Now write what you have seen, what is, and what is to take place after this. – Revelation 1:19
Clockwise from upper left: Church burning in Peshawar, Pakistan; feminists attack a cathedral in San Juan, Argentina; cross burning in Pakistan – courtesy Abiz Nawaz; massacre of Christian students at Garissa University College in Kenya; army tank sale to Nicaragua; young Christians pray in a burned-out church in Egypt; RSS Hindu paramilitary rally in India.
Weekly Commentary – March 21-27, 2021
This week (please click here to read the full report) we have several of the usual stories from China and India. We also have a story detailing the retributions the government of China has begun to enact against Western Christians who have opposed their internal persecutions. Lord David Alton of Liverpool is cited on our report thanks to his long stance in favor of the religious and pro-democracy minorities in China, as well as his opposition to anti-Christian discriminations in his own country.
Another observer of Western discrimination on our report is Dr Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who reacted to the implications of an overtly anti-Christian editorial in USA Today.
This week also saw two Colorado stories from the very same day: the Boulder mass shooting atrocity, and the opening of another trial against a Christian baker who has already prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court. This last story is bizarre: his First Amendment defense is now the law of the land, and yet his opponents keep coming back with more lawsuits that differ only with the exact wording on the cake. The Denver court should declare them to be vexatious litigants who willingly admit that they are using the legal system to harass the baker solely for his faith and show them the door. We need to ask why this doesn’t happen.
Lastly a Canadian man has been sent to jail on a family violence charge. Why? Because he has attempted to stop his 14 year old daughter from transitioning to become a male.
Transgenderism has become quite the cause celebre, with its adoption of civil rights language and the backing of powerful and influential segments of society, especially the entertainment industry. Moreover, there are two fundamental truths that fuel it.
First, the existence of androgen insensitivity syndrome would seem to indicate that gender replacement is possible, at least the male to female variety. By the 1960’s this and modern embryology made the concept a plausible solution to what has become known as gender dysphoria.
Second, there has been a backlash against the standard treatments for what are often (and in large part incorrectly) termed intersex conditions. Children born with ambiguous genitalia were formerly given reconstructive surgery that in hindsight were often hurried and physically damaging. A more loving and accepting social attitude to such situations within families would seem to be more supportive, without foreclosing possible later surgical interventions with full consent.
So medical science embarked on a program to ‘correct’ gender dysphoria via sex reassignment surgery. It became accepted theory that the lower the age of onset of transition the ‘better’ the outcome (the irony here is that this argument is exactly the same as that behind the now controversial intersex surgeries). As the number of such cases grew it became possible to conduct retrospective studies to determine the efficacy of these procedures. Interestingly, very few such studies have been done, and the few that have been published have been attacked more for violating transgender ideology than on the science. Meanwhile books quoting such studies have been suppressed by Amazon and people who use social media to express their regrets and to announce their detransitioning are banned.
Into this confusing maelstrom enters the case of Keira Bell vs. Tavistock. Decided in December 2020 by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in London, it held that Keira Bell was harmed by her sex reassignment and declared that legal minors had no right to consent to such procedures. Tavistock, the government owned clinic, testified to the Court that it had only one retrospective outcome study from 2011 and that was unpublished because it had not been peer reviewed. The day after the Court decision the Tavistock study was published, and it showed that out of 44 cases only one – one – had a positive outcome. The clinic’s brochures which told a very young Ms. Bell that there were no known adverse outcomes to her treatments were lies.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Transgenderism may have developed as an attempt to mitigate real human suffering, but as an ideology, as a way of looking at reality, it is a lie. Moreover, as we see with the Canadian court case and similar cases in the U.S. (which failed to gain notoriety because no one has been jailed), as we see in the suppression of countervailing studies and of autobiographical regrets, and as we see with media propaganda, transgender ideology requires the support of institutional power to suppress the truth in order to survive. The Canadian situation is particularly worrisome, since state power has now been wielded illiberally in its defense. As a template for the Western world this will lead to an end point that can only be described as anti-Christian totalitarianism, and so we must thank the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom for showing us this end is not preordained.
So, a man named Rob Hoogland now sits in a Canadian jail for having opposed what he rightly calls a “delusion”. He has exposed the Canadian government to be the real perpetrator of his child’s abuse, and he has exposed his daughter’s psychologist as a charlatan who advises his young patients to claim suicidal ideation to force the medical and legal professions to bow to their desires. During his two-year battle with the state he has recovered the Christian faith of his youth, and it has inspired him in his appeal to you and me:
I had a perfectly healthy child a year ago, and that perfectly healthy child has been altered and destroyed for absolutely no good reason…What kind of father would I be if, let’s say in 5, 10 years my daughter is detransitioning, and she turns to me and says…‘Why did none of you do anything to stop this? I was a child. None of you stuck your neck out for me back then. You just let me do it because I was a…immature kid, thinking this was something great.’ When my daughter asks me that question, I’ll say…‘I did everything that I possibly could.’…Whatever happens to me pales in comparison to what’s already happened to my daughter.
And he said just prior to his arrest:
pray – anybody can pray…Educate people. Tell people what’s going on…talk to your neighbor and say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on in the world’…To even do a simple thing like that…that’s commendable, that’s courage to me. To even do a simple thing like that.
Weekly Commentary – March 7-13, 2021
We have something to celebrate! Pastor Bulus Yikura was released on the day that the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram offshoot, had threatened to kill him. Another Christian has been released from captivity in Haiti, as listed on our report for this week, but Christians remain in captivity in India, Mali, and Pakistan. Also, we have no news of captive Christians this week from China or Nigeria and many other places, but we still do not forget them.
Christians were reported to have been killed or under threat of death in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, the Philippines, Uganda, and Venezuela.
Two Algerian Christians were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for having operated a bookstore that was closed more than four years ago, though the sentence has not been carried out. The wife of a Chinese pastor has likewise been threatened with administrative punishment, for which she could be jailed for two weeks without trial.
Three female relatives of a Ugandan pastor were raped in retribution for his involvement in a conversion from Islam.
Churches and monasteries were vandalized or otherwise attacked in Bangladesh (two in fact), Colombia, Israel, and Niger. Christians continued to experience discrimination in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Also on this week’s report we make note of a Chinese bishop who has died of natural causes at age 100 (he had spent 15 years in labor camps), and the retirement of church leaders in Kenya, Pakistan and Vietnam who have fought battles on behalf of the persecuted. Well done! Please pray that their successors will be as committed to the lives of the Faithful as they have been.
Church in Aditmari, Lalmonirhat district, Bangladesh – courtesy AsiaNews
Church in Alikadam, Bandarban district, Bangladesh – courtesy AsiaNews
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Ibague, Colombia – courtesy Edgar Jimenez
Weekly Commentary – February 21-27, 2021
Pastor Bulus Yikura was abducted on Christmas Eve 2020 in Borno state in Nigeria by the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram offshoot. By the time you read this, Pastor Bulus Yikura may have less than 24 hours before ISWAP executes the death sentence they have imposed upon him. Please take some time right now and pray fervently for his safety and release.
We also have accounts on our report this week – please click here to read in full – from France, India, Nigeria (yes, more than one story), Sudan, and Uganda. The French story is of an elderly bishop who just died in the Covid-19 pandemic: he is noted here because he witnessed the beginning of the martyrdom of other Christians in Cambodia under the Khymer Rouge in 1975. Please pray for all of them as well.
Weekly Commentary – February 14-20, 2021
Christians were reported to have been killed in Nigeria and, in a year old report, Pakistan. They were falsely incarcerated, abducted into captivity, or forced into hiding in China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Palestine. They were assaulted in India, Pakistan, and Palestine. They were subjected to harassment and vandalism in China and the United States. Please click here to read our report for this week.
Please follow the links to the Pakistani story of the Christian nurse who was assaulted by her hospital coworkers, and note that YouTube has begun to delete the videos of the assault, as they so often do.
Another point of note is the complaint by a Palestinian-Israeli Christian that the Christian clergy is much too silent regarding persecution. “We all are violated, without exception, and the reason is the silence of the church and the clerics in regard to what is happening to us. We ask the clergy: if you are unable to protect your people, close the churches and help us emigrate” he wrote, and then suffered an arrest for his effort.
Please read our report, please pray for the persecuted, and please do not be silent. After all, in the long run there is nowhere to emigrate.
St Pius X Church, El Paso, Texas, USA – courtesy parish web site
Weekly Commentary – January 31 – February 6, 2021
Our report this week has two stories from China. One story is of a pastor who has spent almost seven debilitating years in prison, and the other is of a bishop who has suffered years of harassment and detention. Both current stories seem small compared to the listed backstories, but the discerning reader will know that, taken together, the current events are portents of future evil. Please read this report and pray for China and the whole world.
Weekly Commentary – January 24-30, 2021
This week (please click here to read our report in full) we have only stories from Canada and the U.S. They show that social media censorship of Christian views that are at odds with the zeitgeist not only continues, but they continue to demonstrate arbitrariness and cynicism. One parish can no longer livestream Mass, and no reason was given. Another pastor noted the double standard: “…Bible-believing conservatives like me get bashed and mocked and cursed by the minute on these platforms, specifically for being who we are and believing what we believe, and that is somehow fine and dandy”.
Mockery and cursing are also not restricted to social media. A Mass in an Ohio cathedral was invaded and disrupted by pro-abortion advocates. Police were present but made no arrests. Another sign of the times, another reason to pray.
St Joseph Cathedral, Columbus, Ohio, USA – courtesy Wikipedia and Another Believer
Voices For Our Time – January 30, 2021
The 38th Annual Fr Alexander Schmemann Memorial Lecture was held at the St Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood New York (and on the internet) on January 30, 2021. Before describing the lecture, we should take a moment to tell the story of Fr Alexander Schmemann.
Photos courtesy St Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary
Alexander Dmitrievich Schmemann was born in Estonia in 1921. His family moved to Paris when he was a child, and it was there that he married, was ordained to the priesthood, and became a seminary professor. He moved to the United States in 1951 to join the St Vladimir Seminary, eventually becoming its dean. After the death of Stalin he began a series of weekly Russian language radio broadcasts to the Soviet Union via Radio Liberty, which were extremely popular and influenced Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn among others. He died in 1983.
St Vladimir’s Seminary [SVS] Press is now publishing the first of two volumes of Fr Schmemann’s radio homilies, A Voice For Our Time: Radio Liberty Talks, Volume 1. According to SVS Press: “…his words do not belong to that era alone. They are addressed just as urgently to our own time. He exposes the roots of the lies and misperceptions that abound in our age”. Information about this new book can be seen here, and the foreword and introduction can be read here.
The Lecture itself was delivered by journalist Rod Dreher, and was entitled “Living in Truth: How the Communist-Era Suffering Church can Prepare Us to be Dissidents.” Dreher is the author of Live Not By Lies and The Benedict Option, and so is another Voice for our time.
Please watch at least the 2 minute introduction and as much of the 36 minute lecture as possible, by clicking here or on the image below.
2020 3rd Quarter