Fr. Josiah Trenham: Protecting Religious Freedom [AUDIO]


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.

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  1. Michael Bauman says

    The bill is dead as the leaders of the state GOP and some national ones as well were “embarrassed” by the bill. This is the same state GOP who, when Sebellius ran for governor the first time, refused to endorsed the winner of the Republican primary unless he agreed not to mention the subject of abortion or Sebellius’ links to it.

    The political power is has shifted away from the traditional rural sections of the state to the less traditional urban areas. While Kansas is probably more moral than California, it was for a long time the late-term abortion capital of the United States and anyone who tried to do anything about it ended up in court or worse. After Tiller’s murder it stopped for awhile, but there are concerted efforts to get it going again. Those efforts will probably succeed, in part because there are two major pro-life organizations in the state one of which is an absolutist. They won’t accept anything unless it is a full scale ban on all abortion.

  2. James Bradshaw says

    What types of services should one be free to decline based on “religious convictions”? Further, should this freedom be granted to all religions (including Muslims, Mormons and Christian Scientists)?

    If we’re going to grant exemptions for freedom of conscience, religion shouldn’t be a deciding factor. Were a trumpet player not wish to play for a pro-Nazi rally (I’m stretching here but work with me), his religious affiliation (or lack thereof) shouldn’t enter into the picture. Otherwise, you’re essentially granting special privileges to religious believers.

    Now, the problem is that these exemptions can be abused. Should a business not wish to serve blacks (or whites), they will be free to reject anyone who does not fit their desired profile.

    Are we willing to accept this?

  3. Michael Bauman says

    This is what happens when law and ideology replaces moral consensus. Egalitarianism means “might makes right”.
    In an egalitarian world no one can refuse what the majority can be convinced of.

    • Isa Almisry says

      “In an egalitarian world no one can refuse what the majority can be convinced of.”
      I shall have to remember that.

  4. Michael Bauman says

    You see Mr. Bradshaw there is Truth (Jesus Christ) which presupposes a hierarchy: of being, of values, of faith. There is no livable way to make such a hierarchy a matter of law alone. It must be believed, taught, practiced and internalized. If only a few people do that, they will be persecuted and killed yet others will change.

    The fact is that within this natural and revealed hierarchy, homosexual practice is detrimental to the health of the person and the culture. It is a spiritual/physical dis-ease of unknown cause. Within the Church, it can and should be managed with compassion and wisdom, but it is likely a chronic condition. My father, a public health doctor, frequently said that the best way to a long life was to get a chronic disease and treat it. All sin is a chronic condition. No one should be forced to participate in anyone else’s disease let alone celebrate it.

    I’m not troubled by the disease of homosexuality, I have my own set of chronic conditions which also require a good deal of treatment. Without the treatment, my soul would turn dark and I would die. It is the same of us all.

    Your question is a legalistic one that is without a satisfactory answer or any answer that is truthful. Legal codes are a product of culture not formative of it. The prevailing faith will create a legal code to order the culture in accord with that faith. In this time, the fundamentally Christian culture is dying and the legal code which it created is too. I dare say that the legal code that is being written now will not be salutary to freedom, life and belief.

  5. Francis Frost says

    Dear Father Josiah:

    I am an Orthodox Christian since childhood, raised in the Russian Orthodox tradition, although I have been a parishioner in the Antiochian diocese of Wichita for the past 16 years. I am well know to our local Antiochian clergy, including Saidna Basil. Indeed, my wife, Nino, has facilitated Saidna Basil’s contacts with the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate on behalf of the Assembly of Orthodox Canonical Bishops.

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    Recently, you gave an interview to the “Voice of Russia“, the radio version of the “Russia Today” television network. This interview has been posted on the “American Orthodox Institute” web-site hosted by Fr. Hans Jacobse. While no one can argue against traditional morality, one might hope that you might be more discerning with whom you are dealing and whom you are representing. After all, Our Lord said: “A man cannot serve two Masters”.

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    In this past weekend’s (November 15 – 16) Wall Street Journal Editorial page there is an enlightening article titled “Putin’s Disinformation Matrix”, which detail’s the Putin regime’s efforts to create “facts” is support of its positions through local media web-logs and new branches of its “Russia Today” television network. Another article from the BBC is attached below. The Soviet practice of disinformation is well known. The Putin regime is now attempting to utilize local purveyors of it’s disinformation campaigns to undermine support for Western style democracy and the rule of law. This anti-Western campaign is routinely cited as justification for Russia’s illegal invasions and occupations of its neighbors’ territory and the attendant violence.

    One except from the WSJ article is relevant:

    “As Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said in March, ‘Russia Today’s propaganda machine is no less destructive than military marching in Crimea.’

    Propaganda is closely integrated with the Kremlin’s model of ambiguous warfare, which relies on rapid action, covert troops, the creation of a digital fog of war. and enflaming ethnic and sectarian tensions.“

    Indeed, the Kremlin’s relentless anti-American and anti-Western propaganda has been used as justification for the invasion and occupation of Russia’s neighbors, along with the attendant mass attacks on civilian populations and wholesale ethnic cleansing.

    In 2009, ‘Anna Chapman’ and her ten companion spies were expelled from the US for surreptitiously carry on just such pro-Russian propaganda. In the interim, Orthodox individuals and groups, wittingly or naively, have been enlised in this effort. One such infamous blogger claims the title of “Fighting Alone”; but has a silent partner with known links to the Putin government. No one disputes the right of such individuals to carry on their anti-American propaganda; but for our clergy to participate in this activity is beyond the pale.

    If our clergy are perceived as serving as a “fifth column” of propagandists for the Putin regime, they will undoubtedly cause irreparable damage to the future of Orthodoxy in America.

    While it is reasonable to dispute moral laxity in the “West”, we might also be cognizant of hypocrisy in the supposedly “Orthodox” East. Statistics do not lie. Russia has a divorce rate over 70%. The rate of abortion in Russia is six times that found in the US. Indeed, the Russian government not only allows abortion on demand, it provides abortions through government funded clinics. Russia, with a population of less than half that of the US consumes 70% of the worldwide production of heroin. Even so, our gullible ‘moralists’ continue to argue for the mortal superiority of a “Holy Russia” that never existed, and certainly does not exist now.

    As an educated man you ought to know better than to serve as one of those that Lenin described as “useful idiots”. While Russia’s proxies in the West decry “moral decadence”, Russia’ local NTV television last March boasted of Russia’s capacity to turn North America “into a pile of radioactive dust”. Given the increasingly provocative military actions that the Russian military is carrying out on America’s very borders, do you really want to be associated with the threats to incinerate America’s children?

    Is this the role God gave you as a priest at your ordination?

    The Russian government has invaded and illegally occupied territories belonging to its neighbors: Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. During these invasions and occupations, tens of thousands of innocent civilians, Orthodox Christians, have been murdered in their ancestral homes and villages. Over 50,000 have perished in the three invasions of Georgia (Tskhinvali 1991, Abkhazeti – 1992-1992, and the August 2008 war). Below is attached a description of the brutality unleashed by the Russian ‘peacekeepers’ in Abkhazeti. Over 4,000 have perished in the on-going invasion of Ukraine, and the death toll rises daily. In Georgia, 300,000 Orthodox Christians have been driven from their ancestral homes in campaigns of ethnic cleansing. There are now 1 million refugees from the war in Ukraine. This past week , The Russian military sent three additional convoys of tanks, missile launchers and troop carries into occupied Ukraine. They send another convoy of truck to remove the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in this conflict. Leaders of the free world unanimously decried this attempt to further the illegal conquest of Ukrainian territory.

    Where, then dear Father, is your moral voice?

    It is certainly proper for our priests to speak out on moral issues. Indeed, our clergy ought to speak out on every moral issue, yet they seem only capable of attacking the despised and “degenerate” West, while completely ignoring the vicious and murderous campaigns against innocent fellow Orthodox Christians carried out by the supposedly “Orthodox” Russian government. Our clergy ought to speak out on behalf of the victims of racist and imperialist aggression, and the wars waged against innocent Orthodox civilians.

    At the very least our clergy ought to refrain from serving as propagandists for an alien, belligerent and anti-America dictator. To continue in such conduct will cause irreparable harm to our Orthodox Church and the hopes for Orthodox unity in this land.

    Best wishes,

    Francis Frost

    15 November 2014 Last updated at 21:17 ET Share this pagePrint

    Russia’s global media operation under the spotlight
    By Stephen Ennis
    BBC Monitoring

    BBC Monitoring
    The Kremlin’s international media operation appears to be going from strength to strength with two recent high-profile launches and more in the pipeline.

    But it is also coming under increased scrutiny over its lack of editorial balance and accusations that it is deliberately using disinformation to counter and divide the West.

    In a spanking new press centre in Moscow on 10 November, controversial TV news anchor Dmitry Kiselev, who is also head of the Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) news agency, unveiled Sputnik – the Kremlin’s latest foray into the international news arena.

    With its planned network of media hubs in 30 cities, Sputnik is the new brand for the radio station Voice of Russia and the foreign-language operations of the RIA Novosti news service, which were taken over by Rossiya Segodnya when it was launched last December.

    Kiselev said the new project was aimed at a global audience “tired of aggressive propaganda promoting a unipolar world and who want a different perspective”.

    But with his own relentless denunciation of the West and demonisation of Ukrainians as fascists on state TV, there can hardly be a more practised purveyor of “aggressive propaganda” than Kiselev himself.

    Launch of Sputnik news brand in Moscow
    Sputnik’s owners are planning a network of media hubs in 30 cities
    The Sputnik launch came less than a fortnight after the Kremlin’s international TV channel RT (formerly known as Russia Today) unveiled a dedicated news service for viewers in the UK. Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan (who holds the same position at Rossiya Segodnya) said that RT UK would seek to “promote debate and new ways of thinking about British issues”.

    RT’s funding is set to rise in 2015 to over $330m (£210m; €264m). It is said to be planning to add French and German operations to its existing services in English, Spanish and Arabic.

    But RT UK’s debut was greeted with a barrage of criticism in the British press. Writing in the Observer, Nick Cohen accused the channel of spreading conspiracy theories and being a “prostitution of journalism”. Meanwhile, in The Times, Oliver Kamm called on broadcast regulator Ofcom to act against this “den of deceivers”.

    Oliver Kamm did not have long to wait. On 10 November, Ofcom found RT guilty of violating the broadcasting code’s “due impartiality” rules in its coverage of the Ukraine crisis in early March. It rejected RT’s contention that as a station that challenges the “established” view in the UK it was somehow exempt from the normal broadcast requirements.

    In view of past violations, it put the channel on notice that future breaches may result in a “statutory sanction”, which could include fines, or even the suspension or revocation of RT’s broadcast licence.

    For President Putin, RT is spearheading Russia’s bid to challenge the “Anglo-Saxon monopoly” on global news. But, according to a recent report by US journalist Michael Weiss and UK-based writer and TV producer Peter Pomerantsev, it is part of a strategy of disinformation aimed at countering and dividing the West.

    Entitled “The menace of unreality: How the Kremlin weaponises information, culture and money”, the report was produced under the aegis of the US-based Institute of Modern Russia (IMR), which is part-funded by members of the family of former oil tycoon and Putin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky..

    RT logo
    RT’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has seen it investigated by Ofcom
    Adapting techniques inherited from the old KGB, say the authors, RT makes extensive use of conspiracy theories that serve to undermine a “reality-based discourse”. This, they argue, then creates the conditions in which the Kremlin can advance its own disinformation to “confuse situations at critical junctures”.

    They give as examples a spurious RT report about Jews fleeing Ukraine over anti-Semitism, equally bogus insinuations that a US think tank was advising Ukrainian President Poroshenko to carry out ethnic cleansing, and the spreading of conspiracy theories concerning the downing of Malaysian airliner MH17 over east Ukraine in July.

    According to Weiss and Pomerantsev, this kind of media manipulation amounts to a “weaponisation of information”, a phrase also used in relation to Russia by Mark Galeotti, a professor of global affairs at New York University.

    ‘Information war’
    But Ms Simonyan insists that RT is not very different from other major news broadcasters. Responding to the Ofcom ruling, she said the BBC was also guilty of “bias” in its reporting of Ukraine, as well as its coverage of other issues.

    In a statement posted on RT’s website, she said other broadcasters would also have to change the way they operate, “if double standards are to be avoided”.

    Weiss and Pomerantsev, meanwhile, came under fire in an anonymous article on the pro-Kremlin English-language website Russia Insider. Part political critique, part personalised attack, the article accuses them of being members of a “Russophobic hack pack” that also includes Edward Lucas of The Economist and US journalist Anne Applebaum.

    Ordinary Russians appear to hold similar views. A poll published on 12 November by the independent Levada Centre indicated that 88% of the population believe the USA and other Western countries are waging an information war against Russia. Just 4% dissented from this view.

    BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethnic Cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazeti:

    Left: Georgian survivors of the war are studying photographs of corpses, hoping to discover (the fate of) a loved-one.

    In spring 1992, especially in June-July, acts of armed aggression and attacks got systematic character on highways and railways of Georgia. These attacks caused serious economic damages to the country. Criminal bands robbed trains and seized Georgian and other countries’ goods. Georgian government had no choice but to defend the highways and railways by the national army in order to secure safe travel of goods. As Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti was the main area of the criminal bands action, on August 1992 Georgian central leadership decided to bring additional troops into Abkhazeti. This decision had been preliminarily submitted to the region leaders’ approval. It was personally coordinated with Chairman of Supreme Council Vladislav Ardzinba. The movement of the Georgian Army within the Georgian territory became a reason for starting the conflict. Here is what was written on this subject by Chervonaya Svetlana – Ph.D., leading specialist of Institute of Technology and Anthropology of Academy of Sciences of Russia (see the bibliography):

    “Shevardnadze did not start this war. By noon of the 14th of August 1992, «the Georgian party» had not fired a shot, none Georgian soldier had been brought into Sokhumi yet, and nothing was threatening the peace in Abkhazian towns and villages. Vladislav Ardzinba declared this war on Georgia in his radio speech. He drew the Abkhazian people into the heinous crime. Vladislav Ardzinba announced total, forced «general mobilization» (every man from 18 to 45). He provided the soldiers with arms seized or stolen from Russian arsenal, and promoted unlawful actions of the Abkhazian armed troops in Abkhazian towns, villages, and roads (the “enemy” had not even reached this territory). The Abkhazian separatists searched for everything they considered worthy, terrorized and killed Georgian peaceful inhabitants. Abkhazian snipers opened fire to people being in Sokhumi sanatorium. They shot scores of Russian holidaymakers on the beach of the air defense forces’ and other sanatoriums. These were the crimes that had to be stopped. The criminals must answer for these deeds. The political purposes of the organizers of these crimes are known: division of Georgia, drawing Russia into a war, Soviet-communist revenge and restoring the Soviet Union.”

    That is how the war broke out.

    “…When they [Abkhaz] entered Gagra, I saw Shamyl Basaev’s battalion. I have never seen such a horror. They were raping and killing everyone who was captured and dragged from their homes. The Abkhaz commander Arshba raped a 14 year old girl and later gave an order to execute her. For the whole day I only could hear the screams and cries of the people who were brutally tortured. On the next day, I witnessed the mass execution of people on the stadium. They installed machine guns and mortars on the top and placed people right on the field. It took a couple of hours to kill everybody…”

    Georgian government repeatedly appealed to the UN, CSCE, and other international organizations to intervene, while at the same time refusing offers of Russian military assistance. Several UN Security Council resolutions and decisions failed to lead to a de-escalation of the conflict. On July 27, 1993, a Russian-brokered trilateral agreement on a cease-fire and principles for the solution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict was signed. Complete demilitarization of the region, supervised by Russia, was to follow the separation of the military forces of the two sides. However, the UN failed to implement its long-sought decision to send a large group of military observers to Abkhazeti. Furthermore, the Russian military observers insisted that Georgians did not participate in the supervision of the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.

    “…When the Abkhaz entered my house, they took me and my seven year old son outside. After forcing us to kneel, they took my son and shot him right in front of me. After they grabbed me by hair and took me to the nearby well. An Abkhaz soldier forced me to look down that well; there I saw three younger men and couple of elderly women who were standing soaked in water. They were screaming and crying while the Abkhaz were dumping dead corpses on them. Afterwards, they threw a grenade there and placed more people inside. I was forced again to kneel in front of the dead corpses. One of the soldiers took his knife and took the eye out from one of the dead near me. Then he started to rub my lips and face with that decapitated eye. I could not take it any longer and fainted. They left me there in a pile of corpses…”

    At the end of August 1993, S. Shoigu, chairman of the Russian Emergency State Committee, declared on Russian television that demilitarization had reached a stage at which resumption of the war would be impossible. Large numbers of hopeful refugees returned to their ruined homes and began rebuilding. Then on September 17, a surprise attack by Abkhazian tanks and artillery, supported by their Russian North Caucasian and Cossack allies, forced the remaining disarmed Georgian troops, together with tens of thousands of civilians, to flee in panic. Many of these victims later starved or froze to death in the Svaneti mountains. Shevardnadze himself, who was besieged along with the defenders of Sokhumi, had a narrow escape. The sudden clandestine Abkhazian rearmament remains a mystery only for the extremely naive.

    “…The Abkhaz separatists killed people of other nationalities as well, including those who tried to protect Georgians. After the city was seized, the streets were covered with bodies. Separatists destroyed the Baramidze, Chkhetia, Baramia, Gvazava, Dzidziguri, Absandze, Shonia, and Kutsia families, as well as many others…”

    The war ended in late September 1993 with Abkhazeti’s virtual secession from Georgia through a radical ethnic cleansing of its multi-ethnic population and the destruction of its cities, including Sokhumi.Just at the beginning of the war adherents of Vladislav Ardzinba started killing, tormenting, raping, and robbing the inhabitants of Georgian nationality. At first Georgians of the following towns and villages experienced the sadism of the separatists: Gagra and Gudauta, Akhaladze, Bzipi, Ipnari, Otkhara, Akhali Sopeli, Eshera, Kochara, Ketevani, Labra, Kvitouli, Kindgi, etc. Ugrekhelidze, an inhabitant of the village Eshera, was forced to dig a hole of his own height, then he was pulled out his teeth and nails, and buried alive. They left his hand above the ground (the symbol of the Abkhazian banner.) Another Georgian was captured, cut his veins. Then the Abkhazian separatists poured his blood into glasses and drank it. After this they let him go to Sokhumi to tell everybody how Abkhazians drank Georgian blood. The Abkhazian butchers captured sisters – Eka Jvania (17 years old) and Marina Jvania (14 years old), Leila Samushia and others in village Pshadi. They undressed them in front of their parents and neighbors, and raped them. After this the Abkhazian butchers executed all of them by shooting. The Abkhazian “liberators” did not spare workers of education system. They execute by shooting 78 teachers and lecturers. For instance, a teacher Bichiko Ekimiani, Armenian, was executed by shooting together with his family in his own house; a teacher of a secondary school at village Kochaki, Bajiko Vekua firstly raped, then tormented and killed; Bichiko Baramia – an assistant professor of Abkhazian University, diseased and disabled man was executed by shooting together with his wife; Shota Jgabadze – professor was executed by shooting when he was operating a wounded patient. It’s just a drop in the ocean of separatists violence. 30000 innocent people were killed in Abkhazian War in 1992-1993.

    “…They captured a young girl. She was hiding in the bushes near the house where they killed her parents. She was raped several times. One of the soldiers killed her and mutilated her. She was cut in half. Near her body they left a message: as this corpse will never be as one piece, Abkhazia and Georgia will never be united either…”

    The war was over in September 1993, by actual separation of Abkhazeti From Georgia, by genocide of Georgian population, by destroying towns. As a result of the war 200000 people were forced to leave their own places of residence. The refugees moved to various regions of Georgia.In spite of Russian repeated recognition of Georgian territorial integrity, since the beginning of militant actions representatives of Russian Federation officials, several ministries, and departments, various political parties and organizations have been supported the separatists with political, military, economical, financial and moral aid. Even before the conflict, on March 1992, Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti without submission of Georgian government approval began making economic agreements with Russian Federation. In early March V. Ardzinba applied to B. Eltsin for economical aid. On March 19, 1992 B.Eltsin ordered Krasnodar and Stavropol Administration leaders to make direct trade-economic agreements with Abkhazeti. The orders were fulfilled during the next three months.



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