April 20, 2014

Evangelical Pastor Faces Imminent Execution in Iran

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

We get involved in our own discussions and sometimes miss that others need our help. In about eight or nine hours, Pastor Yousef Nadarkhania, a convert to Christianity from the Muslim faith is scheduled for execution for apostasy. The story follows below (Google has more). Meanwhile, you can encourage Pres. Obama to intervene here, or encourage Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to intervene at 202-647-4000. Christians are persecuted around the world all the time, a fact that the Russian Orthodox Church, to their credit, is confronting internationally. Making ourselves aware of this story is a good first step in waking up to how serious the persecution really is. Sign the petition supporting Pastor Youself. See the Christian Solidarity website. More information: Source: The Washington Post | By Jordan Sekulow Working to save the life of a Christian pastor in Iran A week ago, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was a relatively unknown Christian facing … [Read more...]

Abp Chaput: New York Times, CNN, MSNBC Can’t be Trusted on Abortion, Faith

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These are words some self-styled Orthodox commentators on Church and society would do well to heed. From the article: “In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex marriage, and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only of Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers,” he said. “And with relatively few exceptions, the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.” The archbishop said that Christians “make a very serious mistake” if they turned to outlets like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN and MSNBC, “for reliable news about religion.” “These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith,” he said. “These are secular operations focused on making a profit … They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive … [Read more...]

Fr. Hans Jacobse: Liberty

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I love my country and several years back I wrote an essay expressing my gratitude to her. It describes immigrating to America when I was a young boy. "Wake up," my father whispered. "We're almost there." It was a cold March morning. I was six years old. My family was sailing from The Hague, bound for New York,a single Dutch family aboard a ship crowded with Hungarians in exodus from their abortive revolution. The voyage had been thrilling, at least to the wide eyes of a six-year-old. My parents, my two sisters, my brother, and I had spent the trip in a cabin the size of a small bedroom, but I had enjoyed virtual free run of the ship and its seemingly endless maze of hallways. We roamed for hours at a time, peering behind each open door. Occasionally, a Hungarian family would invite us into their cabin. There we would sit, not understanding a word that was spoken, but basking in the warmth of welcoming smiles. One night, during a storm, the steamer's engine failed. … [Read more...]

Abp. Chaput: America Becoming ‘Much Less Friendly’ to Religious Freedom

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Although written for a Catholic audience, the ideas expressed by Archbishop Chaput apply to Christians across the board. Take special care reading the section "A Less Friendly America" where Abp. Chaput warns us the coming hostility towards religion and how anti-religionists will use the power of the state to diminish the cultural influence of Christianity. Source: National Catholic Register Renewing the Mission of Catholic Charities Archbishop Chaput on Catholic identity and the future of the Church's social ministry. The following is Archbishop Chaput’s June 21 address to the Catholic Social Workers Association. We’re here today — or anyway, we should be here today — because we believe in Jesus Christ. Everything in Catholic social ministry begins and ends with Jesus Christ. If it doesn’t, it isn’t Catholic. And if our social work isn’t deeply, confidently and explicitly Catholic in its identity, then we should stop … [Read more...]

Patriarchate of Moscow Launches Program for Protection of Christians Worldwide

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Source: Asia News Read Met. Hilarion's Address to the European Religious leaders on OrthodoxyToday.org. Moscow (AsiaNews) - Concerned by a widespread "Christianophobia", the Russian Orthodox Church has decided to publish regular information on episodes of violence that affect Christians in the world. Interfax news agency reports that the World Russian People's Council is a public forum that brings together several religious and political leaders in Russia and is chaired by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. "The Russian Orthodox Church will launch a program to protect the Christians who have recently become the most targeted religious," says Roman Silantyev, director of the Center. The idea is to monitor the crimes and atrocities committed against Christians, such as murders, threats, rapes, massacres and executions. The greatest concern focuses on the Middle East, as explained by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External … [Read more...]

Met. Hilarion: The Problem of Religious Intolerance. What Can We Do Together?

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Source: Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church Highlight: At present we are experiencing a new era of persecution against Christians, which some compare to the time of the Roman emperors of the first three centuries. People in problem-free countries know nothing or do not want to know anything about it. Only a handful of public and human rights organizations are trying to draw public attention to this disastrous situation. Paper by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, at the International Conference on Christian-Jewish-Muslim Inter-confessional Dialogue (Budapest, 2 June 2011) Distinguished Participants in the Conference, Allow me to present to you my remarks concerning problems of the free confession of faith in the world and in some of its parts and on religious cooperation in this area. The freedom of conscience is a fundamental and commonly … [Read more...]

Christophobia in the Muslim World

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Source: Boston.com Last weekend’s scenes of anti-Christian mob violence in Cairo, against a background of churches in flames, is a powerful reminder of a grim reality: Non-Muslim communities have become endangered species throughout much of the Islamic world. Some statesmen have begun to acknowledge the existential crisis facing non-Muslims. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Amine Gemayel warned earlier this year that Islamic extremists are waging a war of “genocide,’’ while French President Nicolas Sarkozy now refers to the region’s Christians as the victims of “a perverse program of . . . religious cleansing.’’ The most sensational acts of anti-Christian terror command headlines — for a moment. Such was the case when 41 worshippers at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church were held hostage and then massacred by Islamic extremists last October, and 23 Egyptian Christians in Alexandria were killed by a bomb blast as they left mass early this year. Pakistan’s only … [Read more...]

Orthodox Churches Object to National Identity Cards

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First of all, let's dispense with the pejoratives: Conservative and nationalist wings within the churches have held demonstrations in Athens and Moscow and claim that the cards will compromise national and religious identity. Many have gone so far as to say that identity numbers such as 666 are the "mark of the beast" from the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament. Archimandrite Iannuarii Ivliev, a professor of biblical studies at the St. Petersburg Theological Academy told the May edition of Neskuchny Sad, a Russian Orthodox magazine, that the obsession with symbols such as 666 are the result of a primitive interpretation of the Book of Revelation. All that might be true, but it is beside the point. Let's examine instead the salient point: Patriarch Kirill II of the Russian Orthodox Church told a meeting of the Bishop's Council of the Russian Orthodox in February that "the church understands the position of people who do not wish to be subject to control … [Read more...]

Fr. George Calciu: First Century Christian in the Twentieth Century

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Wesley J. Smith is a frequent commentator on the AOI Observer. Source: First Things | Wesley J. Smith Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I had no idea. To be more precise, before I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, I knew that the Orthodox Church had been harshly suppressed by the communists, but I had no idea that the cruelty of persecution often equaled that inflicted on the early church. Father George Calciu (1925–2006) was one such sufferer for Christ. A Romanian by birth, an Orthodox Christian by upbringing, and a priest by vocation, Calciu spent a total of twenty-one brutal years in prison—tortured and subjected to brainwashing—for his outspoken evangelism and criticism of communist materialism. Fr. George’s remarkable story of faith and courage is vividly told in the exemplary book, Father George Calciu: Interviews, Homilies, and Talks. The book is primarily a first … [Read more...]

75 out of every 100 Victims of Religious Intolerance are Christian

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Out of every 100 victims of religious intolerance in the world, 75 are Christians. After the terrorist attack on 20 January 2011 in Alexandria, the European Parliament adopted a resolution acknowledging the fact of violation of the rights of Christians. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, in his interview to Izvestiya daily (Issue 50 (28311), 24 March 2011), speaks of the persecution of Christians today. What is your opinion of the European Parliament’s resolution on the violation of the rights of Christians? How and why at all did it appear? The European Parliament has adopted the Resolution on the Situation of Christians in the Context of Freedom of Religion, and the EU Committee of Foreign Ministers in its statement on February 22 expressed concern for ‘the increasing number of acts of religious intolerance and discrimination, as epitomised by recent violence and acts of terrorism, in various countries, against Christians’. These two decisions were to a considerable extent a … [Read more...]

Vatican: Human Sexuality … Is Not an “Identity”

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More arguments for my thesis that "Sexual Orientation" is not an ontological category. GENEVA, MARCH 24, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, delivered Tuesday at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council on "sexual orientation." Mr. President,  The Holy See takes this opportunity to affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings, and to condemn all violence that is targeted against people because of their sexual feelings and thoughts, or sexual behaviors. We would also like to make several observations about the debates regarding "sexual orientation." First, there has been some unnecessary confusion about the meaning of the term "sexual orientation," as found in resolutions and other texts adopted within the UN human rights system. The confusion is unnecessary because, in … [Read more...]

Egypt’s Copts Suffer More Attacks

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The Corner | Nina Shea Copts in Egypt are begging for Egyptian Armed Forces protection today after a Muslim mob of several thousand attacked their church in the village of Soul, about 30 kilometers from Cairo, last night. The Church of St. Mina and St. George was torched, and its clergy are unaccounted for. The fire department and security forces failed to respond to Coptic pleas for help during the arson attack. According to a report from the Washington-based Coptic American Friendship Association, the mob, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” pulled down the church’s cross and detonated a handful of gas cylinders inside the structure. The ensuing fire destroyed the church and all its contents, including the sacred relics of centuries-old saints. It is reported that a romantic relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman, which sharia forbids, and the refusal of the woman’s father to kill her to restore the community’s “honor,” aroused the Muslim ire. An account of this … [Read more...]