Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, as Jews celebrate the Passover holiday, they are commemorating the Bible's Exodus story describing a series of plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt that freed the Israelites, allowing them to make their way to the Holy Land. But over the past century, another exodus, driven by a plague of persecution, has swept across the Middle East and is emptying the region of its Christian population. The persecution is especially virulent today.

The Middle East may be the birthplace of three monotheistic religions, but some Arab nations appear bent on making it the burial ground for one of them. For 2,000 years, Christian communities dotted the region, enriching the Arab world with literature, culture and commerce. At the turn of the 20th century, Christians made up 26% of the Middle East's population. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 10%. Intolerant and extremist governments are driving away the Christian communities that have lived in the Middle East since their faith was born.

In the rubble of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Damascus, Christians who refused to convert to Islam have been kidnapped, shot and beheaded by Islamist opposition fighters. In Egypt, mobs of Muslim Brotherhood members burn Coptic Christian churches in the same way they once obliterated Jewish synagogues. And in Iraq, terrorists deliberately target Christian worshippers. This past Christmas, 26 people were killed when a bomb ripped through a crowd of worshipers leaving a church in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relationsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 17, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and thirty five civilians have reportedly been killed in North East Nigeria since Wednesday. The killings, which took place in the State of Borno, were carried out in at least three separate attacks.
The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement. Human rights organizations say that at least 1,500 people, half of them civilian, have been killed in the region this year.
Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos in Plateau State which is also in the North Eastern region of Nigeria. Archbishop Kaigama appeals for help and support in tracing the roots of the Boko Haram group in what could prove a necessary attempt to reveal who is behind the group, who provides its militants with arms, what is its scope beyond wreaking fear, death and destruction…

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In February, the 20 or so Christian families still living in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa were given the same choice. The cost of protection is now the equivalent of $650 in Syrian pounds, a large amount for people struggling to make ends meet in a war zone. The other two options remain unchanged. This time the offer came from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), an extremist antigovernment group that seized Raqqa in May 2013 from more-moderate rebel brigades and declared the town the capital of its own Islamic state.

Most of Raqqa’s 3,000 Christians had already fled the fighting, leaving just a few families in a place suddenly run by a group known for its violent tactics in both Iraq and Syria, including beheadings and floggings–tactics so ruthless that even al-Qaeda has disowned the group. The number had fallen even further by the time ISIS commanders promised the Christians that as long as they paid the levy, the one church that had not already been destroyed in the fighting would be left untouched and the Christians would not be physically harmed. They would have the right to practice their religion as long as they didn’t ring bells, evangelize or pray within earshot of a Muslim.

Church leaders urged Raqqa’s Christians to pay the militants. “[ISIS] told me that all I need to do is pay the taxes, and they will protect me,” says George, a 17-year-old Christian music student still living in Raqqa. “I know that under the Caliphate, Christians got a lot of things in return for paying taxes. The Christian community was left in peace.” That hasn’t been the case so far in Syria’s new Caliphate. When ISIS arrived in town, it warned Christians to stay out of sight and hide their crucifixes.

Read it all.

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

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gunmen have killed 135 civilians in north east Nigeria since Wednesday, a senior official from the region has told the BBC.

Borno state senator Ahmed Zannah said the killings took place in at least three separate attacks in the state.

The attackers are suspected to be from the Islamist Boko Haram movement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Concern is being expressed for the people of Kessab, an ancient Armenian christian village in Syria. Reports in recent days have claimed that Islamist rebels captured Kassab from government forces, causing residents to leave. Today's Zubeida Malik has been talking to one of the residents of Kessab, an Armenian christian who we are calling ''Panos''.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted April 8, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Will Ross reports on the challenge of fighting Boko Haram, and watches rare footage filmed by the group of a recent attack.

Watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With the row over the use of the word Allah still simmering, Anglican Christians in Sarawak said they will go all out to defend their right to use the word in worship.

Datuk Bolly Lapok, Anglican Archbishop for Southeast Asia, said they were willing to abandon their calling to be peacemakers and reconcilers, if “turning the other cheek to the provocateurs and extremists in political Islam that are relentlessly stoking the fire of hatred and bigotry is tantamount to sending a wrong message to them”.

He said this in a statement after a mass gathering of its Iban speaking congregation in Sri Aman today.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Pakistani Christian man has been sentenced to death for blasphemy, in a case which sparked fierce rioting in the eastern city of Lahore last March.

Sawan Masih was convicted of using derogatory remarks against the Prophet Mohammed in a row with a Muslim friend.

Hundreds of Muslims attacked the city's Christian Joseph colony, torching homes, when the allegations surfaced.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

4 Comments
Posted March 28, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Orogodo Okoh, believes strongly that the on-going National Conference must not fail, saying it is a great opportunity to resolve the challenges faced by Nigeria. He also speaks on the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed many lives and affected the Church in the North-east and the controversial anti-gay law.

Excerpts from interview:
There are allegations lately that corruption has crept into Christianity with some men of God accused of sharp practices. How do you react to this?
I think you used an omnibus word ‘sharp practices’. I don’t know what it means because it could mean so many things. Can you be more specific?
Corruption has one definition, unethical practice. That is exactly what I am talking about.

Read it all (from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 26, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No amount of investigation about the weather or the mechanical condition of the Malaysian Airlines plane will yield the truth if that is not the problem. From where I sit, it seems to me that there was a hijacking, either by passengers on the plane or a choice by the pilot(s) to fly somewhere else. Now that possibility is finally being examined, lots of information is surfacing. It may be that investigating a pilot with radical politics will yield answers. Perhaps examination of lax security will yield answers, but it appears that radicalism is at the heart of the situation either way. Now as that is investigated, there are all kinds of tidbits of information surfacing. I suspect that not just radicalism, but probably Islamic radicalism, will emerge as the cause. At least it is now being examined.

In Northern Nigeria, no amount of inquiry into “ethnic conflict” will produce answers. It is not an “ethnic conflict.” It is jihad by radical Muslims against Christians. It is Christians who are being attacked and killed. It is the homes and businesses of Christians that are being burned. It is Christians who are having to flee to preserve their lives. It is not tribal, it is not ethnic, it is not economic, it is a spiritual war. It has to be addressed for what it is if there is going to be any answer.

So…what are we to do?

We need to remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10) We need to cultivate our relationship with the Lord through worship and time in the Word of God. We also need to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit by being obedient to what the Lord requires and commands us to do.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted March 24, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that "the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose" is central to "human dignity," and so "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."

The freedom so central to human dignity is denied by the Kingdom. The State Department has long ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's most religiously repressive governments, designating it a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Yet the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has not pressed Riyadh to respect religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all "officially" Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Imam-Priest exchange initiative for 2014 opened at Al Azhar al Shereef, at the invitation of the Grand Imam. The 30 imams and 30 priests who participated in the initiative in 2013 shared what they learnt and were presented with certificates.

This initiative aims at reducing religious tension through practical dialogue. The need for dialogue has become
more critical after the 25 January 2011 Revolution because of the inter-religious strife leading to incidents of tragic sectarian violence. It is clear that religion will play a significant role in shaping Egypt’s future. Muslim Imams and Christian leaders need to address religious harmony and the importance of unity, because it is known how fragile the inter-religious relationships are and the dangerous consequences of the alternative for Egypt’s future.

‘Together for a New Egypt: the Imam-Priest Exchange,’ is an interfaith initiative which brought together 30 priests (from different denominations) and 30 imams (selected by Al-Azhar) for four weekends in 2013. As a result of these meetings, the participating imams and priests built friendships and engaged together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold — about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in Central African Republic are caring for thousands of Muslims who have been trapped in a cycle of revenge attacks, perpetrated by a pro-Christian militia.

Since December, Anti-Balaka militias have been emptying Muslim quarters and avenging earlier attacks by the Seleka, an Islamist militia. The Seleka rampaged through the country in early 2013, terrorizing Christians and ransacking churches, hospitals and shops.

Now that the Muslim president Michel Djotodia has stepped down, Seleka is being forced to withdraw from its strongholds, as the center of power shifts, amid a mass exodus and displacement of Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 21, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church in Egypt has joined the growing number of groups who have condemned Christian attacks on Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR).

In a Tuesday statement, The Reverend Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Episcopal and Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and the President Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said he hoped the international community would respond to “stop this humanitarian disaster”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted February 19, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Christian family in Algeria has been refused permission to bury their son in the local public cemetery because he was not a Muslim.

“The leaders of the mosque demanded that I would have to follow Islamic burial rites if I was to bury my son in the cemetery,” said the father of 24-year-old Lahlou Naraoui, a University student.

Naraoui’s family, who live in Chemini in the Kabylie region of northern Algeria, said they could not follow the Muslim leaders’ demands and instead chose to bury their son on private land.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted February 5, 2014 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We encourage Anglican Christians everywhere to understand the faith of Muslims, to love them, befriend them, and witness to them, building upon what Muslims already know of Jesus Christ in order to lead to what they do not yet know: that is the fullness of the Christian Gospel.

Gathered as we are in Kenya, we rejoice that Muslims are free to worship and to practice their faith in countries like Kenya, and lament that this is not so for Christians and others in the Islamic world.

We commit ourselves to pray and support the persecuted churches throughout the world.

Our churches need both to campaign for greater freedom of belief and expression in Islamic lands, as well as for material, spiritual and social support for converts and others who suffer because of their beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Late in the evening of November 28 last year, Habila Adamu was at home with his wife and kids in the Yobe state of Northern Nigeria when visitors stopped by. He opened the door, shocked to find gunmen wearing robes and masks.

They demanded he step outside and they peppered him with questions. What was his name? Habila Adamu. Was he a member of the Nigerian police? No. Was he a soldier? No. Was he a member of the state security service? No. He told them he was a businessman.

OK, are you a Christian?” they asked.

“I am a Christian,” Habila said.

Initially fearful, Habila came to terms with the realization that it was the day of his death. He began praying for strength, forgiveness and salvation.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 28, 2014 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last summer, as unrest raged in Cairo, Egypt’s small Anglican community started looking for a way out. One family made for Canada, another went to Australia, and several emigrated to the United States.

As exoduses go, Anglican emigration has been small compared to the torrent of fleeing Coptic Orthodox migrants, but with approximately 3000-4000 congregants, the Anglican Church’s problems over the past few years have mirrored those of the wider Christian population.

When modern Egypt’s worst bout of sectarian violence erupted in August, few Anglicans were left untouched by the fallout. Two of the Anglican community’s 15 churches were attacked, while only the timely arrival of the army spared a third, and those inside it, from an irate mob intent on setting it alight.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted January 21, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the Central African Republic the world's next Rwanda? That's the question some are beginning to ask about a crisis that has been going on for most of this year but has only just burst through into the mainstream international mass media.

Warlords ruling the countryside by terror, a government that is almost toothless and the collapse of institutions have forced 0.4 million people to flee their homes and left a million dependent on aid.

And now reports of Muslim and Christian communities engaged in inter-communal violence have sparked concern about a slide into religious conflict. The "G-word" -- genocide -- has even been floated as a real risk by some observers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ITV News has found evidence that children are being targeted in one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.

Many have suffered horrific injuries, as violence in the Central African Republic sinks to what the United Nations calls a "vicious new low".

Read it all and note the many video links available.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is the largest and most widely spread faith in the world, with 2.2 billion followers, or 32 percent of the world population, according to a survey by the U.S.-based Pew Forum on religion and Public Life.

It faces restrictions and hostility in 111 countries, ahead of the 90 countries limiting or harassing the second-largest faith, Islam, another Pew survey has reported.

Michel Varton, head of Open Doors France, told journalists in Strasbourg that failing states with civil wars or persistent internal tensions were often the most dangerous for Christians.

"In Syria, another war is thriving in the shadow of the civil war -- the war against the church," he said while presenting the Open Doors report there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEschatology

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Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that twelve Christians were brutally murdered by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria over the weekend. According to reports, these Christians were killed in two attacks on separate Christian villages in Nigeria's Muslim majority state of Borno.

The first attack took place on Saturday, December 28, in the Christian village of Tashan-Alede where eight people attending a wedding celebration were killed when militants connected with Boko Haram opened fire on the Christians gathered. According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, "One attack took place at a pre-wedding bachelor party. Suspected fighters from Boko Haram opened fire on the group, killing eight people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted January 2, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As many participate in religious celebrations at this time of the year, our country, the Central African Republic, remains on the brink of religious warfare. In a place that most of the world struggles to find on a map, more than 2 million people, nearly half of the nation’s population, are in desperate need of aid. As we write, approximately 40,000 people without shelter or toilets are crammed into the airport compound in the capital, Bangui. In just the past week in Bangui, hundreds have been killed, including patients dragged out of hospitals and executed. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.” We fear that without a wider international response, our country will succumb to darkness .

As the most senior faith leaders of our country’s Christian and Muslim communities, respectively, we recognize our responsibility to help define a path away from violence. Our colleagues, priests and imams alike, have paid the ultimate price for taking on their own part of this responsibility, and we fear the worst is yet to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 28, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Prince of Wales’s powerful intervention last week on the persecution of Christians is a reminder that ancient Christian communities, pre-dating Islam, are on the verge of disappearing from their homelands in the Middle East.

After years of bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in dialogue, Prince Charles admitted that in spite of many such efforts, “fundamentalist Islamist militants” were “deliberately” targeting Christians.

This is something that Western governments have been strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront. In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue, the Government response was full of denial that this was a problem uniquely affecting Christian communities. But, then, successive governments have done little to speak up for Christians facing human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For myself, I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church communities link us straight back to the early Church, as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, Our Lord's own language, spoken and sung a few hours ago.

Yet, today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world – just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.

This has an effect on all of us, although, of course, primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East: we all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back two thousand years begins to disappear. It is, therefore, especially delightful to see such a rich panoply of church life here to-day, including the Antiochian, Greek, Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean, and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the Church of the East, and Churches established, dare I say it, somewhat more recently, including the Anglican Church!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

3 Comments
Posted December 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The UN says more than 1,200 people have been killed in Islamist-related violence in north-east Nigeria since a state of emergency was declared in May.

The UN said the figure related to killings of civilians and the military by the Islamist group Boko Haram in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

It also includes insurgents killed by security forces repelling attacks.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted December 16, 2013 at 11:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians Saturday of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year's worst sectarian violence.

Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.

In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted December 15, 2013 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An attack by suspected Islamist militants on a Nigerian air force base indicates the Boko Haram group retains its military capacity even after a seven-month offensive by government forces.

“It is a big deal, it shows the capability of Boko Haram is growing,” Murtala Touray, senior Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said today by phone. “For Boko Haram to plan this attack, it shows they are a force to be reckoned with, they can take on the Nigerian army.”

The pre-dawn raid took place yesterday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, about 860 kilometers (535 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja. Two air force personnel were wounded, 24 attackers were killed and three military aircraft and two helicopters were damaged, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed to journalists....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 4, 2013 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram militants launched a daring raid against Nigerian troops on Monday in an attack that indicates the Islamist group is still capable of deadly strikes in spite of a six-month military crackdown.

The onslaught by what witnesses described as “hundreds” of militants against a military barracks and an air force base in Maiduguri, the capital of the north-eastern state of Borno, where Boko Haram is strongest, left scores dead, helicopters burnt and barracks destroyed, according to local news reports.

The authorities responded by imposing a 24-hour curfew across the state, and Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president, summoned senior military officials to a meeting.

Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

EU humanitarian chief Kristalina Georgieva said the country faced the twin risk of a state collapse and potential genocide because of the increasing tit-for-tat killings between the Christian majority and Seleka-backing Muslims.

Speaking at his residence in Camp de Roux, a colonial military camp on a hill that overlooks the Oubangui River, Djotodia attributed the violence to settling of scores between those loyal to the previous government and some Seleka elements.

"We hear people talk of inter-religious war, sometimes they talk of genocide. What group wants to exterminate the other? Who is planning to exterminate the other?" Djotodia asked.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaCentral African Republic* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted December 2, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite this relative calm in urban areas, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings have not diminished. Recent analysis of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that they have in fact increased.

Fighting has instead shifted to rural areas. The media reports Boko Haram efforts to cut off access on the road between Kano and Maiduguri by targeting truck drivers, whom they behead using chain saws.

There are also media reports of Boko Haram carrying out forced conversions to Islam in rural areas, with the alternative being death.

Read it all.

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Posted November 21, 2013 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the gloom of a hilltop cave in Nigeria where she was held captive, Hajja had a knife pressed to her throat by a man who gave her a choice - convert to Islam or die.

Two gunmen from Boko Haram had seized the Christian teenager in July as she picked corn near her village in the Gwoza hills, a remote part of northeastern Nigeria where a six-month-old government offensive is struggling to contain an insurgency by the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group.

In a new development, Boko Haram is abducting Christian women whom it converts to Islam on pain of death and then forces into "marriage" with fighters - a tactic that recalls Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in the jungles of Uganda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & CultureViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted November 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a minister has warned.

Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.

Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. Department of State designated Boko Haram and a spinoff group called Ansaru as foreign terrorist organizations Wednesday (Nov. 13).

Boko Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” is responsible for thousands of deaths in northeast and central Nigeria, according to the State Department.

The group has stated that it desires to establish a Shariah-law theocracy in Nigeria.

Boko Haram has attacked churches, local police stations, the United Nations building in Abuja, local security offices and an agricultural college. In September, a single attack in northeastern Benisheik killed 160 civilians.

Read it all.

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Posted November 15, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here in Africa’s most populous country, where an insurgency by the brutal Islamist group Boko Haram has killed hundreds of people in recent months, it is easy to despair over sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians – and between Muslims.

Yes, easy to despair, were it not for the remarkable example set by an imam and pastor in Nigeria, an oil-producing country on the West African coast whose population is evenly split between Muslims and Christians. The two men are former militia leaders whose forces directly fought each other, yet they reconciled after each was moved by a sermon on forgiveness – one preached in a mosque, and one in a church. They have been spreading the practice of tolerance and reconciliation for nearly two decades since forming the Interfaith Mediation Center here in Kaduna, in northern Nigeria, where I train staff in dialogue techniques that bridge divides of ethnicity and religion.

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the drafting committee entrusted with creating Egypt's new constitution, which is to be put to a national referendum next month, races against time to conclude its final product, concern runs high in most rights quarters about what the expected bill would bear for civil, political and other liberties.

Despite the active engagement of the Coptic church in the committee, representing the vast majority of Egyptian Christians, serious concerns remain in numerous Coptic quarters about the new bill's ability to attend to the grave citizenship issues that have plagued them in past decades – not least of which those added during the Muslim Brotherhood's one-year rule and its now suspended 2013 constitution, on whose drafting committee the liberal forces and representatives of the Coptic church had walked out.

"We are concerned, and for a very simple reason: in its entirety, the text of the proposed constitution – as we have been able to figure out depending on the access we have to the committee's work – is not at all successful in eliminating the key causes for compromised citizenship rights that Copts, and Christians in general, have been facing," said Coptic activist Marceiliano Youssef, a member of the Maspero Youth Union and the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights.

Read it all.

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Posted November 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in Syria are accusing al-Qaeda-backed Islamists of having carryied out one of the worst atrocities of the war so far, and killed more than 40 members of the minority Christian community during their occupation of the town of Sadad, north of Damascus. The Syrian government announced last week that its forces had regained control of this strategic town.

In a report by the news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Agenzia Fides, the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, said: "Forty-five innocent civilians were martyred for no reason." It was, he said, the "biggest massacre of Christians in Syria in the past two-and-a-half years".

The Archbishop said that he was shocked at the way in which the world was allowing the killing of Christians in Syria to continue. "Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers?"

Read it all.

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

David Cameron’s plans to issue sharia-compliant bonds open the way to Islamic law being enforced at the heart of government, a senior clergyman has warned.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, said proposals to make Britain the first non-Muslim country to sell a bond that complies with sharia could trigger a series of “unforeseen consequences”.

He also voiced broader fears that Christianity was being increasingly excluded from the administration of law, after one of Britain’s most senior judges said members of the judiciary were “secular” figures serving a “multicultural community”.

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Posted November 8, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“’God of life, lead us to justice and peace’ has become a prayer around the world.” These were words of Dr Wedad Abbas Tawfik about the theme of the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly. She shared her experiences and hopes for social and political stability as a Coptic Christian in her country, Egypt.

Tawfik, who was one of the speakers at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, made special reference to the situation of Christians in the Middle East, Egypt and Syria in particular, inviting prayers for peace for the region.

Tawfik was addressing a plenary session of the WCC assembly on 31 October.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted November 4, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Living alongside and evangelizing Muslim neighbors has been a recurring theme at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) meeting this week in Nairobi, Kenya. Relations between Anglican Christians and Muslims have been made more complicated in recent years with the rise of radical Islamists and key differences in how Christians and some Muslims understand moral codes and public law.

“Our arguments should have validity and strength in the pubic square, people should see it is focused on love, truth and graciousness,” declared Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali at a GAFCON mini-conference session on Islam held on Thursday. The former bishop of Rochester, England explained that Christians and Muslims have a different attitude about power.

“Islam believes you change the world by gaining power, Christians believe you change the world by a willingness to give up power,” Nazir-Ali assessed. Yet temptation to theocracy, he reported, is everywhere.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & PrimatesGACON II 2013* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

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Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wedding party stood outside the church, eagerly awaiting the ceremonious arrival of the bride. Instead, drive-by shooters killed four, including two children and the groom's mother, and injured 18.

Beyond its poignancy, the attack in Cairo's industrial neighborhood of Warraq was significant for being one of the first to target Egypt's Christians specifically, versus the now-common attacks on their church buildings.

"Since the revolution, this is the first instance Coptic people were targeted randomly in a church, with weapons," said Mina Magdy, general coordinator for the Maspero Youth Union, a mostly Coptic revolutionary group formed in response to church burnings in 2011 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Read it all.

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Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On 22nd of September 2013, around 500 persons gathered for Divine Sunday Service including another 64 children who were present in the Sunday School Center in the Church compound. Two suicide bombers entered in the compound and exploded themselves while the worshipers were coming out at the end of the Service at All Saints Church, Kohati Gate in Peshawar.

This city is the Provincial head and a main town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which has borne the brunt of a bloody Islamist insurgency in recent years.

This bloody blast took almost 130 lives and injured 169 persons. 120 People are still in the different hospitals. 12 women become widows, 24 children become orphan and amongst them 18 children lost both parents.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Brotherhood was toppled in Egypt in a July military coup, and former president Mohammad Morsi will go on trial in November. The coup is also threatening the 6-year-old rule of its Palestinian branch, Hamas, in neighboring Gaza, because the Egyptian military has closed smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, depriving Hamas of millions of dollars in foreign donations and customs revenue. In several Gulf Arab states, the movement has been targeted in a crackdown, and Tunisia's Brotherhood-dominated government faces a backlash.

"They fail to make the transition from a closed organization into an open and broad-based transparent government," Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center of the London School of Economics, said of the Brotherhood. "They behaved, while in government, exactly as they behave internally."

Read it all.

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Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the smoke that hung over the Westgate Shopping Mall has dissipated, a quiet tension still lingers in the air throughout the capital.

Last month’s attack by al-Shabab militants on a mall frequented by Westerners in the capital city, left at least 67 dead. But the burning of a Christian church in the majority-Muslim city Mombasa just two weeks later suggests the nation is on the precipice of more conflict between Christians and Muslims.

This is dispiriting for many in a country that for years enjoyed relative peace between the two monotheistic religions that dominate the region.

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Posted October 16, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Malaysian court ruled on Monday that a Christian newspaper may not use the word "Allah" to refer to God, a landmark decision on an issue that has fanned religious tension and raised questions over minority rights in the mainly Muslim country.

The unanimous decision by three Muslim judges in Malaysia's appeals court overturned a 2009 ruling by a lower court that allowed the Malay-language version of the newspaper, The Herald, to use the word Allah - as many Christians in Malaysia say has been the case for centuries.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Egyptian Government to do more to prevent mob attacks on the country’s Coptic Christian minority.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the circumstances for Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up about about 10 per cent of the nation’s population, were “life-threatening”.

More than 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged across the country, according to an Amnesty International report out...[this week].

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 10, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By his own admission, San Antonio youth minister Gavin Rogers has a knack for making his parents worry.

In 2012, as minister to youth and families at Trinity Baptist Church, he observed Lent by living as a homeless person, dodging cops, sleeping under bridges and wrestling with hunger.

Rogers, 31, has pushed the envelope of parental stress again, this time by making a five-day visit to Egypt just a few weeks after violent, deadly riots swept over the nation.

“When I told my parents about the homeless journey, my mom was really worried,” Rogers said. “With this one, my dad wasn’t too happy.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted October 4, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than two months after the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood was driven from power and the country's army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, surged to the fore, Egypt remains deeply divided about the role of religion in public life. Whether in fiery mosque sermons, slow-moving constitutional deliberations or triumphal military statements, the banner of heaven is being waved by all sides.

"Religion is being more or less used the same way by the military as it was by the Brotherhood," said Ahmad El Azabawy, a former political science professor who is now an independent analyst. "Just with more subtlety, because now, of course, people are just coming out of a bitter experience with an Islamic regime."

Religious minorities make up about 15% of the population, and Islam is the state religion. It pervades daily existence in Egypt as surely as the muezzin's call echoing through dusty streets.

Read it all.

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

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Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We may not like it, but Christians are not God's 'favourites'; and we may like even less the fact that God loves terrorists as much as he loves well-behaved little me. This is not to suggest turning a glib, blind eye to evil or injustice, far from it; but it is to suggest that any Christianity worth preserving, defending or celebrating is (if at times with gritted teeth or a broken heart) to strive to forgive to the last breath.

"The last will be first and the first will be last", said Christ. A strident demand for Christianity to be pushed to the front of the queue in our present age may well turn out to be counterproductive. In the West Christendom had over a thousand years to make its point, its mouth close to the only microphone in town. In our global, post-Christian times a gentler, kinder voice will need to be used, and we may even thereby find a way of changing Terror itself into hope and reconciliation.

Read it all.

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Posted October 1, 2013 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The group was founded by a firebrand cleric called Mohammed Yusuf

Boko Haram is a Sunni terrorist organization that claims links to Al Qaeda and other groups of a similar ideological bent, both in the region and internationally. The group’s current incarnation was founded in 2003 under the leadership of a young Islamic cleric named Mohammed Yusuf. He was killed during a failed uprising against the Abuja government in July 2009 that spread across four northern states, but was successfully crushed by security forces. During the crackdown, Yusuf was arrested and killed while in custody. Since his death, his former deputy Abubakar Shekau has taken Boko Haram’s reins of power and launched a violent campaign largely targeting police stations, federal institutions and Christian villages across northeast Nigeria.

Read it all.


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Posted September 30, 2013 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

BISHOP JOSEPH COUTTS (Catholic Archbishop of Karachi): Because of our colonial past Christianity has been, is being identified with colonialism.

Joseph Coutts, Catholic Bishop of Karachi

[FRED] DE SAM LAZARO: With the West.

COUTTS: With the West in general. We are sort of linked with being products of the West.

DE SAM LAZARO: That has made Christians targets for all kinds of grievances against the West—whether a drone strike in the region or an anti-Islamic pronouncement in Florida.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

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Posted September 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hiding the Christian name on his ID with his thumb, Joshua Hakim approached the gunmen and showed them the plastic card. “They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward, and they said, ‘What is the name of Muhammad’s mother?’ When he couldn’t answer they just shot him.”

That’s the way it went inside the Westgate Premier Shopping Mall in Nairobi last Saturday. If you said when asked that you were Muslim, you were let go. If you answered no, you stayed. And maybe died.

More than 60 patrons in that upscale mall in Kenya’s capital breathed their last that day, shot dead by Islamist militants from Somalia who call themselves al-Shabab. The massacre was not al-Shabab’s first attack on non-Muslims....

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Posted September 28, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The heroic man was]...Abdul Haji, the son of a former security minister in the Kenyan government, who had rushed to the mall after getting a text message from his brother who was trapped inside.

"We saw a lot of dead people. Very young people, children, old ladies, you cannot imagine," Mr Haji told the Kenyan television station NTV.

"From what they were doing, you could tell that these were not normal people. The fact that he was making a joke out of this whole thing made me much more angry and determined to engage them, and to shame them."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christian de Chergé was a Trappist monk who, with six of his monastic brothers, was killed in Algeria in 1996. The exact circumstances of their deaths remain disputed. They were abducted by a band of radical Islamists, in the midst of a horrendously violent period of civil-religious strife. Only their severed heads were subsequently recovered. To what degree did the Algerian army play a role in their deaths, and with what assistance from French security advisers, wittingly or unwittingly?

Rather, de Chergé gave his life as a reconciling gift thrown into the midst of the hostility and violence associated with antagonistic diversities. His was a witness made quintessentially within our late modern culture of fragmented “globalized” hopelessness....

Christian Salenson’s Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope (a translation of the 2009 French original) follows in step with the temper of the times, and takes up the [interest in the] Christian-Muslim... [angle of his thought]. Although this approach has its limitations, the volume, in all of its austere precision and accessibility, is of the highest quality, and deserves to be read as a necessary introduction to de Chergé’s thought. SRead it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooks* International News & CommentaryAfricaAlgeriaEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEschatology

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Posted September 27, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has drawn attention to the fact that Christians in Peshawar were talking of forgiveness immediately after suicide bombers attacked All Saints Church on Sunday.
But he added that Christians in Peshawar are also ‘crying out vigorously’ for justice and protection following the worst attack on Christians in Pakistan’s history.
The attack, which was launched as people were leaving Sunday Mass, killed 85 people and injured more than 120.
Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One today, the Archbishop described the bombing as ‘an absolutely appalling attack’ and called on Pakistan’s government to ensure that minority citizens are given proper protection and that all people are treated equally under its law.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The night ended with historian Tom Holland declaring sadly that we are now seeing the extinction of Christianity and other minority faiths in the Middle East. As he pointed out, it’s the culmination of the long process that began in the Balkans in the late 19th century, reached its horrific European climax in 1939-1945, and continued with the Greeks of Alexandria, the Mizrahi Jews and most recently the Chaldo-Assyrian Christians of Iraq. The Copts may have the numbers to hold on, Holland said, and the Jews of Israel, but can anyone else?

Without a state (and army) of their own, minorities are merely leaseholders. The question is whether we can do anything to prevent extinction, and whether British foreign policy can be directed towards helping Christian interests rather than, as currently seems to be the case, the Saudis.

The saddest audience question was from a young man who I’m guessing was Egyptian-British. He asked: ‘Where was world Christianity when this happened?...’

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 25, 2013 at 4:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With its Muslim-style minarets topped by a large black cross, the All Saints Church in Peshawar has for more than a century offered a daring architectural expression of Muslim-Christian harmony and cohabitation....

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Posted September 25, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has become an all too familiar narrative: Muslim militants in some majority Islamic country going out of their way to kill and intimidate the local Christian populace.

What happened this past Sunday in Pakistan, however, has shocked even the most jaded and cynical observers.

Peshawar’s All Saints Church is an Anglican parish that has existed since 1893. Around noon, after services this past Sunday, two suicide bombers, each wearing 13 pounds of explosives, forced their way past two police guards and detonated their devices. At least 83 people have died from the blast, including 34 women and seven children, with more than 175 people injured. The attack decimated entire families.

Read it all.

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Posted September 24, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An acid attack on a Roman Catholic priest in Zanzibar is heightening fears of increased religious tensions on the Tanzanian islands, where Christian clergy, churches and some Muslim leaders are being targeted.

On Sept. 13, the Rev. Anselm Mwang’amba, 61, suffered burns on his face, chest and arms when acid was thrown at him as he left an Internet cafe. The attack came barely a month after acid was thrown on two British teenage tourists, Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee.

“We are urging Christians not to retaliate,” said the Rev. Cosmas Shayo, diocesan chancellor. “We are depending on the police for security. They say action has been taken, but we are not satisfied since the attacks are continuing.”

Read it all.


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Posted September 18, 2013 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indisputably, there is today a Coptic nation. But it is not a nation that seeks to achieve independence and statehood. That nation is neither racial nor, after the loss of the Coptic language, is it based on a distinct language or on purely religious lines. Instead, it is a nation that is founded on the unique history of a church. It is a nation, as S.S. Hassan described it, whose topography is invisible. The nature of the dangers facing that nation have varied throughout its history from assimilation in an imagined liberal Egypt, to the erosion of Coptic uniqueness, the threat of Protestant missionaries and of modernity and its discontents.

Today, this nation faces a more serious threat. It can fight back against persecution, although overwhelming odds lined up against it assure its defeat. It can accept dhimmitude and live as second-class citizens, or it can withdraw inside the walls of its ancient church finding comfort within those walls.

The prospects for Copts in Egypt are, to say the least, bleak. Unlike the Jewish emigrants escaping Egypt in the 1940s and 50s, for Copts driven out of their ancestral homeland there is no Israel to escape to. Nor does their overall percentage in Egypt allow them to play a key role in shaping its future. The only option in front of them is to pack their bags and leave, putting an end to two thousand years of Christianity in Egypt.

Read it all.

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Posted September 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fighting between security forces and rogue Muslim rebels seeking to declare an independent state escalated in a southern Philippine city on Thursday and spread to a second island, officials said.

U.S.-trained commandos exchanged gunfire with a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) holding dozens of hostages in Zamboanga City, on the southernmost island of Mindanao, army spokesman Domingo Tutaan said.

The violence illustrates the security challenge potential investors face in the impoverished south of the majority Roman Catholic country despite a strong nationwide economic performance in the second quarter.

Read it all.

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Posted September 12, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Khamis Abu-Hasaballah, president of the FVAMC, told The Christian Post that they are "thrilled" by the interfaith partnership and plan to move into the Avon property soon.

"We hope to move in in the coming weeks. Since we're leasing the facility, we're keeping the modifications to the bare minimum needed to accommodate our activities," said Abu-Hasaballah. "The facility has been de-consecrated by the bishop and the altar removed. We are also relocating some pews to free up enough space for Muslim congregational prayers."

Prior to the agreement over the building, FVAMC members had used various the church's facilities for events and prayer, Abu-Hasaballah told CP.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

2 Comments
Posted September 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the mid-August day that Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of Islamist protesters, throwing the country into deeper turmoil, the ultraconservative religious Salafist Nour Party released a statement positioning itself as the sole voice of reason.

"We warned a long time ago against the danger of bloodshed and against mobilization and counter-mobilization," the group said.

Nour called on both the nation's military rulers and the Muslim Brotherhood that had been ousted from power to stop the violence, saying that the only option for peace was a political solution.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 10, 2013 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Coptic Orthodox priest would talk to his visitor only after hiding from the watchful eyes of the bearded Muslim outside, who sported a pistol bulging from under his robe.

So Father Yoannis moved behind a wall in the charred skeleton of an ancient monastery to describe how it was torched by Islamists and then looted when they took over this southern Egyptian town following the ouster of the country's president.

"The fire in the monastery burned intermittently for three days. The looting continued for a week. At the end, not a wire or an electric switch is left," Yoannis told The Associated Press. The monastery's 1,600-year-old underground chapel was stripped of ancient icons and the ground was dug up on the belief that a treasure was buried there.

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Posted September 9, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christ Episcopal Church closed December of 2012 and the question has remained for the better part of this year what would become of the church property.

Now The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut has announced the decision to partner with the newly formed Farmington Valley American Muslim Center (FVAMC) organization to turn the Harris Road church into an interfaith hub. The partnership will bring interfaith educational programming to the facility, which the Diocese plans to lease to the FVAMC. The move aligns with the Diocese's renewed effort in "recommitting itself to interfaith initiatives in new ways," the Diocese said in the press release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

2 Comments
Posted September 8, 2013 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Syrian civil conflict is both a proxy war and a combustion point for spreading waves of violence. This didn't start out as a religious war. But both Sunni and Shiite power players are seizing on religious symbols and sowing sectarian passions that are rippling across the region. The Saudi and Iranian powers hover in the background fueling each side.

As the death toll in Syria rises to Rwanda-like proportions, images of mass killings draw holy warriors from countries near and far. The radical groups are the most effective fighters and control the tempo of events. The Syrian opposition groups are themselves split violently along sectarian lines so that the country seems to face a choice between anarchy and atrocity.

Meanwhile, the strife appears to be spreading. Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq is spiking upward. Reports in The New York Times and elsewhere have said that many Iraqis fear their country is sliding back to the worst of the chaos experienced in the past decade. Even Turkey, Pakistan, Bahrain and Kuwait could be infected.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgyptLebanonSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 4, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fresh video has emerged from Egypt showing the storming of a Coptic church, apparently proving claims that supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi have been laying waste to Christian churches.

The shocking footage shows a Muslim mob storming the church in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag, smashing furniture and walls and torching cars as they go.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The] Rev. Isaac Onwusongaonye of St. James Anglican Cathedral, of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), told Morning Star News that at about 6 p.m., as he and six other church leaders were meeting for Bible study preparation and the choir was about to begin rehearsal, a church member told them that someone was arguing with the young man in charge of the church-run water borehole, Peter Aleku.

"When we enquired of the water seller what happened, he said that a girl, a (Muslim) neighbor, came and bought water worth 20 naira (1 US cent) and did not pay," Onwusongaonye said.

He added, "Shortly after, the girl's sister came and fetched water worth 5 naira and paid 20 naira and demanded 15 naira in change. But the water seller told her that, for the change, to meet her sister who bought water earlier and did not pay."
The girl was upset and told her mother about the exchange, the clergyman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Nigeria* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted August 29, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Multiple attacks by Islamists on St George’s has prompted the Iraqi government to set up three checkpoints to protect the church.

The new security measures make it virtually impossible to attack the building and show “the government here cares about us,” Canon White - known as the “vicar of Baghdad” - says.

However the violence targeted against Christians in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region continues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 4:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Indonesian pastor remains in a tortured psychological state as a legal case against him lingers on.

Palti Panjaitan, who runs the HKBP Filadelfia church in the village of Jejalen Jaya, east of Bekasi, was accused by an Islamic leader of assaulting him on Christmas Eve of last year.

The pastor has always maintained that he did not assault Abdul Aziz Bin Naimun and was in fact the subject of intimidation and death threats by his accuser.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

The past week has been traumatic for Egyptians. We witnessed bloodshed on our streets, vandalism and the deliberate destruction of churches and government buildings in lawless acts of revenge. One of our Anglican Churches was attacked, and other ministries received threats. We praise God that our churches and congregations are safe, but we grieve for the loss of life and for the churches which were burnt over the past week in Egypt.

The Anglican Church in Egypt serves all Egyptians, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized, through our educational, medical and community development ministries. We seek to be a light in our society, and we continue to serve our neighbours in the difficult situation which surrounds us. Unemployment is at a record high, there is a lack of security on the streets, the economy is in decline, and poverty is crushing for many people in Egypt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted August 26, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No one knows exactly when the Virgin Mary Church was built, but the fourth and fifth centuries are both possible options. In both cases, it was the time of the Byzantines. Egypt's Coptic Church—to which this church in modern-day Delga belonged—had refused to bow to imperial power and Rome's leadership over the nature of Christ. Constantinople was adamant it would force its will on the Copts. Two lines of popes claimed the Seat of Alexandria. One with imperial blessing sat in the open; the other, with his people's support, often hid, moving from one church to the other. Virgin Mary Church's altar outlasted the Byzantines. Arabs soon invaded in A.D. 641. Dynasties rose and fell, but the ancient building remained strong, a monument to its people's survival.

Virgin Mary Church was built underground, a shelter from the prying eye. At its entrance were two ancient Roman columns and an iron door. Inside were three sanctuaries with four altars. Roman columns were engraved in the walls. As in many Coptic churches, historical artifacts overlapped earlier ones. The most ancient drawing to survive into the 21st century: a depiction, on a stone near the entrance, of two deer and holy bread. Layers and layers of history, a testament not only to the place's ancient roots but also to its persistence. Like other Coptic churches, the ancient baptistery was on the western side, facing the altar in the east. Infants were symbolically transferred through baptism from the left to the right. The old icons were kept inside the church, the ancient manuscripts transferred to the Bishopric in modern times.

Read it all.

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Posted August 24, 2013 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamist radicals accuse Christians of being behind the 3 July coup against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood and the toppling and detention of its leader, President Mohamed Mursi. But Christians point out that although the Copts’ leader, Pope Tawadros II, was pictured on television alongside the coup’s protagonist, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, following the take-over, also present was Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar, the beating heart of Sunni Islam. Despite that, since the army carried out its mostly popular coup some 40 churches have been looted and torched, and 23 others heavily attacked.

This is a relatively new development as even hard-line Muslims, like all of Islam, recognise Jews and Christians as Ahl al-Kitab (“People of the Book”) or dhimmi, a status which affords rights of residence while requiring them to pay special taxes. While they stress their inferior status and see them constantly as potential converts to Islam, a more moderate attitude often prevails. For example, the Franciscan nuns at Bani Suef were initially paraded like prisoners of war but were quickly given refuge by kindly Muslim women, an indication that Egyptian innate kindliness survives.

Furthermore, just as Muslims and Christians protested together in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after the revolution against President Mubarak began on 25 January, 2011, so many Muslims have helped to protect churches from Islamist fanatics.

Read it all.

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Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Osama Makram Amin woke to the sound of gunfire, looked out his window and saw what he says were young men throwing gasoline bombs at the nearby Coptic Christian church.

Earlier that morning, security forces in Cairo had attacked two predominantly Islamist sit-ins, leaving hundreds dead. Now, hours later on Aug. 14, attackers in this Upper Egyptian city were embarking on a day of burning and looting that would target 14 Christian churches, homes and businesses. It was the work of Islamists enraged by the Cairo crackdown, said police and many Christian residents.

Read it all.

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Posted August 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Richard Ascough, professor of religious studies at Queen’s University, told me that, “From what I can see, Aslan accepts as historical the passages that fit his construction of Jesus and discards the ones that don’t, which results in a book that is historically suspect, as are most other [Jesus] books that have gone before it.”

Prof. [Reza] Aslan told The Washington Post that the criticism came from his having a foot in both creative writing and religion. “I like to go back and forth,” he acknowledged....He might as well have said, “Welcome to the bricolage of life!” Bricolage is that cultural trend to create a self-satisfying mosaic of our interests....Aslan is now a Muslim, but certainly a hard-core self-definer, inventing his own boundaries. “It’s not that I think Islam is correct and Christianity is incorrect,” he told the Post. “It’s that all religions are nothing more than a language made up of symbols and metaphors to help an individual explain faith.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

3 Comments
Posted August 20, 2013 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before the violence that shook this small village last week, there were warning signs.

On June 30, when millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against now ousted President Mohamed Morsi, residents of Al Nazla marked Christian homes and shops with red graffiti, vowing to protect Morsi's electoral legitimacy with “blood.”

Relations between Christians and Muslims in the village, which had worsened since Morsi's election in 2012, grew even more tense as Islamists spread rumors that it was Christians who were behind the protests against Morsi and his ouster by the military on July 3.

Read it all.


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Posted August 19, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he was concerned by growing religious intolerance in the country with world's largest Muslim population, which many analysts say his administration has failed to contain.

Indonesia has recently seen a series of increasingly violent attacks on religious minorities like Christians, Shia Muslims and members of Ahmadiyah, a small Islamic sect which is considered heretical by mainstream Muslims.

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Posted August 19, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow all the interactive's features. Also, read the accompanying article there which includes the following:
As if sensing trouble, just two days before Wednesday's violence, Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II called on all Egyptians to prevent bloodshed.

"With all compassion I urge everyone to conserve Egyptian blood and ask of every Egyptian to commit to self-restraint and avoid recklessness and assault on any person or property," Tawadros wrote on his official Twitter account Monday.

Youssef Sidhom, editor-in-chief of the Christian weekly Watani, said the recent attacks are painful and vicious but it be worse if they are allowed to divide the two faiths.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted August 17, 2013 at 8:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Friends,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

As I write these words, our St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Suez is under heavy attack from those who support former President Mursi. They are throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the church and have destroyed the car of Rev. Ehab Ayoub, the priest-in-charge of St. Saviour’s Church. I am also aware that there are attacks on other Orthodox churches in Menyia and Suhag in Upper Egypt (photo above), as well as a Catholic church in Suez. Some police stations are also under attack in different parts of Egypt. Please pray and ask others to pray for this inflammable situation in Egypt.

arly this morning, the police supported by the army, encouraged protestors in two different locations in Cairo, to leave safely and go home. It is worth mentioning that these protestors have been protesting for 6 weeks, blocking the roads. The people in these neighborhoods have been suffering a great deal—not only these people, but those commuting through, especially those who are going to the airport. The police created very safe passages for everyone to leave. Many protestors left and went home, however, others resisted to leave and started to attack the police. The police and army were very professional in responding to the attacks, and they used tear gas only when it was necessary. The police then discovered caches of weapons and ammunition in these sites. One area near Giza is now calm, but there is still some resistance at other sites. There are even some snipers trying to attack the police and the army. There are even some rumors that Muslim Brotherhood leaders asked the protestors in different cities to attack police stations, take weapons, and attack shops and churches.

A few hours later, violent demonstrations from Mursi supporters broke out in different cities and towns throughout Egypt. The police and army are trying to maintain safety for all people and to disperse the protestors peacefully. However, the supporters of former President Mursi have threatened that if they are dispersed from the current sites, they will move to other sites and continue to protest. They also threatened to use violence. There have been a number of fatalities and casualties from among the police as well as the protestors, but it seems that the numbers are not as high as expected for such violence. However, the supporters of former President Mursi claim that there are very high numbers of casualties. The real numbers will be known later on.

Please pray that the situation will calm down, for wisdom and tact for the police and the army, for the safety of all churches and congregations, and that all in Egypt would be safe.

May the Lord bless you!

--(The Most Rev.) Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis
 is Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt
 with North Africa and the Horn of Africa
 and President Bishop of the Episcopal / Anglican

Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

6 Comments
Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mona Siddiqui, a professor at Edinburgh University’s school of divinity, makes no secret of the various strains of thought that inform her study of Christians, Muslims and Jesus. Parts of her book are rigorously academic and arcane, other parts are very personal. Unlike Mr Aslan, she does not confine her meditations on her own faith to an introduction. Rather, she ambitiously weaves her personal and scholarly views throughout.

She presents certain basic facts: Muslims revere Jesus as a uniquely inspired prophet who was born of the Virgin Mary, ascended to heaven and will come again. Yet Muslims cannot accept that Jesus was the son of God. This, they believe, reflects a flawed view of both Jesus and God. As Ms Siddiqui shows, Christians and Muslims sparred with one another intensely during the early centuries after Islam’s rise, with each side vying to be the ultimate revelation of God. But the two faiths did at least grudgingly acknowledge one another as monotheistic, despite Islam’s firm rejection of the Christian view of God as a trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristology

2 Comments
Posted August 12, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was nighttime and 10,000 Islamists were marching down the most heavily Christian street in this ancient Egyptian city, chanting "Islamic, Islamic, despite the Christians." A half-dozen kids were spray-painting "Boycott the Christians" on walls, supervised by an adult.

While Islamists are on the defensive in Cairo following the military coup that ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in Assiut and elsewhere in Egypt's deep south they are waging a stepped-up hate campaign, claiming the country's Christian minority somehow engineered Morsi's downfall.

"Tawadros is a dog," says a spray-painted insult, referring to Pope Tawadros II, patriarch of the Copts, as Egypt's Christians are called. Christian homes, stores and places of worship have been marked with large painted crosses.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted August 9, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin has spoken of the "joyful" work of building Christian-Muslim relationships in his first annual message to Muslims on Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

He encouraged the “hard” but also “joyful” work of building "deep and long-lasting relationships" between the two faith communities, which he said he had experienced during his time working in Nigeria.
- See more at: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5117/archbishop-on-eid-al-fitr-let-us-build-deep-and-lasting-ties-with-each-other#sthash.NfFu4T7M.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted August 8, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa invited Muslim leaders and politicians, along with Christian leaders from different denominations, for an Iftar or a break of the fast of Ramadan, at All Saints Cathedral Hall.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 31, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi has unleashed a new wave of violence by extremist Muslims against Christians whom they blame for having supported the calls to overthrow Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first Islamist elected leader, according to rights activists.

Since Mr. Morsi’s ouster on July 3, the activists say, a priest has been shot dead in the street, Islamists have painted black X’s on Christian shops to mark them for arson and angry mobs have attacked churches and besieged Christians in their homes. Four Christians were reported slaughtered with knives and machetes in one village last week.

Read it all.

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Posted July 11, 2013 at 7:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Islamic militants attacked a boarding school in northeast Nigeria before dawn Saturday, killing 29 students and one teacher.

Some of the pupils were burned alive in the latest school attack blamed on a radical terror group, survivors said.

Parents screamed in anguish as they tried to identify the charred and gunshot victims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Previous demonstrations have led to violence, and these are intended to be the biggest since the January 25 revolution which overthrew President Hosni Mubarak. Three people, including an American student who stopped to take photographs of protests in Alexandria, were killed on Friday alone.

The American, Andrew Pochter, 21, was working in the city over the summer as part of a volunteer scheme.

"As we understand it, he was witnessing the protest as a bystander and was stabbed by a protester," his family said in a statement on Saturday from their home in Ohio.

Read it all and please join us in praying for Egypt.

Update: There is more from Reuters there.

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2 Comments
Posted June 29, 2013 at 5:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is going to happen on the 30th of June? We do not know! All what we know is that when emotions run high, anything can happen. However, we trustthat God is in control and we are in His hands.Two days ago during his visit to Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby encouraged us by using St. Paul s words, while in the middle of a storm, “But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost (Acts 27:22).

Read it all.

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4 Comments
Posted June 28, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While listening to a fiery preacher of the gospel I observed three young men in their thirties just to my right giggling at and mocking the preacher’s insistence that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Here was my opportunity.

They were Muslims, and soon we were talking about how Jesus could be both the Son of God and at the same time one with the Father. I asked them if they had read the Injeel, the Arabic word for the Gospels, since Mohammed said that Jesus was a prophet and that God had given us the Gospels. “Ah, but the Injeel has been corrupted,” they said. “But why if God is all powerful would he have allowed his word to be corrupted?” I asked them. No answer.

Our conversation ranged on a wide variety of subjects including Jihad (they insisted that those who interpreted Jidad violently were not “real” Muslims), suicide bombers (again they were not real Muslims), and whether those who followed Jesus caused wars or believed in turning the other cheek. When I turned my cheek and asked one of them to hit me, they all smiled (as did I), but they knew I meant it.
- See more at: http://www.stmichaelschurch.net/my-muslim-encounter-in-london/#sthash.EQYEeald.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyApologeticsChristology

1 Comments
Posted June 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The public meeting in Manchester, Tenn., about 70 miles from Nashville, was supposed to address and tamp down discrimination toward Muslims there.

But instead it turned into a shouting match.

Bill Killian, the local U.S. attorney who organized the meeting, told the people in attendance that hate speech was not protected by the First Amendment. Over the last few years, there have been tensions between Muslims and many Christians in Tennessee. A Coffee County commissioner recently posted a picture on Facebook of a man with one eye looking down the sights of a shotgun, with the caption: "how to wink at a Muslim." The photo went viral.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

3 Comments
Posted June 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Egyptian author Karam Saber said that a misdemeanor court in Beni Suef sentenced him to five years on Wednesday on charges of insulting religion in a collection of short stories he wrote two years ago titled "Where is God?"

The politically active author told Aswat Masriya in a phone call on Wednesday that he plans to appeal the verdict through a legal challenge he will present to the court tomorrow.

Charges of "insulting religion" against authors, artists, television hosts and Coptic Christians have increased in recent months.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 13, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hello Dr. Craig,

I would first like to acknowledge your intellectual and humble manner in defending Christianity. I am Muslim though and I have a few questions for you about Islam that you might answer. I would tremendously appreciate it if you could answer back, I am on the brink of considering Christianity but I want answers:

1) is it true Mohammed took the Gospel of Jesus from the Bible and twisted/perverted it for his own benefits?

2) does Islam have an experiential reality (like modern day miracles, visions from Muhammad) if so what is the best explanation for that?

3) if I became a Christian and asked God sincerely to reveal Jesus to me in a supernatural form, will it happen?

Read it all and see what you make of his answers.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyApologetics

1 Comments
Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Egyptian court has convicted a Coptic Christian teacher of blasphemy but didn't hand down a prison sentence and only imposed a fine on her.

The court on Tuesday ruled that elementary schoolteacher Dimyana Abdel-Nour had insulted Islam. It ordered that she pay a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($14,000). Abdel-Nour was not in the courtroom for the verdict.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there was a Bible belt over 1,500 years ago, it was in Turkey. However, that changed with the rise of Islam and its eventual conquest of the region. Then, a few centuries later, the area would be at the heart of one of the world's most powerful empires, the Islamic Ottoman Empire.

After the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey took a road less traveled among majority Islamic nations—it leaned toward Europe rather than the Middle East.

Turkey has more recently been seen as a moderate Muslim country, though some (including the current President) reject that terminology, and there are troubling signs for the future.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted June 12, 2013 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his Zurich speech he warned against the rising threat of a "tyranny of the majority" in countries affected by the recent Arab revolutions, and called on all concerned to commit themselves to equal rights for religious minorities and women in these countries.

Noting that humanity lives in world-changing times, the bishop referred to a recent attack in London on a soldier who was hacked to death by two men and a similar attack in France by people who regard themselves as converts to Islam.

At first the media reported politicians saying the London attack was done by "lone wolves", but the bishop said it emerged there is a connection with bigger groups and that the people were acting in connection with others.

Read it all (and please note the video for this talk was posted earlier this week)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

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Posted June 7, 2013 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Since the devastating attacks of 9/11—when the world saw afresh that religion has geo-political consequences, and that Islam is the most volatile religion on the world’s stage—more and more Christians have been asking this question.

Yale theologian Miroslav Volf answers the question in a recent book (Allah: A Christian Response) with a nuanced but insistent Yes: Christians and Muslims do indeed worship the same God. In a review of Volf’s book, Baylor historian Thomas Kidd faults Volf for sidestepping the question of salvation—and therefore the question of true worship—and for not being critical enough in his evaluation of the identity of the God or gods of these two religions.

Kidd is quite right; indeed, there are deeper problems with Volf’s thesis. His argument for the identity of the Muslim and Christian Gods collapses under its own weight. Volf’s own logic underscores what the Qur’an itself suggests—that the God of the Qur’an is radically different from the God Christians worship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

5 Comments
Posted June 7, 2013 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all, from a speech hosted by Christian Solidarity International (CSI).

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

2 Comments
Posted June 6, 2013 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The conventional portrayal of Mustapha Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, has been built on the political canard that the secularist principles of the Republic of Turkey were a deliberate turn away from the Islamic theocracy of the Ottoman Empire. The reality is quite different. In fact, Turkey's founding moment involved the genocide of two-and-a-half million Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians in Ottoman Anatolia and Asia Minor--in short, most of the remaining Orthodox Christian population that had survived from Byzantine Christian times.

In some ways, Ankara's policies against Turkey's Christian citizens have added a modern veneer and sophisticated brutality to Ottoman norms and practices. Pogroms, persecution, and discrimination have been visited on Turkey's Christians. The Turkish press revealed only weeks ago that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the target of an assassination conspiracy (the second such plot against his life in four years), and the constant threats and interference in the affairs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox community have led to the near extinction of that ancient Christian community. In the words of an anonymous Church hierarch in Turkey fearful for the life of his flock, Christians in Turkey are an endangered species. The siege of Constantinople continues today, 560 years after the fall on May 29th, 1453.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkey* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted June 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A series of violent riots against Pakistani Christians in the past decade has concerned human rights watchers and religious minorities in Pakistan.

The latest deadly incident, which took place just two months ago, raised questions about what, if anything, can be done to prevent such violence.

The March incident when a Muslim mob burned down a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, echoed a similar incident in the rural town of Gojra four years earlier. Nine people were killed when rioters torched two Christian neighborhoods over rumors the Christians had celebrated a wedding by showering the groom with pages torn from the Quran. Despite hundreds of arrests, no one was tried for the riots, and relatives of those killed have now fled Pakistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted May 28, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the ouster of Mr. Mubarak in February 2011, a growing number of Copts, including some of the most successful businessmen, have left Egypt or are preparing to do so, fearing persecution by an Islamist-controlled government as much as the stagnant economy that is smothering their industries.

Among the most prominent are the heads of the Sawiris family, who for several months have been running their enormous business empire from abroad.

“Every week I learn of 10 people who are leaving or who have already left,” Mr. [Wasfi Amin] Wassef said. “They know that what happened to the Sawiris’ can happen to them tomorrow.”

Read it all

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesCoptic ChurchOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted May 16, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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