July 31, 2014

Fr. Josiah Trenham: Protecting Religious Freedom [AUDIO]

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Source: The Voice of Russia - American Edition | Andrew Hiller WASHINGTON (VR)– Some might argue that the founding of the Americas and the keystones of the United States were largely based on three principles: fair taxation, freedom of religion, and property rights. Now, two of those seemingly are under attack in Kansas. This all centers on a bill that purports to defend the rights of business owners to refuse to serve a customer if they feel compelled by strong religious beliefs. Radio VR's Andrew Hiller spoke to Father Josiah Trenham of St. Andrews Orthodox Church in Riverside, CA about the necessity of protecting business owners, gay marriage, abortion, and the tug of war between Judeo-Christian principles and secular policy in America today. -Listen here: … [Read more...]

Is Religious Freedom in Peril?

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Last night syndicated columnist Terry Mattingly and myself (Fr. Hans Jacobse) discussed where religious freedom in America was under assault. The discussion was, I believe, informative. I was very impressed with Mattingly's comprehensive knowledge and analysis of the legal challenges concerning religious liberty. The discussion focused on the moral issues, particularly gay rights, as the locus of the conflict. I pointed out that gay rights is an anthropological question at its core that challenges the increasingly fractured moral consensus necessary to hold a society together because it fundamentally redefines what we understand male and female to be. I see "gay marriage" as a threat to liberty because it grants government the authority to deem relationships not found in nature or the moral tradition of Western Civilization as morally licit, thereby establishing the State as both the source and final judge of the morality that shapes the moral consensus. Religion is the ground … [Read more...]

Eric Metaxas: Religious Freedom is Under Threat. CPAC Speech on March 16, 2013.

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Once the State arrogates unto itself the moral authority to create relationships not found in nature, it stakes the claim that only the State can determine what is morally licit. At that point Christian beliefs and morals oppose the State and the Christian may be seen as an enemy. Source: ericmetaxas.com Highlights: Jefferson and the Founders...knew that the State was always tempted to take over everything — including the religious side of people’s lives. So they put a protection in the Constitution that the government could not favor any religion over another. . .and could not prohibit the free exercise of religion. In my book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler.  And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the … [Read more...]

60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians

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Source: The Atlantic APR 23 2012, 8:46 AM ET 280 By Robert Wright Last night's 60 Minutes segment about the plight of Christians in the West Bank has gotten a lot of attention, in part because of the attempt by Israeli ambassador Michael Oren to intervene with CBS brass while the segment was being put together. (See the 11-minute point in the video below, where CBS correspondent Bob Simon confronts Oren with this fact.) You can see why Oren might rather the piece hadn't aired. Things that Palestinian Muslims routinely say about the Israeli occupation may get more traction in America when Palestinian Christians say them. Such as this, from a Christian clergyman: "The West Bank is becoming more and more like a piece of Swiss cheese, where Israel gets the cheese--that is, the land the water resources, the archaeological sites, and the Palestinians are pushed in the holes." Also, Oren clearly doesn't want this document, mentioned by Simon, to get attention. In it an … [Read more...]

Totalitarianism Arrives in Increments

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Behind the efforts to remove Christian symbols from the public square lurks a desire to erase Christianity from the collective memory. Why? Because Christianity references something higher than the state as the source and judge of morality and thereby affirms man serves first God and neighbor and only secondarily the state, and only then as far as this first and greatest commandment is not violated. Metropolitan Hilarion: Western Liberals Make a Grave Mistake by Imposing Totalitarian Standards on Free People Source: Russian Orthodox Church Department of External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Church Relations, speaking during the weekly programme ‘The Church and the World’ on Russia 24 TV channel on March 24, 2012, commented on the British authorities’ decision to defend in the European Court of Human Rights the legitimacy of the corporate policy adopted by some British commercial companies to ban the wearing of … [Read more...]

Russian Church: British Authorities Adopt Double Standard on Public Symbols

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Source: Russian Orthodox Church Department for External Affairs Moscow, March 13 – People in the Russian Orthodox Church are amazed at the loyalty that the British authorities, who have forbidden wearing crosses at work, have shown towards other religious and non-religious symbols. ‘This decision of the British authorities cannot but give rise to anxiety, especially given the existence of other tendencies aimed at liberation of human instincts in the European society today. Why then is the public demonstration of one’s involvement in the gay culture considered a norm whereas the wearing of a cross is not? Indeed, there is a diversity of symbols connected with the gay culture, but just try to sack a person who openly demonstrates his sexual orientation. Clearly he will make a row and will certainly manage to be reinstated. And what is the danger of old Christian symbols? Who are insulted by them?’ the chairman of the Synodal Information Department Vladimir Legoida stated on … [Read more...]

Church vs. Reich

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What happened to Christians under the Nazi Regime? The traditionalists went to concentration camps, many fell away and adopted the Nazi neo-paganism, and some clergy actively supported the Third Reich. From the essay: [T]he persecution of the Church was camouflaged as “positive Christianity,” which claimed through the use of quotations from the Bible to be fulfilling God’s commandments: “They thus built up an enormous propaganda-machine, which resulted in a general inflation of values, because it sanctified anything it wanted to, so that finally nothing remained sacred” (p. 98). Only then did the full persecution come. Source: The Living Church | Leander S. Harding Man’s Disorder and God’s Design, published by Harper and Brothers in 1948, is a remarkable collection of essays prepared for the first assembly of the World Council of Churches at Amsterdam. The authors include some of the most respected theological voices of the 20th century: Karl Barth, H. … [Read more...]

Conscience Objections and Religious Liberty

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ROME, MARCH 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Source: ZENIT News The following is an English version of a presentation originally given in Italian, at a Feb. 29 event organized in Rome by the Tocqueville-Acton Institute, Fondazione Caelo et Terra, and Rubbettino Editore for Italian parliamentarians and the public. I would like to thank everyone who helped organize this event. This is an important subject that is beginning to manifest itself in all developed countries, from the United States to Europe, Australia to Canada. I do not want to be melodramatic but I really think we're beginning to see the emergence of a different view not only of fundamental rights, but of the relationship between citizens and government, which is fundamentally altering notions of the rights of conscience and of conscience itself. This change is not inevitable. But it requires us all to recognize the problem and to do something — even if the hour is late. I want to speak in particular, of course, about … [Read more...]

Advice Orthodox Can Heed — Abp. Timothy Dolan: A Good Time to Revive Your Faith

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Roman Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan offers advice that applies to Christians across the board. Some highlights: If there is not some sacrifice, hardship, and challenge to living our Catholic faith, we usually end up taking it for granted and setting it aside. Dr. Philip Jenkins, the scholar of religion at Penn State University, observes a bit of raw data: the Church grows rapidly, and the faith of her believers is deep and vibrant, in countries where there is persecution of the Church; the Church languishes and gradually loses its luster in countries where it is prosperous, and where it is privileged. The great Father of the Church, Tertullian, made the same claim 19 centuries ago as he watched the Church suffer persecution in the Roman Empire: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the faith.” Uh-oh...what’s that say about us? We live in America where there is religious freedom (even though it is under pressure!). Here we are in a country where there is no danger or … [Read more...]

Catholic Politicians Who Attack Church Should Remember God’s Judgment

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With stern words Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois warned Catholic politcians last Friday that any collaboration with "assaults against the faith" would one day face the judgment of God. Orthodox bishops should take notice. The report states: When asked specifically about recent actions of Democratic Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Bishop Jenky replied “I am utterly scandalized.” “The Lord once said ‘if you deny me at the end, I will deny you,’ this from our most merciful, good Savior. And so if it is a choice between Jesus Christ and political power or getting favorable editorials in leftist papers, well, that’s simply not a choice.” Some leaders in the Catholic Church compromised with secular politicians for many decades, just as Orthodox leaders have done. The difference is that the Catholic Church remained clear about the moral precepts protecting innocent life while in some … [Read more...]

Catholic Bishops to Obama: No Compromise, Rescind the Mandate

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Source: Vatican Radio Full text of the US Catholic Bishops' statement in response to President Obama's proposed changes to the HHS mandate: The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the "preventive services" regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011. First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated "preventive services" prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether. Second, we explained that the mandate … [Read more...]

Obama and the Dictatorship of Relativism

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When the Manhattan Declaration first came out, Orthodox signers came under considerable criticism. Too much culture wars was the usual response. I signed the document because I saw that efforts to institutionalize secular liberalism could only succeed if dissenting voices were silenced. The cost of that silence is high and will include the loss of liberty if it succeeds. Secular fundamentalism allows no prisoners. Below Samuel Gregg examines the historical antecedents of the present conflict and writes, "(T)he Catholic Church's fight — in fact, the fight of anyone, believer or non-believer, who recognizes secularist fundamentalism as a danger to freedom — against the despotism of "there-is-no-moral-truth..." is only just beginning." He's right. Source: American Spectator | Samuel Gregg There is no moral truth and Rawls is his prophet. If there was ever any doubt about one of the Obama Administration's key philosophical commitments, it was dispelled on Jan. … [Read more...]