Blog – 2017 2nd Quarter
Weekly Commentary June 18-24, 2017
Our report this week is a typically average report (please click here to read). Good news includes the release of prisoners in India and the dismissal of most criminal charges against two Christian journalists in California in the U.S.
From India we have more details of the May 21, 2017 arrest of several Vacation Bible School volunteers.
An Egyptian story gives more details of the May 26, 2017 mass murder of Christian pilgrims and construction workers on their way to a monastery. One 14 year old survivor who lost his father in the attack now spends his time at a monastery reading the Bible
From Pakistan we have a continuation of the story of the June 8, 2017 attempted rape of an 8 year old girl. The family members are in all but name slave laborers. Their “employer” attempted to prevent them from filing a police report, and then on June 20 beat and tortured the victim’s 13 year old brother into confessing he raped the 3 year old daughter of another “employee” (the brother is listed as 18 on the new report, but the original report lists him as 13 and a different brother as 18). The police have stated the brother will be tried “alongside” his sister’s assailant, which obviously is a hint that they want both cases dropped and know that the new case is just a pretext for that outcome.
In the United Kingdom the Rev. Gavin Ashenden – who was arrested in Moscow in 1982 for smuggling Bibles and who resigned in January 2017 as a Queen’s Chaplain following his criticism of an anti-Christian interfaith scandal – has written an essay on the resignation of Liberal Democratic party leader Tim Farron:
“…Tim Farron made a claim that should have shocked our society to the core. He said he could no longer lead a political party and be faithful to Christ…At this point I would have hoped that all open-minded, tolerant people would have protested on his behalf. I would have expected the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the bishops of the Church of England to have publicly backed his right to have a Christian conscience and maintain a public office…But there was silence. Except for Archbishop Welby. He went so far, in his defense of freedom of speech and Christian conscience, as to wonder if Farron’s forced resignation ‘raised questions’…”
Just in case the reader is wondering, yes, that last line is sarcasm – from a very gentle yet perceptive man. It is directed not only at Church leaders who put their institutions above the modern demands of the Faith, but at all of us who soft pedal the attacks on our Faith. Persecution may come in many different forms, nearly all of which are cloaked with the norms of our various societies, but it is nonetheless no less real for that. Let us continue our prayers: most of us may not have an opportunity to speak out in defense of our Faith, but we all can avoid silence before God.
Weekly Commentary June 11-17, 2017
We have one story of extremely good news this week (please click here to read). Christina Khidr Ebada, the 3 year old girl who was abducted from her mother’s lap by the Islamic State in 2014 while they sat on a bus, has been returned to her family in good health. She was recovered by the Iraqi military during fighting in the area around Mosul. Let us thank God for her recovery.
At the other extreme, an elderly Chinese bishop who had suffered persecution during the Cultural Revolution has died of cancer. Two Chinese citizens who were possible underground missionaries in Pakistan were killed, although whether by the Islamic State or by a Pakistani air strike is unknown. An American missionary died in a bus accident on the way to the airport. A Christian elementary school teacher in Kenya was killed in front of his students by Islamic militants, and another was abducted along with the Muslim teacher who tried to protect him.
It should be noted that we have three stories this week in which Muslims gave aid to persecuted Christians: the Iraqi account of Christina Khidr Ebada, the aforementioned Kenyan story, and a story from the Philippine fighting on Mindanao.
For readers interested in a possible Islamic reformation, we have a link to an interview with the Egyptian scholar Fr Henri Boulad, SJ, who lists several attempts in the last 130 years by Muslims to reform Islam, all of which ended in failure.
One story in particular shows the need for reformation in Western democracies. This week saw the resignation of Tim Farron as the leader of the Liberal Democrats. Despite a good showing in the recent British elections, Farron found that he was constantly attacked for his evangelical Christian views. His letter of resignation should throw cold water on all Christians: “…The consequences of the [media] focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader…To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me…I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society…”
Please pray that this be not so. The world has greatly benefited by the relationship between Christianity and liberal democracy in the last two and a half centuries. Christianity does not need liberal democracy, it will still call men and women to Christ and will save souls whether democracy stands or falls. Several prominent Christians on this week’s report point out that democracy needs Christianity, regardless of what radical secularists might think. Moreover, we all know that a world that turns its back on liberal democracy will head for disaster. We need to pray and work for all of these things, as one British commentator said this week, “before it is too late”.
Weekly Commentary June 4-10, 2017
Christian martyrs reportedly died in several ways this week. One bishop in Cameroon was murdered, while another bishop in Pakistan who had survived an assassination attempt died of natural causes. Another Christian in Pakistan died after he was denied medical treatment. At least two Christians were killed in the latest jihad attack in London.
Please click here to read this week’s report in full. Fourteen nations are represented. Please pray for them all. Thank you.
St. Luke’s Church, Ranaghat, West Bengal, India – courtesy AsiaNews
Weekly Commentary May 28 – June 3, 2017
This week Islamic militants attacked a city in the Philippines, killed numerous Christians, took other Christians hostage from the cathedral and then burned the building. In the nearby islands of Indonesia local Christians expressed concern that the Philippine military offensive would drive the militants into their country, and so have been working with the security forces to protect their communities.
Another story from Indonesia in this week’s report (click here to read) concerns the decision by Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama aka Ahok to withdraw his appeal of his blasphemy conviction. At least one Western commentator has drawn parallels between his letter from jail and Martin Luther King’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, although in truth it is far different in content and Christian emphasis. This ‘Letter from Depok Jail’ may be read by clicking here.
Other stories of interest include:
- A fine assessed on a Chinese church which equals the total of six years’ of tithes and donations
- The arrest of 49 Christians at a post-wedding celebration in Eritrea
- The seizure of 71 teens who were on their way to a summer Bible camp by authorities in India on the grounds that their families’ conversions were illegal (technically true, since the law regulating religious conversions is so onerous only the wealthy can avoid breaking it)
- The death of a Pakistani asylum seeker in a Thai detention center after months of medical neglect
- The continuing Church opposition to the socialist regime in Venezuela – a socialism which is beginning to echo the autarchy of North Korea or Mao’s 1958 Great Leap Forward in China as it morphs from the grantor of poverty to the grantor of death.
Of course this week’s report also lists the usual arrests, assaults, abductions, Western-style demotions, and other violations of the human spirit and of God’s desires for His people. Please read it over, and please remember that your prayers will be united with those of every Christian listed on this report, and with many others. We are never alone when we pray for the common good.
Weekly Commentary May 20-27, 2017
Two mass murders which exhibited at least some anti-Christian characteristics occurred this week. One was a mass shooting of religious pilgrims including many children on their way to St. Samuel Monastery in Egypt, which is listed on our report (click here to read). The other was the suicide bombing of a music concert in Manchester, England, which was attended by many children. This second mass murder has not yet been reported on by Today’s Martyrs.
Why, the reader might ask?
The reason has to do with the decline of Christianity in the West.
Unlike the so-called underdeveloped world, it cannot be safely assumed that Western victims of religious violence with Christian names are in fact Christian. Moreover, Western mainstream media (excepting perhaps Australia, Canada, and the United States) seem to ignore the religious affiliations of such victims in their reports. For example, the reported Christian victims of the March 22, 2016 bombing of the Brussels Airport in Belgium were mostly U.S. missionaries. Since Today’s Martyrs reports on identified Christians only, we therefore cannot report on any such victims unless we can find their affiliations in online obituaries.
This is another proof of the sad state of affairs for Western civilization, and for Western Christianity.
Another point: in both of these incidents the attackers managed to evade locations that were protected by security forces and attack people at nearby unsecured locations. There is a great lesson here. The primary focus of Western security, namely on the identification and protection of ‘likely’ targets, has been revealed to be a failure. Therefore the Western view that the current state of affairs can be managed indefinitely is also a failure, at least by any reasonable standard of social peace and justice. There are only three other options. The first is submission to Islam – though the large number of Muslim victims of Islamic violence worldwide really precludes this option as a means to peace, and in any case this option is not open to the followers of Jesus Christ. The second is the kind of military and anti-immigration action that the West is loath to implement, and which some Christians see (perhaps accurately, perhaps not) as having the potential to violate the Gospel. The third option is to work for the Christian conversion of the attackers, which would require a re-commitment by Western Christians to their faith – a re-commitment which would be fearful to we who have been comfortable for so long – and which also would bring martyrdom. But at least such martyrdom would be of a more voluntary nature than that experienced by the children of Egypt and England.
St. Samuel Monastery, Minya province, Egypt
At least one Christian was killed in Kenya near the Somali border, and another victim of the Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt has died in a hospital in Germany. More stories can be found from China, India, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Pakistan, the U.S., and Uzbekistan.
Please read this week’s report, and please pray for a renewal of faith amongst us, so that we may face the future with courage and with love.
Weekly Commentary May 14-20, 2017
One story this week is such a demonstration of the love of Christians for others that it deserves to be headline news around the world.
The Central African Republic city of Bangassou has been the scene of recent violence by the militia known as anti-Balaka [“anti-machete” in the Sangho language]. The anti-Balaka militia originally formed as a defense against the Muslim Selenka [“Coalition”] militia during 2014. Widely reported around the world as a “Christian” militia, it is nothing of the kind. Christian leaders in the country have described anti-Balaka as composed of animists and syncretic Christians who engage in animist rituals. Anti-Balaka began in 2014 to kill Muslims who had nothing to do with the atrocities perpetrated by Seleka, and attacked Christians who attempted to hide and protect their Muslim neighbors.
So it should be no surprise that an attack by anti-Balaka on May 14, 2017 caused nearly 1,000 Muslims to flee to Bangassou’s largest mosque in the hope that they would find protection. They did. News reports have not mentioned police or UN peacekeepers – such people may well have been present – but they do mention the hundreds of Christians who surrounded the mosque to inhibit an anti-Balaka attack. One of them was the leader of the Catholic Church in the city, Bishop Juan Jose Aguirre Munos. The anti-Balaka forces opened fire on the crowd. Several were injured, and the mosque Imam who happened to be standing right next to Bishop Munos was killed.
This event is reminiscent of the March 24, 1964 martyrdom of Fr. Herman Rasschaert, who was killed while attempting to stop a mob attack on a mosque in Gerda, Simdega, Jharkhand state, India. In both cases we see Christians who have taken the lesson of the Gospels very seriously, who have shown they are willing to lay down their lives for their neighbors, no matter what their neighbors may think of Christianity. This is a sobering thought in this age of renewed religious war. These are acts of heroism and faith that should make us sober, frighteningly so.
And we should ask: why is this not headline news?
Our report this week (click here to read) contains the links to this original story. We have a total of 23 stories from 16 lands, including more named victims from the Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt and the attempted murder of a priest while at the cathedral altar in Mexico City. Please read this report and again please let it inspire us in prayer and faith.
Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City
Weekly Commentary May 7-13, 2017
Several Christians have been freed from captivity this week, two in China, two in Sudan, and 82 in Nigeria, as described in this week’s report (click here to read). Another Chinese Christian escaped the country with her two children and made it to Thailand and from there to the U.S. – her story included a dramatic race to the Bangkok airport with U.S. diplomats while pursued by Chinese diplomats. An Iranian Christian was granted asylum in the United Kingdom.
Of course these stories were the exceptions. Christians were killed or died from ill treatment in Burundi and Egypt, and an elderly bishop in China who had been persecuted during the Cultural Revolution died of natural causes. An impoverished Christian has been abducted in Pakistan and it is not known if he is alive or dead. Churches and their members were attacked in various ways in Bangladesh, China, India, Spain, and Sudan.
Monastery of the Holy Face, Alicante, Spain – courtesy Wikipedia
The most important story may be the conviction and imprisonment of Indonesian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, on blasphemy charges. Please read our report this week for details on the conviction and the public response – it includes an analysis by a priest that raised the specter of a military coup but also cited the inspiring peaceful response of Ahok’s Christian supporters. In effect Ahok has been a pawn in the continuing civil war within Islam, a civil war that will determine not only the future of authentic democracy in Muslim majority nations but the fate of millions of Christians and Muslims throughout the world. The Muslims who have lost this battle in Indonesia are the natural allies of Christians and others who support a pluralistic and peaceful society. There are more battles to come, including Ahok’s appeal of his conviction (and similar battles outside Indonesia), and so we need to pray for him and for all who truly desire and seek peace and justice.
Weekly Commentary April 30 – May 6, 2017
This week our report (click here to read) has two items from the West. First, the psychiatric hospitals operated by a Catholic religious order in Belgium have surrendered to the prevailing winds and agreed to allow euthanasia on their premises. The Catholic clerics on the board of directors were outvoted by the lay members and have expressed their opposition. Not only are these clerics against the murder of their patients, but they are aware that this decision will be used as propaganda by anti-Christians that the church has surrendered. Indeed, this propaganda claim has already happened.
The second Western case involves Professor Anthony Esolin, Dr. Esolin has been under pressure to resign from his tenured position at Providence College in the U.S. due to the expression of his Christian views, and he has just announced that he has done so. Our report lists his reasons, which are completely understandable.
Both of these incidents again show the fundamentally totalitarian nature of current opposition to the Christian view of the world. Dissent from the secular view of the world is not to be tolerated.
Elsewhere we have many of the usual stories of oppression and desecration, and a few acts of deliverance.
In Pakistan a Christian was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy in a case where someone else bought a cell phone in his name and then texted offensive messages to a radical Muslim cleric. A Christian janitor was publicly beaten for the poor hygienic conditions at his hospital. Another abducted teen girl has been freed by a court, thank God. The parishioners at a church have been under pressure by their neighbors to convert to Islam or abandon their homes.
Christ Assemblies Church International, Faisalabad – courtesy Christians in Pakistan
In the Central African Republic a refugee camp for Christians has been in operation since a Muslim attack in October 2016. An Open Doors relief worker named Nathan described the conditions in this UN protected camp:
“…More often than not, prolonged camp life disrupts family life and social structures. Out of boredom, fathers can turn to drinking and prostitutes. Children can get out of control. But as I walk around the hundreds of identical grass-thatched huts, I am surprised to see a high level of organization and order. I see no traces of alcohol or products for brewing it. What I do see is whole families sitting chatting in front of huts, and sober fathers interacting with obedient children. I wonder if this has something to do with the many well-attended ad-hoc churches in the camp.”
Once again we have evidence (as we have reported before, click here to read) of the closeness to heaven of the Christians in the Central African Republic, despite – or because of? – their great distance from a material and worldly paradise. There is more such blessed news amid the sorrow from that land on our report this week, please read it and allow it to inspire you in prayer.
Weekly Commentary April 23-29, 2017
This week’s report (click here to read) covers 19 countries on 13 pages, of which three – China, India, and Pakistan – occupy almost half of the report. However, the worst stories of martyrdom are from Egypt, where another hospitalized victim of the Palm Sunday church bombings has succumbed to his injuries, and Madagascar, where a priest was killed during a robbery.
Franciscan Friary – Ambendrana Antsohihy, Madagascar – courtesy Fides
Another evil story came from Egypt. Parents of an abducted teen girl received a phone call: stop your attempts to recover her or we will put an explosive vest on her and send her into a church.
Another teen girl was abducted in Pakistan but was then returned to her family. Other cases from that country include a meeting to free another teen girl, the abduction and torture of a young man who had befriended a Muslim woman, a church arson attack, a riot against a Christian ghetto, and the refusal of the Supreme Court to expedite the appeal of Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2009 for alleged blasphemy.
In China the installation of video cameras in churches has continued, as has harassment of ministers for various reasons. The good news is that one bishop has been released from imprisonment and it appears that a Christian civil rights attorney is about to be released.
In India we also have some good news. A new state governor widely known for his anti-Christian opinions met with local bishops and pledged some cooperation [time will tell if it is honest: many such meetings have few good results] and six Christians who were arrested in 2009 on false illegal conversion charges were finally acquitted for lack of evidence – both their accuser and the alleged victim denied their guilt years ago but the case continued to drag on due to bigotry. These good stories are countered with the destruction of a hilltop cross and the imminent expulsion of three long time missionaries.
Another good story comes from Nigeria, where an abducted priest has been released.
Other stories include tribal warfare in the Congo, assaults in Ethiopia and Uganda, secret police attacks in Kazakhstan, Sudan, and Tajikistan, and discrimination in Vietnam.
There are also two stories from the United Kingdom and the United States which reflect each other. In the U.S. a cardinal archbishop has criticized the leader of the Democratic Party who had called for the exclusion of anti-abortion – and therefore most Christian – members of the party from its ballots, and encouraged members of the party to seek the renunciation of this exclusionary call. In the UK a bishop gave a strong homily on Easter Vigil:
“In our world, two dangerous ideologies are mounting. Just as in the 20th century it was Communism versus Fascism, so in the 21st a new battle is brewing…secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services…they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression…They are totalitarian. They are destructive of the human person. They pose a grave threat to human happiness and to a healthy society…this is now having lethal consequences for the weakest, for the unborn child, for the handicapped, the elderly, the dying. This is why this Easter, as Christians, it’s time we said, ‘enough is enough!’. We need to rise up to the challenge. We need to roll back the agenda”.
If the day ever comes in which full-blown Christian persecution arises in the democratic West, this week may seem in retrospect as one of the signposts on that journey. Our prayers and our actions will help determine how and where that journey goes.
Weekly Commentary April 16-22, 2017
The one good outcome on this week’s report (click here to read), in a worldly sense, is the freedom of a Pakistani woman from a forced marriage. This woman has been abducted, escaped, abducted again, and then escaped again. Finally she was freed from this marriage – a marriage to which she never agreed – by a court that granted her a formal bill of divorce. This is a highly unusual outcome, and we can thank the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) for their diligence and creativity in resolving this incident. Incidentally, if any reader is looking for a Christian charity to support that has been doing good for suffering Christians, the reader can put the BPCA at the top of their prospective list. It is on ours.
Otherwise our report is the usual ten page compilation of atrocities.
In China a Taiwanese minister was detained for leading a congregation in song on a Saturday. The government there has been stepping up video surveillance of Christians.
The Christian governor of Jakarta in Indonesia has apparently lost his bid for re-election – recall that he was charged with blasphemy just before the campaign began. His concession speech should set a standard for humility. His trial will continue.
Another Christian woman has been abducted in Pakistan.
Some local officials in Vietnam attempted to detain a priest on Easter. His parishioners surrounded him and got shoved around, and the attack stopped after another priest phoned the provincial officials and convinced them to intervene.
A cathedral in Kathmandu, Nepal, was subjected to an arson attack but damage was minor. This cathedral was also the scene of a bombing in 2009 that killed three including a 15 year old female student.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral, Kathmandu, Nepal – courtesy Wikipedia
At least 12 Catholic Christians were killed in Nigeria at an Easter Vigil Mass. Their bishop publicly blamed the state governor for their deaths, and was backed by local Protestant clergy.
A 35 year old priest died in Venezuela on Holy Saturday from meningitis. How is this martyrdom? He died due to a lack of medicine, and thus in union with his countrymen who also suffer at the hands of a government whose god is a political ideology and not the true God of Scripture. The government did not order his death in hatred of the faith, but they might as well have.
A teenaged boy was brutally murdered in Egypt on Holy Thursday while on his way for tutoring. We also have more news concerning the Palm Sunday church bombings there. One more injured Christian has died, and another has been identified. The newly identified martyr was a church volunteer security guard who can be seen on a security video directing the bomber to the metal detector seconds before the detonation. The following week his place was taken, by his son, who said “I’m continuing what he started. Why worry or be afraid? He has gone to heaven, and I am ready to join him if necessary”. So that too is a story with a good outcome, though not in a worldly sense at all.
Weekly Commentary April 9-15, 2017
Tomorrow April 16, 2017 is the Paschal Celebration. It has many names, including Pascha, Easter, and Resurrection Day, the differences due to language and culture across the world. Christians differ on the setting of the date of celebration, but this year the different calendars aligned and so by happenstance they are united. Christians are also united in their faith that this day is the celebration of their salvation through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
This year it is also the day that ends a week which showed how much we need salvation.
Our report this week (click here to read) includes the Palm Sunday suicide bombings of two churches in Egypt by the Islamic State. At least 45 were killed and 126 injured. In the first attack the bomber was able to enter the church in Tanta and self-detonate among the choir of deacons. The second attack happened at the security checkpoint outside the Coptic cathedral in Alexandria, killing 17 including several Muslim police and pedestrians. Pope Tawadros II was officiating in the cathedral, and was so upset that he refused to move to a safer location (as if there was one) and prayed. The brother of one of the murdered deacons later said “I want to say to my martyred brother: ‘I love you so much and I want to be like you’. I also want to say something to ISIL: ‘I’m ready to die for my faith, like my brother. It’s my desire to follow him in this. I’m waiting for you, so don’t delay and please tell me which church you will bomb next so I can wait for you there. I look forward to meet Jesus, so please don’t delay, as I wait for you’”. The apparent fatalism is unnerving, but not the indomitable faith behind it.
Mar Girgis Church, Tanta, Egypt – courtesy Kaled Desouki / AFP / Getty
A Christian was burned to death in a debt dispute in Pakistan. In another incident in that country, a Muslim college student named Mashal Khan was killed in his dormitory by a mob composed of hundreds of his fellow students. Reportedly his ‘crime’ was to have made comments on his Facebook page – which he titled ‘The Humanist’ – that were favorable towards the widely persecuted Ahmadiyya branch of Islam. It should be noted that the perpetrators were extremely proud of their actions: they made a video of the murder and posted it to social media! Christian leaders were quick to condemn the murder, as we report, but it should also be noted that many eloquent statements came from Muslims:
Hamza Arshad, analyst and journalist: “Look at where our society has come to. A mere charge of blasphemy can unleash a fiery volcano that engulfs you, as holy zealots shout slogans. Our society has become a furnace of seething emotions. The way the young man was killed and the traditional indifference of law enforcing agencies was shocking but not surprising because no one tries to save a person once he is charged of blasphemy…No breeze of critical thinking is permissible in this pressure cooker, the mindset we have minted. The only move people are willing to make is towards intolerance…We may be fighting the Taliban and other Jihadis but acts of mob justice in blasphemy cases with clubs, iron bars and guns are like holy cows”.
Muhammad Jibran Nasir, human rights activist: “Let me say it today in clear terms on how we have created a society where students become murderers. Generals who polluted young minds and weaponized religion for violent means and criminal ends decided to remain quiet and let it happen…Politicians…sing the praises of Mumtaz Qadri [the murderer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer]. Mainstream political parties…patronize terror outfits and form electoral alliances with them giving them space to spread their narrative…We did not lose only Mashal Khan but also hundreds of students who became murderers today. We all are responsible”.
Abdul Hameed Gondal, writer: “Nothing will happen. What kind of generation are we educating in universities? These students do not belong to any extremist outfits like TTP or ISIL…The extremist thinking exists in our homes as well”.
Rana Inam, attorney and online newspaper editor: “it is really sad that a religion, which teaches us to sharpen the knife before slaughtering animals so that they feel less pain, can at the same time allow that a human be brutally killed in its name”.
These statements show that many see the need for Godly salvation in their lives, even if their cultural and religious backgrounds inhibit their ability to see how that salvation should come. As Christians we need to remember that we are called to reject indifference and to accept evangelization for the benefit of all, to the ends of the earth. The empty tomb tells us that our salvation is at hand, and that we are to tell the world it is already bought by Jesus Christ. The world is ready to hear the Good News…though not all.
Weekly Commentary April 2-8, 2017
The good news in this week’s report concerns the joint effort of the churches of Iraq to rebuild the country in a true ecumenical movement. We also have the legal victory of a Christian student in Florida in the U.S. after he had been the victim of false accusations by his Muslim college professor, and the release from prison of a Christian in China.
Christians have been reported as killed in the Central African Republic (though without names), Egypt, Mexico (in 2009), and the United States. A church in France suffered an arson attack, and several have been under threat in Indonesia.
Armenian Evangelical Church, Alfortvillem France – courtesy Le Parisien
We also have a number of reports with strange, ominous overtones:
- The situation in Venezuela has continued to worsen, with church leaders standing in opposition to the dissolution of the national legislature and the continuing deprivation of basic necessities. One bishop has begun to coordinate the transfer of refugees to his counterpart in Colombia (imagine, Venezuelans have begun to flee to a country which in recent decades has lost one-fifth of its own citizens to flight abroad!).
- The Democratic Republic of the Congo has continued to see attacks by militias that have grown while the central government has continued to try to remain in power despite constitutional restrictions.
- A bishop in Greece spoke on his country’s demographic suicide.
- Prominent Nigerian Christians were questioned by the government in an apparent attempt to build a criminal case against their media campaign to stop anti-Christian violence. This is an unprecedented attack in that country, at least since the end of the Biafran War.
- The organized crime-driven civil conflict in Mexico appears to be worsening, as if that were possible.
- In Paraguay – the first time that country has appeared on these pages – a bishop was cut off from television for remarks on the constitutional crisis there.
- A Syrian bishop spoke on the latest nerve gas attack there
Several other examples of these strange blends of anarchy and tyranny (or its precedents) can be found in this week’s report – please click here to read. Meditation on these events tells us that we not only need to pray for this world, but we need to be wise so that we be aware of these things, and to find a proper way to respond to each, and so let us pray for wisdom also.
Weekly Commentary March 26 – April 1, 2017
This week’s report is again largely a compendium of abductions, arrests, and assaults, with a few homicides thrown in. A priest was killed in Mexico and another was abducted and thankfully released. A Pakistani sanitation worker was killed in a targeted assassination after having refused to clean an outhouse on a Sunday. A non-Trinitarian Christian was identified as one of the victims of the jihadist attack near Parliament in London. And as is our policy on missionaries and religious pilgrims, we also reported on the deaths of 13 retreatants on a highway in Texas in a vehicular accident caused by texting.
We have two reports on Western style persecution, both of which involve abortion.
Abortion has always been extremely problematic for Christianity, largely due to the Gospel account of Mary meeting her cousin Elizabeth. There are no serious defenses of the subject from Christian scholars which can be cited as supportive of the practice as such (yes, Thomas Aquinas once created an alternate hypothetical, but that is not the same thing). In the early Roman Empire women flocked to join the Church because its position on abortion and contraception allowed them to escape a very real oppression of their time.
Today’s world is very different. The Christian view is under attack. From a pluralistic view this is strange, since pluralism tends to promote tolerance. In this week’s report (click here to read in full) we have two stories which give a real sense of the cause and extent of the attack.
The first comes from Belgium. The Catholic University of Louvain is one of the oldest Christian institutions in the world. A professor of philosophy introduced a critique of abortion in one of his classes for debate, a campus feminist group violently complained, and the professor has now been suspended. Universities throughout the West for decades have promoted critiques of Christianity with few complaints, but here one man stated a position that should be the purpose of the Christian institution he served and that institution turned on him. This is disheartening beyond words.
The second account is from California in the U.S. Two Christian investigative journalists have been indicted by the state’s Attorney General for secretly recording abortion clinic managers negotiating the illegal sale of tissue harvested from aborted children. There are several facets to this story. The state’s legal position is extremely weak. NBC television prevailed in court in a similar case. Animal rights groups did the same with animal abuse at poultry farms, and the state not only did not prosecute them but used their videos to prosecute the farmers, thus introducing evidence of selective prosecution. The conclusion to make of the state’s indictment is that either they know they will lose but are willing to use the process as punishment at the behest of their abortion masters, or else they believe they will overturn precedent and constitutional liberties as they work to further the advancement of abortion as the premier sacrament of their de facto state religion. Either way they are wrong, and corrupt. The one bright spot has been the actions of the two journalists, who have comported themselves with great probity and courage. They are a great example for Christians and others of good will everywhere. Please pray for them and for our future.
Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium – courtesy Wikimedia
Blog – 2017 2nd Quarter