From Hitler to the BTK Killer, How Do You Forgive a Monster?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tony Webster https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom’s story was pivotal in my growth as a Christian.

My conversion to Christ happened when I was alone, driving my car. No other person, no church or clergy, participated in it. It was literally Jesus, reaching out to me and filing me with His love.

I knew that what I had experienced was real. I knew that I had encountered Another, and that this Being bore no resemblance to the poisoned descriptions of Him that had been used as a club against me so many times in my life.

This was a Being of ecstatic love and joy.

I was changed by the experience, changed further by the on-going relationship with this Being, who I later came to understand was the Holy Spirit. However, even though this direct encounter and relationship with the Divine gave me an understanding of His nature, I had no parallel understanding of Christianity itself.

I did not hate Christianity with the frothing at the mouth propagandized carry-on of today’s Christian bashers. But I had experienced cruelty and dishonesty at the hands of Christians. I had also drunk deeply at the cultural well of Christianity deconstruction. I honestly believed many of the lies I had been told about Christian history.

One of my first encounters with positive Christian witness was when I picked up a book called “The Hiding Place” at a used book sale. I don’t know why I paid the fifteen cents to buy that book. I only know that it was the first time I’d read or heard anything about Christians who had stood against the evils of the Nazis based on their faith in Christ.

Every bit of information on the subject of Christianity and the Nazis that I had seen, read or heard up until that time had been a version of the many Christian bashing tropes that are circulated today. Nobody told me that Christians had worked against the Nazis to their great personal peril and had been themselves been persecuted and murdered for their defiance of the evils of that time.

Corrie Ten Boom was a saint of World War II and the years after. She was an unmarried watchmaker’s daughter and a highly skilled watchmaker herself when the Nazis invaded Holland. She was a woman in her fifties who lived a quiet life with her family, in the home where she had grown up.

She was also a devoted follower of Jesus Christ in a family of devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid many Jews from the Nazis. They were betrayed by a man they had helped and sent to the concentration camps themselves. Corrie’s father, brother and beloved sister died at the hands of the Nazis.

Her sister Betsy was Corey Ten Boom’s best friend, companion and solace in the nightmare of the camps. After the war, Corey encountered the guard who beat Betsy and whose cruelty probably contributed to her death.

This past week has given me the opportunity to reflect on Corrie’s life. I originally intended to pray for the grace of forgiveness during Lent. But other things got in the way. Then last week I got clipped by some sort of flu-like illness. This bug has forced solitude on me. It has freed me to do what I should have been doing all along.

I have prayed deeply about issues of forgiveness in my own life. I’ve also watched more television this past week than I have in the entire year before it. Among other things, I watched a documentary about a man whose family was murdered by the BTK killer in Wichita Kansas. I also watched a documentary about Corrie Ten Boom.

The difference in how these two people responded to the horrific things that had been done to them was stark. I understand the man’s reaction. I’m not in any way condemning or criticizing him. I see a lot of myself in him.

He was a young person with a casual faith. He did not have the underpinning of years of walking with the Lord that Corrie had when tragedy overtook her. He was unable to look at the savage murder of the people he loved from an eternal perspective.

He did not have the sustaining relationship with God that upheld and sustained her even when she was, as she put it, in the pit. He was much like I was when bad things happened to me early in my life.

His life was savaged by the murder of his family. Hers was magnified. Corrie Ten Boom survived the camps and went on to become a great international speaker and evangelist for Christ.

She wrote books and traveled the globe, speaking to people everywhere about the power of forgiveness. “There is no pit so deep that His love is not deeper still,” she told people, and they believed her because she had been in the deepest pit of human devising.

The young man whose family was murdered spent time in prison. He fathered a son he did not raise and has spent his days trying to paste the shattered pieces of himself back together again.

The difference between these two people is faith and the grace of God. It is also the grace of forgiveness.

God used Corrie Ten Boom, but He did not give her an easy life. Not only did she endure personal suffering in the concentration camps, she lost the people she loved there. As if that wasn’t enough, God sent the man who had beaten her sister to her to ask for forgiveness.

This forgiveness was the decisive cleansing of Corrie Ten Boom. It was the surrender she had to make in order to be useful to Him and His purposes. If you pray to become a saint, pray carefully. God asks all of you.

This video is Corrie’s account of her post war encounter with the concentration camp guard who had tortured her sister. It describes the healing power of the Cross, which gives peace that passes all understanding.

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Church Turns to Congress for Relief from Attacks on Religious Freedom

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

The city of Washington, DC has passed two laws that directly attack religious freedom.

The first is the ironically titled Human Rights Amendment of 2014. According to Catholic News Agency,

… the Human Rights Amendment of 2014, forces religious schools to recognize persons and groups who might conflict with their stated mission and allow them use of their facilities and benefits. For example, a Catholic school would be forced to officially recognize an openly-gay student group and could not deny them use of its facilities.

The second is the equally mis-titled Reproductive Health Non-Discrmination Act of 2014. Again, according to Catholic News Agency,

… the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act of 2014, prohibits all employers from discriminating against employees over their “reproductive health decision making.” Thus, a Catholic or pro-life group could not make employment decisions based on their employees’ decision to act contrary to the mission – such as procuring an abortion, for example.

Both of these two laws are direct attacks on both religious liberty and First Amendment freedoms. That is why I say that their titles are ironic. They do not guarantee human rights and freedom from discrimination. These laws themselves are attacks on the basic human right of religious liberty and freedom from discrimination of religious believers.

To read a fact sheet on the two laws, go here.

There are two resolutions in the United States Senate which would overturn these laws. Congress has 30 days to review the bills, which are slated to become law on April 17. As noted in the Catholic News Agency article,

The Archdiocese of Washington supports these two resolutions, which, they say, “subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government” and “result in discrimination against religious believers.”

The Knights of Columbus, the United States bishops’ conference, the Catholic University of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention have joined the Archdiocese of Washington in the call to pass the resolutions.

I do not know if Georgetown University has joined the opposition to these laws. If they have not, I would like to know why.

Congress clearly has the power to overturn these laws. The question, as always with Congress, is will they use their power for the purpose it was given to them, or will they set this up as another partisan fight in order to align voters for the ’16 elections?

Congress needs to hear from their constituents as to why they are not doing any of the things that got them elected in the first place.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued the followed press release concerning the resolutions in Congress on March 18:

Religious Freedom at Stake

U.S. Senate Must Stand for Religious Freedom in Nation’s Capital

March 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – Today the Archdiocese of Washington, along with a large and growing coalition of religious institutions, faith-based organizations, and pro-life advocacy organizations within the District of Columbia, welcomes the introduction of two resolutions disapproving the unprecedented attack on religious freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of association in the nation’s capital through the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA).

HRAA, by removing conscience protections in the law, would prevent religious educational institutions from operating according to the tenets of their own faith with regard to human sexuality, and RHNDA would force religious institutions and other organizations to hire or retain employees who publicly act in defiance of the mission of their employer. Both laws subjugate the Church’s moral teaching to the moral views of the government, violating the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and result in discrimination against religious believers.

The Archdiocese of Washington has long respected home rule for the District of Columbia and, therefore, advocated for our religious rights with the D.C. Council throughout the legislative process. Despite this, the Council passed these acts. The archdiocese’s appeal to Congress to restore these constitutional rights is the only legislative recourse that remains. The Council of the District of Columbia transmitted the new measures to Congress on March 6, initiating a thirty-day congressional review period.

The archdiocese is grateful for the resolutions introduced today in the U.S. Senate and is hopeful for swift action in both chambers of Congress within the remaining days of the congressional review period.

###

 

 

 

Vatican Archives Shed Light on the Armenian Genocide

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

This year is the 100th anniversary of what is often called “The Forgotten Genocide,” which is the Armenian Genocide.

This slaughter of Christians by the Ottoman Turks occurred during World War I. Together, the formed the kick-off for the bloodbath that we remember as the 20th Century.

I’m going to write about the Armenian Genocide after Lent. The Vatican Archives are a source of information about this forgotten genocide of Christians.

From Catholic News Service:

.- Ahead of Pope Francis’ Mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, newly released historic documents confirm the Holy See’s broad commitment to helping the Armenian people at a time when few others would.

The Italian Jesuit-run magazine La Civiltà Cattolica stressed that newly published documents “prove how the Holy See, always informed about events, had not remained passive, but was strongly committed to face the issue” of the Armenian Genocide. “Benedict XV was the only ruler or religious leader to voice out a protest against the ‘massive crime’.”

The Armenian Genocide is considered to have begun April 24, 1915 with a massacre of Armenians in Istanbul. Over the next eight years, 1.5 million Armenians would be killed and millions more displaced.

Pope Francis: Our Brothers and Sisters are Shedding Their Blood.

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

“Our brothers and sisters are shedding their blood only because they are Christians.”

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14 Dead in Terrorist Bombings of Pakistani Churches

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ResoluteSupportMedia https://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by ResoluteSupportMedia https://www.flickr.com/photos/isafmedia/

Fourteen people are dead and at least 78 people were injured in deadly terrorist bombings of two Christian churches in Pakistan. One of the Churches was Catholic the other protestant.

Churches in Pakistan have been forced to post guards during Church services because of the threat of violence against Christians in that country. One of the guards, spotted the suicide bomber, trying to enter the Catholic Church and tried to stop him. This forced the terrorist to detonate the bomb before entering the church. This saved many lives.

At Christ Church, guard Zahid Goga confronted the bomber, but was shot in the head by the bomber’s accomplice.

Pakistani Christians took to the streets in mass demonstrations following the attacks.

According to news reports, this particular slaughter of unarmed Christian civilians was the work of the Taliban. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility for the murders. He says that the Taliban plans to carry out similar attacks in the future.

There has been little coverage of these attacks in the mainstream media.

From Catholic Herald:

Although the incident has been condemned by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, President and the majority of politicians, and compensation has been announced for the dead and injured, this is not enough,” he said.

Christians are constantly under attack, especially with their churches and colonies being attacked under the cover of blasphemy accusations, and sometimes by Taliban and extremists. Christians are living under constant fear for their lives and many have fled the country.

I believe these attacks are sustained attempts to force Christians out of Pakistan.”

There is a constant demand to provide security to Christians and even the Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered security to be provided to them, but the government has not done anything about it, Mr Saeed continued.

I would like to salute to the bravery and sacrifice of Zahid Goga who martyred himself to save hundreds of faithful who were worshiping in church. I also salute the bravery of the policeman who was killed at Catholic church in his attempt to stop the attacker,” he said.

Mr Saeed added that the government had failed to provide justice to Christians in light of previous attacks.

From Voice of America:

Hundreds of Pakistan’s minority Christians rallied in the eastern city of Lahore, blocking roads and shouting slogans in a second day of protests against twin suicide bombings outside two churches in the city that left 15 people dead.

Hundreds of police were deployed to the area Monday as Christian schools were closed for the funeral services for the victims.

Seventy people were wounded Sunday in the attacks when two gunmen tried to shoot their way into the churches during services in the majority-Christian Lahore suburb of Youhanabad. When security guards stopped them at the gates, the attackers detonated explosives.

After the attack, angry Christian mobs blocked highways, ransacked a bus station and killed two people they suspected of being involved in the attacks.

A militant group allied to the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the blasts.

Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan denounced the bombings as an “inhumane act” and said terrorists are hitting soft targets like churches and mosques in utter desperation following increased military action against them.

From CatholicCulture.org

Members of the Taliban launched suicide bombings against a Catholic church and a Protestant church in Pakistan, leaving at least 14 dead.

Arriving at the bombed church in the afternoon, Archbishop Sebastian Shah of Lahore complained, “The government has failed to protect us.” The bishop said that Christians have pleaded for protection, warning of impending attacks, to no avail. He praised the members of the congregation who had blocked the terrorists from entering the church, at the cost of their own lives, describing them as martyrs. “We are already on the road to Calvary,” the archbishop said.

Later the Pakistani bishps’ conference issued a statement deploring the bombing and calling upon all of the people of Pakistan to “stand alongside their Christian brothers and sisters, against extremist forces.” The statement demanded “extraordinary measures” by the government to protect religious minorities, and instructed Christians to “avoid violence and to cooperate with the police in their investigations.”

Boko Haram Murders 47 Nigerian Villagers. ISIS Bulldozes Archeological Treasures.

Nergal Gate Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Nergal Gate Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The work of murdering innocents and destroying civilization continues apace in that part of the world afflicted by Islamic extremists.

Boko Haram’s latest atrocity was to attack a mosque in a village in Northern Nigeria named Njaba. According to witnesses, Boko Haram killers arrived at about 5:30 am and begin firing at people who were going to the community mosque. They specifically singled out men and boys to kill.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, ISIS bulldozed the ancient archeological site of Nimrud. This is part of a series of attacks on ancient structures which are treasure not only of Iraq, but the whole world. ISIS videotaped themselves last year destroying statues and artifacts in the Mosul Museum and also at the ancient Nergal Gate to ancient Nineveh.

From African News:

ABUJA, March 5 (Xinhua) — At least 47 villagers were killed in the latest attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, one of the three most-hit states by the terror group, a local security source said Thursday.

Ahmed Haruna, a member of the civilian joint task force responsible for the security of lives and property in Damboa area of Borno said suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked Njaba village, about 87 km south of Maiduguri, the state capital, on Tuesday.

The incident was not immediately reported to local officials until Thursday, due to telecommunication challenge in the state, Haruna said.

According to him, a woman who apparently was a survivor of the attack reported the incident in Biu, some 100 km from the Njaba village where the attack took place.

From The New York Times:

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State militant group attacked the ancient archaeological site of Nimrud in northern Iraq and damaged it with heavy vehicles, Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of attacks on ancient structures and artifacts in Syria and Iraq that the group has destroyed in the name of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Last week, Islamic State militants videotaped themselves destroying statues and artifacts in the Mosul Museum and at the Nergal Gate entryway to ancient Nineveh. The militants captured the city during its offensive blitz through much of Iraq last June.

From The New York Times:

ISIS destroys the tomb of Jonah. BAGHDAD — When the Sunni extremists ruling Mosul destroyed the shrine of a prophet whose story features in the traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism — the most important of nearly two dozen marked for destruction by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syriain the first seven weeks of its reign — small groups of residents gathered to mourn.

 

From New York Times:

ISTANBUL — The reports are like something out of a distant era of ancient conquests: entire villages emptied, with hundreds taken prisoner, others kept as slaves; the destruction of irreplaceable works of art; a tax on religious minorities, payable in gold.

A rampage reminiscent of Tamerlane or Genghis Khan, perhaps, but in reality, according to reports by residents, activist groups and the assailants themselves, a description of the modus operandi of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate this week. The militants have prosecuted a relentless campaign in Iraq and Syria against what have historically been religiously and ethnically diverse areas with traces of civilizations dating to ancient Mesopotamia.

 

History of the Crusades: President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast Comments

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I’m going to backtrack for today’s video. This video is a discussion of President Obama’s comments about the Crusades at the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast.

I decided to put these videos on Public Catholic because of the president’s comments. Inaccurate history is used by Christian bashers to attack Christianity every single day. Christians do not know enough history to reply or deal with this intelligently. That needs to change.

After I finish with this series of videos on the Crusades, I’m going to take up the ignorant mis-use of Scripture to bash Christians.

We are living in a time in which Christians are the new group of people that it is ok to attack, bash, haze and hate. I see it all the time in crazy mean hate blogs and their crazy mean authors. I’ve encountered it repeatedly at certain political gatherings. It’s out there for everyone to see in the constant drip-drip-drip of anti-Christian articles in the press. We get a continuous battering from televised specials about Jesus which consistently seek to attack the veracity of the Gospels. It’s Lent, with Easter coming, so we’re going to see a lot of that right now.

Then there is the false history, the anti-history, about the Crusades and all other Christian history. You can be sure that whether the topic is the Black Death or the fall of Rome, there will be a jibe against Christians and Christianity in there somewhere. In fact, most of the time, anti-Christian propaganda pretending to be history will be prominent. What you will not see is any mention of the civilization-building power of Christianity, or the development of human rights because of the teachings of Christ. Some of these slanders in the popular media are distortions, but  a lot of it is direct lying.

Americans aren’t just ignorant of the truth, they are actively and aggressively being taught lies about Christianity and Christian history by the popular media. The media appears to be working in tandem with aggressive Christian bashers in an effort to destroy the faith of Christians in this country. The president’s speech, as well as a lot of other things he’s said and done, is an indication of how deep this hatred of Christians runs in certain circles.

It is no accident that we are witnessing an on-going genocide of Christians in a whole region of the world. These two things are, as they always are, tied together. Verbal hazing, degrading propaganda, lies and slanders of a whole people, are the intellectual scaffolding on which those who would commit genocide stand.

We really need to stop dismissing these constant attacks on our faith and ourselves as if they don’t matter. We also need to stop being overawed by the verbal violence and self-proclaimed authority of our attackers. I am not counseling a descent into the slime pit of public discourse alongside them. What I am suggesting is that Christians make the effort to learn the truth so that the lies will not impact us.

Equipping Christians to deal with this post-Christian culture is the primary purpose of Public Catholic. The first step is overcoming ignorance of their faith and their history among Christians themselves.

Christians do not need to apologize for Jesus Christ. We need to stand for Him without fear or equivocation.

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-the-first-crusade-1099/#ixzz3TWbP6IeR

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Conversion on the Beach: One Man’s Conversion to Christ Before ISIS Execution

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

ISIS march 21 men onto a beach in Libya. Twenty of these men were Christians. One, a Chadian Citizen, was not.

He watched the Coptic Christians die for Christ. When the terrorist murderer demanded that he reject Jesus Christ as his God, he replied, “their God is my God.” He was then beheaded with his Christian brothers.

The joy in this story is that 21 martyrs to Christ entered heaven that day. They are praying for us now.

From the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of the Diocese of Bombay:

ISIS announced the execution of 21 Copts but only 20 names were confirmed, most of them were from the province of Minya(Upper Egypt). There was an inaccuracy in the number of Egyptian Hostages; there were only 20 Egyptians(Copts). Then who was this remaining one non-Coptic victim?

Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also.

Pope Francis Condemns the ‘Intolerable Brutality’ of ISIS

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

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ISIS Plans Video Release About the Fate of Kidnapped Christian Civilians

Martyrs Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Willstephe Vaho https://www.flickr.com/photos/willstephe/

Martyrs Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Willstephe Vaho https://www.flickr.com/photos/willstephe/

Reports indicated that ISIS release a video today concerning the 150 Christians civilians they have kidnapped.

Assyrian Human Rights Network says that the video will contain threats to kill the defenseless people. First reports put the number at 90 kidnapped Christians, but the number has now risen to 150.

“They are facing death, people are unarmed, they are peaceful. And they need help, they are just left alone — no one’s protecting them,” said Osama Edward, founder of Assyrian Human Rights Network.

Original reports said that 90 Christians had been taken prisoner by ISIS. But the number is now 150.

From New York Daily News:

The Islamic State militants who stormed Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria before dawn on Monday took substantially more hostages than previously thought, and the terrorist group will release a video message on Wednesday threatening to kill the defenseless civilians, according to the Assyrian Human Rights Network.

Despite initial reports that ISIS abducted between 70 and 100 Christians during the night raids on villages along the Khabur River near the city of Tal Tamr in the Hassakeh province, the founder of the rights group, Osama Edward, told CNN his organization’s ground-level now sources place the number of hostages at 150.

The video, which Edward said will be directed to President Obama and other world leaders whose countries have joined the fight against ISIS, will warn that the Assyrians could face the same fate as the 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt that ISIS militants beheaded in a video released earlier this month.

“Maybe they are facing the same destiny. That’s why we call on all over the world, like the U.S, Europe, coalition forces — protect Assyrians, save Assyrians in Syria,” Edward said on CNN.


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