Christian Persecution: Six Quick Takes

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This week’s six quick takes on Christian Persecution include one that I’m not entirely sure about, another that deals with a 100-year-old genocide, and the usual dismal roundup of wanton killings, abductions and imprisonment of Christians around the globe. 

I think there are two reasons why Christianity is attacked. First, as President Obama said in a speech a few years ago, it is revolutionary. His complaint at the time was that the Sermon on the Mount, would, if it was followed, lead to disarmament.

Indeed.

Governments the world over have tried to control the revolutionary message of Christ in one of two ways: Co-opt it, or attack it. Hitler was an example of co-opting coupled with attacks against those who didn’t buy into his program, while Stalin and the Communist states are examples of outright attack.

That division seems to hold up right to this day and even here in America. Right wing politicians are more prone to claim their religiosity while attempting to twist the Gospels to support their goals and left-wing politicians tend to veer toward limiting religious freedom with ironic claims of inclusion and tolerance.

Christianity has a better record of standing up to outright attack than it does co-option. I suppose that’s only natural. If somebody punches you in the nose, you know you’ve been hit. But if they flatter you and tell you how great you are while they ask you to sign the title to your house away, it’s harder to catch. Or, at least it is for some people.

The second reason is that Christianity is attacked is that it is true. Jesus really is the Son of God. He really did die for our sins and He really did rise again on the third day. He really is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

It is politically incorrect to say that, but taking offense to the truth does not make it untrue. People resent the claims that Jesus makes on their hearts and their lives. They want to be their own little gods, but they are unwilling to admit what that means. So … they attack the only hope they have.

Pope Francis talks about satan more than is politically correct, even for a Pope. But he is right to do this. Christianity is attacked because it is the Light, and the darkness hates it.

This week’s quick takes focus mainly on the nose-punching type of attack on Christians, rather than the soft-soap of the co-opters. As always, there’s a heavy dose of persecution from the Middle East. I decided to include the Armenian genocide because these people have been forgotten in the name of political expedience. I’ve read that out of a population of 2 million Armenian Christians, 1.5 million were murdered. Their blood, like Abel’s, cries out from the ground. 

I also included a story about the Pentagon blocking the Southern Baptist web site. I had read about this in several places, but only decided to take it seriously (I’m still confused by it.) because Fox News carried it. Note: I was wise to doubt this story. The Pentagon has explained that their computer detected malware on the SBC website. They say they were not blocking the site. You can read about that here

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Here are the Six Quick Takes about Christian Persecution this week. I hope that you read each of them prayerfully. 

1. NIGERIA 

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18 More Followers Of Christ Slaughtered By Muslim Attackers In Christian Village Of Mile Bakwai

Morning Star News – “Hosea Mashaf was resting in his village of Chirang Mangor, Nigeria, when area Christian youths told him that armed, Muslim Fulani herdsmen were attacking the Christian village of Mile Bakwai.

The 45-year-old farmer and other Christians rushed to Mile Bakwai, three kilometers away in the Bokkos Local Council Area of Plateau State, the night of March 27 to see how they might aid the Christians there, he told Morning Star News.

‘When we got there, the gunmen had already retreated,’ Mashaf said. ‘I saw dead bodies scattered all over the village. I counted the dead bodies we recovered, and in all we had 18 Christians who were killed by the Muslim attackers.’

They found five of those bodies in a minibus, he said.

‘They were travelling in a bus back to our village when they ran into the attack going on at Mile Bakwai village,’ Mashaf said. ‘They were killed by the attackers when they shot at the bus, which crashed into a building, but the attackers went to the place where the bus was and shot the occupants. Five of them were killed, while two others were injured.’

Dead were Geofrey Mafuyai, 35; Mahana Jamok, 50; Arandon Yusuf, 18; Dung Dalyop, 38; and, Mbata Machif, 36. Maju Mahana, 25, and Nanle Enoch, 18 were wounded and received treatment at the ECWA Evangel Hospital in Jos, he said.

The 18 slain were members of Nigerian Baptist Convention, Christ Apostolic Church and Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) congregations, sources said. The Rev. James Danladi Mahwash of the Bishara Baptist Church in Mile Bakwai village said five of his church members were killed, including the financial secretary of the Men’s Missionary Union of his church, 25-year-old Jamle Benjamin Sunday. (Read more here.)

2. USA

Cross Flag

Pentagon Blocks Access to Southern Baptist Website

By Todd Starnes

NOTE: A reader passed along the Pentagon’s response to this. They say that the problem was a result of their software detecting malware on the SBC’s website. You can read that story here.

The U.S. Military has blocked access to the Southern Baptist Convention’s website on an unknown number of military bases because it contains “hostile content” — just weeks after an Army briefing labeled Evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics as examples of religious extremism, Fox News has learned.

The Southern Baptist Convention is the nation’s largest Protestant denomination known for its support of the pro-life movement and its strong belief in traditional marriage.

Southern Baptist chaplains reported that SBC.net   had been blocked at military installations around the nation. An Air Force officer told Fox News that when he tried to log on to the website he received a message that his Internet usage was being logged and monitored for trying to access a blocked site.

The censorship was made public after an Army officer tried to log onto the denomination’s website and instead — received a warning message.

“The site you have requested has been blocked by Team CONUS (C-TNOSC/RCERT-CONUS) due to hostile content,” the message read.

Team CONUS protects the computer network of the Dept. of Defense. The SBC’s website was not blocked at the Pentagon.

It’s unclear what the “hostile content” might have been. The SBC is pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage. (Read more here.)

3. EGYPT

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Egyptian Muslims murdering Christians with impunity

Ten people are dead following clashes between Muslims and Coptic Christians in Egypt. The people have been killed over the past few weeks which have seen spates of violence between Christians defending their churches and homes from angry Muslims. Few Muslim attackers ever face justice.

CAIRO, EGYPT (Catholic Online) – Clashes between Muslims and Christians have claimed 10 live in Egypt where sectarian violence between the groups has been renewed in the face of Mohammed Morsi’s administration.

The most recent spate of violence started after children drew crosses on the walls of an Islamic institute in Khosoos, just north of Cairo. That acts of children’s vandalism sparked a bloody retaliation from Muslims in which four Christians and a Muslim were killed.

At the Christian funeral, Muslims struck again, this time carrying on until they reached the Coptic cathedral and damaged the structure. More Christians were murdered. (Read more here.)

4. TURKEY

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The Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s Attempt to Deny It

From 1915 to 1917 the Young Turk regime in the Ottoman Empire carried out a systematic, premeditated, centrally planned genocide against the Armenian people.  One of the documents authenticated by Turkish authorities in 1919 is a telegram sent in June 1915 by Dr. Sakir, one of the leaders of the secret organization that carried out the planning and implementation of the Genocide.  He asks the provincial party official who is responsible for carrying out the deportations and massacres of Armenians within his district: “Are the Armenians, who are being dispatched from there, being liquidated? Are those harmful persons whom you inform us you are exiling and banishing, being exterminated, or are they being merely dispatched and exiled? Answer explicitly….”

The evidence of intent is backed also by the outcome of the actions against the Armenians: it is inconceivable that over a million persons could have died due to even a badly flawed effort at resettlement.  Moreover, the pattern of destruction was repeated over and over in different parts of Turkey, many of them far from any war zone; such repetition could only have come from a central design.  Further, the reward structure was geared toward destruction of the Christian minority: provincial governors and officials who refused to carry out orders to annihilate the Armenians were summarily replaced.

More than one million Armenians perished as the result of execution, starvation, disease, the harsh environment, and physical abuse.  A people who lived in eastern Turkey for nearly 3,000 years lost its homeland and was profoundly decimated in the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.  At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000.

Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.

The basic argument of denial has remained the same, it never happened, Turkey is not responsible, the term “genocide” does not apply. (Read more here.)

5. SYRIA

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Kidnapped bishops raise fears of Christian nightmare in Syria

ICC Note: Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, condemned the kidnapping of two archbishops and said Pope Francis is “following [the] events with deep participation and intense prayer.” The bishops were abducted by armed rebels on Monday in the village of Kfar Dael, near Aleppo, Syria while carrying out humanitarian work. The bishops are the most senior church leaders abducted in the conflict which has now killed more than 70,000 people across Syria. The kidnapping “is a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian people and its Christian community are living,” Lombardi said.

By John L. Allen Jr.

4/23/2013 Syria (National Catholic Reporter) – Rome on Tuesday reacted with alarm to the kidnapping of two Orthodox bishops in Syria, fearing it may mark the beginning of the nightmare scenario: that Syria will become the next Iraq, meaning the next Middle Eastern country where Christians emerge as primary victims of the chaos following the disintegration of a police state.

A Vatican spokesman called the kidnappings “a dramatic confirmation of the tragic situation in which the Syrian people and its Christian community are living.”

According to a report from the Asia News agency, the two bishops were stopped at gunpoint by armed men Monday on their way to the city of Aleppo. A catechist traveling with them was shot to death while the two bishops were forced out of the car and taken away.

The prelates involved are the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Aleppo, Msgr. Youhanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskenderun, Msgr. Boulos al-Yaziji. Both are well known in Rome as veterans of ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic church.

The identity of their kidnappers remains unclear, but sources in Syria say kidnapping of Christians has become a growth industry as various armed factions look for ways to fund their activities. (Read more here.)

6. CHINA: 

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Seven House Church Leaders Sentenced to Prison

4/21/2013 China (ChinaAid) – Also in Henan, seven house church leaders were sentenced on April 1 to prison sentences ranging from three to 7-1/2 years, according to the well-known Christian lawyer Li Baiguang. Their defense lawyers received the verdict and sentencing papers just last week.

Han Hai, 7-1/2 year sentence, male, aged 60, previously administratively detained twice, was also sentenced to a labor camp for three years. Now held in the Ye County Detention Center.

Hu Linpo, seven year sentence, from Singapore, male, aged 49, the house church’s main preacher, was detained in 1989 for 30 days. Criminally detained on April 18 and is now held in the Ye County Detention Center.

Yang Lianbing, three-year sentence, male, aged 23, working in Zhengzhou. Now held in the Ye County Detention Center.

Zhang Mian, four-year sentence, female, aged 37, owner of the residence where the church meets. Criminally detained on April 20, now held in the Pingdingshan Detention Center.

Cao Xia, 3-1/2-year sentence, female, in her 50s, owner of another residence where the church meets. Police seized from her home CDs of Hu Linpo preaching and a computer used to make copies of the sermon CDs. Police also confiscated a Chinese-made Liebao SUV parked outside Cao’s home that belonged to a Christian man who was there to listen to the preaching. Cao was criminally detained on April 20 and is now held in the Pingdingshan Detention Center.

Wang En, three-year sentence, female, in her 20s, taken from Cao Xia’s home, said to have helped make copies of Preacher Hu’s sermon CDs. Held in the Ye County Detention Center.

Li Dan, three-year sentence, female, in her 20s, taken from Cao Xia’s home, probably for copying CDs. Held in the Pindingshan Detention Center. (Read more here.)

 

Will Legalizing Gay Marriage Lead to Legalizing Polygamy?

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When you knock down a wall to let in your pet lion, how do you keep the other predators out?

Answer: You can’t. 

That’s a simplified version of the logic behind the reasoning in an article from the Baptist Press. The article says that there is no legal basis for reediting marriage to include two men or two women that does not open the door for virtually any other innovation.

I agree with this, btw. The legal twisting and turning necessary to overturn almost every marriage law in this country require destroying the institution as the legal entity that we have known it for at least 2 millennia. What we put in its place after that will be wide open.

The move to legalize polygamy has been quietly racketing up for quite some time and it’s coming from the same folks who are pushing gay marriage beginning, of course, with lawsuits from the ACLU and television shows normalizing polygamy such as Big Love and Sister Wives.

The Baptist Press article says in part:

by Michael Foust
WASHINGTON (BP) — Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would jettison the rationale and logic behind prohibitions on polygamous marriages, according to several friend-of-the court briefs urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the traditional definition of marriage …… “Ultimately, there is no principled basis for recognizing a legality of same-sex marriage without simultaneously providing a basis for the legality of consensual polygamy or certain adult incestuous relationships,” reads one of the briefs, filed by the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel. “In fact, every argument for same-sex marriage is an argument for them as well.”

…  A friend-of-the-court brief signed by 18 state attorneys general also briefly warns about the potential legalization of polygamy if gay marriage is legalized. The brief — which supports Prop 8 — says the traditional definition of marriage is tied to the fact that only a man and woman can reproduce, thus continuing society’s very existence. The state has an interest, the brief says, to see that children are raised, ideally, by the mother and father who beget them. A mother and father in each home is “optimal for children and society at large.”

“Once the natural limits that inhere in the relationship between a man and a woman can no longer sustain the definition of marriage, the conclusion that follows is that any grouping of adults would have an equal claim to marriage,” the attorneys general brief states, arguing that marriage no longer would be about the needs of children but about the desires of adults.Liberty Counsel’s brief quotes 19th century Supreme Court cases that upheld the federal government’s ban on polygamy in Utah. Among them were Reynolds v. United States (1878) and Murphy v. Ramsey (1885). In the 1885 case, the justices affirmed the traditional definition of marriage, writing that laws are “wholesome and necessary” when they are established on the basis of the idea of the family as “consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony.” The court called traditional marriage “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”

Liberty Counsel asserted that “when the traditional definition of marriage as that between one man and one woman is reversed to include other marriages, the state is left with little, if any, justification for other laws restricting marriage.”  (Read the rest here.)

Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Holy Week, March for Marriage and Two Days with the Supremes

Priests processing for chrism mass

Priests processing for Chrism Mass

This is Holy Week.

It is also the week in which the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA. The potential is there for a major change in the way American law defines marriage. This could have far-reaching effects which none of us can predict for foresee.

What better week to issue a call to prayer than Holy Week? Tuesday is the day we have the Chrism Mass. Priests renew their vows at this mass and the holy oils which will be used throughout the upcoming year are blessed. It’s a beautiful mass and I urge anyone who can to attend.

Blessing of the oil

Blessing the oil

History is coming at us so fast it’s hard to keep up. But we need to remember that this week, above all weeks, is a time for extra prayer and penance. I don’t want to make too much of it, but it seems poignant that so many points of history are converging on this one week. Proponents of traditional marriage are also staging a march in Washington, DC on Tuesday. 

The cross, which defines this week and the life of the world, is not just a point of history. It is history. The cross is the fulcrum of all history. There was the world before the cross and the world after it, which is to say that there was the world without hope and the world without despair.  Despair is impossible to anyone who understands the power of the cross.

We suffer in this life. We experience loss, setbacks, pain, loneliness, failure and grief. But we are never without hope because our hope is in the One who died for us on Calvary.

We need to pray this week, and not just for ourselves and our families, but for all the world that this light of Christ will shine in the darkness of the human heart everywhere.

This article, by our brothers and sisters at The Baptist Press, has details of the upcoming arguments before the Supreme Court:

NASHVILLE (BP) — On Tuesday and Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. Few issues rise to this level of importance. 

These two cases will do much to answer the question for how marriage is going to be viewed in the United States for the foreseeable future. On Tuesday, the court will hear arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry (Prop. 8). In this case, the court is being asked to decide the fate of Proposition 8 in California. At stake is whether or not the people of California can define marriage in their constitution as only the union of one man and one woman. In a worst-case scenario in deciding Hollingsworth, the court could rule unconstitutional the definition of marriage as only the union of one man and one woman, repudiating two and a quarter centuries of American jurisprudence in which marriage has been defined and regulated by each state, not the federal courts. Every state that has passed such laws would be affected. It would also be going against several millennia of the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage.

On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in United States v. Windsor. That case deals with the constitutionality of section three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Windsor case creates the possibility that the court could overturn DOMA in its entirety. DOMA is important at many levels. For one, it protects states that do not support same-sex marriage from being required to recognize same-sex marriages that have been performed in states where the practice is legal. For another, it provides a standard definition of marriage for all federal programs, assuring that only heterosexual marriage is recognized across all federal government programs. It also provides protections for federal workers from being forced to violate their consciences regarding marriage. If DOMA is overturned, military chaplains will be especially vulnerable to pressures to accommodate an expanded definition of marriage in their ministries. (Read the rest here.) 

Indoctrination in the Classroom: Teacher at Florida University Forces Students to Stomp on Jesus’ Name

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I’ve read stories about the use of schools to indoctrinate students against Christianity in the Communist block all my life. 

Most of the methods that I read about were crude, but effective. I put the behavior of an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University smack in the middle of crude and overt use of the classroom to attack Christians and Christianity.

Evidently, Dr Deandre Poole wrote the name Jesus on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and told his students to step on it. The point was supposedly to prove something about symbols. One of the students, a Mormon, refused, and was subsequently penalized. When the student protested to the administration, he was suspended from the class.

Public outrage subsequently forced Florida Atlantic University to issue an apology. 

“We sincerely apologize for any offense this has caused,” the university said in a prepared statement to Fox News. “Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.”

The apology comes after a student complained that FAU professor Deandre Poole offended his religious beliefs when he instructed his intercultural communications class earlier this month to stomp on a piece of paper with  “Jesus” written on it. The student was subsequently suspended from the class.

The school said the lesson will no longer be used, Fox News reported.

Does anyone reading this doubt that this is (1) use of the schools to indoctrinate students against Christianity, (2) overt discrimination against Christians and (3) a lot more common than any of us want to admit?

ThATF

I could write about the obvious here, but I’m not going to do that. Many of the stories about this focus on the fact that the professor is an official in the Florida Democratic Party. I’m not defending that. But I do think that making it about party politics trivializes the story and avoids a major issue.

I don’t want to explain one more time why this is discrimination. I’m not going to point out that our schools are being used to teach our children to hate Christ. I am not even going to go into one of my major hobby horses, which is the evils of party politics.

What I want to talk about are the students in this class who went along with this professor and stepped on the name of Jesus. Only one of them, a practicing member of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, had the gumption to say “no.” Where were the Catholics? Where were the Southern Baptists? Where were the other kids who should have been saying “no.” 

Why did this one young person have to stand for Jesus alone while all the rest of the students went ahead and participated? 

If this happened to you, what would you do? What have you done when different versions of it did happen to you?

I’m not writing this to make people feel bad. I am writing this to encourage you — yes, YOU — to not go along with attacks on Our Lord when they happen right in front of you. 

That would end it, you know. If Christians stopped allowing it to be done, it would have to stop. All we need is some guts. 

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This article from WND Education has details, but the story has been covered by many sources, including network news. 

A Florida college professor causing national outrage for requiring students to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, then put it on the floor and stomp on it, turns out also to be a top official in the local Democratic Party – the latest in a string of acute leadership embarrassments.

Although one student who refused to participate claims he was punished by being suspended from the class, Florida Atlantic University is defending the controversial assignment.

The dissenting student, Ryan Rotela, told the local CBS TV affiliate WPEC that his instructor, associate professor Deandre Poole, told everyone in the class to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper in bold letters, then put it on the floor and stomp on it.

Rotela, a junior from Coral Springs, said some of his classmates complied, but he refused.

“Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value. So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value,” he told WPEC.

A religious Mormon who attends church every Sunday, Rotela complained to school officials but said they responded by suspending him from the class.

According to Florida Atlantic University, Poole was conducting an exercise from the textbook “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

A synopsis of the lesson plan in question, obtained by Fox News, goes like this:

“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”


Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/dem-party-official-makes-students-stomp-on-jesus/#Muw6QGEaklS7Idt5.99


Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/dem-party-official-makes-students-stomp-on-jesus/#Muw6QGEaklS7Idt5.99

 


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