9:39AM EST 11/23/2010 NAYOMINI WEERASOORIYA
Evangelical Christians entered Sri Lanka's Parliament for the first time this year, but observers question whether it will curb persecution
Born-again politicians entered Sri Lanka's Parliament for the first time this year, but human rights observers in a nation that has consistently persecuted Christians question whether their election will do much good.
"Some of them don't even want to talk about being Christian,"said one human rights activist who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal. "As long as the government clearly maintains its tilt toward Sinhalese Buddhists, there really is no room for minority rights."
The January elections were the first since the nation's devastating 30-year civil war ended in May 2009. Several evangelical Christians entered Parliament for the first time, including Eran Wickramaratne, former CEO of a leading Sri Lankan bank and the son of pastor Colton Wickramaratne, head of the Assemblies of God Sri Lanka.
"I believe that the Christian calling in politics is to help the structures of government to uphold justice and work for the common good--the good of everyone in society," Wickramaratne says.
Other Christians include Rosy Senanayake, an active women's rights campaigner, and Member of Parliament Ravi Karunanayake, a Catholic who represents the Colombo District.
But the election strongly favored the government and reduced the main opposition ticket, the United National Party, which most of the Christian MPs are part of. "Which means they can't do much anyway," said evangelist R. Silva.
Sri Lankan Christians say new, less overt tactics are under way to regulate churches. Pastors are being prodded by state officials to disclose who they are, where they come from, and what "qualification" they possess in order to preach. The National Christian Fellowship of Sri Lanka (NCFSL), which represents indigenous Christians, plans to spearhead a campaign to bring evangelicals together. "If we can show our strength ... there is a strong possibility that the evangelical churches can overcome the obstacles of persecution towards greater acceptance by the government," said an NCFSL spokesman whose identity was shielded due to the threat of reprisal. â€" in Sri Lanka
[size=32]Ex-Colombo family mobster Michael Franzese, a born-again Christian, busted for writing bad checks[/size]
BY JONATHAN LEMIRE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Monday, January 18, 2010, 10:47 PM
Michael Franzese was once nicknamed 'The Prince of the Mafia.'
Some habits die hard.
An ex-Colombo family mobster who left the Mafia to become a born-again Christian motivational speaker was busted in Tennessee for writing bad checks, officials said Monday.
Michael Franzese, the Brooklyn-born mobster once nicknamed "The Prince of the Mafia," was led from a plane on the runway in Knoxville in handcuffs Friday night, police said.
The ex-wiseguy - who has bragged that he made more money than Al Capone- downplayed the arrest in an interview with the Daily News, saying it was an "unfortunate misunderstanding" with a business associate.
"I didn't pass bad checks, I didn't take any merchandise. I didn't do anything wrong," said Franzese, 59.
"It's a dispute with my former manager over a small amount of money - nothing more," said Franzese, the son of famed 92-year-old Colombo enforcer John (Sonny) Franzese.
The younger Franzese, who became a "made" Colombo soldier in 1975, made millions bootlegging gasoline until he was indicted in 1987. Deciding to leave the Mafia behind, he accepted a prison sentence and testified against his former family.
He served three years and upon his release wrote a series of mob-themed inspirational books with titles like, "The Good, The Bad, and the Forgiven" and "I'll Make You an Offer You Can't Refuse."
He tours the country speaking to church groups, students and professional athletes on the dangers of gambling and fraud.
He said he is worried how the arrest would affect his booming speaking business.
"I'm in a ministry right now and this story has already hurt," Franzese said. "I know I carry baggage from my previous life, but I worked hard to shed my past."
Franzese was in Knoxville to speak to a men's organization at a Baptist church but instead spent the night in jail after being picked up an outstanding warrant for bad checks.
His former manager "thought I owed him money and chose to get the police involved," said Franzese, who declined to elaborate on the specifics of the dispute. "It'll blow over."
A Knoxville police spokesman would not identify the complainant in the case.
Franzese, the founder of a youth counseling group called the Breaking Out Foundation, was released from jail Saturday morning on $7,500 bond and returned home to Southern California.
He vowed not to let the arrest deter him from his new mission.
"I am going to stay out there preaching my message," he said. "I have overcome a lot and I'm going to keep doing the best I can."
Former NY Mafia Boss to Share Why He Accepted Christ
BY ANUGRAH KUMAR, CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR
October 13, 2012|2:35 pm
Michael Franzese, a former Colombo family mobster, will speak at a large church in New Jersey this month, sharing why he walked away from organized crime after generating more money than anyone since Chicago Outfit boss Al Capone and decided to follow Jesus.
Franzese, previously highlighted as number 18 on Fortune magazine's list of "The Fifty Biggest Mafia Bosses," will share his dramatic testimony with nearly 2,500 people at Liquid Church in Morristown, N.J., on Oct. 21.
"Michael's story is a powerful one putting on display what happens when you go from a 'Goodfella' to a 'God-fella' -- that's the message we're illustrating this Sunday," Tim Lucas, lead pastor of Liquid Church, says in a statement.
Franzese will speak as part of a three-week series called "Gangsta," based on the life of the apostle Paul – a murderer who called himself the "chief of sinners"... but whom God ended up using to write much of the New Testament, the church says on its website.
As the former "Prince of the Mafia," Franzese faced dozens of grand jury appearances, three major racketeering indictments, five criminal trials, seven years in prison and a Mafia death sentence. However, in 1987, while in prison, he made a decision to walk away from the Colombo family and organized crime.
"It's rare to meet someone who leaves the Mob and lives to tell about it. But Michael's story is living proof that no one is beyond hope. God specializes in using people with dark pasts to bring light to the world," says Lucas.
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Franzese was dubbed "The Born Again Don" in a January 1991 feature article in Vanity Fair Magazine. After converting to Christianity, the former Mob Captain of the Colombo crime faction of La Cosa Nostra is living a free and productive life which includes activities with a youth outreach program. He is the founder of a youth counseling group called the Breaking Out Foundation.
Franzese first became involved in organized crime at a time when his stepfather, Sonny Franzese, the Colombo family underboss, had been sentenced to 50 years in jail. But he began to change after he went into the movie business, and met 19-year-old Cammy Garcia, who would later become his wife.
Franzese says he wouldn't have been alive had it not been for his wife's prayers. "There's no question that I'd either be dead or in prison for the rest of my life. And that's not even a guess. That's absolute," he earlier told Christian Broadcasting Network.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/former-ny-mafia-boss-to-share-why-he-accepted-christ-83216/#6pVHqfdHHlpWdSgy.99
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