Posts Tagged ‘Christian Persecution’

A few good links

Monday, April 9th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Outside the Asylum – The Church of Feliks Dzerzhinsky

The Biblical World – Cursing Your Enemies the Bible Way: Still yet another way not to use the Bible.

The Jerusalem Post – Another Orwellian day at the UN

Pravoslavie – Historical Christian Cemetery demolished in Kerman, Iran

Nick’s Catholic Blog – Does the Letter of 3rd John refute Protestantism?

Psychology Today – It’s a Fine Line between Narcissism and Egocentrism

Catholic Church Conservation – The Catholic Church in the Holy Land plans in future to celebrate Easter according to the Orthodox calendar.

Iranian Bishop encourages Western Christians to value their freedoms

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I found this message from Chaldean Bishop of Tehran, Ramzi Garmou, very encouraging and timely. At a time when many Western Christians fear the slippery slope erosion of freedom, it’s worth remembering the freedoms we do still enjoy. I love the fact the good Bishop also reminds us of the oft forgotten fruit of suffering:

A local bishop in Iran has encouraged Western Christians to value their freedom, but also to put it to good use.

In a meeting with international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Chaldean Bishop of Tehran, Ramzi Garmou, had a message for Christians in the West, saying, “Be aware of the value of the freedom that you enjoy.”

He then challenged Western Christians to “make good use of their freedom,” asking, “How do you use it in your countries?”

He emphasized that they must not become “the slaves of a culture that seeks to drive God out of people’s hearts,” but rather that they should use their freedom to “propagate respect for human life.”

A culture without God leads to “death” and has “no future,” he said.

Christians in Iran only represent a small minority, yet “their vitality does not depend on their numbers but on the quality of their faith and their living witness.”

In their “day-to-day dialogue” with the Muslims, the Christians in Iran “give authentic witness to the values of the Gospels,” he continued.

The substantial emigration of Christians from Iran for political, economic and religious reasons represents a challenge, but Bishop Garmou emphasized that the Christian community in Iran does not let itself become discouraged.

“Although we are our mothers’ children, in truth we were sent to this country by God.”

He continued by saying that it is often forgotten today that the suffering endured for the Church is the “source of the life of the Church.” He went on to say that such trials lead to the renewal and strengthening of the Church.

Up to 99 percent of the population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is Muslim. Conversions from Islam are forbidden and punishable by death.

Christians represent a minority of some 80,000, three-quarters of whom are Armenian Orthodox.

The 20,000 Catholics living in Iran belong to three different Rites. They are permitted to practice their religion within their congregations at their places of worship, but they are not allowed to profess their faith openly, and missionary activity is forbidden.

Source

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) publishes annual report on global religious freedom

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal government commission that monitors global religious freedom, has released its 2012 Annual Report and recommends the following nations “countries of particular concern”:

Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The report can be found here and is a big beast at 337 pages in PDF format.

It’s worth noting that although Christians are far from the only religious group persecuted in these countries, Christians are the only group persecuted in each and every one of them.

Unsurprisingly the report identifies intensifying persecution in the Muslim world.

It’s also worth noting that Turkey is on the list, a NATO member seeking entry into the EU. The inclusion of Turkey has, and will, cause controversy and four commissioners dissented from this recommendation. However, Turkey has been included due to their ongoing persecution of Christians through legal and bureaucratic mechanisms:

In casting my vote to put Turkey on the Uscirf black list, I could not forget the urgent words of a senior Christian religious leader in Turkey, who, out of fear, requested anonymity: “We are an endangered species here in Turkey.” Despite ten years of rule, despite its revolutionary measures in other spheres, such as in the economy, and despite its powerful mandate from the 2011 elections, AK Party’s government has failed to take critical actions in favor of religious freedom. Specifically, it has failed to rescind the regulatory regime that is contributing to its Christian minorities’ steady decline into statistical insignificance, now numbering a mere 0.15 percent.

Turkey’s Christian minorities struggle to find places in which they can worship, are denied seminaries in which to train future leaders, are barred from wearing clerical garb in public, see the trials of the murderers of their prominent members end with impunity, and, above all, lack the legal right to be recognized as churches so that their members can be assured of their rights to gather freely in sacred spaces for religious marriages, funerals, and baptisms, and otherwise carry out the full practice of their respective religions.

Turkey’ s laws, aimed at promoting extreme secular nationalism, also encourage a culture of animosity toward Christians, who are seen to undermine “Turkishness,” despite Christianity’ s 2,000-year presence there. Even starting a discussion about the genocide of Christians that occurred 100 years ago is a criminal offense in Turkey. Armenian editor Hrant Dink, who was assassinated in 2006, was himself convicted of “insulting Turkishness” for trying to do so.

SOURCE

Remember this when considering booking your holiday to Turkey.

A few good links

Monday, March 19th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

British Religion in Numbers – Honour Crimes

Get Religion – Got news? Destroy all churches!

Society & Religion Today – Why Doesn’t Narcissism Make Skeptics Less Ethical If It Makes (Even Nominally) Religious People Less Ethical?

A Grain of Sand – Isn’t The Arab Spring Wonderful?

Conservative Home – Those in favour of gay marriage should show tolerance towards those opposed

One in Four – Where are the talking heads?

Through a Glass Darkly – Two Articles on Neuroscience and Free Will

Christians Fear Regime Change in Syria

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

What is the alternative to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria? A simple if indirect way to find out is to consider which groups in Syria are especially for or against Assad—and why.

Christian minorities, who, at 10% of the Syrian population, have the most to gain from a secular government and the most to suffer from a Sharia-state, have no choice but to prefer Assad. They are already seeing aspects of the alternative. A recent Barnabas Fund report titled “Christians in Syria Targeted in Series of Kidnappings and Killings; 100 Dead,” tells of how “children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim.” In one instance, kidnappers videotaped a Christian boy as they murdered him in an attempt to frame the government; one man “was cut into pieces and thrown in a river” and another “was found hanged with numerous injuries.”

Accordingly, it is understandable that, as an earlier report put it, “Christians have mostly stayed away from the protests in Syria, having been well treated and afforded a considerable amount of religious freedom under President Assad’s regime.” After all, “Should Assad fall, it is feared that Syria could go the way of Iraq post-Saddam Hussein. Saddam, like Assad, restrained the influence of militant Islamists, but after his fall they were free to wreak havoc on the Christian community; hundreds of thousands of Christians were consequently forced to flee the violence. Many of them went to Syria.”

In short, should “rebels” get their way and topple the Assad regime, the same brutal pattern experienced by Iraq’s Christian minorities—who have been liked to, and killed off like, dogs, to the point of nearing extinction—will come to Syria, where a preacher recently urged Muslims to “tear apart, chop up and feed” Christians who support Assad “to the dogs.” From last week alone, some 70 additional Christian homes were invaded and pillaged, and “for the first time in the history of the conflict in Syria, an armed attack has been made on a Catholic monastery,” partially in search of money.

….continue reading

A few good links

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Alton Abbey – Revamped website asked for a plug

Crooked as Corkscrews – We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us…

BRIN – Faith on the Move

Dr Calvin L Smith – Confusion at the Checkpoint?

Bishop Nick Baines – Cross words (again)

The Blaze – Nigeria: A suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church Sunday in the middle of Mass, killing at least 10 people

Deacon’s Bench – The “twilight of Christianity” in Iraq

Psychology Today – A Definitive fMRI Test for Narcissism

The Intellectual Persecution of the Church in the West

Saturday, March 10th, 2012

As regular readers will know I’m the first to say that Western Christians are not persecuted in the true sense of the word, or when viewed through the looking glass of the brutalisation of Christian minority groups in Islamic lands and elsewhere.

However, if we redefine the term by prefixing ‘intellectual’ then perhaps there is a stronger case; incorporating, the ‘slippery slope’ argument.

However, this is not the end of the story. While western Christians may not be physically persecuted for our faith, there is a great deal of intellectual persecution going on everyday and it shows no sign of slowing down. Persecution, as any sociologist knows, is notoriously difficult to define. At its core, it involves oppression, denial of freedom, harassment, instigation of pain, belittling, and wholesale hatred. It has a very emotional foundation and has little regard for the dignity of man. In Christianity, it has always been associated with an attempted denial of belief. The sporadic persecutions of the early church had grassroots beginnings. Normally the government would stay out of it. Eventually, it turned “official” and violent, especially during the Diocletian era at the turn of the third century. But whether physical or not, the end goal is the same: the individual oppression of people’s faith in Christ.

Many people believe that the western world is on a fast train heading toward a time when there will again be physical persecution. I don’t know about that. What I do know is that when we are always looking for some time in the future, some Christ-hating law to be passed, or some political leader whose name can be creatively associated with 666 (0r 616 for us Wallacites!), we miss something very important: we are already under persecution – intellectual persecution. It is happening right now, under our noses, everyday. All one has to do is turn on Bill Maher, watch the news, or read one of the “New Atheists.” Their interaction does not come in the form of reasoned intellectual response to Christian beliefs or values, but belittling sound bites which seek to gain them quick favoritism. Have you ever seen a Christian attempt to pull off a news interview? If the Christian stands up for traditional marriage, against abortion, or holds to the exclusivity of Christianity or the reality of eternal punishment, there is no call for debate or serious interaction, but ad hominem attacks. As in all things, belittling evidences more insecurity on the side of the belittler than anything else, but observers don’t always know that. This translates into a more culturally-accepted persecution and suppression of ideas. How do we know about it so intimately? Because we have done the same thing to others.

….read all

A few good links

Monday, February 27th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Barna Research – How Pastors Plan to Improve their Churches

Ethics and Foreign Policy – Developing an Understanding of Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

CounterCultural Father – On Being a Bigot

New York Times – Suicide Bomber Kills 3 in Nigeria

PsychCentral – The Addictive Personality: Why Recovery is a Lifetime Thing

The Deacon’s Bench – New call for divorced and remarried Catholics to be able to receive communion

Telegraph – Mark Thompson: BBC director general admits Christianity gets tougher treatment

Rt Rev Vincent Nichols is dead right: Christians are not persecuted in the UK

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I wholeheartedly agree with the archbishop of Westminster Rt Rev Vincent Nichols who is quoted in the Guardian as saying:

I personally don’t feel in the least bit persecuted. I don’t think Christians should use that word.

Absolutely right.

In fact, if Western Christians are to self-define as “persecuted” then we need a new term to coin the brutalisation of Christian minority groups in Islamic lands and elsewhere.

Nichols goes on to say:

“what might have started out as an acknowledgement of a variety of religious and philosophical positions has produced a seeming determination to tear the legal and therefore cultural life of the country away from its Christian roots.”

Again, absolutely right. And I will be the first to acknowledge that the secular agenda is on the ascendancy in the UK. However, this still does not equate to “persecution” in the true sense of the word.

It is entirely possible of course, that the UK Christian ‘persecution narrative’ is based on a subjective perception that we are witnessing the thin edge of the wedge, and I think this is the very heart of the matter. UK Christian persecution anxieties are not so much based on current events, but on the perception of what may be on the horizon. We can see a slippery slope and it makes us edgy.

Let me elaborate on the UK Christian “persecution narrative” as I see it. I believe it is a self-reinforcing group narrative within which subjective perceptions are evidenced as an objective reality. Firstly, you cite a few recent high profile legal cases. Any that were successful prove the encroaching persecution; any that were unsuccessful prove the anti-Christian bias of the law courts. Either way the narrative is affirmed and the lawyers make money.

All of this “evidence” of persecution perpetuates the narrative, leading to a subcultural “moral panic” that potentially precipitates a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Many outside of Christianity perceive Christians to be lamenting the loss of a privileged position and status within our culture, rather than anything else. Sometimes I can’t blame them. Many of the recent high profile Christian ‘persecution’ legal cases have revolved around the ‘Equality’ laws and many in society are annoyed, as they perceive Christians as believing they should be exempt from such laws. Yesterday Sir Trevor Phillips, the Head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was quoted as saying:

…..the law stops at the door of the temple as far as I am concerned.

Of course, this cuts both ways.

The crux of Phillips’ argument is that it is only inside a church or religious institution that believers can apply their own rules. Phillips also makes the argument that if we make exceptions for Christians, then we need also make exceptions for others; for example, the implementation of Sharia law. There is a logic to this in my mind.

In truth, no government will really be able to legislate for ‘offense’ or ‘equality’ for everybody, as it is inevitable that as a result of these laws, some will actually become discriminated against. Personally I believe the government should legislate as little as possible in this area of life.

Given the hostility of the world towards Jesus, should we always expect the world to be nice and friendly towards us? Is this even a healthy state of affairs for the Church, as it can potentially foster complacency and too much involvement in worldly affairs?

The truth is, if we define ourselves by our victimhood, we have a massive problem, as we ape the society around us, which is dominated by a hierarchy of victimhood.

In conclusion, I will state that I personally don’t feel that I belong to a beleaguered minority; we’re everywhere and I think Christians need to be more confident about who we are.

UK Christians need to stop using the word “persecution” for fear of devaluing the term. We may experience areas of discrimination, belittlement, exclusion, and so forth – Who doesn’t – but this is patently and qualitatively different to persecution.

Anyway, when did Jesus say it would be an easy ride?

A few good links

Monday, January 30th, 2012

A few links I found interesting for one reason or another:

Random Ramblings of a Stay at Home Mum – Better off without you

CIFWatch – What the Guardian won’t report: Christians in Iran, Syria face rising persecution

Religion and the Media – Religion = Religious Affiliation?

ListVerse – Top 10 Suicidal Writers

Francis Sedgemore – Nutter on mushrooms

A Minor Friar – The Indifference Within

Church Mag – Quirks of the English Language [Video]

Left Foot Forward – How to make 2012 a real year of jubilee

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