Entries in Christian (3)


Christian Indonesians Live in NJ Church's Sanctuary to Avoid Deportation

The Reformed Church of Highland Park(HIGHLAND PARK, N.J.) -- This Christmas marks Day 295 for a central New Jersey church playing host to a group of Indonesians living within its sanctuary.

Five Christian men remain at the church, hoping its brick walls and their own strong faith keep them from being deported. Three others from their families and congregation also immediately face being sent back.

On Monday night, these men, with their wives and American-born children, will enjoy a Christmas Eve feast by dining on traditional dishes from their homeland. Exotic aromas will waft through the Reformed Church of Highland Park's neighborhood, as the men barbecue marinated chicken kebobs to be served with a cumin and garlic peanut sauce. As in years past, the woman prepare their Dutch influenced Southeast Asian holiday delights including tinorangsa, pork wrapped in collard greens seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, chili peppers and other spices, or kue nastar, traditional cookies baked with the dough folded over diced pineapple.

These savory and sweet Indonesian foods strongly contrast with the congregants bitter memories of their homeland.

All say that they and their loved ones have been persecuted in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, because of their religion and for some due to their Chinese ancestry.

In May 1998, Indonesian dictator Suharto resigned the presidency following violent and deadly student protests. In the chaos that followed the strongman's fall, mobs fought in the streets, entire neighborhoods burned and thousands died in this former Dutch colony. Gangs of radicalized Muslim extremists targeted Christians and other religious minorities throughout the country.

The Reformed Church's pastor, Seth Kaper-Dale, leads the effort to keep the Indonesians from being deported by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "We've been offering sanctuary, which for us is the ultimate form of non-violent resistance to the immigration laws. It's time that these people, the fathers should be granted stays of removal," he says.

"It's dragged on for a very long time, without getting the action we need, for the five here in the sanctuary and the others living in risk outside of the church who can be picked up at any time," Kaper-Dale added.

This is true. ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations unit, ERO, has the power to go into the church, despite its sanctuary, and take the men into custody.

On Friday, ICE released its deportation statistics for its fiscal year 2012. ERO "removed" more than 400,000 people. These show that 55 percent of them were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors-- almost doubling the number in 2008.

Kaper-Dale reflects, "In this season we talk about how there's 'no room in the inn'. Well there's no room in this inn we call America for immigrant children or their parents. Until this inn opens its doors further, The Reformed Church of Highland Park will continue to provide sanctuary for the fathers."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Atheists Wash Florida Road Christians Anointed With Oil

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(POLK COUNTY, Fla.) -- County Road 98 in Polk County, Fla., was scrubbed on Saturday by a group of atheists who are protesting the “Polk Under Prayer” campaign, supporters of which poured olive oil on the road last year in an anointment ceremony.

“Mainly we want this to be a safe haven for folks who want to raise their families,” explained Polk Under Prayer organizer, Dr. Richard Geringswald, according to ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa. “Asking God’s protection from ne’er do wells and evil doers.”

Ellen Beth Wachs, the president of Humanists of Florida Association and Atheists of Florida, said that she feels unwelcome as an atheist in the county.

“This anointment ritual was to call out the angels to check each car that entered the county, to make sure they were Christian, and if they weren’t Christian, they would either follow Christian beliefs or get put in jail,” Wachs told ABC News.

Wachs said the eight members of the Humanists of Florida Association who brought buckets of water to the roadway on Saturday did so in jest.

“They understand that a year later, there’s no oil left on the roadway. It’s just a symbolic gesture to show that we can poke a little bit of fun at the Polk Under Prayer gesture. We’re not going to tolerate their bigotry,” Wachs said.

Last week, Polk Under Prayer campaign members buried bricks that were engraved with Psalm 37:9-11 beside the 12 major roadways leading into the county, praying for criminals to become Christian or be incarcerated, according to WFTV.

Scott Wilder, a spokesman for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, said this claim was so ridiculous he’d rather not comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Christian Network Implicated in Parental Kidnapping

George Doyle/Thinkstock(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) -- An Amish Mennonite pastor charged with helping a woman kidnap her daughter from her lesbian partner may have had help from a network of groups with roots in the Christian and missionary world including Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, according to court documents.

The pastor, Timothy Miller, was arrested last week in Alexandria, Virginia.  A criminal complaint filed by the FBI in a federal court in Vermont alleges that the Amish Mennonite pastor aided in the "international parental kidnapping" of Isabella Miller Jenkins, the daughter of former lesbian couple Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins.  Isabella is now nine.

Timothy Miller, who is no relation to Lisa Miller, appeared in court Monday and posted a $25,000 bond, and is now in the custody of a friend.

Court documents claim that Timothy Miller, 34, left a computer trail that shows family members as well as friends and associates were discussing Lisa Miller's flight to Nicaragua on emails both before and after she disappeared nearly two years ago.

The trail shows that Rev. Miller's mother-in-law's credit card was used to purchase plane tickets for the missing mother and daughter who flew from Toronto to Mexico to El Salvador and then to Managua, Nicaragua.  Timothy Miller and his wife, Joanna, have served as missionaries in Nicaragua, according to court documents.

Timothy Miller's parents wrote so freely about Lisa Miller's intention to flee with the child that Timothy Miller told his parents to stop writing about and discussing her, according to emails gathered by the FBI.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were once in a civil union and Lisa Miller gave birth to Isabella in 2002.  The couple lived mostly in Virginia, but they obtained a civil union in Vermont.  Lisa Miller filed to dissolve their civil union in 2004.  Since then, Lisa Miller has renounced her homosexuality and become a Christian.  The two women were embroiled in a custody dispute when Lisa Miller and Isabella disappeared in 2009.

Lisa Miller and Isabella were given new names, according to court documents, with Lisa becoming "Sarah" and Isabella becoming "Lydia," court papers state.

Timothy Miller appeared to work in conjunction with several groups.  The plane tickets were purchased through Golden Rule Travel, a group focusing on "international adoption, humanitarian and missionary travel," according to court documents.

Bank records cited in the court documents state that Lisa Miller "received multiple payroll checks from the Lynchburg Christian Academy Payroll Account."  Lynchburg Christian Academy, renamed Liberty Christian Academy, is linked to Liberty University and was also founded by Jerry Falwell.

During the legal fight, Lisa Miller was represented by Rena Lindevaldsen, an associate law professor at the Liberty Center for Law and Policy, which is headquartered at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

In addition, Philip Zodhiates, the owner of a company specializing in source lists for Christian telemarketers and retailers, has a home in Nicaragua, according to court documents.  Investigators allege that Lisa Miller and Isabella are staying at the home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio