Martyrs of Otranto: An Entire Village that Chose Death Rather than Renounce Jesus

The Holy Father canonized the 800 Martyrs of Otranto today.

These 800 people chose death rather than renounce Christ. Their courage and the resistance of their fellow citizens saved Rome from the fate of Constantinople, which had fallen to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

These videos tell about their sacrifice then and canonization in Rome today. The second video also describes the canonization of two other saints.

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Students Stand Up to Christian Bashing in Public Schools


This video was produced by Reach America, an education organization based in Coeur d”Alene, Idaho.

Gary Brown, founder of the organization, said that one of the factors that inspired him to create this video, which is named The Thaw, happened last year when a public school teacher asked students to write an essay title, “I Believe,” without using the names God or Jesus in their papers.

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Pope Will Canonize 800 Martyrs of the Ottoman Wars

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Cathedral of Otranto. The bones skulls of the martyrs were made into a mosaic behind the altar.

 Pope Francis will canonize 800 martyrs this Sunday. The 800 martyrs were killed at the hands of Ottoman soldiers in Otranto, in Southern Italy in 1480 for refusing to convert to Islam. 

Pope Benedict XVI recognized them as martyrs “killed out of hatred for the faith” in 2007. According to an article in the Telegraph, the Archbishop of Otranto was cut to pieces with a scimitar before the 800 were murdered. 

Hagia sophia

The Hagia Sophia; largest Christian church in the world before the fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453. It was converted to a mosque, and is now a museum. There is discussion about turning it back into a mosque. 

The Turks were sent to capture Rome and thus complete what they had begun in with the sack of Constantinope. When his fleet landed in Oranto, the citizens held out, despite a siege and Rome did not fall. 

Pope

What we owe these martyrs. Rome did not fall. 

Various media reports seem to want to make a political statement out of what is a religious ceremony. I do think that it’s important for Christians to insist on a more balanced and accurate reporting of such events as the Crusades. But it is equally important that we remember those who died rather than turn their backs on Jesus.

From CatholicHerald.co.uk:

Pope Francis is preparing to canonise an estimated 800 Italian laymen killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century. The canonisation service will be on May 12 in St Peter’s Square and it will be the first carried out by the Pontiff since he was elected in early March.

The killing of the martyrs by Ottoman troops, who launched a weeks-long siege of Otranto, a small port town at the most eastern tip of southern Italy, took place in 1480.

When Otranto residents refused to surrender to the Ottoman army, the soldiers were ordered to massacre all males over the age of 15. Many were ordered to convert to Islam or die, but Blessed Antonio Primaldo, a tailor, spoke on the prisoners’ behalf. “We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die,” he said, according to Blessed John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths.

Primaldo inspired all the other townspeople to take courage, the late Pope said, and to say: “We will all die for Jesus Christ; we willingly die so as to not renounce his holy faith.” There were not “deluded” or “outdated,” Blessed John Paul continued, but “authentic, strong, decisive, consistent men” who loved their city, their families and their faith. (Read the rest here.) 

 

 

Tyndale Publisher Wins Again on HHS Mandate

Tyndale Publishers won by default at the Appellate Court level on a case against the HHS Mandate  Friday. The victory was automatic when the Obama Administration withdrew its appeal of an ruling by a lower court.

The publisher, which specializes in publishing Bibles, won a preliminary injunction in November from a lower court. The injunction prevented the government from enforcing the HHS Mandate against Tyndale, at least until the Supreme Court decides how to rule on the issue. The Obama Administration filed an appeal to this decision, which it withdrew on Friday, May 3.

The HHS Mandate forces religious businesses such as Tyndale pay for insurance coverage of abortifacient drugs. 

Alliance Defending Freedom, which is a legal group, has made statements that the reason the Obama Administration withdrew its appeal is that “The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer.”

Perhaps the person who said this has inside knowledge as to what the administration’s motives were for withdrawing the appeal. I am guessing that the administration thought they were going to lose the appeal, but I don’t know. 

Tyndale, functions as a Christian organization. It’s states that one of its “corporate goals is to honor God.” It holds weekly chapel service for employees, opens business meetings with prayer, and sends employees on Christian missions projects that are paid for by the company. Tyndale’s trustees must affirm a statement of faith says “there is one God, eternally existent in three persons.”

I want to emphasize that, while this victory is a good thing, it is not final. All roads in this case lead to the Supreme Court and what it decides.

From the Baptist Press:

WASHINGTON (BP) — A leading Bible publisher won another court victory against the Obama administration’s abortion/contraceptive mandate Friday (May 3), thanks in part to the administration’s own partial retreat in the case.

The publisher, Tyndale House, had won a preliminary injunction in November from a lower court that prevented the government from enforcing the mandate, which forces businesses such as Tyndale to cover contraceptives that can cause chemical abortions. The drugs often are called “emergency contraceptives” and can act after conception and implantation, and come under brand names such as Plan B and ella.

The administration appealed that injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but eventually asked that the appeal be dismissed. The three justices on Friday granted the administration’s request and dismissed it.

The injunction will remain in place while the case itself, Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, moves forward. The lower court judge, Reggie B. Walton, had said in his November injunction ruling that Tyndale likely would win the overall case.

The legal group Alliance Defending Freedom says the government’s desire to withdraw its own appeal is a good sign for religious liberty. ADF is representing Tyndale.

“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said ADF senior legal counsel Matt Bowman. “The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer. For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn’t religious is outrageous, and now the Obama administration has had to retreat in court.” (Read the rest here.)

Vocations, Conversions and Preaching Christ Crucified

 

Deacon Greg Kandra has the story.

Remember Father Greg Shaffer?

He’s the priest at George Washington University who is under attack by a couple of homosexual activists. The reason? Father Shaffer told them that homosexual people are called to celebacy.

It turns out that people are attracted to this simple formula of preaching Church teaching. The parish at the Newman Center where Father Shaffer is assigned has grown from 100 parishioners to 400 in the time he’s been there.

Perhaps even more amazing, this small parish now has four young men who are entering seminary.

I’ve been saying for a long time that all the Church has to do is preach Christ and Him crucified.

The Church cannot approach its ministry from a social work/business model. It’s as clear as anything I’ve ever seen that God does not honor that approach. Vocations fall. Parishioners drift.

People do not get out of bed on Sunday morning week after week to hear a watered down version of the Gospels that are shorn of their life-saving power. They go for Christ.

Christ’s followers have been willing to lay down their lives throughout the 2,000-year history of our faith. They are doing it now all over the world. But they will not do this for a vague politically-correct, weak kneed sham Jesus. They will follow and die for the real Jesus; the one who said “no” to the kingdoms of this world, and by so doing set his foot on the pathway that led to the cross.

The jesus that fits in with polite dinner party conversation among the politically correct is a sham and a lie who cannot save anyone and does not attract followers of any sort. You cannot dilute Christ to make Him socially acceptable among those who want to walk down the wide way that leads to destruction. When you try to do that, you are not diluting Christ. You are denying Him.

It takes courage to follow the real Jesus Who was sent to the cross. I would guess that it also takes courage to preach Him. The attacks on Father Shaffer are an example of why it takes courage. But the results he’s seen in his parish are what happens when you do it.

Preach Christ, and Him crucified. Do that, and the vocations and fallen away Catholics problems will take care of themselves.

From the National Catholic Register:

by JOAN FRAWLEY DESMOND

WASHINGTON — Father Greg Shaffer, the Catholic chaplain at George Washington University, learned early that a good pastor can defy the odds and lead the young to embrace a priestly vocation. Growing up in Bethesda, Md., Father Shaffer was inspired by the example of Msgr. Thomas Wells, a charismatic figure in the archdiocese who possessed a deep and infectious love for the Eucharist. Msgr. Wells brought many young men to the priesthood before he was murdered during a 2000 robbery at his Maryland parish; he was 56 years old. Now, 13 years later, that beloved pastor remains a source of inspiration for Father Shaffer, who has revealed a knack for fostering vocations at a secular university better known for jump-starting careers in government. Since the priest’s arrival four years ago, Sunday Mass attendance at the campus Newman Center has increased from 100 to about 400 people — and, this year, four men will enter the seminary.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/george-washington-chaplain-leads-four-men-to-the-priesthood/#ixzz2SWOzg2VP

Missionary Sister Talks about Christians in the Holy Land

I have friends who spent a long time in Papua New Guinea, working as missionaries for Wycliffe Bible Translators.

It is true that God calls special people for this work. They don’t look different than the rest of us. The differences are inside, but they are profound.

In this video, a missionary sister in the Holy Land talks about the challenges Christians who live there must face.

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15 Countries Named for ‘Systematic, On-Going’ Abuse of Religious Freedom

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom issued a recent report that named 15 Countries of Particular Concern because of the threats that their governments pose to religious liberty.

These countries are: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam. The governments in these countries have “either engaged in or tolerated systematic, on-going, egregious abuse of the right to freedom of religion or belief.”

Based on the stories I’ve seen since I’ve been writing about Christian persecution, I would guess that the most consistently persecuted group in these countries is Christians.

From CNA:

Washington D.C., May 4, 2013 / 04:11 pm (CNA).- A recent report on international religious liberty cautioned that severe threats to freedom of religion exist in diverse communities through the world and should be discouraged through actions by the U.S. government.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, chair of the commission that released the report.

“Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos,” she explained.

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom gathers information throughout the year by meeting with government officials, citizens, analysts and non-governmental organizations across the globe in order to assess the state of international religious liberty. The independent, bipartisan group then advises the president, U.S. Congress and State Department on recommended actions to be taken.

Issued each year, the commission’s report marks “countries of particular concern” (CPCs), which are defined as “countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.” The State Department has the opportunity to officially label CPCs and decide whether to impose sanctions or other penalties on each country.

The 2013 document recommended 15 countries to be designated as CPCs: Burma, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. (Read the rest here.)

Who is This Christian Basher? Separating Fact from Internet Legend

Michael Weinstein is a self-styled “civil rights advocate” and Founder and President of a hate-tank called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

He is also the author of a Christian-bashing article that was published by the Huffington Post. 

I wrote about an article yesterday about this article, Christian Bashing: Are There Any Limits? and readers followed through with a plethora of information on Mr Weinstein. One of the claims was that he is a religious adviser for President Obama. However, I don’t think that Michael Weinstein is a religious adviser for President Obama or the Pentagon.

I’ve googled quite a bit, and I found that claim splashed all over the internet. However, I could not track it back to a reputable source. What I found instead were circular sources linking to one another. 

I did find a Department of Defense document that says this:

Internet posts are attributing a statement that superior officers who try to convert those under their command should face court-martial to Mikey Weinstein, president of the Albuquerque, N.M.-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and are identifying him as a Pentagon advisor, Christensen noted.

“Mr. Weinstein is not part of any DOD advisory group or committee, nor is he a consultant to the Defense Department regarding religious matters,” Christensen said. “Mr. Weinstein requested, and was granted, a meeting at the Pentagon April 23, with the Air Force judge advocate general and others, to include the deputy chief of chaplains, to express his concerns of religious issues in the military.”

Based on the unabashed self-promotion I saw on the Military Religious Freedom Foundation web site, I doubt that Mr Weinstein would leave something like this out if it was true. If someone has a link to an original source saying that Mr Weinstein is a religious advisor for either President Obama or the Pentagon, please share it with me. Otherwise, I’m going to round-file that story as internet legend. 

Here, from the MRFF website, are a few things about Mr Weinstein, who often refers to himself as “Mikey,” that did turn out to be true:  

  • “Mikey” is a 1977 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Served in a Federal prosecutor in the JAG corps. 
  • A registered Republican.
  • Former legal counsel for the Reagan White House. Committee Management Officer of the much-publicized Iran-Contra Investigation in his capacity as Assistant General Counsel of The White House Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President of the United States. 
  • Mikey served as the first General Counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation.
  • In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense. As a distinguished “Opinion shaper” exercising a hard-fought influence over the U.S. Armed Forces, Mikey’s influence has been recognized as exceeding that of former General David Petraeus himself by a publication that represents “the world’s biggest military newsroom.” 
  • On November 7, 2011, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State presented Mikey Weinstein with AU’s first ever Person of the Year Award. 
  • On November 18, 2012, for the fourth consecutive year, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was officially nominated again for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize (its fifth total nomination)

Here, in the order in which they appear, is a list of the organizations that have submitted “partnering links” to the MRFF:

    • Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
    • California Church IMPACT
    • Atheist Alliance International
    • Constantine’s Sword
    • Jews on First!
    • Mainstream Baptist
    • Town Hall, Los Angeles
    • Americans United for Separation of Church and State
    • Calvets Investigation Committee
    • Society-Links.com
    • womenstanding
    • Working Minds
    • Humanists of the Treasure Coast
    • Pacific Palisades Democratic Club
    • American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
    • Center for Inquiry
    • Free Range Longmont
    • Chasing Evil
    • the Horn, The Head on Radio Network
    • Foundation Beyond Belief
    • United Atheist Front

 

 

Should Pastors Who Preach Against Gay Marriage Be Allowed to Speak at the National Day of Prayer?

 

National day of prayer logo

Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer?

I have never attended the National Day of Prayer services here in Oklahoma. I can’t pray in public. When I have to stand for public prayer — as I often do — I don’t feel God. All I hear is the echo chamber of my own thoughts. A lot of times, if the matter is grave, I pray my own private prayer while the public prayer runs as background noise. The National Day of Prayer just isn’t my cup of tea. 

National day of prayer tulsa oklahoma

National Day of Prayer, Tulsa, OK

I never gave the National Day of Prayer much thought until atheist cranks started trying to make it illegal. Then I realized that while I don’t attend because it’s not my personal religious flavor, I do think that it’s up to Congress, and not a smattering of nobody-can-do-anything-I-don’t-agree-with zealots whether such an event should happen. 

So, if the topic is the National Day of Prayer, my reaction is going to be along the direction that those who want to have this day can have it rather than anything based on my personal plans to participate. I don’t intend to change my plans for this year’s National Day of Prayer. I won’t attend the event. However, if the cranks keep on cranking, I may change my mind and show up next year, not for prayer so much as for solidarity with my Christian brothers and sisters.

Once again, the war is being forced upon us.

Natl day of prayer at bombing memorial

National Day of Prayer at Oklahoma City Bombing memorial

This year’s National Day of Prayer is receiving flak from a new quarter. Rather than just the usual atheist crankery aimed at driving Christianity from the public square, we now have the LGBTQ crowd. They don’t want to end the event. They want to chose who leads it.

Nationaldayofprayer ok capitol

Small group prays after official Day of Prayer ceremony, Oklahoma State Capitol 

The Human Rights Campaign is seeking to stop participation by a pastor who has preached against gay marriage, or, as they call it, “equality.” They are asking that Pastor Greg Laurie not be allowed to lead the event.

So, the question arises: Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer? 

As nutty as it sounds, the Human Rights Campaign, seems to say no. 

Their reason is that he says things like this:

“Sin is sin,” he said during the Thursday night Bible study at Harvest Orange County in Southern California.

Laurie addressed the “hot-button” issues of homosexuality and marriage while preaching on the fifth commandment of honoring one’s father and mother.

“It doesn’t say honor your mother and mother as in two women married, or honor your father and your father, or honor your mother and her live-in lover,” he said.

“God established the family … He and He alone defines the family. Maybe that’s why Satan hates the family so much and has effectively declared war on it because God loves the family.

“Tamper with God’s formula, if you will, at our own peril.”

Like many pastors who have spoken on the issue of marriage, Laurie said the issue is not political, but rather moral and biblical. (Read the rest here.)

I do not understand why gay people seem to be so blind to the fact that the same rights which allow them to promote their cause belong to everyone.

Oklahoma atheists

Demonstration at Oklahoma State Capitol 

Some leaders in gay rights organizations seem committed to a program of harassment and hazing of anyone who disagrees with them. At the same time, they appear to be equally committed to creating a world where those who refuse to participate in gay marriages will lose their jobs and have their businesses closed down.

Now it appears they want to make sure that those who speak against gay marriage are locked out of public events. 

The question remains: Should pastors who preach against gay marriage be allowed to speak at the National Day of Prayer? 

From C.P. US:

Homosexual activists are labeling evangelist Greg Laurie as the “anti-gay California pastor” and are asking government officials to rescind Laurie’s invitation to lead National Day of Prayer-related events in Washington, D.C. as the event’s honorary chairman.

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy group in America, contends that Laurie has a history of speaking out against LGBT Americans. And OutServe-SLDN, an association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, is calling on the Pentagon to remove the pastor from the agenda, citing “his blatantly anti-LGBT message.”

“Pastor Laurie’s message is out of step with what the majority of people of faith across this country believe,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of HRC’s Religion & Faith Program.

“In greater numbers than ever before, people of faith are feeling compelled to speak up and organize for equality – because of their faith.” (Read the rest here.) 

Religious Freedom Resolution Passes Council of Europe

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The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly passed a ground-breaking resolution that recognizes the right of religious and conscience rights in the public arena. 

According to the National Catholic Register, the resolution says that “The Assembly therefore calls on member States to … accommodate religious beliefs in the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care, education and the civil service.” 

The resolution passed by a vote of 148-3, with seven abstentions.

Supporters of religious and conscience rights hail the resolution as “an important step.” Gregor Puppinck, general director of the European Centre for Law and Justice said that the resolution is  “… is the first time that … a source of law, saying that there is a right to conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in all ‘morally sensitive matters.” He said that the resolution applies to the fundamental right of parents to educate their children.

I do not understand the the workings of the European Union and the Council of Europe. For instance, I don’t know if this resolution carries the force of law, or is just a statement of intent.

However, since supporters say it is the first legislative recognition of the right to conscience at this level, it is, at the least, an important first step.

From the Catholic Register:

STRASBOURG, France — A resolution passed by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly is being lauded as an important — although limited — recognition of religious and conscience rights in the public sphere.

“The important step with this resolution is the mention of the right to conscientious objection and the enlargement of its scope of application,” Grégor Puppinck, general director of the European Centre for Law and Justice, told CNA April 29.

“It is the first time that I see a document, a source of law, saying there is a right to conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in all ‘morally sensitive matters,’” he said, which means it applies to the fundamental right of parents to educate their children.

Resolution 1928, passed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on April 24, says, “The Assembly therefore calls on member States to … accommodate religious beliefs in the public sphere by guaranteeing freedom of thought in relation to health care, education and the civil service.”

However, this accommodation is “provided that the rights of others to be free from discrimination are respected and that the access to lawful services is guaranteed.” This has made some critics wary that rights of religious freedom will be viewed as inferior and secondary to abortion and “gay rights.” (Read the rest here.)


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