Blog – 2018 2nd Quarter
Weekly Commentary June 24-30, 2018
Over the last month the U.S. Supreme Court has issued three decisions that have served to protect the expression of Christian religious belief. First came the June 4, 2018 case in which it was held that a Christian baker’s religious beliefs could not be violated to compel him to decorate a wedding cake for a same sex marriage. Then on June 26 the Court held that pro-life pregnancy centers, which are usually operated by faithful Christians, could not be compelled by the state to give abortion information to their clients. Then on June 28 the Court issued an order to an appellate court which stated that it had ruled wrongly when it allowed police to ban silent prayer in the home of a retired nurse. The first two cases were not unanimous, in part due to conflicting precedents created on the slippery slope we have travelled until today.
This week’s report (click here to read) documents not only the last of these cases, but also the overall state of religious freedom in the West, which appears to be running in the opposite direction to the recent U.S. experience. Bishop Gavin Ashenden wrote on his observations, primarily in Great Britain:
Can we win? In the West? Almost certainly not. This project [that denies religious freedom for the sake of other ‘freedoms’] has captured education, the law, medicine, and even the armed forces. The situation is too far gone
What he calls “this project” is otherwise but inexactly termed ‘Cultural Marxism’ since it applies quasi-Marxist relativism to the cultural sphere:
Secularized Christians have no immunity against the zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. By swallowing the values and language of cultural Marxism Christians have deprived themselves of the protection they needed in the spirit and cosmic struggle against evil… Already as Christians committed to scriptural anthropologies, we fail the terms and conditions of Facebook, twitter and YouTube…The catacombs was where we begun. And like them, we face a dangerously repressive culture determined to persecute the church. What we face, unpalatable as it is, is not a wave of revival to capture our culture, but a season of persecution
So, are these recent U.S. cases an outlier, bumps on the road to the catacombs, or are they signs of the possibility of revival? The matter would appear to be entirely in our hands, provided we are willing to stand and fight for the truth.
In Latin America we report on the murder of a Mexican pastor whose son was murdered nine years ago, and on rising state sponsored violence in Nicaragua that has been targeting the Church. The Nigerian mass murder of Christians has accelerated yet again. Stories from seven other countries which are featured on this week’s report tell us yet again of our need to pray for the entire world.
Matagalpa, Nicaragua – courtesy Riderfoot Shutterstock CNA
Weekly Commentary June 17-23, 2018
This week’s report (click here to read in full) contains one of those astonishing stories that so clearly demonstrates the faith of the Christian martyrs. A Chinese pastor was released after two and a half years’ imprisonment. As he left prison he sang songs thanking and praising God! Another story from China tells of a different form of resistance to persecution.
A story from India tells of a pastor who was attacked when he attempted to file affidavits in court that testified to the legal conversion of people to Christianity. The reader needs to recall that many Indian states have laws prohibiting ‘forced’ conversion, and so converts must go through many onerous and expensive steps to protect their pastors from arrest – not that it really helps much, since false arrests are common. This story demonstrates that vigilantes will step outside the law to prevent Christians from using the law for their protection.
However, most of this week’s report concerns the mass murder of Christians in Nigeria and the Central African Republic. Please read this week’s report and pray for them, since they (and so many others) seem to be beyond help from more earthly powers.
Weekly Commentary June 10-16, 2018
We have one story this week with some redeeming features (please click here to read in full): a pastor in Eritrea has been released after almost eleven years in a police station cell. He is in need of medical attention. Please pray for his recovery.
A monk died at age 96 in Romania after decades of persecution, and it may be said of him: I have run the good race. Blessed be his memory!
A priest was killed in the Philippines while preparing the altar before Mass, the third in the last few months. Two hundred clergy have applied for pistol permits as a result, despite pressure to not do so by their bishops.
There are two pages of persecutions in Egypt, principally persecutions of Christians for not following the Ramadan fast (imagine: Christians must follow the obligations of a faith not their own!) and for discrimination against them in professional soccer. Another female student was abducted.
There are three pages of persecutions in India, including the arrest of a couple on the day before their wedding.
In Pakistan five youths were arrested for a theft despite an exoneration from the Muslim victim.
A Vietnamese priest was prevented from leaving the country for a conference.
A Pakistani refugee family has again been denied asylum in the United Kingdom.
Bishops in Nigeria and the Philippines described continuing persecutions.
The fallout from the Irish abortion referendum has continued on both sides of the border with government pressures on Christian conscience.
Please keep up your prayers for all of the people who struggle in these difficult situations.
Weekly Commentary June 3-9, 2018
We have two stories with positive outcomes (click here to read this week’s report in full). First, in a story with far reaching consequences, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Christian who had refused to bake a cake for a same sex wedding. The ruling’s applicability to other similar cases is questionable, but it definitely held that government cannot give religious motives a secondary status under the law. On a philosophical level the radical secularists have suffered a major and well-deserved defeat.
The second case is the resolution of a story from two years ago. On July 9. 2016 we reported:
The Rev. Andrew White, for years the only Anglican clergyman in Iraq and a witness to much of the suffering there, has been accused of having paid money to the Islamic State to free sex slaves. He is now under investigation by the British government agency that regulates charities. It is hard to know what to be upset about, that he did pay money to the Islamic State, or that people secure in a Western country would think that extreme methods to free sex slaves is something that can be criticized in a cavalier way.
News came this week of Andrew White’s exoneration by the British government, which presumably means he did not send money to the Islamic State. One can only hope that he will be reinstated at the charity he founded. The commentators on this story noted that the Church of England did little to nothing to support him against these accusations.
In other news:
Christians were reported to have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Indonesia, the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The Indonesian story was of a convert who died preventing the entry of a suicide bomber into his church. Many of the other deaths were of Catholic priests. Unnamed Christians were killed in the Central African Republic.
Christians were taken into captivity, or remained there, by abduction or arrest in Burkina Faso, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Mali, and Vietnam. The Congo abductee was later released.
Christians or their churches were assaulted or threatened with assault in Bangladesh (an old story with a new legal update), India, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Palestine, the Philippines, and Uganda.
Christians suffered or described Western style discrimination in Denmark and Sweden.
Finally, we have an account from Argentina with echoes of the Rev. Andrew White story. Archbishop Hector Aguer has been on these pages before thanks to his defense of the Church against the radical secularists and sexual libertines of the modern world. He submitted his resignation after reaching retirement age, and the Vatican response was to order him to leave his diocese! He was effectively made homeless by the order, and a Melkite bishop offered to take him into his home! It is so sad to see good faithful men such as the Rev. White and Abp. Aguer suffer at the hands of those who do not love Christ, and then again at the hands of those who say they do. Please pray that Christians everywhere will become more sensitive and supportive of each other.
We have a rather large number of photos of churches from this week’s reports, please allow them to stand in stead for all Christians for whom we lack individual photos.
Blessed Isidoro Bakanja church, Seka-Mbote district, Boma, Democratic Republic of the Congo – courtesy Fides
church in Kyahemga, Democratic Republic of the Congo – courtesy Fides
Holy Family Church, Kamaing Kawng Ra village, Kachin state, Myanmar – courtesy Free Burma Rangers
church in Nayya Sarabah village, Pakistan – courtesy World Watch Monitor
Milk Grotto, Bethlehem, Palestine – courtesy Wikipedia
Weekly Commentary May 27 – June 2, 2018
This week’s report (click here to read in full) lists 24 stories from 15 countries:
- China continued to expand its crackdown on Christians, especially with its prohibition on the religious education of Christian children
- An Islamic attack on a Russian church killed a congregant and two police officers
- Christian women were abducted or threatened with abduction in Egypt and Pakistan. In the Egyptian story the woman escaped, but in one of the Pakistani accounts the woman was murdered
- Attacks on Christians in Nigeria – in what is a civil war in all but name – continued
- Hindu calls for the expulsion of Christians from India were repeated
- In the United States a college student was publicly threatened with death for his refusal to join the anti-Christian gender revolution, and his college turned on him when he protested
- Church properties were seized or damaged in Egypt, Nicaragua, Nigeria, the United States, Venezuela, and Vietnam, but a property dispute in Turkey improved
- Christians risked their lives to serve others in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Sweden even made the list for one of those minor but telling stories of secular discrimination
Every week the news reminds us of the spiritual bonds we share with our sisters and brothers around the world. Please continue your prayers on their behalf.
Church of the Archangel Michael, Grozny, Chechnya, Russia – courtesy pravolsavie.ru
Weekly Commentary May 19-26, 2018
With our resumption of publication, we have much catching up to do. This week’s report (click here to read in full) contains the murder of six priests, three while presiding at Masses in two African nations with their congregations and one while sitting in a confessional in Mexico. A bishop in Africa was the apparent object of an assassination attempt, and threats were made against bishops in East Timor (the first time that small nation has appeared on our report) and India. The Indian threat was not overt but implied, because it was centered on Hindu nationalist resentment at Christian resistance to its advancement.
The Mexican killings were perhaps the worst, as they were nothing but the deliberate glorification of evil. The consensus of local clergy is that people now kill priests to show they fear nothing, not even God, in a desire to prove their ruthlessness.
There are several stories of arrest and harassment of Christians in China and India.
We have two more stories from the United Kingdom of officially condoned anti-Christian bigotry.
We ask for your continued prayers for these people, and for all those we have been unable to report upon and so may be at risk of being forgotten except by their loved ones and God.
Announcement – April 25, 2018
As of today we are falling into our third week of suspension of publication. We have wanted to inform you about the reason for this suspension, but the reason itself has largely prevented this until now.
In short, we have been experiencing severe computer trouble. We have always operated on a shoestring budget, but we are now down to our last computer and that machine is dying. It takes 20-30 minutes to turn on and it often freezes up after 10-15 minutes of operation. We finally received an operating system upgrade a few days ago that has allowed us to get a bit more done, such as this announcement, but the 2-4 hours of continuous time needed from the computer each day for the research and editing that we require for publication is still impossible.
We are actively working to secure a replacement computer. Please say a small prayer that we will quickly succeed, and please keep up your prayers for Christians around the world.
Weekly Commentary April 1-7, 2018
Many of the stories on this week’s report (click here to read) are of families.
A family was murdered in Pakistan while going out for ice cream after celebrating Easter, and we report more details of the attack on a family by doctors in a hospital in which one family member was killed.
A missionary family in Sudan was murdered.
A family in Nigeria suffered the loss of a husband and father in a bombing raid by the Air Force that appeared to not be directed against Islamic insurgents but rather in support of them.
An Iraqi nun was denied a visa to visit her sister in the United Kingdom.
Please read over this week’s report and pray for the persecuted in these days of celebration of the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Blog – 2018 2nd Quarter