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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury Anglican Identity * Christian Life / Church Life Church History * Culture-Watch Music Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Religious Freedom / Persecution
For more than half a century, Rachel Kane kept the memories at bay.
There were her daughters to think of, twins born in a displaced persons camp in the aftermath of the second World War. Kane didn't want to burden them with tales of the Holocaust, of a husband shot to death by the Nazis, a baby who starved to death in the forest, an extended family wiped out in a mass execution.
Nazi memories return. She didn't explain the nightmares that woke her, screaming, in the long string of cramped apartments the family called home after resettling in Detroit and then Los Angeles.
Instead, the university-educated Hebrew teacher who spoke seven languages regaled her daughters with stories about her "beautiful life" before Hitler's armies stormed Poland, successfully locking the war years away until 1998.
That was when her second husband died. When she began to lose her battle with dementia. When she became convinced that the soldiers were coming for her, as they'd done so many years before.
Read it all.
DE SAM LAZARO: He says the Yoido church is adding 10, 000 members every year -- this in a country where there were hardly any Christians a century ago. Nowhere, at least in recent history, has Christianity grown so much in such a short period. It may have much to do with Christianity's place in recent Korean history. Unlike many other countries where Christianity was brought by missionaries, in Korea the church is not part of a colonial legacy. The colonial power here was Japan, and churches were involved very closely with the Korean independence movement. Although some Catholic influences in East Asia date back to the late 1700s, the first missionaries -- American Presbyterians -- arrived in the late 1800s.
Rev. HA (through translator): The missionaries 120 years ago came and built schools first. They established junior high, college, medical facilities, and they evangelized the noble families. So when we were still under Japanese, those intelligentsia -- they linked that believing in Jesus Christ is equal to working for Korea's liberation movement.
DE SAM LAZARO: And for a country that's seen unprecedented growth in wealth and prosperity in the past four decades, it's not hard to believe in miracles. Korea today is considered a developed country with a standard of living equal to some European Union nations.
Read it all.
Anglican Mainstream has posted a letter of thanks by Bishop Ben Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria, expressing his thanks to all who supported his family following the recent attacks on them.
Dear Fellow Pilgrims,
Today is one of the days in the last eight days that there is clear evidence that your prayers for me, Gloria, the family and the diocese is being answered. I have gathered strength to be able to write this letter to thank each one of you for taking up and sharing our pain with us, for all your mails and phone calls, but most importantly, for praying to the Lord to assist us in our trials. We ourselves have been on our knees for our Korean brethren who have been held hostage by the Talibans in Afghanistan and we are also praying for the people in Darfur – Sudan, Congo and the entire Middle-east region.
It is fairly clear that the unwanted visitors who came to our house on the 24th of July 2007 about 2:00am were clear about their target: they came in with a ladder, sledge hammer, digger and other weapons .They came specifically to the back door, and spent at least 20 minutes before finally breaking in. This gave us some time to call for help. They had a fair idea where my bedroom was, broke the door and met me on my knees praying. They told me that they had come for me and that I should come with them. The rest is what you all know: God intervened, for even though they took me out to the place where they were to carry out their plan, the Lord changed their minds. They brought me back to my bedroom where God’s final victory was demonstrated, as I knelt to pray and read from the Bible Psalm 124 waiting for my death; a little while later Gloria joined me and we were praying together; about 10 minutes later they were gone. They took away valuables, all our cell–phones, laptop. jewellery and left behind massive destruction.
This letter is to appreciate you all for your prayers, for your support, care and concern. We are living in difficult times all around the world, and we must ensure that our faith in Jesus Christ is firmly rooted and grounded in the word of truth, the scripture, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Read it all here. (And please DO read it all. The best part is the final section which we've not posted here.)
For background on the attack and the attempt on Bp. Kwashi's life, read here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Primary Source -- Statements & Letters: Bishops Anglican Provinces Church of Nigeria * Religion News & Commentary Religious Freedom / Persecution
From the International Herald Tribune:
Prophet cartoons protester convicted in London of incitement to murder
LONDON: A speaker at a rally protesting against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed was convicted Thursday of inciting murder.
Mizanur Rahman, 24, of London, spoke at a February 2006 demonstration protesting the publication in Europe of the cartoons, first published in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten daily.
Prosecutors showed video of Rahman speaking about British soldiers and saying, "We want to see them coming home in body bags. We want to see their blood running in the streets of Baghdad."
Rahman also had placards calling for the beheading and annihilation of anyone who insulted Islam.
He and three others convicted of offenses at the demonstration face sentencing on July 18.
Rahman had pleaded not guilty, and said the microphone had been thrust into his hand and that he was only repeating chants from others.
(hat tip: Abu Daoud)
For those wishing to refresh their memory of Feb 2006's Cartoon Crisis, Kendall has a lot of links and wrote an excellent analysis of the issue on his old blog. (If the old blog is down, here's the Google Cache version).
A provocative little blurb on Evangelical Outpost blog caught my attention:
The Failed States List 2007: The most failed state in the world according to the Index is Sudan. The second worse: Iraq.
The piece notes a relationship between stability and freedom of religion:
Freedom of worship may be a cornerstone of democracy, but it may also be a key indicator of stability. Vulnerable states display a greater degree of religious intolerance, according to scores calculated by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. Persecution of religious minorities in Bangladesh, Burma, Iran, and Uzbekistan has deprived millions of faithful of the freedom to follow their beliefs. But religious repression is often nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to muzzle the country's civil society.
Here's the Failed States 2007 report (available in full only to Foreign Policy subscribers)
An Egyptian Coptic Christian who was permitted to stay in the United States because of the probable threat of torture back home is now fighting deportation on a murder charge in Egypt.
The office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has decided to deport the man, Sameh Khouzam, 38, of Lancaster, Pa., because Egypt’s government has given diplomatic assurances that Mr. Khouzam will not be tortured upon his return.
In fleeing to the United States nine years ago, Mr. Khouzam maintained that he was repeatedly detained and tortured because he refused to convert to Islam. He denies the murder accusation.
Human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that the use of torture in Egypt is so routine and well-documented that deporting Mr. Khouzam would expose him to harsh treatment and would amount to a violation of the Convention Against Torture.
Under the convention, foreign citizens cannot be repatriated to countries where they stand a reasonable chance of being tortured.
Mr. Khouzam’s lawyers have won a temporary stay of deportation in federal court until tomorrow. The A.C.L.U., which has taken his case, is trying to get the stay prolonged so that it might argue for Mr. Khouzam’s ultimate release. He is being detained in Pennsylvania.
“The fundamental issue is whether the United States government can circumvent its obligation under CAT by obtaining inherently unreliable diplomatic assurances from the government of Egypt,” said Amrit Singh, staff lawyer at the A.C.L.U.’s immigrants’ rights project. “It’s particularly outrageous when the record is replete with evidence that he has been repeatedly tortured.”
Read the whole piece.
Lina Joy chose her faith long ago. Born a Muslim in the multiethnic nation of Malaysia, she started attending church in 1990 and was baptized as a Christian eight years later. But on Wednesday, Malaysia's highest court blocked her final attempt to have her conversion legally recognized by the state. It was a blow to her heart as well as her soul. Malaysian law prohibits marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims, so Joy will not be able to wed the Christian man she loves.
Malaysia has long trumpeted itself as a moderate Muslim nation committed to safeguarding the rights of its diverse population, an ethnic olio worthy of a Benetton ad: Muslim Malays, Christian and Buddhist Chinese, Hindu and Sikh Indians, animist indigenous peoples. Indeed, earlier this week in the capital Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi hosted the annual World Islamic Economic Forum, where he held up his homeland as proof that Islam did not equal extremism.
Yet the Federal Court's ruling on the Joy case undermines Malaysia's claim of tolerance. Already, several Malaysian states have made renunciation of Islam punishable with prison time. Wednesday's court decision was greeted by shouts of "God is great" from Muslims gathered outside the courthouse. Those supporting the separation of mosque and state were less jubilant. "This case is not just a question of religious preference but of a potential dismantling of Malaysia's ... multiethnic, multireligious [character]," said Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a lawyer for Joy, before the verdict was announced.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Asia * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations Religious Freedom / Persecution
Stephen Crittenden: The plight of Christian minorities in the Islamic Middle East is one of the 20th century tragedies to which we pay least attention.
From the Copts in Egypt, to the Maronites, the Melkites in Lebanon, Orthodox and Chaldeans, the Christian population of the Middle East is a fraction of what it was, and more vulnerable than ever. Nowhere is the situation worse at the moment than in Iraq. And few groups are more vulnerable than the ancient Assyrian Christian community. In fact, this week the Italian journalist Sandro Magister, has warned of the end of Christianity in Iraq.
In early May in a heavily Christian suburb of Baghdad, a Sunni extremist group began broadcasting a fatwah over the loudspeakers of the neighbourhood mosque: the Assyrian Christian community had to convert to Islam or leave, or die. Their Muslim neighbours were to seize their property. The men were told they had to pay the gizya - the protection money Jews and Christians traditionally had to pay to their Muslim overlords - and families were told they could only stay if they married one of their daughters to a Muslim.
More than 300 Assyrian families have fled, mostly to the north into the Kurdish region of Iraq where they are not welcome either They are sleeping in cemeteries, they have no food, more than 30 of their churches have been bombed, their children are being kidnapped and murdered.
Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian-American. She is a successful film and television actor who has appeared in many popular shows including Dynasty, Seinfeld, E.R. and Chicago Hope. Her novel, The Crimson Field, is a fictionalised account of the little-known Assyrian genocide that took place at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during World War One at the same time that the better-known Armenian genocide was taking place. She recently directed a documentary film on the same subject. And last year she was invited to give testimony before the US Congress about the plight of Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Rosie Malek-Yonan spoke to me from her home in California.
Rosie Malek-Yonan: The Assyrian people are the indigenous people actually of Mesopotamia, before it even was Iraq. All of that area was Mesopotamia and is the original homeland of the Assyrians. They date back to over 6,000 years and were always concentrated in that region.
Stephen Crittenden: And Christianity was accepted by Assyrians, well virtually in apostolic times, right at the very, very beginning?
Rosie Malek-Yonan: Right. Assyrians were actually the first nation to accept Christianity as an entire nation, not just individuals, but the entire nation, and we built the first church of the east.
Read it all
Filed under: * International News & Commentary Middle East * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Orthodox Church Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations Religious Freedom / Persecution
SOME would call it the Devil's work. Two ancient religions have locked horns in a bizarre "freedom of speech" row that is echoing around the corridors of one of Scotland's oldest academic institutions.
The University of Edinburgh has granted permission to the Pagan Society to hold its annual conference - involving talks on witchcraft, pagan weddings and tribal dancing - on campus next month. Druids, heathens, shamans and witches are expected to attend what is a major event in the pagan calendar.
But the move has enraged the Christian Union, which accuses the university of double standards after banning one of its events on the "dangers" of homosexuality.
Matthew Tindale, an Edinburgh-based Christian Union staff worker, claimed some faiths and beliefs appeared to be more equal than others on campus.
"This seems to be a clear case of discrimination," he said. "It's okay for other religions, such as the pagans, to have their say at the university, but there appears to be a reluctance to allow Christians to do the same. All we are asking for is the tolerance that is afforded to other faiths and organisations."
Read it all.
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