Posted by Kendall Harmon

A UK charity is selling a series of Christmas cards featuring images that combine traditional Biblical imagery with contemporary pictures from conflict zones across the Middle East.

Doctors of the World UK is selling the cards, with names including ‘Not So Silent Night’ and ‘The Star of Bedlam’, to raise funds for its mission to provide medical aid to people who’ve been forced from their homes by war.

The cards were designed by ad agency McCann London, incorporating Press Association photographs taken over the last year.

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East

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Posted December 5, 2016 at 6:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon




Why are suffering Syrian and Iraqi bishops banned from visiting the UK? They only wanted to attend the consecration of the country’s first Syriac Orthodox cathedral, dedicated to St Thomas. They might even have met the Prince of Wales for a cup of tea, but after that they’d have surely returned to serve their rapidly-diminishing flocks and lead them through their daily crucifixions, beheadings, enslavement, murder, rape… Surely the Sunday Express has got this story completely wrong. Bishops banned? Why on earth?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization and want Whitehall to ban the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to operate in Britain. These Arab countries insist that Muslim Brotherhood activists are taking advantage of Britain’s tolerant attitude toward Islamist groups to plot terror attacks in the Arab world, allegations that the Muslim Brotherhood denies, claiming that it is opposed to terrorism and violence. Pro-Western Arab states also still resent Britain and America’s involvement in supporting the removal of Mr. Mubarak, who had been a loyal ally of Western policy in the region, dating back at least to the First Gulf War.

The review’s failure to come out strongly against the Muslim Brotherhood is now causing the British government some major headaches. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have reportedly threatened to cancel lucrative trade deals with Britain in retaliation for the inquiry. Meanwhile, the British government has been heavily criticized by the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as highly vocal pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Britain, who claim the review failed to take into account the brutal repression Muslim Brotherhood supporters suffered at the hands of the Egyptian security authorities after President Sisi came to power.

The continuing controversy certainly serves as an indictment of Mr. Cameron’s ill-advised meddling in Egyptian politics. Like many supporters of the Arab Spring, he took at face value the Muslim Brotherhood’s claim to be a reforming and democratic party that would transform Egypt’s political landscape following the endemic corruption of the Mubarak regime.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptSaudi ArabiaUAE (United Arab Emirates)* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Until three weeks ago, many of Abu Osama's customers were Islamic State militants who brought their wives and children to his pharmacy on the eastern edge of Mosul for injections and treatment.

Now, most of them are Iraqi security forces who recaptured the Gogjali neighborhood earlier this month and are pushing further into the city, which has been under Islamic State control for more than two years.

As the militants retreat, civilians are adjusting to a new reality in their wake and a clearer picture is emerging of what they did to survive the punishments and deprivation of Islamic State rule.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 28, 2016 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Patriarch of Antioch was in London... [this past Thursday] for the consecration of Britain’s first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral. The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, was the guest of honour at the service, which was attended by a number of senior Anglicans from the Church of England, including the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres; the Bishop at Lambeth, Nigel Stock; and the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, the former ecumenical secretary at Lambeth Palace.

The new cathedral of St Thomas is the former Saint Saviour’s Church in Acton, west London – formerly a chapel for deaf Christians operated by the Royal Association for the Deaf.

The joyous service was marked with sadness as the congregation and a succession of speakers reflected on life for Christians in the homelands of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Syria and Iraq.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

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Posted November 27, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling.

The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

No religious or ethnic group was left unscathed by the Islamic State’s sweep through Iraq and Syria. Shiites, Kurds, Christians and the tiny Yazidi minority have all been victims of a campaign of atrocities, and they now are fighting and dying in the battles to defeat the militants.

But the vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam that the group claims to champion and whose interests the militants profess to represent. The vast majority of the 4.2 million Iraqis who have been displaced from their homes by the Islamic State’s war are Sunnis. And as the offensives get underway to capture Mosul, Iraq’s biggest Sunni city, and Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, more Sunni towns and villages are being demolished, and more Sunni livelihoods are being destroyed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the summer of 2015, armed American drones over eastern Syria stalked Junaid Hussain, an influential hacker and recruiter for the Islamic State.

For weeks, Mr. Hussain was careful to keep his young stepson by his side, and the drones held their fire. But late one night, Mr. Hussain left an internet cafe alone, and minutes later a Hellfire missile killed him as he walked between two buildings in Raqqa, Syria, the Islamic State’s de facto capital.

Mr. Hussain, a 21-year-old from Birmingham, England, was a leader of a band of English-speaking computer specialists who had given a far-reaching megaphone to Islamic State propaganda and exhorted online followers to carry out attacks in the West. One by one, American and allied forces have killed the most important of roughly a dozen members of the cell, which the F.B.I. calls “the Legion,” as part of a secretive campaign that has largely silenced a powerful voice that led to a surge of counterterrorism activity across the United States in 2015 as young men and women came under the influence of its propaganda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & CultureScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2016 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year’s presidential election may well be the most divisive in U.S. history, pitting liberals and conservatives against one another perhaps more bitterly than ever before, and the two major-party candidates seem in many ways to reflect cultural ills and political corruption that have been brewing for decades. On both the right and the left, countless citizens appear to believe that one candidate or the other will bring about the “end of America.” Conservatives argue that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton will, among other things, transform the Supreme Court into a progressive super-legislature to impose its anti-democratic will for a generation. Meanwhile, liberals maintain that Republican nominee Donald Trump will deport millions of minorities and exacerbate existing racial tension to the detriment of less-privileged Americans.

It is easy to allow the evident failures of our political system — culminating in the simultaneous nomination of perhaps the two most dishonest, corrupt presidential nominees in U.S. history — to consume our focus and destroy our confidence in the future of our country. But as these seemingly endless debates absorb our attention and ongoing rancor pollutes our national dialogue, millions of people around the world face genocide, and they fear for their lives and those of their children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgyptIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 7, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the first time in 500 years, pilgrims can get a glimpse of Jesus’s tomb — though for some, it is not worth queueing for an hour to see it.

Last week, conservationists started a frantic 60-hour dig inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built on the spot where Christ’s body was supposedly taken after the crucifixion. They lifted the marble slab covering the tomb, which was last moved in the 1500s. Beneath it was another slab, this one inscribed with a cross, dating back to centuries before.

After two days of work, as a church-imposed deadline approached, workers finally found the limestone slab on which Jesus is said to have been laid after his crucifixion in AD33. They soon sealed it up again, but they carved a window to give visitors a view of the tomb’s walls.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyChristology

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Posted November 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an interview with CNN earlier this year, Adeeb Joudeh, the current keeper of the key — an old, cast-iron object that's a foot long — considered his family's hereditary task to be a metaphor for religious tolerance.

"For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," he said.

His counterpart, Wajeeh Nuseibeh, described the vital role of these two Muslim families in Jerusalem to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2005.

"Like all brothers, they sometimes have problems," he said, referring to the feuding Christian sects. "We help them settle their disputes. We are the neutral people in the church. We are the United Nations. We help preserve peace in this holy place."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 2, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I'm absolutely amazed. My knees are shaking a little bit because I wasn't expecting this,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic's archaeologist-in-residence. "We can't say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades."

In addition, researchers confirmed the existence of the original limestone cave walls within the 18th-century Edicule, or shrine, which encloses the tomb. A window has been cut into the southern interior wall of the shrine to expose one of the cave walls.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyChristology

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An elderly Christian widow who survived two years of Islamic State rule over her northern Iraqi town said the jihadists threatened to kill her, forced her to spit on a crucifix and made her stamp on an image of the Virgin Mary.

Zarifa Badoos Daddo, 77, was reunited with her family on Sunday after Iraqi forces drove Islamic State from Qaraqosh as they advanced on Mosul, the militants’ last major urban bastion in the country. The forces found her sheltering in a house they thought was abandoned or booby-trapped with explosives.

Most residents of Qaraqosh – Iraq’s largest Christian town – had fled toward the country’s autonomous Kurdish region more than two years ago as the jihadists approached, but Daddo stayed on with another elderly woman.

Her relatives had long feared she was dead.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Iraqi commanders on Tuesday said they were fighting inside an industrial district on the outer edge of Mosul, making their first breach into the northern Iraqi city that has been under Islamic State control for more than two years.

Bringing the fight across the city lines does not change the overall challenges facing Iraqi troops trying to oust the militants from their last major stronghold in the country. But it reflects the steady advances by Iraqi soldiers and allied forces — backed by U.S. airstrikes — since the campaign to recapture Mosul was launched last month.

Soldiers from Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force said they had entered the neighborhood of Gogjali. From the village of Bazwaya, just four miles to the east, jets circled overhead and explosions could be heard from the front lines.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 1, 2016 at 5:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians are finally returning to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. In the courtyard, they find piles of shell casings and mannequin torsos riddled with bullet holes. The Islamic State fighters who held the building until just a few days ago used the space for target practice.

The cavernous interior of the church, the largest in Iraq, is charred and black. The floors are strewn with trash. Islamic State fighters destroyed the crosses and burned any religious books they could find. Now a man is searching through the rubble, salvaging scraps of manuscripts in Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Jesus.

A small group of priests and local people gathers around the altar, and for the first time in two years, the sound of prayer fills the hall. Gunfire and shelling can still be heard not far away. A man goes up to the darkened altar and kisses it, shaking his head in disbelief at the level of destruction. One of the priests finds a few pieces of communion wafer and wraps them respectfully in paper. “This is Christ’s body, after all,” he says.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There are indications that life for Christians in Iraq, including in liberated areas of Nineveh, will not be easy. Some see troubling signs that certain politicians in Iraq – and in neighboring regional power Turkey – will try to build their own empires or caliphates on the rubble of the one ISIS attempted.

After the liberation from ISIS of historically Christian towns in the Nineveh region of Iraq last week, Patriarch Luis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church visited several of the newly-freed areas.

“These are our lands, Christian lands and villages,” Patriach Sako, the Baghdad-based spiritual leader of many of Iraq’s Christians said. He added that Christians would soon return to their ancestral lands, according to AsiaNews.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 31, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mr. Anderson’s organization compiled a 300-page report at the request of the State Department documenting ISIS genocide of Christians in Iraq. Besides the toxic level of displacement, the report contains graphic detail confirming that at least 1,100 Christians have been murdered by Islamic militants in Iraq since 2003, though the number is almost certainly higher now. Yet U.S. officials seem to be ignoring these findings, even though the report pushed Washington to legally declare ISIS’s actions a “genocide.”

Exile is at the heart of the Christian message. The Old Testament Jews wandered in the wilderness and the savior Jesus Christ “had no place to lay his head.” His apostle Paul wrote four of his New Testament epistles from prison. The Christians in Iraq know this is their story, too. Yet being vanquished forever from this heartland is a terrible fate to contemplate.

Noura’s family is hopeful, but they’ve already lost everything—material possessions and friends and family—to ISIS. The tricycle photo is all that remains of Noura’s other life, and she had to download it from Facebook. She told me that “the hardest thing to lose is my memories.” But her future may be threatened too.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Diocesan photo from diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa)

The Bishop of Egypt, Dr Mouneer Anis, has called on Anglicans to pray and advocate with their local Egyptian consulates and embassies after a court ruling effectively subsumed the diocese into a separate denominational body. Dr Anis, who is also the Archbishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, told ACNS that the Evangelical Church Association (ECA) has been laying claim to the Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt for several years. Now, after a 14-year legal battle, a court has ruled that the Anglican Church in Egypt belongs to the ECA and can only be represented by the ECA President.

“This preposterous claim did not just stop there,” Dr Anis said. “They further claimed that they can take possession of all of the Episcopal/Anglican Church properties as their own. They are now forcing us to take their approval before we notarise any document in the government. Moreover, we need to receive the approval of the ECA before we ask immigration to grant or renew visas to our workers. This is causing us a great deal of trouble.”

The diocese is appealing against the court’s decision and a new hearing will be held on Tuesday (1 November).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 27, 2016 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Christian town of Bartella was being liberated from the Islamic State last week, Mona, a Christian student miles from the front line, was hiding under a bed with six other young women.

Sitting on the bed above, inches away, were six ISIS militants, engaged in the terrorist attack on Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk.

Mona’s story highlights the complexities of the situation Christians face in Iraq. On the one hand, long-Christian villages are being liberated. On the other hand, the threats are real, even in a city outside of ISIS control.

After hiding under the bed for three hours, the young Christian women in Kirkuk were able to escape out the back door when five of the six terrorists left, leaving one behind who was wounded. He later blew himself up with a suicide bomb.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Throughout Germany, the pews of churches like theirs are filled increasingly by asylum-seekers. Though two umbrella church organizations told me that they couldn’t provide exact statistics or comment on the nationality of the asylum-seekers attending church, Christoph Heil, a spokesman for the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia—which includes 1,300 parishes—confirmed the pattern. “Normally we don’t count the number of asylum-seekers who are baptized because we don’t differentiate between who is an asylum-seeker and who isn’t, but [asylum-seekers asking to be baptized] appears to be a new trend,” he said.

Muslim converts to Christianity that I spoke to in Germany cited the redemptive power of Jesus’s story, and disillusionment with Islam. It’s also worth noting the more earthly forces potentially at work: Germany does not grant refugee status to Iranians as easily as it does Syrians and Iraqis. Around 27,000 Iranians applied for asylum in the EU in 2015, with Germany hosting the overwhelming majority; according to Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 60 percent of Iranian requests for asylum received positive answers that year. Iranians seeking refugee status must prove that if they are sent home, they stand the risk of being persecuted for their beliefs. In Iran, that often means Christian converts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermanyMiddle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

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Posted October 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He says he expects chaos and violent retribution if ISIS is pushed out of Mosul. He fears that families who lost loved ones to the militants will take revenge not just on those who worked with ISIS, but on their whole families.

"There is no law, in the years to come," he says. "The government is weak. I don't trust these guys."

He regards his life in Mosul as over. He never plans to go back, and says when he sits with his friends from Mosul in the nearby city of Irbil, they do not speak of home.

None of them will return, so reminiscence is painful.

Read it all.




Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A former bishop of North Africa, Bill Musk, noted that North African Christians were persecuted in the early centuries of Christianity as they are now, and said unity was vital to withstand such challenges. A communiqué from the talks reported: "The Arab invasions eventually overwhelmed the church [in North Africa], but the seeds of its demise were sown long before."

Bishop Emeritus Musk also praised the fifth-century Council of Carthage, which took place in what is now Tunisia, at which it was decided that no diocese had the right to discipline leaders in another, despite a deep cultural divide within the church. Bishop Musk described the church at that time as being riven between a Latin elite that advocated a compassionate response to Christians who denied their faith under persecution, and local Berbers, who insisted upon faithfulness to Christianity until death.

Speakers at the conference emphasised the church's North African heritage, challenging the view of the church as a foreign imposition foisted on Europe's former colonies. American Canon Dr. Ashley Null, highlighted the "deep dependence" of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, one of the architects of Anglicanism, on St. Augustine, whose bishopric of Hippo lies in modern-day Algeria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

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Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Shubra al-Kheima neighborhood of Cairo, Sharouk, 20, has had two engagements broken off by her prospective grooms' families. The reason: She couldn't afford to buy kitchen appliances.

In Sharouk's working-class community, the groom is responsible for the apartment and furniture, while the bride provides a refrigerator, stove and washing machine. The engagement is sealed with a gift of gold jewelry from the groom to the bride.

The soft-spoken young woman has worked in a nearby factory since she was 12. But Sharouk's earnings of about $50 a month are buying less and less. And she is still helping her widowed mother, Samiha, pay off debts from money they borrowed for the marriages of her sister and brother.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenWomen* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 16, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of the Global South have attacked “the inability of existing Communion instruments to discern truth and error and take binding ecclesiastical action”.

In a closing communiqué following the meeting in Egypt, they lamented the failure “to discipline those leaders who have abandoned the biblical and historic faith, to check the marginalisation of Anglicans in heterodox Provinces who are faithful, and in some cases have even sanctioned or deposed them.”

The statement also expressed their grief that some Churches had given “authorisation of liturgies and making pastoral provisions for blessing of civil unions of same-sex couples and blessing or solemnising of same-sex marriage… and ordination those who live in same-sex union…

“Churches that condone these practices are severing themselves from their own spiritual roots… they also undermine their moral witness to their own societies, and cause huge confusion among the Anglican faithful in our Churches in this globalising world.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 13, 2016 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted October 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Several months ago we were praying that the Lord would guide us during the conference, specifically that it would not be political, but spiritual, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We did experience his movement among us, and the communique reflects the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It expressed very clearly where we stand, in a non-aggressive and non-divisive way. On the contrary, it shows how unity among the people of God brings blessing. (Psalm 133)
- Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

It expresses our collective frustration, hope, and counsel to the Anglican Communion leadership on the state of our communion. It shows our faith, determination, and effort to restore this communion to wholeness. And it shows we are getting ready for the possibility of further deterioration, that we should be able to speak and act decisively.
- Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Province of Nigeria

With the confusing messages from the centers of Anglicanism regarding Biblical morality, it clearly communicates our message, allowing us to focus on our mission to lead people to Jesus Christ.
- Archbishop Foley Beach, Anglican Church in North America

When we see conflicts and suffering in the world, this communique tells us we have to work faster and more corporately to help. But it also expresses our dissatisfaction and disappointment over the inability of the communion to address fundamental issues which are distracting us from the mission of the church. The truth of the gospel will only have power if it is not compromised.
- Archbishop Ng Moon Hing, Province of Southeast Asia

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 10, 2016 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

6. We affirm that the clear teaching of Jesus, and the Bible as a whole, is that marriage is an estate for all people, not just for believers. It is a holy institution, created by God for a man and a woman to live in a covenantal relationship of exclusive and mutual love for each other until they are parted by death. God designed marriage for the well-being of society, for sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife, and for procreation and the nurturing of children (Genesis 2:18-25).
7. We contend that sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex is contrary to God’s design, is offensive to him and reflects a disordering of God’s purposes for complementarity in sexual relations. Like all other morally wrong behaviour, same-sex unions alienate us from God and are liable to incur God’s judgment. We hold these convictions based on the clear teaching of Scripture. We hold them not in order to demean or victimise those who experience same-sex attractions, but in order to guard the sound doctrine of our faith, which also informs our pastoral approach for helping those who struggle with same-sex impulses, attractions and temptations.
8. In this respect, the Church cannot condone same-sex unions as a form of behaviour acceptable to God. To do so would be tampering with the foundation of our faith once for all laid down by the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2: 20-22; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Jude 3).
9. Any pastoral provision by a church for a same-sex couple (such as a liturgy or a service to bless their sexual union) that obviates the need for repentance and a commitment to pursue a change of conduct enabled by the power of the Holy Spirit, would contravene the orthodox and historic teaching of the Anglican Communion on marriage and sexuality.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted October 8, 2016 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We affirm the biblical and historic faith that our Anglican forebears have faithfully handed down to us at great cost and which continues to shape our discipleship and mission:

a. We are part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We profess the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures – the canonical books of the Old and New Testament that contain all things necessary for salvation, and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.

b. The doctrine in our churches, as our Anglican forebears bequeathed to us, is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer 1662 and the Ordinal.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

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Posted October 8, 2016 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Michael] Glerup’s lectures were sandwiched between two Bible studies led by senior leaders in the Global South. Archbishop Ng Moon Hing of Southeast Asia spoke on the church and the challenge of unity, while Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Uganda spoke on the church and the challenge of false teaching.

Disunity has been a hallmark of both human and church history, Hing said, and neither theocracy nor democracy has a good track record in overcoming it. Paul’s ethic in Ephesians 2, however, establishes a new pattern in which a Christian is to be simultaneously a responsible citizen of God’s kingdom, and a faithful member of God’s household.


The disease is connected to false teaching, said Ntagali, but like the corruption rampant in many parts of the Global South, this is a symptom rather than the disease itself.

It is secularism that has become the dominant philosophy of the world, he said, with God no longer at the center. This allows some to claim the Christian name while not following Christ, while others claim the grace of God as a license to do what they want.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle EastGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

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Posted October 6, 2016 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Chew began by emotionally recalling his participation in the initial Global South gathering in Nigeria in 1994, then called the South-South Encounter. It helped us get to know each other, he said, and whether the way we did it was right or wrong, it clearly led to what followed.

That meeting was followed up by the 1997 conference in Malaysia, which galvanized the conservative primates of the Global South to achieve Resolution 110 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with scripture.

Building on this history, he asked the delegates to reflect with him on Ezekiel 37’s valley of dry bones. “Can these bones live?” asked God to the prophet, to which Ezekiel wisely responded, “Lord, you know.”

Archbishop Chew suggested that similarly, in light of the crises in the Anglican Communion, a proper response is to be silent and wait on God. When division is deep-seated, action cannot overcome action, but only God’s transformation of hearts.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Anglican Church in South East AsiaGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

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Posted October 5, 2016 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The archbishop encouraged delegates to take two lessons from this history. First, drawing on the conference theme from I Corinthians 4:2, the church must be “found faithful” to the gospel received from the apostles. Second, the truth will prevail in the end.

He decried an “ideological slavery” in which some in the Western church use their money and influence to push their agenda on the Global South. They undermine the scripture and the traditions of the church in redefining the definition of marriage, he said, and their unilateral choices to ordain homosexual bishops is fraying the fabric of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“I want to weep,” Archbishop Anis said, “as Jesus did over Jerusalem.”

He also challenged delegates over the weaknesses of churches in the Global South. Corruption, tribalism, polygamy, poor treatment of women, and the prosperity gospel all show the need for greater theological education.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

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Posted October 4, 2016 at 7:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It will take place at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt, this week from October 3-8, under the leadership of Archbishop Mouneer Anis. Bishop Mark Lawrence was invited and is attending. You can read more about the conference there.


(The Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa photo)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle EastGlobal South Churches & Primates* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 2, 2016 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption. The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refugees speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering. However, people are not only fleeing conflict and violence, but also moving around the world to escape from poverty or the effects of climate change. People search to find places where they can work and feed their families, to find better opportunities or freedom to live in peace and safety, whoever they are. All this demands a much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place.

In the United Kingdom, in my own country Zambia, and in many of the 164 countries around the world in which the Anglican Communion is present, the churches, together with other local religious communities, are working with their United Nations and civil society partners and with governments to provide sanctuary and protection to those fleeing conflict and poverty.

In addition, as our church communities reach out in loving service to those who have lost everything and who often arrive profoundly traumatized, bearing both physical and psychological scars from their experiences, we know that these people, whom the world labels as refugees, asylum seekers or migrants are, like all the people of the earth, treasured human beings made in the image of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of Central Africa* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East

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Posted September 20, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pretending that the refugee crisis is going to disappear is “futile, foolish”, and turning vulnerable people away from the UK “simply shifts the burden to those less able to bear it”, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has warned.

He was speaking at a multifaith gathering at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, on Monday, to mark the release of an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by more than 200 religious leaders, some of whom were also in attendance (above). It calls on the Government to accommodate more refugees in the UK more quickly, and, in particular, to reunite families that have been separated by conflict.

“The pace in responding to the refugee crisis seems very slow,” Lord Williams said. “We have had months of discussion on the subject of reuniting children with parents, and as yet have remarkably little to show for it.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 16, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Bishop of Rochester has rejected claims put forward by some Members of Parliament that a visit by a British delegation to Syria was ill-advised.

In a statement submitted to The Church of England Newspaper, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said, he, Baroness Cox, Lord Hylton, the Rev Andrew Ashdown and other members of the unofficial delegation had challenged the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad over his indiscriminate use of force in that country’s civil war, which has led to tens of thousands of civilian casualties.

The group’s visit had been attacked in the press for “giving a ‘war criminal’, that is President Assad, a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists,” he wrote.

“Britain maintains relations with and encourages visits to countries like the Sudan, Iran and Zimbabwe. Why is Assad being demonised to this extent? In the Middle East, the choice is not between angels and monsters but between one kind of monster and another,” Bishop Nazir-Ali said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2016 at 2:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of people driven from their homes by war and persecution has now surpassed the UK’s population to equal the 21st largest country in the world.

More than 65.3 million people are currently refugees or are displaced in their own countries according to the United Nations – the highest figure since records began before the Second World War.

Humanitarian organisations warn that those forced to flee face an uncertain future with difficulties in education, employment, health and security.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What compels a person to travel halfway across the world to care for refugees in the Kurdistan area of Iraq, or to take stuffed animals, candy and beads to kids in the last free village closest to ISIS-occupied territory? To be sure, Nancy has a global mindset and travel is not new to her. Her daughter, Ally, moved to China after graduating from college to teach English. Fortunately, sons Matt and Jacob and their families live in the U.S. But what’s interesting is that Nancy’s story could be your story, or the story of anyone who opens themselves to a God-driven chain of events and obeys God’s Word .I [Patti Wheat] interviewed Nancy after she returned from her recent trip with Jerry and Stacy Kramer, founders of Love for the Least (L4L).

Read it all (page 5).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Laity* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* South Carolina* TheologyChristology

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Posted September 12, 2016 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our visit to Syria has been attacked in the Press for giving a "war criminal" (that is, Bashar al-Assad) a photo opportunity and a tool for propaganda. In fact, it was a pastoral visit to the people of Syria, especially Christians, who have suffered so much at the hands of jihadist extremists.

Their ancient churches have been destroyed, they have been killed in their own homes and driven out of their ancient communities. Anna (not her real name), who still speaks the Aramaic of Jesus as her native language, told us of how the rebels (some belonging to the so- called "moderate opposition") dragged out her brother and cousin and shot them dead before her eyes for refusing to convert to Islam. They then shot and wounded her, leaving her for dead.

This is why the leadership of all the churches in Syria, including Syrian Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, Armenian and Evangelical is unanimous in its opposition to the extremists and in its advocacy of peaceful change in the land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

William Stocks, a white, Alabama-born, Republican-leaning member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, arrived at the tiny apartment of a Syrian refugee family on a Wednesday night after work. He was wearing a green-striped golf shirt and a gentle smile, and he was eager to teach yet another improvised session of English 101.

Mr. Stocks, 23, had recently moved to Georgia from Alabama, states where the governors are, like him, Southern Baptists. They are also among the more than 30 Republican governors who have publicly resisted the federal government’s plan to resettle refugees from war-ravaged Syria, fearing that the refugees might bring terrorism to their states.

To Mr. Stocks, such questions belonged in the realm of politics — and he had not come that evening for political reasons. Rather, he said, he had come as a follower of Christ. “My job is to serve these people,” he said, “because they need to be served.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Iraq should be given independent rule or allowed to join a region of their choice in a post-war settlement, the leader of the country's largest Church has suggested.

The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I says in a report this week that should Iraq be reclaimed from Islamic State, there should be an interim political settlement allowing Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain to become "self-administrative".

Many of the Christians who have been forced to flee could return to their homes if Islamic State is defeated, he says.

He calls for a referendum to give Christians a choice on whether they want to be governed from Baghdad, to be part of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan or even place themselves under a "Sunni state".

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 8, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians living in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere in the Middle East will this week be urged not to flee from the region as persecution intensifies.

Church leaders who will meet beside the Dead Sea are expected to urge Palestinians in particular to stay put despite the severity of the challenges they face.

Father Issa Misleh, of Jerusalem's Orthodox Church, and spokesman for the Middle East Council of Churches, told The Jordan Times that if Christians left the Middle East as a result of the growing terrorism, the outlook will be dire for the territories.

"This would be the end of the Palestinian cause."

Read it all from Christian Today.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian's second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it—and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be "appropriate" to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account "the preservation of security and public order" when considering the application.

The law "empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices," said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 2, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A long but important article if you haven't seen it--read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2016 at 6:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it.

In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The charge is based on the allegation that Mr. Young bought gift cards worth $245 and sent their code numbers to someone he believed had joined ISIS in Syria, to help the group pay for mobile phone messaging with its supporters in the West.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 4, 2016 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic State said it appointed a new leader for Boko Haram, in a sign that the Nigerian Islamist insurgency is retooling under the command of the terrorist group.

Sheik Abu Mossab al Bornawi was recently assigned to take command of the Nigerian insurgency, Islamic State’s weekly newsletter Al Naba said Tuesday.

The article didn’t say what happened to Abubakar Shekau, the former face of Boko Haram, who hasn’t been seen in videos since early 2015. It also isn’t clear if Mr. Shekau’s followers support the change in management.

Boko Haram, whose war with Nigeria’s government has left more than 30,000 people dead, declared loyalty to Islamic State in 2015. Mr. Bornawi told al Naba that the two groups have decided “to fight and unite under one umbrella.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted August 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Syrian woman wore a floral-patterned, full-length dress and head scarf. She ducked inside her tarp-house. Moments later she emerged with a rug.

She placed it and a cushion on the ground, and motioned for Tullie to sit.

[Ann] Tullie, whose white blouse matched her curly hair, sat.

The refugee offered her tea.

“I guess she could tell I was tired and thirsty,” Tullie said Monday as she and her husband, Dick, sat on the sofa in their living room. Dick Tullie made the short-term mission trip with her, like he has about a dozen times before. The couple, members of The Parish Church of St. Helena, have performed mission work since 2004 in the United States, Central America and Africa.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2016 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do you have hope for Syria?

There’s hope but no chance for true peace until Assad steps down. It’s hard for me to listen when people say: In places like Syria, they’re not like us. They want a strong person in power to rule them. I don’t buy that. Everybody wants to be free enough to determine their own destiny. Syria used to be a more or less secular state. My Syrian friends have described how their mothers used to go to Easter services even though they were Muslims.

Christianity and Islam aren’t so far apart. And Judaism too—we’re all of Abrahamic faiths. Almost all the people I saw over there who were doing the work of Jesus were Muslims. They were healing the sick, caring for the widows and orphans. Most of the foreign aid workers were Europeans who didn’t have any religious affiliation at all, but they were doing the work of Jesus. And there were Christians among them, of course. We’re all in this together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 18, 2016 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For one thing, the targets are too important to be left to just anyone. No one but the Islamic State (or possibly al-Qaeda) would dare attack the Prophet’s Mosque.

For another thing, only the Islamic State has the right kind of experienced personnel on the ground in Saudi Arabia. In the past four years, more than 3,000 young Saudi men have gone to fight with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Of them, about 700 have reportedly returned home to Saudi Arabia fully trained and willing to carry out such attacks as these.

Finally, it is the Islamic State that harbours the greatest contempt for Saudi Arabia.

Since the day, two years ago, on which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria the group had conquered and occupied, he has wanted to overturn the House of Saud.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 8, 2016 at 4:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least five people have been killed and 15 others wounded in a multiple suicide bomb attack in north-eastern Lebanon, officials and medics say.
Four bombers blew themselves up outside a house in the predominantly Christian village of Qaa, close to the border with war-torn Syria.
It was not immediately clear who or what the attackers planned to target.
Al-Manar TV, which is owned by the militant Shia group Hezbollah, blamed the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastLebanon* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days after having been stripped and dragged through the streets of her village in the most undignified and inhumane of ways, the gracious and forgiving response of Soad Thabet, an elderly mother and grandmother, is both courageous and inspiring.

The ethos of the Coptic Christian community in Egypt has always been one of forgiveness, as was particularly evident in its peaceful and reconciliatory response to the burning of over one hundred churches and places of ministry in August 2013, and following the brutal execution of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya last year. Having said that, there is currently a rejection of conventional ‘reconciliation meetings’ based on the fact that they have historically been used as a cosmetic short-term solution, without addressing root causes or preventing the recurrence of similar incidents. Despite an ongoing commitment to genuine reconciliation efforts, there is an immediate and pressing need for tangible solutions, as superficial measures that aim to pacify will by no means have a lasting effect, and can never lead to true reconciliation and social cohesion.

It is indeed shameful that such mob crimes can be perpetrated against innocent communities or individuals, of whatever faith or ethnicity, and especially as a result of slanderous and unsubstantiated allegations; and that an elderly woman could be so publicly and indecently humiliated. What is also unacceptable is the utter disinterest (at best) and/or complicit and criminal negligence (at worst) with which the local security services conducted themselves, and the Menia Governor’s initial denial that these crimes actually occurred.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic Church* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 2, 2016 at 4:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Kenneth E. Bailey, the scholar who introduced evangelicals to Middle Eastern culture and history, died [on] Monday [May23]...at age 85.

Bailey gave Western readers “the eyes to see” the deeper significance of Jesus’ life and stories by placing them in the cultural context of the Middle East, publishing books like Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, a 2012 CT Book Awards winner.

Bailey was the “premier cultural interpreter of the life of Jesus,” according to Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge. Bailey’s insights stemmed from his own childhood in Egypt and a 40-year career studying and teaching in Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, and Lebanon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 1, 2016 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ISIS is reported to be holding several hundred families as "human shields" in the Iraqi city of Fallujah while government forces close in, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday, citing witness accounts.

Some 3,700 people have fled Fallujah, west of Baghdad, over the past week since the Iraqi army began its offensive on the city controlled by militant forces, it said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted May 31, 2016 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The title of Janine di Giovanni’s devastating new book, “The Morning They Came for Us,” refers to those terrible moments in ordinary Syrians’ lives when the war in their country becomes personal. Those moments when there is a knock on the door and the police or intelligence services take a family member away. Those moments when a government-delivered barrel bomb falls on your home, your school, your hospital, and daily life is forever ruptured.

“The water stops, taps run dry, banks go, and a sniper kills your brother,” she writes. Garbage is everywhere because there are no longer any functioning city services, and entire neighborhoods are turned into fields of rubble. Victorian diseases like polio, typhoid and cholera resurface. Children wear rubber sandals in the winter cold because they do not have shoes. People are forced to do without “toothpaste, money, vitamins, birth-control pills, X-rays, chemotherapy, insulin, painkillers.”

In the five years since the Assad regime cracked down on peaceful antigovernment protests and the conflict escalated into full-blown civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have been killed and some 12 million people — more than half the country’s prewar population — have been displaced, including five million who have fled to neighboring countries and to Europe in what the United Nations calls the largest refugee crisis since World War II.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

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Posted May 23, 2016 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wartime looks like this.

The steely greyness of the city. The clouds are so low, but not low enough to hide government helicopters carrying barrel bombs, which usually appear at the same time each day, in the mornings and late afternoons, circling for a while at altitudes of 13,000–16,000 feet, little more than tiny dots in the sky, before dropping their payloads.

What does war sound like? The whistling sound of the bombs falling can only be heard seconds before impact—enough time to know that you are about to die, but not enough time to flee.

What does the war in Aleppo smell of? It smells of carbine, of wood smoke, of unwashed bodies, of rubbish rotting, of . . . fear. The rubble on the street—the broken glass, the splintered wood that was once somebody’s home. On every corner there is a destroyed building that may or may not have bodies still buried underneath. Your old school is gone; so are the mosque, your grandmother’s house and your office. Your memories are smashed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaPsychologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2016 at 6:53 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The decision by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to have his supporters seize and then vacate the parliament building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone was the act of a man who—at least for now—wants to control rather than destroy the country’s political system.

But this breach has put such a strain on Iraq’s political arrangements, established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to balance the interests of the country’s sects and ethnic groups, that once this crisis plays out, there may be not much of a system left to control.

Mr. Sadr, the scion of a prominent Shiite clerical family who once led an insurgency against U.S. occupation forces and was responsible for unleashing some of the country’s worst sectarian violence, denies that he seeks outright power.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 2, 2016 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With temperatures in the region of 40C/100F, Iraq is in a terrible way, both politically and economically. The parliament has not been meeting, there are violent protests in Baghdad, and the oil revenue is starting to dry up. Despite this, we are still working on the front line. Yesterday, Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, gave out 25 kg bags of flour to over 1,000 Iraqi IDP families in Erbil, Northern Iraq.

Read it all and do not miss the pictures.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyEnergy, Natural Resources* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqIsraelJordan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 28, 2016 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Helga Kissel was 16, she fled Berlin as Soviets marched in. She met a U.S. soldier in Bavaria, who sent her care packages, and now, she does the same for a 16-year old Syrian girl.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.EuropeGermanyRussiaMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2016 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“It is a very promising initiative. You could even say it is groundbreaking,” said Medhat Sabry, the Anglican Communion’s dean for Morocco and one of several non-Muslim observers (alongside Roberts) to the declaration’s signing. “But it is way too early to tell.”

This is because—from Cairo to Amman to Nazareth to Baghdad—the news caused barely a ripple in Christian communities in the Middle East and North Africa, whom the document is meant to comfort. Some Arab Christians saw a headline in the local news. Others didn’t hear of it at all.

One who did was Andrea Zaki, president of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches. He joined Sabry in praising the declaration.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 18, 2016 at 3:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials say Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State group is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 17, 2016 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Angaelos, a U.K.-based leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, stood before the media holding up a thick report on “genocide” in the Middle East that featured a 2015 photo of Islamic state extremists preparing to behead 21 members of his faith in Libya.

“They were not killed for any other reason but they were Christians,” he said Thursday (March 10), joining with others calling attention to religious persecution.

Hours later, he addressed board members of the National Association of Evangelicals, explaining the basics of his 15 million-member faith — “Coptic Orthodox just means Egyptian Orthodox” — and telling them that what they have in common “far, far exceeds” their differences.

A year after losing 21 fellow Copts, Angaelos continues his bridge-building work, seeking support for persecuted people of many faiths, visiting Muslim refugees and helping evangelicals realize that the Orthodox are part of the Christian flock.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchEvangelicalsOther FaithsIslam* Theology

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Posted March 15, 2016 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as it is starting to turn the tide against Isil, Iraq is running out of money.

Behind the front lines of the Iraqi desert, where the Nineveh provincial police are training to retake their homes in and around Mosul, they are short of one thing: weapons.

“We have been regrouped here since the fall of Mosul,” said Major Ayman, standing over his line of men in blue uniforms. “We have been waiting here for five months but we have no weapons.”

Read it all.

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Posted March 13, 2016 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A major report released Thursday by two US-based Christian organizations argues for including Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan Christians as victims of genocide perpetrated by ISIS, ahead of a March 17 deadline for the US State Department to make a finding about whether, and to which categories of ISIS victims, the term “genocide” applies.

Although experts say a finding of genocide would not immediately trigger changes in US foreign policy or the acceptance of refugees and asylum seekers, it’s nevertheless important since both domestic and international law require that acts of genocide be investigated and those responsible indicted and prosecuted.

The 278-page report was released by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with “In Defense of Christians,” a US-based research and advocacy organization devoted to protecting Christians in the Middle East.

Read it all.


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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Persian Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi recently made history. On the tiny island of Sir Bani Yas, archaeologists discovered the remains of a Christian mon­astic complex dating from around 600. After some res­toration, authorities opened the place to the public as a tourist attraction and heritage site.

This decision may not sound surprising, but it stands in stark contrast to the em­barrassment and contempt with which other nations in the region—above all, Saudi Arabia—treat their own pre-Islamic heritage. And that same relative tolerance also applies to the practice of faith today in the Gulf states. If the smaller Gulf nations do not practice freedom of religion in anything like the Western sense, Christianity has nevertheless secured a surprisingly strong foothold in these coastal states.

When the monastery of Sir Bani Yas was built, Chris­tianity had a strong presence throughout eastern and southern Arabia, mainly through the (“Nestorian”) Church of the East. No later than the fifth century, a diocese covered the lands that we would today call Oman and the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE), and Bah­rain had a major church. In Mu­ham­mad’s time, five sees covered the Gulf’s western shores. By the end of the first millennium, that Christian history had come to an end, leaving the churches in ruins.

Read it all.

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Posted March 10, 2016 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The coalition has managed to push IS out of the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Ramadi, as well as an ever-increasing stretch of Syrian-Turkish borderland.
Enemies of the "caliphate", backed by (mostly) US fighter jets, are now bivouacked 50km (30 miles) from the IS "capital" of Raqqa, in northern Syria.
Yet IS' hold on its most valuable strategic terrain, the areas seized either in or before 2014, is still uncontested.
It is entrenched in Mosul and Raqqa and the Sunni Arab tribal heartland of the Euphrates river valley, which stretches from eastern Syria to western Iraq.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East

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Posted March 8, 2016 at 9:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The resolution on genocide, introduced by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, "expresses the sense of Congress that the atrocities committed by ISIS against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide."

"ISIS commits mass murder, beheadings, crucifixions, rape, torture, enslavement and the kidnapping of children, among other atrocities," said the committee's chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, R-California. "ISIS has said it will not allow the continued existence of the Yezidi. And zero indigenous Christian communities remain in areas under ISIS control."

The Islamic State "is guilty of genocide and it is time we speak the truth about their atrocities. I hope the administration and the world will do the same, before it's too late," Royce added.

Read it all.

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Posted March 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Supporting efforts to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees is part of the Church of England's mission alongside its work with food banks, street pastors and debt advice services, one its leading bishops says today.

Writing in a blog, Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, says church groups can provide the 'welcoming flesh on the bones' to efforts by local authorities and other agencies to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees.

"We are talking about a careful, realistic, grown-up setting about the task of welcoming Syrian refugees, just people in extreme need with all the complexities and riches of any human being. This is not the church saying 'look at us being charitable', but the people of God letting their deeds speak for Him," he writes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeMiddle EastIraqSyria

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Posted February 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than a year of U.S.-led airstrikes and financial sanctions haven’t stopped Islamic State from ordering supplies for its fighters, importing food for its subjects or making quick profits in currency arbitrage.

This is because of men such as Abu Omar, one of the militant group’s de facto bankers. The Iraqi businessman is part of a network of financiers stretching across northern and central Iraq who for decades have provided money transfers and trade finance for the many local merchants who shun conventional banks.

When Islamic State seized control of the region in 2014, the world’s wealthiest terror group made him an offer he decided not to refuse: You can keep your business if you also handle our money.

“I don’t ask questions,” said Abu Omar, whose money-exchange offices in the Iraqi cities of Mosul, Sulimaniyah, Erbil and Hit charge as much as 10% to transfer cash in and out of militant territory—twice normal rates. “Islamic State is good for business.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The liberation of towns from the Islamic State has had the surprising effect on my Iraqi friends of making them more despondent than they were before. When they are asked when things will turn around, they shrug and say Allah karim, akin to the English expression “when pigs fly.” Just after Sinjar was “liberated,” my former student from there sent me pictures of his family’s Friday lunch spread before and after they devoured it, labeling them Sinjar “before liberation” and “after liberation.”

Iraq is now face-to-face with the classic “day after” dilemma. Many of its towns are demolished and there is no money to rebuild. There is no agreement on which groups should secure and govern the areas and who gets to go back. The most visceral and volatile barrier is the newfound distrust among the local populations of liberated areas, who see one another as collaborators, bystanders or victims of the Islamic State. Left unattended, these “day after” dynamics will — and have already — lead to internecine conflict and political gridlock that will undermine battlefield victories, similar to what happened in 2010 when military successes of the Sahwa, or Sunni Awakening militias, against Al Qaeda in Iraq were squandered due to a lack of lasting national and local political deals.

This is evident in Iraq’s disputed post-IS territories, where both the Kurdistan regional government in Erbil and the Iraqi federal government in Baghdad feel they have greater claims than ever before....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 22, 2016 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

UZAIR, Iraq — Jews reportedly built the tomb of the Prophet Ezra in Iraq in the fifth century, and the site has undergone many changes since.

The tomb is in the town of Uzair, which is the Arabic version of the name Ezra,
................................
Ezra lived from about 480 to 440 B.C.

Some Muslim Iraqis still have good memories about the Jews who lived in Iraq until the 1950s. The ancient conflict was replaced during that time with peace and cooperation. Ali al-Saadi, a teacher who was born in Uzair and is interested in its history, told Al-Monitor that the senior citizens of the city still remember the names of dozens of their Jewish neighbors. He confirmed that Jews and Muslims lived together in peace and that Jews freely practiced their religious rituals.

Jews lived in Iraq more than 2,500 years ago in Babil, Baghdad and Mosul, among other places. But in the 1940s and 1950s, they were the victims of theft and murder, and they left the country for two reasons. First, they thought that the 1941 Iraqi coup d’etat happened in collusion with the Nazis. Second, Iraqi Jews faced a wave of anger in the wake of the global Jewish emigration to Palestine to build a Jewish state. Most of them were displaced between 1949 and 1950 after Israel was established.

Saadi said, “Jews owned houses and green fields that surrounded the shrine. These are still officially registered in their names in the real estate departments, although Jews are no longer present in Uzair. These houses have a special architecture characterized by wooden ornamented columns and oriels [bay windows].”

The shrine of Ezra has withstood centuries in an area inhabited by a deeply religious Shiite majority...

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted February 18, 2016 at 10:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 21 [Coptic] men executed that day [in Libya] were itinerant tradesman working on a construction job. All were native Egyptians but one, a young African man whose identity is uncertain—reports of his name vary, and he was described as coming from Chad or Ghana. But the power of his example is unshakable. The executioners demanded that each hostage identify his religious allegiance. Given the opportunity to deny their faith, under threat of death, the Egyptians declared their faith in Jesus. Steadfast in their belief even in the face of evil, each was beheaded.

Their compatriot was not a Christian when captured, apparently, but when challenged by the terrorists to declare his faith, he reportedly replied: “Their God is my God.” In that moment, before his death, he became a Christian. The ISIS murderers seek to demoralize Christians with acts like the slaughter on a Libyan beach. Instead they stir our wonder at the courage and devotion inspired by God’s love.

While we remember these men’s extraordinary sacrifice, is there not more that we can do to stop this genocide against Christians in the Middle East?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptIranIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 12, 2016 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Humble St George’s Church in Belhasa south of Cairo became a home for dogs and goats after its destruction by pro-Morsi supporters during Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

Now it’s been reopened better than ever – thanks to a surprise announcement by Egypt’s President.

‘This is a beautiful gesture for a new age’, said Bishop Biemen, Head of Crisis Management for the Coptic Orthodox Church. ‘We have been pampered’.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo on 6 January - Coptic Christmas Eve - for the second year running. Amid raucous applause he did the most un-presidential thing: he apologized...

Read it all from Lapido Media

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted February 11, 2016 at 8:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Which brings us to the multi-layered complexity of the situation: How to help create a context such that people can return to their ISIS-occupied homes 30 miles away? We spent a lot of time listening. The words that kept coming: Rescue. Restore. Return. So we designed a long-term strategy, consistent with their environment, that builds on short-term impact:
Rescue: We wanted to help those in immediate need, providing relief to them so that they could make it totomorrow. In so doing, we were also able to discern who was doing the best work locally, like the Dominican Sisters, or Assyrian Aid Society (which is just incredible). Besides helping people, we found partners whose yes is yes, and no is no. We are in relationship with them. We trust each other in a part of the world where there is no trust.

Restore: All of those who have fled ISIS have been traumatized in some fashion. They need a way to address the internal if they are to become whole again, and thus serve as peace-builders in a post-ISIS world. So we have sought to invest in education as well as trauma training, seeking to build internal reconciliation such that external reconciliation might one day take place.

Return: This is the tricky part, on two counts....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 5, 2016 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is it accurate and/or expedient to use the word “genocide” to describe the persecution of religious minorities by the terrorist group known as Islamic State, Daesh or a variant of that name? Hypothetical as it might seem, that question is a real dilemma for people in high places in western Europe and America.

On January 20th, Federica Mogherini, the foreign-policy chief of the European Union, gave a speech to the European Parliament in which she deplored the suffering of Christians and other minority faiths in the Middle East but carefully stopped short of using the word genocide, to the great disappointment of many MEPs and religious-freedom campaigners.

Those campaigners took heart when another Strasbourg-based body of legislators, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), took a much firmer position. PACE is an arm of the 47-nation Council of Europe. The European Parliament, an organ of the 28-nation European Union and rather more important, will also vote on the IS-and-genocide question in a few days' time. The PACE resolution, passed on January 27th, denounced the wave of terror attacks on civilians in Europe and the Middle East

Read it all.

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Those of us writing here at Providence share a common conviction about politics, namely that we should take human beings and human communities as they are and not how we would wish them to be. Human beings are broken creatures who are often driven by fear and greed. In political community, these propensities only become magnified and more volatile. This realism means that when we face problems such as aggressive nations and terrorism, we do so with sobriety that in order to stop certain people or groups from carrying out their harmful designs we must sometimes use military force. No amount of rational discussion or incentives will deter them from seeking to harm the innocent. Christians however bring to this sober realism the commitment to love their neighbors. To protect the innocent from the aggressor and to punish the aggressor is an act of love, not purely national interest or strategic benefit. This is what separates those who are realists from Christian realists.

As of late, I reckon, this take on politics has fallen on hard times. It’s hard to hold Christianity and realism together. We have Ted Cruz and Donald Trump preaching indiscriminate bombing campaigns to the applause of many. Bernie Sanders thinks that the Middle East is not a problem for Americans and that we should just let Syria burn. Most Christian voices in America are focused on the immigration crisis, with remarkably few Christians talking about intervention in Syria to protect the Syrian people and stabilize the situation. Marco Rubio has been one of the more nuanced and realistic candidates, and still his discussion of issues tends toward a more thoroughgoing realism than a Christian realism.

Into this current vacuum steps the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to deliver what might be one of the most rousing calls to a truly Christian realistic approach to the current civil war in Syria and the rise of Islamic radicalism in recent memory. The Archbishop delivered the brief speech at the General Synod of the Church of England at Westminster on November 24th. It should be noted that the Archbishop delivered this speech in a resolution that was unanimously approved by the Synod on the current immigration crisis in Europe, primarily calling for protecting immigrants and welcoming a portion to the UK.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Underneath the argument about social cohesion is one assumption that needs questioning. It is the belief that what provides cohesion and coherence in any given society is ethnicity. If we can retain just enough ethnic uniformity, runs the argument, then we can hope that society can just about hold together. Threaten that ethnic cohesion with too much diversity, and the whole thing will come crashing down in the chaos of racial and tribal conflict. And there is evidence that if that is all we do — extend the ethnic mix — social conflict can and often does arise.
The reality is that ethnic diversity runs not just between ethnic groups, but within ourselves. Very few of us are ethnically monochrome. We are all basically migrants. My own mother came over from Ireland to England in the 1940s. Her ancestors were refugees fleeing 17th-century religious persecution in the Rhineland. Everyone, somewhere in their ancestral history, has a connection to someone who lived somewhere else. All of us are the beneficiaries of the generosity of this country or of others, at a time when our ancestors were in desperate need of shelter, safety or simply wanting a better life.
The evidence suggests that ethnic uniformity does not create social cohesion. Historically and politically, nations that strive towards ethnic uniformity have often proven to be unstable and unsustainable. The very Middle Eastern countries in so much turmoil at the moment are more ethnically and religiously uniform than ours, with much lower rates of immigration, yet are riven with far more internal conflict than diverse societies such as the UK.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKEuropeMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted February 3, 2016 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The fresh reshaping of alliances in the Middle East will be a major factor that decides what happens in the region in 2016, from dealing with so-called Islamic State (IS) to determining the future of Syria, says Middle Eastern Christian TV broadcaster SAT-7 in its Middle East Forecast for 2016.

This rapidly-changing face of the Middle East is already apparent, says SAT-7. The five key political concerns are:

The deepening clash between the Middle East’s superpowers, Saudi Arabia and Iran. The execution of a leading Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia before Christmas prompted international condemnation with the fiercest reactions coming from its longstanding rival in the region, Iran. A further complication is the lifting of sanctions against Iran. Both countries will want to maintain their client and ally relations in the region, including Yemen and Syria.

Increasingly assertive Russian involvement in the region. Russia has begun reaching out to the PKK and has attacked Turkish-backed groups in Syria. Turkey responded by making positive overtures towards Israel, stressing the importance of good relations, and began to build bridges with Saudi Arabia.

The conflict between Turkey and Kurdish militants. The collapse of the peace process with the PKK has brought a resurgence of violence and heavy-handed government crackdowns.

The continued status of Yemen and Libya as chaotic failed states. Both face acute humanitarian crises, with desperate food, water and electricity shortages, and air strikes taking a high toll on Yemeni civilians. They join Syria as the main sources of the region’s refugee crisis.

In North Africa, Tunisia and Algeria will see political changes and continue to have terrorism concerns.
However, both are enjoying relative stability in the state and political structures. Sadly, 2016 will continue to see high terror risks across Europe, linked to developments in the Middle East.

SAT-7 also believes there are three key issues for the church in the Middle East in 2016:

Read it all and the report referred to is here

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle East

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Posted February 1, 2016 at 8:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the revolution first erupted, I argued that a political revolution would fail without an accompanying social (r)evolution, to dethrone the million "mini-Mubaraks," weed out endemic corruption, promote equality and egalitarianism, create a meritocracy and more. While the political revolution has stalled, the social and cultural one is in full swing. It has been spearheaded by workers demanding their rights, women struggling for equality, and the growing assertiveness of previously discreet minorities, such as atheists.

Young people have perhaps been the greatest agitators for change and have given their elders lessons in courage, determination and grit - schools have become breeding grounds for rebels.

Whether or not Egyptians heed the call of the shrunken ranks of activist to take to the streets once again, it does not mean they never will again. Egyptians have discovered their latent ability to move immobile mountains and have broken the fear barrier. When they do eventually rise again, a deep social revolution may enable them to unleash their creativity - perhaps even reinventing democracy to suit their needs.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 28, 2016 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years, Texas megachurch pastor Bob Roberts has been building relationships with Muslims. Last year, after Franklin Graham argued that the US government should ban Muslims from immigrating to America, the NorthWood Church leader joined Muslim leaders in denouncing the comments. In October, he and imam Muhammad Magid hosted the Spreading the Peace Convocation, which was attended by nearly 200 imams and evangelical pastors.

This week, Roberts traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco, alongside more than 250 Muslim religious leaders, heads of state, and scholars, for a groundbreaking summit. On Wednesday, the Muslim leaders released the Marrakesh Declaration: a 750-word document calling for religious freedom for non-Muslims in majority-Muslim countries [full text in the linked full article].

“I’m blown away,” Roberts told CT from Morocco. “This is a Muslim conference put together by the top sheiks, ministers of religion, the grand muftis of the top Muslim majority nations, and they came up with a declaration, literally using the language of religious freedom to declare that violence cannot be done in the name of Islam.”

Read it all.

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Posted January 27, 2016 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sanctions have been lifted on Iran, and a moment of change has arrived. President Obama has called this “a unique opportunity, a window, to try to resolve important issues.” The brilliant ex-diplomat Nicholas Burns has said we are at a “potential turning point in the modern history of the Middle East.” And of course they are right. The diplomacy of the Middle East will now change, for better or for worse, forever.

But be very wary of anyone who claims anything more, and certainly be careful of anyone who claims anything more for Iran itself. President Hassan Rouhani is not Mikhail Gorbachev, and this is not a perestroika moment. Iran is not “opening up” or becoming “more Western” or somehow more liberal. Maybe Iran’s foreign minister will now pick up the phone when John Kerry calls. But other than that, the nature of the Iranian regime has not altered at all.

On the contrary, the level of repression inside the country has grown since the “moderate” Rouhani was elected in 2013. The number of death sentences has risen. In 2014, Iran carried out the largest number of executions anywhere in the world except for China. Last year, the number may have exceeded 1,000. Partly this is because Iran’s chief justice has boasted of the eradication (i.e., mass killing) of drug offenders, many of whom are juveniles or convicted on dubious evidence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 25, 2016 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Back in 2004, I got to visit a monastery and orphanage for boys that was in Al Qosh, a town about 31 miles northeast of Mosul, the modern Iraqi city that is across the Tigris from what was once Nineveh. The chapel, the old stone walks, a lovely fountain inside an enclosed courtyard; the whole place was a serene, beautiful spot. The tomb of the Old Testament prophet Nahum was nearby.

It was just one of several irreplaceable monasteries and holy spots in an area that goes back more than 25 centuries to the days of the Assyrian king Sennacherib. Recent years have brought true catastrophe in the form of the conquering hordes of ISIS that, among other violations, destroyed the tomb of Jonah in Mosul in 2014. So maybe it should not be a huge surprise that some time in the past 18 months, ISIS destroyed Iraq’s oldest monastery..

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted January 24, 2016 at 10:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Al-Monitor: From your perspective as the first Coptic woman to win an individual seat, what do Copts want from the parliament?

Gaballah: The attainment of parliamentary seats by 36 Copts in total, and my success as the first Coptic woman to win an individual seat since 1923, is proof that Egypt has overcome extremism. Therefore, I must now speak in my capacity as a deputy representing the nation and not just Copts. Laws must be enacted to do away with discrimination, and an anti-discrimination office should be established, as stipulated by the current constitution, to criminalize any activity deemed to discriminate between citizens.

There are other laws that must be drafted to achieve social integration, among them a unified law for the construction of places of worship to establish clear nondiscriminatory regulations relating to the building of mosques and churches.

Read it all

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt

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Posted January 23, 2016 at 12:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Naghmeh Abedini is looking forward to reuniting next week with her husband, Saeed, the Iranian-American pastor freed on Saturday after more than three years in an Iranian prison.

But she’s not rushing the reunion.

In an interview at her parent’s home in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday, Abedini said that rebuilding their marriage after her husband’s imprisonment will take time.

The relationship, she said, has been strained in recent months by the publication of an email she sent to friends and supporters late last year. Her note described “physical, emotional, psychological and sexual” abuse by her husband, who she said was addicted to pornography.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPornographyPrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 23, 2016 at 9:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group's relentless destruction of heritage sites it considers heretical.

St. Elijah's Monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops. In earlier millennia, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches, prayed in the chapel, worshipped at the altar. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ's name, were carved near the entrance.

This month, at the request of the AP, satellite imagery firm DigitalGlobe tasked a high resolution camera to grab photos of the site, and then pulled earlier images of the same spot.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

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Posted January 20, 2016 at 10:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as the Obama administration scrambles to confront the Islamic State and resurgent Taliban, an old enemy seems to be reappearing in Afghanistan: Qaeda training camps are sprouting up there, forcing the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies to assess whether they could again become a breeding ground for attacks on the United States.

Most of the handful of camps are not as big as those that Osama bin Laden built before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But had they re-emerged several years ago, they would have rocketed to the top of potential threats presented to President Obama in his daily intelligence briefing. Now, they are just one of many — and perhaps, American officials say, not even the most urgent on the Pentagon’s list in Afghanistan.

The scope of Al Qaeda’s deadly resilience in Afghanistan appears to have caught American and Afghan officials by surprise. Until this fall, American officials had largely focused on targeting the last remaining senior Qaeda leaders hiding along Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan.

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Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle East* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A child of London’s East End, White explained to his listeners from theological, journalistic, and policymaking circles how years in Iraq and the wider Middle East had made him happy in the face of unspeakable horror.

“There are the days when you are crying, saying ‘why Lord and there are days of immense joy,” the nattily-dressed, pink and blue bowtie-wearing White stated. His cane, indicating White’s multiple sclerosis, and his cross made of nails taken from the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed by German bombing in World War II, signified life’s harsher realities..

A singing White explained that he is even happier now than when he was resuscitating the dead from cardiac arrest as a London doctor before he joined the clergy. For “I know that I have got the love of Jesus with me all the time,” he said.

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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Theology

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Posted December 24, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faith leaders from across Britain have condemned a growing crackdown on Christmas in Muslim countries.

Brunei threatened yesterday to imprison for up to five years anyone who celebrates the Christian festival in public. The former British colony’s new penal code could also hand out $20,000 fines for any ceremony contrary to Sharia, including singing religious songs, sending festive greetings or putting up Christmas trees, crosses or candles.

Somalia’s leading clerics issued a similar edict in 2013, which they reiterated yesterday. Sheikh Mohamed Khayrow, the religious affairs minister, said that “all events related to Christmas and new year celebrations are contrary to Islamic culture”. They could “damage the faith of the Muslim community” and risk attracting terrorist attacks from Al Shabaab, he added.

In China, which has 70 million Christians and is set to overtake America as the world’s largest Christian country within a decade, large outdoor crosses on hundreds of churches have been dismantled by officials from the atheist Communist party. Some churches have been demolished in the eastern city of Wenzhou, dubbed the “Jerusalem of China”.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 23, 2015 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The killing of minorities by so-called Islamic State should be recognised as genocide, more than 60 parliamentarians have said in a letter to the PM.
They urge David Cameron to use his influence to reach an agreement with the UN that the term genocide be used.
This would send the message that those responsible would be caught, tried and punished, the letter adds.
IS has been systematically killing minority groups including Iraqi and Syrian Christians and Yazidis, it said.

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

anian Christian pastor Farshid Fathi was released on 21 December 2015 after five years in prison in Iran for his faith in Jesus Christ.

“We are deeply grateful for your faithful prayers for Farshid while he has been in prison,” Elam Ministries, whose mission is to help expand the church in the Iran region, said in a statement.

“We would like to request that you continue praying for Farshid today and in the coming weeks," Elam said. "Please pray especially for protection, his family and his adjustment to life outside prison.”

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPrison/Prison MinistryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

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Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain’s biggest Islamic organisation and its largest Muslim student group have undeclared links to the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist network that has at times incited violence and terror, a government report claimed yesterday.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body of more than 500 Islamic organisations, claims to be non-sectarian, but Brotherhood supporters are said to have “played an important role in establishing and then running” it, according to the review.

The Brotherhood, a movement that views western society as corrupting and “inherently hostile to Muslim interests”, has exerted “significant influence” on the MCB, the Muslim Association of Britain and “Britain’s largest Muslim student organisation”, understood to be the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis).

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tragically, present policy does not take into account the uniquely precarious situation of displaced Christians. Instead of receiving priority treatment, Christians are profoundly disadvantaged. For instance, the State Department has accepted refugees primarily from lists prepared by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees, which oversees the large camps to which refugees have flocked, and where they are registered. Yet endangered Christians do not dare enter those camps.

George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in the Telegraph in Britain in September that a similar protocol in the U.K. “inadvertently discriminates against the very Christian communities most victimised by the inhuman butchers of the so-called Islamic State. Christians are not to be found in the UN camps, because they have been attacked and targeted by Islamists and driven from them.”

U.S. missteps and missed opportunities in the region contributed to the crises that disproportionately affected Christians. America’s policy should immediately be amended to include these refugees at the top of the list. Opening America’s doors to them first is the right thing to do.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

According to a blogger in the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS (also known as ISIL) leaders there have issued a "fatwa" against children with Down syndrome and other birth defects.

The only source for the story is the Mosul Eye, self-described as a "blog … set up to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world , minute by minute from an independent historian." It has been repeated by dozens of mainstream and niche news sites, from the British Daily Mail through Fox News to Breitbart.

According to the Mosul Eye's December 14 Facebook entry, "the Shar'i Board of ISIL issued an 'Oral Fatwa' to its members authorizing them to – in the fatwa's words, 'kill newborn babies with Down's Syndrome and congenital disorders and disabled children.'"

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In many Catholic and Orthodox countries, the most visible face of faith is commonly the Virgin Mary (think of Mexico’s ubiquitous Virgin of Guadalupe). Sur­prisingly—and counterintuitively—Mary is scarcely less venerated in Egypt, an overwhelmingly Muslim country. Unless we pay attention to Mary, we miss large portions of the religious faith and practice of the most populous Arab nation. That fact complicates many assumptions about the inevitable hostility between Christianity and Islam.

Egypt’s Christian population is variously estimated at between 5 and 10 percent, anywhere from 5 to 9 million individuals, and most are members of the ancient Cop­tic Church. These believers have often suffered from violence and persecution, most notoriously during the up­surge of violence that followed the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013. Many churches were attacked, and the continuing insurgency in the country raises grave fears about future pogroms.

Despite that uncertainty, Egypt’s Christians still thrive and maintain their ancient churches and shrines. Almost certainly, historic Christian devotion to the Virgin Mary began in Egypt, which is home to countless churches dedicated to her and icons celebrating her. Egyptians point proudly to many sites that the Holy Family reputedly visited during Jesus’ childhood, some of which are major centers for pilgrimage and religious tourism. The Orthodox Christmas Day (January 7) is a national public holiday, on a par with the familiar roster of Islamic celebrations.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOrthodox ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Syed Rizwan Farook was looking for a woman. A few years ago, not long out of college, he went online to find a match. He was slim, dark-eyed, 6 feet tall and living with a parent in Riverside, his dating profiles explained.

He was Chicago-born, with Pakistani roots. He didn't drink or smoke. He avoided TV and movies, preferring instead to tinker with old cars, work out and memorize the Quran. He had a $49,000-a-year government job as a health inspector and wanted a young wife who shared his Sunni Muslim faith.

"Someone who takes her religion very seriously and is always trying to improve her religion and encouraging others to do the same using hikmah (wisdom) and not harshness," he wrote on BestMuslim.com, one of several dating and matrimonial sites he used.

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Posted December 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Muslims came to an Anglican church? ‘People respect faith in Iraq,’ says Sarah. ‘They can see he is sincere.’

So is it better to be a Christian negotiating with Muslims than to be secular, I ask. I’m always hearing that religion is the problem, not the solution, in Iraq.

‘Yes, absolutely,’ says White. ‘People say it’s important to keep religion out of the peace process in the Middle East, but you can’t have a peace process without religion. You can’t have politics without religion in the Middle East! It’s impossible. Faith is our common ground.’

Read it all from the Spectator.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 5, 2015 at 9:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At least 200 churches or places of worship are attacked every single day, a vice-president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said this week, at a high-level meeting in Brussels investigating the persecution of Christians.

Mr Tajani, an Italian MEP in the Parliament’s European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) group, said on Tuesday that “every day, in every region of our planet, we register new cases of systematic violence and persecution against Christians. No other religious community is faced with such hatred, violence, and aggression as is the Christian community.”

A report prepared by the Parliament’s research unit highlighted the “paradoxical aspect of contemporary Christianity” in that, while Christians were in a majority across the world, they were in a minority in places of conflict.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaEuropeMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So by calling for a "challenge" to the Saudis and Qataris, the archbishop is throwing down the gauntlet both to Salafism and the Brotherhood; he does not say which form of Islam he thinks should be encouraged instead, but "global mainstream Muslim leaders" sounds like a reference to products of the traditional theological schools of Egypt or Jordan which are conservative but not especially political or supportive of jihadism.

Some of the people who argue that terrorism in the name of Islam has a theological dimension (in other words, it reflects bad theology, which must be driven out by good theology) weaken their case by over-stating it. This exaggeration can be self-serving. Their implied message is that no other factors (social or economic woes, political or geopolitical grievances) are worth considering and that expert theologians, capable of correcting Islam's current pathologies, are the kind of people that the world needs most.

But Archbishop Welby is not over-stating the case, he is simply stating it, rather obliquely and politely. And it is a case that needs to be stated.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 3, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Britain on Wednesday night opted to join a U.S.-led bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria, with Parliament endorsing a push by Prime Minister David Cameron following a raucous debate marked by accusations that revived the ghosts of Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war.

The vote put an end to an awkward year in the close military alliance between the United States and Britain, during which the Britons joined the Americans in bombing the Islamic State in Iraq but drew a line at the Syrian border. The British government had reasoned last fall that — unlike in Iraq — the Syrian government had not invited Western intervention.

But after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks last month that killed 130 people in Paris, Cameron vowed to expand his country’s military contribution to operations in both of the terrorist group’s main sanctuaries.

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Just War criteria have to my mind been met. But while they are necessary, they are not by themselves sufficient in action of this kind – where we can end up doing the right thing in such a wrong way that it becomes the wrong thing.

To my mind there are three components which currently need more emphasis and to some extent are missing.

In this role, through visiting all 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion, through the constant contacts we have with Muslim and Christian leaders in the region – as recently as three weeks ago in a conference at Lambeth Palace – I am constantly reminded that this is a global issue, to which we are addressing local solutions.

ISIL is but one head of the Hydra: religiously-motivated extremism is not restricted to one part of the world.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focussed way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, and particularly the Christian populations, being harried out of the area at the time.

“For the first time in almost 300 years, we’re facing a conflict that has a distinct theological and religious element which we have not faced before. Recent studies demonstrate the theological basis of extremist groups behind jihadist thinking.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria

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Posted November 27, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England has overwhelmingly backed military intervention in Syria to establish safe routes for refugees. The general synod voted yesterday in favour of a motion that the Archbishop of Canterbury said committed the church to supporting the use of armed force. Justin Welby said that if the motion was passed the “implications are enormous”, adding that he supported it.

It comes as David Cameron today reveals his “comprehensive strategy” for taking on Islamic State in Syria, designed to allay fears that airstrikes alone will not solve the crisis.

The prime minister said there was no “perfect strategy” but added that the UK could not wait for the arrival of a stable government in Syria capable of tackling Isis. “There is a clear and present danger to the United Kingdom from [Isis], based in Iraq and Syria, planning attacks against our country,” he told MPs.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 25, 2015 at 5:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, killing more people in terrorist attacks in 2014 than ISIS, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index.

The GTI attributed more than 6,644 deaths to Boko Haram in 2014, with most attacks occurring in northeastern Nigeria. ISIS killed 6,073 in terrorist attacks in the same year, according to the report.

The GTI noted a 317 percent increase of terrorism deaths in Nigeria, the largest increase ever recorded by any country, where newly elected president Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to contain Boko Haram by the end of 2015.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaCameroonChadNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

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Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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