Archive for the Overseas Category

Why the Silence?

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , on January 19, 2008 by Mike

Herb Denenberg has written an excellent opinion piece in The Bulletin of Philadelphia. He asks the question why the media and millions of people paid more attention to Ellen DeGeneres’ puppy fiasco and Michael Vick’s dogfighting outrages than to the fact that millions of Christians are being persecuted, arrested, tortured, and killed around the world.

I found one thing more incredible than the worldwide persecution of Christians, and that’s the fact that church leaders and others who should speak up are relatively silent, even almost indifferent. You can give a thousand explanations for this indifference and silence, but you can’t give one grain of justification for it. Isn’t it about time that the world wakes up along with our political leaders, our religious leaders and the public itself?

We have to take action urgently on religious persecution against all groups, both the majority and minority religions. Consider some of the statistics. It’s hard to believe, but the 20th century saw more Christians die (45 million) just for being Christians than in the first 19 centuries (25 million) after the birth of Christ. That’s one of the conclusions of Nina Shea in her book on Christian persecution, In the Lion’s Den.

There’s every reason to believe that the 21st century will be just as bad or worse. We have Islamo-fascism, the voice of religious persecution and genocide, shattering the peace of the world; we have endless anti-Christian and anti-Semitic hatred being spewed by governments, media outlets and mosques in the Middle East; we have an Iranian government doing what even Hitler did not do – loudly announcing and repeating to the world its genocidal intentions. And we have mounting evidence that the cry of “Never again” may be an empty slogan and not a real call to action and to justice for Christians, Jews or any other religion subject to discrimination and persecution.

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EU Condemns Persecution of Christians

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2007 by Mike

The Catholic News Agency is reporting that the European Union has passed a resolution that condemns the persecution of Christians around the world.

The measure, which has the support of the Socialist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, and others, condemns all acts of violence against Christian communities especially in Africa and Asia, and it calls on the countries in question “to provide the necessary guarantees for religious freedom and the security of Christian communities.”

In addition to mentioning several cases of persecution of Christians in Pakistan, Gaza, Turkey, China, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, the measure “deplores the kidnapping of Father Giancarlo Gossi in the Philippines, strongly condemns the murder of journalist Hrant Dink and of Father Andrea Santoro in Turkey, as well as underscores the problems of freedom of expression in China and repression in Vietnam.

Christianity Poisonous?

Posted in America, Overseas with tags , , , , on November 18, 2007 by Mike

Chuck Colson has an excellent article in The Christian Post today that refutes the notion that Christianity has only contributed negative things to society throughout history, a notion championed by Christopher Hitchens in his book, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”. Colson points to the issue of slavery and Christianity’s role at the forefront of the abolitionist movements in history.

Sociologist Rodney Stark writes about the Church’s embrace around the third century of what he calls “a universalistic conception of humanity.” This conception “[liberated] social relations between the sexes and within the family” and “greatly modulated class differences . . . ” As Stark put it, “more than rhetoric was involved when slave and noble greeted one another as brothers in Christ.”

Given this liberating ideal, it was only a matter of time before Christians sought to eradicate slavery entirely.

It is true that Christians have not always lived up to the moral teachings of the faith: The record of the Church is not without blemish. But it is also true that when Christians kept and traded slaves, they were going against the teachings of their own religion. The theological question had long been settled.

Read the rest of Colson’s article. And go out and buy the DVD of Amazing Grace.

VOM Action Packs

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , on November 13, 2007 by Mike

If you’re looking for a great gift idea for Christmas that can make a lasting impression on your children, take a look at  Action Packs from the Voice of the Martyrs. It’s pretty simple. You order online, and VOM will send you a pre-printed vacuum bag. They have list of items that you fill the bag with and then you mail it back to Voice of the Martyrs, who will mail it to a family along with a color Gospel storybook. Right now, they are collecting Action Packs for Pakistan and the Sudan.

Your kids will enjoy going shopping with you to pick the different items, many of which are for children.

The Pope’s Meeting with Saudi King

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , , on November 11, 2007 by Mike

Regarding my earlier post regarding the Pope’s meeting with the Saudi King, I mistakenly stated that the Pope was going to visit Saudi Arabia. Actually, King Abdullah visited the Vatican. Here’s some of BBC News’ account of the historic meeting:

The Vatican said the talks allowed a wide discussion on the need for religious and cultural dialogue among Christians, Muslims and Jews “for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family.”

Both sides also emphasised the need for a “just solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Vatican said.

About a million Catholics, many of them migrant workers from the Philippines, live in the conservative desert kingdom, which is the home of Islam’s holiest shrines.

They are allowed to worship in private, mostly in people’s homes, but worship in public places and outward signs of faith, such as crucifixes, are forbidden.

Christians complain that rules are not clear and hardline Muslim authorities sometimes crack down on legitimate congregations.

11 November–International Day of Prayer

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2007 by Mike

On today, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Christianity Today has an interview with Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA about the state of religious rights throughout the world.

What is the point of prayer and aid for people in persecuted countries?

We believe that the important role that the church has to play in every culture is to be a source of hope and healing. Jesus called it salt and light. If the church leaves because of persecution or pressure, if Christians flee, where will that salt and light come from? So our job is not to remove Christians from persecution, but it’s to strengthen them. Christian support, love, commitment, prayer, physical and tangible resources so that they can remain where they are and ultimately that they can see the kingdom of God advance even in a situation as desperate as a persecution context.

How do you differentiate between persecution of Christians because of their beliefs and general oppression?

We resist the temptation to claim that everyone who’s a Christian who’s killed in a certain region is a martyr for Christ. We all know that ethnic, religious, political conflict produces casualties. That’s not religious persecution per se; it’s just people caught in the crossfire who happen to be Christians.

No Bibles at Beijing Olympics

Posted in Overseas with tags , , , , , on November 5, 2007 by Mike

Stacy Harp, from Persecutionblog.com posted a report from the Catholic News Agency that Christian Bibles will be on the list of objects which will be banned at the upcoming Olympic games in Beijing.

According to the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, organizers have cited “security reasons” and have prohibited athletes from bearing any kind of religious symbol at Olympic facilities.

Other objects on the list include video cameras and cups.

The Spanish daily La Razon said the rule was one of a number of “signs of censure and intolerance” towards religious objects, particularly those used by Christians in China. Currently in China five bishops and fifteen priests are in prison for opposing the official Church.

Pray that the Christians in China will still be able to use the Olympic games as an evangelistic opportunity.