International Human Rights Group Year in Review

I would like to finish the year by remembering of some of the key victories God has given the International Human Rights Group in 2007.  The past year has been very busy on a number of fronts; I also would like to take a look to the year ahead where opportunities are endless!

German Religious Liberties:  I am sure you remember Melissa Busekros and her detention by the German Youth Welfare Service.  We made two trips to her home in 2007, and worked hard to make sure that Melissa was able to come home.  Once she was back with her family, we found that it was necessary for us to continue working so that she stayed home; and by God’s grace, she is.  Another family on the German/Polish border watched as the German Youth Welfare Service was given custody of their children; yet the children are still at home.  I think this is because of the work we did with the Busekros family and the fact that some officials are beginning to get the idea that home schooling should not be a crime.

Also, we have been helping an American mission family in Uehlfeld, Germany.  They are experiencing troubles with the German government regarding their residency visas.  The problems began once the government officials learned that the Robinson family was home schooling.  We met with the Robinsons and US government officials last month.  One of the IHRG attorneys in Germany has been working on this case and we have succeeded in getting the German government to postpone deportation proceedings while we work out the relevant issues.  We are hopeful that we will be able to reach a compromise that permits the Robinsons to remain in Germany, fulfill their mission for the Kingdom, and home school their children.

Oslo Street Preacher Case is Going to the European Court of Human Rights: In late June of this year, Petar Keseljevic was arrested for preaching on a pedestrian walkway in downtown Oslo, Norway.  We immediately went to Oslo to help him, and worked with a local attorney to make sure that the trial court heard the proper arguments on the international protocol for freedom of expression and religious liberties.  This, in anticipation of an appeal all the way to the ECHR.  As we thought, Petar lost his case at the trial level.  He lost both his initial appeal and his appeal to the Norwegian Supreme Court.  We are now preparing to bring Petar’s appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.  That will happen early next year, so please pray!

Fight for Religious Freedom in America:  Pastor Billy Ball was preaching on the sidewalk outside of the City Hall in Hendersonville, North Carolina.  He was arrested for violating their local ordinance that prohibited all preaching without a special permit.  He was held in jail overnight, and after we visited him he was finally released on a bond of over $1,000.  We represented him from day one, and appeared in court in Hendersonville.  We succeeded in getting the charges against them dismissed after we filed our motions and made the arguments on the constitutionality of the rights exercised by these pastors.

Pastor Ball and a number of members from his church were also preaching in the public parks and sidewalks in Cleveland, Georgia.  They were given citations for violating a special assembly ordinance which had to be obtained at least three days prior to such activities.  Again, we filed motions to dismiss all the charges, and negotiated with the solicitor for the city.  As we prepared to go to court on their behalf, we were notified that the solicitor had dropped all charges.  We are now preparing a civil law suit to be filed early next year; we have to stop this type of religious discrimination.

Great Expectations for 2008

Next year looks to be every bit as busy as last year.  We are gearing up for a number of cases that we will be filing in federal court here in the United States on behalf of pastors who are being told they cannot share their faith in public places in America.  It is hard to believe that this is still occurring in the US, but it is.

Beijing Olympics:  Please pray for us as the IHRG begins undertaking the fight for religious freedoms in this New Year. We are working to protect religious liberties at the Beijing Olympics; our team will be traveling to Beijing in April to prepare everything there.  We will then travel back to China to work with missionaries and members of the underground church as they minister the gospel.  Our role will be to monitor police or governmental action taken against the evangelists during the Games.

European Strategy:  We are currently preparing an application and legal brief to be filed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France in late February.  This is on behalf of the street preacher from Oslo, Norway.  We will also continuing working on behalf of the Robinson family in Germany, so that they may obtain their residency and continue their mission work without fear of losing their children.  

Our commitment is to go into all the world and help the helpless find justice.

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Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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