing of the teachers, a Holy Book takes unquestioned precedence over scientific evidence – as the pupils could have discovered for themselves in a trivially easy experiment."

Children have the right of free choice to follow whichever religion they choose, without pressure and coersion, and to make this choice at whatever point in their life they are informed and mature enough to do so.

24. Save the Od Yoseph Chai Yeshiva from Destruction

“Save Our Yeshiva” is the name of the last-ditch campaign launched by students and supporters of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar to stop the demolition of the yeshiva building, a key Torah learning center located in Samaria, in the heartland of Israel.

The yeshiva replaced the former one located at the grave of Yosef Hatzadik in Shechem which was ransacked, smashed by pickaxes and set on fire by an Arab mob in October of 2000 after the then Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the army to vacate the tomb.

Under the order of the present Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, the IDF Civil Administration issued a demolition order against the 11-year-old yeshiva building. According to Israeli building practice, the Defense Minister needs to sign off on the project as a formality. Barak has refused despite amply documented early government authorization and funding for its construction. Ironically, the building commenced when Barak was Prime Minister. The building was built with private donations along with the Israeli government which invested 3-4 million shekels in the building.

Yeshiva staff, students and supporters, shocked by the May 9th demolition order, which many claim to be the result of politics within the Labor party, have mobilized to prevent the destruction of the 13,000 square foot Torah institution.

25. Allow Student Prayer in Our Schools

Currently, there is a law in all public school systems of the United States of America that prohibits prayer by students.

The current law states that "Students have the right to pray individually or in groups or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive."

What defines disruptive? "In the classroom students have the right to pray quietly except when required to be actively engaged in school activities." What defines "actively engaged"?

GoPetition

A copy of the law may be found on http://prayerpetition.yolasite.com/current-student-prayer-law.php
Courtesy of the Author and the Reference at the bottom of that page.

26. Confirm our Constitutional rights of Freedom of Religion

85% - 96% of the United States Citizens believe in God. Yet, over the past few years there has been a concerted effort under the guise of separation of Church & State, we have gradually been required to remove any and all reference to God from schools, public places, public assemblies etc.

We have remained silent and allowed this injustice to pervade our social and governmental affairs. Some of us feel this has gone well beyond tolerable limits and it is time to return to the fundamental principles established by our Founding Fathers and the rights guaranteed in our Declaration of Independence, our Country's Constitution, and our Bill of Rights!

(For the song: In God We Still Trust by the Diamond Rio Singers displayed on this site, please adjust your computer volume).

27. Support Crystal Dixon

In early May, 2008, the University of Toledo (Ohio) suspended an African American female administrator for stating in a guest column in a local newspaper that choosing homosexual behavior is not the same as being black or handicapped.

Associate Vice President of Human Resources Crystal Dixon wrote in response to a newspaper editor's column criticizing a lack of equality for homosexuals that, "I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims.' Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman.