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To any American clergy — and there are a few (but not regular readers of this site) — who say that Christians in the United States are not persecuted, I would kindly ask them to read the comments following the NBC News article, ‘Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Gay Marriage Ban’.

The dozens of bile-filled comments are testament to what is happening today in the United States. A decade ago, such opprobrium would have been unthinkable.

Detractors often say, ‘Well, no one would ever say those things in person’. To which I would respond, ‘No, because such hostility indicates what really is going on in that mindset.’

I happened to see the article only because a commenter mentioned my post on Harry Truman’s discourse on the American Founding Fathers taking their inspiration for the nation from the Bible. My thanks go to L_Robinson for mentioning the piece and for having the mettle to defend his position.

L_Robinson was rounded on in a vulgar fashion as were others who oppose same sex marriage on biblical or natural law grounds.

One of them wrote:

Read through the posts. 90% of the name-calling comes from the fans of same-sex marriage. This same-sex marriage concept was recently created to motivate atheistic useful idiots… to get them to the polls, call people names and create animosity.
It has worked perfectly…divide and conquer the Alinsky way.
If you believe in a multi-gender definition of marriage, they’ll call you a ‘bigot’. The useful idiots have been trained to believe their own mother is a hateful bigot.
Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

So would Stalin.

Someone replied with this:

You know something very good must be happening when all the bigots, Christofascists and [Tea Party supporters] are [te]ed off.

So now we’re ‘Christofascists’? Hmm.

Clergymen who say that there is no persecution of Christians occurring in the United States are woefully misguided — even if their confessional theology is highly sound.

If I were they, I would try to be a bit more aware of what laymen are enduring when they defend the family and the Bible online. It won’t take long for this to escalate into physical violence.

Cranmer reports that a Christian councillor on the Brighton and Hove (Sussex) City Council has been expelled from the Green Party.

In July 2012 Christina Summers was the only city councillor to vote against gay marriage. Although, as I write, the Green Party have not yet released the official report for her expulsion, this and other matters are thought to have contributed. Scrapper Duncan has more on the story here and here. Some of these objections concern her Evangelical Christianity.

Greens do not mind Christian members as long as they practice a liberal brand of Jesus’s teachings. Evangelical churches in the UK are, by and large, quite conservatively biblical in their views. Green Party members must sign up to an equality clause, which Summers did. Perhaps since then she has come to a greater knowledge of the New Testament.

It would appear that Summers has since contacted Christian Concern, allied with the Christian Legal Centre, about her expulsion.

Personally, I would say it was time to move on and join another political party. The problem is — where would Summers go? Nearly all the parties in England have a pro-gay marriage position, although one can quietly object for now. I’m not sure where UKIP stands, but they might be too conservative for her in terms of environmentalism. Maybe, then, it’s time to choose another career.

This is one of the drawbacks with the Church of Gaia. It claims to be about environmentalism but dabbles in other areas of social transformation. Greens elsewhere in the West are the same.

Rambling Steve Appleseed describes them aptly in the comments on Cranmer’s post:

I was a member of the Green party for several years a couple of decades ago until I saw though the touchy feely rhetoric and realised that they are not merely innumerate Utopian socialsits with dope addled brains but highly intolerant and profoundly anti Christian. Bet I’ve planted more trees than any of them. They are a menace in a one moron one vote society because their rhetoric and imagery is so catchy but heaven help us if a tenth of their uncosted, untested sub-Marxian Utopian dreams became policy.

How true.

I also find it vaguely amusing that a party which takes the Lord’s name in vain (see the first of Scrapper Duncan’s posts) is lecturing us on secular pietism in terms of smoking, drinking and food. Whited sepulchres.

After many months, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has finally been released from an Iranian prison and acquitted of apostasy.

This second post of Cranmer’s shows pictures of him released to his family and friends.

I wrote about him in February, when he was nearly executed. Happily, the many written petitions and letters to Iranian embassies around the world — along with countless prayers for his release — resulted in this happy day. God is indeed good.

Our next step is to pray for him and his family to come to believe in the Holy Trinity. Currently, Nadarkhani is a Oneness Pentecostal. Modalism is a heresy.

I do wonder if he adopted the Oneness belief because Islam accuses Trinitarian Christians of believing in three Gods. Muslims do not understand the Holy Trinity and accuse us of polytheism.

Let us also say a prayer of thanksgiving and add a petition that Nadarkhani can find his way to a Christian country where he can live his faith without fear of imprisonment.

In the meantime, his release is excellent and welcome news. Thanks to everyone who might have responded to my earlier appeal in this regard.

As I wrote this post listening to RMC last week, the French were discussing the attack on US embassies in Libya and Egypt because of the American film Innocence of Muslims.

Most Muslims on the morning news show Les Grandes Gueules said the Muslim attacks were unwarranted although the film is deliberately provocative. Still, poor production values are no cause for offence (sarcasm alert), and most of the Middle Eastern countries have very low internet speeds, so it is unlikely that the protestors and agitators have even seen the film in question. Some of RMC’s callers said that the attackers were looking for any excuse to express their anti-Americanism. Note the date: 9/11.

Since then, violence has escalated outside the Middle East and with more targets than America’s  embassies. My condolences to those who have been injured and my sympathy to the families and friends of those who were killed in these atrocities. My prayers go out to all of them.

In Britain, two posts worth reading, including comments, can be found at Cranmer and Heresy Corner. Cranmer‘s concerns the American film. Heresy Corner‘s discusses a Channel 4 (C4) film, Islam: The Untold Story, which the station showed last month. C4 planned to show it again privately in their offices but have now cancelled the screening because of 1,000 complaints from the on-air broadcast.

The Innocence of Muslims is, according to Cranmer, not very well made. The Wikipedia entry for the film casts doubt on the identity of the man behind the film, Sam Bacile. There might not be any such person. Bacile may be the group of people behind the film. Or maybe not.

Islam: The Untold Story is another matter. Tom Holland is a historian who has carefully researched the life of Mohammed and Islam. The documentary came from his eponymous book. It seems, however, that a non-Muslim must not involve himself with an examination of Islam.

Never mind that several years ago the Muslim Rageh Omaar made a Lenten series about the life of Jesus Christ for the BBC, which was very good. In fact, it was so good that I thought Omaar might convert to Christianity as a result.

In the recent Coalition Cabinet reshuffle, Baroness Warsi, a Muslim, was named the new Minister for Faith and Communities. We do not know yet what that entails and why such a position is necessary.  After all, the various religions practiced in Britain are already organised and religious leaders organise interfaith activities at a local level up and down the country.

My concerns with a Faith and Communities post are twofold. First, it might have come from an international diktat — the EU or the UN.  It would be interesting to know what other countries have a similar minister.  Second, it puts faith under state oversight.

Whereas our established Church of England runs alongside the government and intersects in the House of Lords and with our Head of State, the Queen, this Faith and Communities position could start dictating what goes on in our churches. Gay marriage ceremony mandates spring to mind, starting with our established Church.

Dictating to churches was a Third Reich policy:

Although Nazi policy at first seemed to tolerate church autonomy, it soon became clear that official tolerance of Christian religious groups would last only as long as the churches accepted synchronization–the alignment of the church, along with other areas of society, with Nazi goals.

There is more at the link. This is a potentially dangerous precedent.

Another thing that’s interesting is that Muslims head our Faith and Communities as well as the BBC’s religious programming departments. What does this mean, if anything? It just seems unusual in a country where Muslims are clearly in the minority — between 2% and 4% of the British population, depending on one’s source.

Meanwhile, the controversy of wearing crosses and crucifixes continues. Earlier this month:

Landmark cases, brought by four British Christians, including two workers forced out of their jobs after visibly wearing crosses, were heard on Tuesday at the European Court of Human Rights, a judgement will follow at a later.

Despite previous pledges by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, that he would change the law to protect religious expression at work, government lawyers insisted that there was a “difference between the professional and private sphere”.

James Eadie QC, acting for the government, told the European court that the refusal to allow an NHS nurse and a British Airways worker to visibly wear a crucifix at work “did not prevent either of them practicing religion in private”, which would be protected by human rights law.

He argued that a Christian facing problems at work with religious expression needed to consider their position and that they were not discriminated against if they still have the choice of leaving their job and finding new employment.

“There are two aspects to this part of the argument. Firstly resigning and moving to another job and secondly there is clear and consistent jurisprudence that the person who asserts religious rights may on occasion have to take account of their position,” he said.

The comments which follow, the Telegraph attracting a number of vociferous atheists, equate a small cross with saying ‘Hello, I am an evangelist’. The mind boggles. The same people excused the wearing of hijabs and niqabs as they were ‘required’. In fact, they are cultural and not historic for many Muslim nations. Well, we shall see how well atheism fares in future in England, should Islam gain a stronger presence.

A week after Justice Eadie’s pronouncement, Liberal Democrat and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg nearly had a go at Britons who oppose gay marriage. He planned to give a speech which included these sentences:

Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand we ‘postpone’ the equalities agenda in order to deal with ‘the things people really care about’. As if pursuing greater equality and fixing the economy simply cannot happen at once.

It is customary for some speeches to be released to the media prior to an event. In this case:

Mr Clegg’s comments about “bigots” were issued at 3pm yesterday and, within a few minutes, they were being widely reported on the internet. At 4.30pm, Mr Clegg’s office issued an email asking to “recall” the original statement, then sent a new version of the speech.

‘Bigots’ was changed to ‘some people’. Although Mr Clegg is an atheist, he sends his children to a Christian school.

A day after Clegg’s speech furore, the Conservative Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, wrote an editorial defending Christian values:

… The interpretation of human rights laws cuts both ways: just as we have resisted gold-plating made in the name of religion, so we must resist spurious legal challenges against religion. Nor should we allow equality laws to open the door to moral relativism and reduce established religion to the equivalent status of any other belief. We should not be bashful about asserting that the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church have a greater role to play in the public life of our nation than the Church of Elvis or the Church of Scientology.

I believe that the Christian Churches have a unique position in British society and a particularly strong claim to be heard. We are a stronger country when we embrace the religious character of our nation, and when we champion what unites the British peoples across class, creed and colour.

We shall see what happens, although I’m not hopeful, but as Gregg at A Brief Encounter says:

Since I was a child I have worn a crucifix, admittedly under my shirt, t-shirt or whatever but occasionally it is visible. As far as I’m aware my wearing of a crucifix has never harmed another person so why shouldn’t people be allowed to wear one to work just as other people wear necklaces?

The fact that people have to fight for this right in the courts shows what a sorry, authoritarian state we are living under. Stalin and Hitler would be proud.

Just so.

A few weeks ago, I posted an agnostic’s warning about Muslim persecution of Christians around the world.

Posterous‘s blogger, E J Swensson, posted a summary of such incidents which took place around the world in January 2012.

Mr Swensson took as his source Raymond Ibrahim’s January 2012 report for Algemeiner.com of Christian victims at the hands of Muslims. It is a long and alarming summary of persecution which is occurring around the world, including some European countries.

Please remember our brother in Christ Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose death might be imminent.

Let us also pray for other Christian brothers and sisters living in Muslim areas, especially during Lent.

Of his monthly series, Raymond Ibrahim writes:

Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of Muslim persecution of Christians that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

1. Intrinsically, to document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.

2. Instrumentally, to show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (tribute); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed “dhimmis” (second-class citizens); and simple violence and murder. Oftentimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the west, to India in the east, and throughout the West, wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Please take a few minutes to read his report in full. Below are excerpts:

Kenya: Muslim apostates seeking refuge in Kenya are being tracked and attacked by Muslims from their countries of origin: An Ethiopian who, upon converting to Christianity, was shot by his father, kidnapped and almost killed, is now receiving threatening text messages. Likewise, a Ugandan convert to Christianity is in hiding, his movements severely restricted since “the Muslims are looking to kill me. I need protection and help.”

Kuwait: A royal prince who openly declared that he has converted to Christianity, confirmed the reality that he now might be targeted for killing as an apostate.

Norway: While out for a walk, two Iranian converts to Christianity were stabbed with knives by masked men shouting “infidels!” One of the men stabbed had converted in Iran, was threatened there, and immigrated to Norway, thinking he could escape persecution there.

Somalia: A female convert to Christianity was paraded before a cheering crowd and publicly flogged as punishment for embracing a “foreign religion.” Imprisoned since November, “the public whipping was meant to mark her release.” She received 40 lashes as hundreds of Muslim spectators jeered. An eyewitness said: “I saw her faint. I thought she had died, but soon she regained consciousness and her family took her away.” Likewise, “Somali Islamists arrested a Muslim father after two of his children converted to Christianity” and fled. He is accused of “failing to raise his sons as good Muslims, because “good Muslims cannot convert to Christianity.”

Zanzibar: After being robbed, a Muslim convert to Christianity called police to his house; they discovered a Bible during their inspection. The course of inquiry immediately changed from searching for the thieves to asking why he “was practicing a forbidden faith.” He was imprisoned for eight months without trial, and, since being released, has been rejected by his family and is now homeless and diseased.

Zanzibar: Muslims destroyed two churches: one was torched, while the other demolished—all to yells of “Allahu Akbar.”

Egypt: Before a bishop was going to inaugurate the incomplete Abu Makka church and celebrate the Epiphany mass, a large number of Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood members entered the building, asserting that the church had no license and so no one should pray in it. One Muslim remarked that the building would be suitable for a mosque and a hospital.

Egypt: In the latest round of collective punishment, a mob of over 3000 Muslims attacked Christians in a village because of a rumor that a Coptic man had intimate photos of a Muslim woman on his phone (denied by the man). Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze. Three were injured, while “terrorized” women and children who lost their homes stood in the streets with no place to go. As usual, it took the army an hour to drive 2 kilometers to the village and none of the perpetrators were arrested.

Indonesia: A sticker on the back of the car of a member of the beleaguered Yasmin church saying “We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam,” distributed by the family of the late Muslim president, prompted another Islamic attack on the church: scores of Muslims “terrorized the congregation and attacked several church members.” Since 2008, the congregation has been forced to hold Sunday services on the sidewalk outside the church and then later in the home of parishioners. Not satisfied, hundreds of Muslims later searched and found the private home where members were congregating and holding service and prevented them from worshiping there as well: “It crosses the line now. The protesters now come to the residential area, which is not a public place.” A new report notes that anti-Christian attacks have nearly doubled in the last year.

Nigeria: Soon after jihadis issued an ultimatum giving Christians three days to evacuate the region or die, armed Muslims stormed a church and “opened fire on worshippers as their eyes were closed in prayer,” killing six, including the pastor’s wife. Then, as friends and relatives gathered to mourn the deaths of those slain, “Allahu Akbar” screaming Muslims appeared and opened fire again, killing another 20 Christians. Several other churches were bombed, and seven more killed.

Denmark: In Muslim majority Odense, an Iranian Christian family had two cars consecutively vandalized—windows smashed, seats cut up, and set ablaze—because the cars had crucifixes hanging in them; the family has since relocated to an undisclosed location. Likewise, “Church Ministry” will change its name to “Ministry of Philosophy of Life” to accommodate Muslims.

Sudan: Authorities threatened to arrest church leaders if they engage in “evangelistic activities” and fail to comply with an order for churches to provide names and identifications: “The order was aimed at oppressing Christians amid growing hostilities toward Christianity… Sudanese law prohibits missionaries from evangelizing, and converting from Islam to another religion is punishable by imprisonment or death in Sudan, though previously such laws were not strictly enforced.” Accordingly, days and weeks later, two evangelists were arrested on spurious charges and beat by police.

Turkey: A Christian asylum seeker who fled from Iran because of his faith “was brutally assaulted by his Turkish employer with hot water and his body was severely burned,” due to “the extreme religious views” of his Muslim employer, who “told him he had no rights and that he would not pay him any money,” after the Christian asked for his agreed wages. He “is just one example of hundreds of Iranian Christian asylum seekers who are living in such situations in Turkey.”

Switzerland: A Muslim man hacked his daughter to death for dating a Christian: were they dating in a Muslim-dominated country, the Christian, as so often happens, would have likely received similar treatment.

Syria: The Christian community in Syria has been hit by a series of kidnappings and brutal murders; 100 Christians were killed since the anti-government unrest began; “children were being especially targeted by the kidnappers, who, if they do not receive the ransom demanded, kill the victim, including some who are “cut into pieces and thrown in a river.” These latest reports are reminiscent of the anti-Christian attacks that have become commonplace in Iraq for a decade.

Tajikistan: A young man dressed as Father Frost—the Russian equivalent of Father Christmas—was stabbed to death while visiting relatives and bringing gifts. The Muslim mob beating and stabbing him screamed “you infidel!” leading police to cite “religious hatred” as motivation.

And Rick Warren wants to team up with these people?

Let us pray for God’s mercy on our fellow Christians and their families. May He deliver them from these situations and give them the fortitude to endure their unimaginable trials in the meantime.

As many faithful Christians will know, an Evangelical pastor, the Revd Youcef Nadarkhani, has been in an Iranian prison for several months.

Recently, Richard Ibrahim, writing for Algemeiner.com, reported:

Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani continues to suffer in prison. Most recently, he rejected an offer to be released if he publicly acknowledged Islam’s prophet Muhammad as “a messenger sent by God,” which would amount to rejecting Christianity, as Muhammad/Koran reject it.

Today, a friend of mine forwarded me a set of documents which have been circulating around the world. I would like to ensure that as many of us as possible see — and forward — this appeal to anyone interested in writing their respective Iranian ambassador.

It transpires that Pastor Nadarkhani could be executed very soon. Jordan Sekulow from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wrote the following on February 21, 2012:

We are hearing reports from our contacts in Iran that the execution orders for Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been issued.

Pastor Youcef’s situation – an innocent man convicted and sentenced to death for becoming a Christian – has not been this dire since we first brought his case to your attention last year.

It is unclear whether Pastor Youcef would have a right of appeal from the execution order. We know that the head of Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly held executions, but only a small percentage of executions are held public—most executions in Iran are conducted in secret.

There has also been a disturbing increase in the number of executions conducted by the Iranian regime in the last month.

Iran is actively violating its human rights obligations by sentencing and detaining Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. We call on the Iranian government to release Pastor Youcef immediately.

We are continuing to work to help spare the life of Pastor Youcef, and will provide additional updates on his situation as we are able.

Please continue to pray, share his story, and call for his release.

The photo of the Nadarkhani family comes courtesy of the ACLJ. There is more on Pastor Nadarkhani’s story on that page.

Letters should be sent without delay to the relevant Iranian ambassador. What follows are embassy addresses for certain countries:

Embassy of Iran in Canberra in Australia
PO Box 705, Mawson ACT 2607
His Excellency Mr Mahmoud MOVAHHEDI
Ambassador

Embassy of Iran in Vienna in Austria
jauresgasse 9 – A1030 Wien
Fax: +431+7135733
Email:public@iranembassy-wien.at

The Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Germany
Podbielskiallee 65/67,
14195 Berlin

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ireland
72 Mount Merrion Ave.
Blackrock Co.
Dublin, Ireland
Fax: (003531) 2834246
Email:iranembassy@indigo.ie

Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran to The Hague in the Netherlands
The Embassy of I.R. of Iran Duinweg 20 2585JX Den Haag
Web Site:http://www.iranianembassy.nl/
Email:info@iranembassy.nl

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Pakistan
St.No.2, Sector G-5/1 Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the UK
16 Prince’s Gate,
London SW7 1PT
Fax: ( +44)2075894440
Email:info@iran-embassy.org.uk

United States of America (Iran and the USA do not have diplomatic relations):
Representative Office of Iran in Washington, United States
c/o Embassy of Pakistan
2209 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington
D.C.20007
United States
Fax: +1-202-965-1073
Email: requests@daftar.org

A sample letter to the relevant Iranian ambassador follows:

Your Excellency,

Re: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

I wish to bring to your attention the urgent case of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani who was condemned to death in Iran for converting to the Christian faith.  Recent indications are that there are grave concerns that Pastor Nadarkhani’s life is in danger.

I request that your government respect its international commitment to human rights, and that Pastor Nadarkhani, and all other persons in your country who are in similar situations, be treated in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which stipulates:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief …

“All people have the right to obey their conscience, which is a work of God, wherever that leads them.  People in Islamic countries have as much right to convert to Christianity as westerners have to convert to Islam.”

I request that you pass on this appeal to the Iranian Government as a matter of urgency. Thank you for your attention to this request.

Yours sincerely,

For those of us not in a position to write, let us pray fervently that this pastor is given back his freedom and reunited with his family.

In any event, kindly share his story as a matter of urgency.

Thank you in advance for your kind attention, letters and prayers.

The Slog is an award-winning UK blog in which retired adman John Ward analyses today’s socio-political scene with perspicacity and aplomb.

Recently, he featured a post, ‘ANALYSIS: Why the Persecution of Christians is a key 21st century issue‘ and advises us not to downplay or brush it under the carpet. It’s well worth a read and one to pass along to equivocating appeasers who want to see the best in everything and everyone.

He begins by citing the recent news story of Christians in northern Nigeria where the strongly Islamist movement Boko Haram told them they three days to leave their homes. Since then, 44 people have died in attacks occurring in various towns across four states in the region. Hundreds of Christians are fleeing to the southern half of the country.

Ward, an agnostic, observes:

This is merely the latest in a series of atrocities committed by Nigerian Islamists – including a Church massacre on Christmas Day that killed over a hundred. But it is in fact only the high-profile stuff like this (as you’d expect) that tends to get into the MSM.

He points out:

A comprehensive Pew Forum study reporting in September last year found that Christians are persecuted in 131 countries containing 70% of the world’s population. As there are only around 200 recognised countries on the planet, the Christian religion is easily the most persecuted – and the biggest persecutor is Islam, followed by Communism.

A staggering 200 million Christians live in communities where they are persecuted. Many of the sovereign States committing atrocities against this huge number are ostensible allies of the West such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Oman, Egypt, and Kuwait.  Saudi Arabia is a tightly controlled state that in many respects cooperates closely with the United States, but lest you don’t realise this, it is a joint government of the royal House of Saud with the leadership of the extremist Wahhabi Islamist sect. While the Saudi government is a functioning ally of the West, its media reserve the right to both condemn sectional Islamic violence by enemies of the Wahhabi, and incite violence against both Christians and Jews. Palestine’s Hamas has long been associated with the sort of crude anti-Christian bigotry that would make Ulster Protestants of the 1960s look like paragons of ecumenical virtue.

He goes on to mention Prime Minister David Cameron’s friendliness towards Turkey’s Recep Erdogan whom he (Ward) describes as

a rapidly de-closeting Islamist.

Ward cautions us against being optimistic about last year’s Arab Spring, which he points out has resulted in Islamic control and can result only in more persecution of remaining Christians.

He advises:

It’s time we stopped the casual usage of this idiotic description ‘Islamaphobia’ – another use of the ‘p’ suffix enabling liberals to frame all critics of Islam as suffering from some form of mental illness. The only mental illness here is a rigid inability to see the appalling track-record of misogyny, violence, persecution and intolerance that the fundamentalist version of this religion has. A phobia is an irrational fear of something: to fear the march of fascist, expansionist Islam is a sure sign of sanity.

And adds:

Those resorting to the liberal ‘ist’ mode of rejection are entitled to their views: I think they are Useful Idiots being used by the Islamism already rife in Britain, in precisely the same way the KGB used those idiots in favour of unilateral disarmament from 1960-90. But they’re entitled to their opinion. All I can say to all of you is I am neither racist nor religionist. I just think you are mistaking those who warn of an obvious danger with agents of hate desperate to whip up feelings against UK minorities.

I noted last year that Christians are teaming up with Muslims for moral crusades such as this one from last year’s baseball World Series. Given time, the alliance could turn out to be a foolhardy one:

Among the other signers of the letter are James Winkler, chairman of the coalition and general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society; Galen Carey, director of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals; Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Roy Medley, general secretary of the American Baptist Churches USA; David Saperstein, director of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Sayyid Syeed, general secretary of the Islamic Society of North America.

Dr Richard Land, quoted in the article, is the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention.  On the ERLC site, he wrote of ‘our letter’, implying there was interfaith activity in compiling it and its signatories:

Just this week, I signed onto a letter to the MLBPA with 24 other national faith leaders, calling on the players and their union to set the right example for kids.

And uses these words:

Our coalition of faith leaders …

Should we be joining forces with a faith which is persecuting our own? Are we yoking ourselves with unbelievers?

Like John Ward, I’m all for religious liberty but let’s not be naïve.

In closing, I would like to thank him for bringing the subject of Christian persecution out in the open on his blog.

On December 12, 2009, the Daily Mail reported that the Archbishop of Canterbury criticised the British government ‘for treating religious believers as “oddities”‘.

Two days later, conservative columnist Melanie Phillips clarified this, thank goodness, to mean Christians specifically.  Why can’t the ABC ever come out and say it?  Heaven knows that minority religious interests are intensely protected here in the UK, as Phillips points out.

Although Ms Phillips is Jewish, she does a better job of defending Christianity than the ABC does.  Why is that?

She points out just a few examples of discrimination against Christians in the UK:

In July, Duke Amachree, a Christian who for 18 years had been a Homelessness Prevention Officer for Wandsworth Council, encouraged a client with an incurable medical condition to believe in God.

As a result, Mr Amachree was marched off the premises, suspended and then dismissed from his job. It was a similar case to the Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient’s recovery.

Christians are being removed from adoption panels if they refuse to endorse placing children for adoption with samesex couples. 

Similarly, a Christian counsellor was sacked by the national counselling service Relate because he refused to give sex therapy sessions to gays …

Take, for example, the case of Harry Hammond, an elderly and eccentric evangelical who was prosecuted for a public order offence after parading with a placard denouncing immorality and homosexuality – even though he was assaulted by the hostile crowd he was held to have offended.

Or look at the case of the Vogelenzangs, a hotelier couple from Merseyside, who last week were cleared of a ‘religiously aggravated’ public order offence after being prosecuted for insulting a Muslim guest.

Why is it always Christians?  I have often thought it’s the Left recoiling in fear at the truth of the Gospel, and many leftwing clergymen also fall into this category! I know some personally. But Phillips sees it slightly differently:

The root of this double standard is the unpleasant prejudice that minority faiths hail from cultures where people are less well-educated and so cannot be blamed for their beliefs. This, of course, is a deeply racist attitude, and is commonly found on the Left.

Well, quite possibly.  But to discriminate against Christians so enthusiastically yet protect other faith practices at every turn in such a conscious way suggests something more is at play.  When I know what that something is, I’ll post on it. 

It’s not just the UK, either.  It’s happening more frequently in that bulwark of Christian belief, the United States, contrary to what Phillips says.  The most recent example is of an eight-year old boy in Taunton, Massachusetts, as reported by the Taunton Gazette. (Photo courtesy of the Taunton Gazette.) The lad attends a local state school.  His teacher asked the class to draw something that reminded them of Christmas.  He drew Christ on the cross.  To show that Jesus had died, the boy drew little Xs instead of eyes.  Here’s what happened:

A Taunton father is outraged after his 8-year-old son was sent home from school and required to undergo a psychological evaluation … 

The father said he got a call earlier this month from Maxham Elementary School informing him that his son, a second-grade student, had created a violent drawing…

“I think what happened is that because he put Xs in the eyes of Jesus, the teacher was alarmed and they told the parents they thought it was violent,” said Toni Saunders, an educational consultant with the Associated Advocacy Center.

Jiminy crickets, and I thought teachers were supposed to have more insight into kids than everyone else. 

“When I got that [referral] call, I was so appalled that I had to do something,” Saunders said.

“They weren’t looking at the fact that this is an 8-year-old child with special needs,” she added. “They made him leave school, and they recommended that a psychiatrist do an evaluation.”

… The boy made the drawing and was sent home from school on Dec. 2. He went for the psychological evaluation — at his parents’ expense — the next day and was cleared to return to school the following Monday after the psychological evaluation found nothing to indicate that he posed a threat to himself or others. 

The boy, however, was traumatized by the incident, which made going back to school very difficult, the father said. School administrators have approved the father’s request to have the boy transferred to another elementary school in the district.

Such a sad story, and especially involving a child at Christmas time.  What is wrong with educators?  Too much leftism in teacher training?  You know how fond lefties historically are of branding anyone with whom they disagree as having psychological challenges.  Fortunately, the folks commenting on the article are very much on the boy’s side.  I especially liked this one:

When I heard this reported on WSAR, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I read the article and looked at the picture, I was even more alarmed with the actions of the school. In my opinion, as a pastor, I feel the boy followed the exact instructions of the teacher. It is amazing that a special needs child of 8 has the understanding that Christmas is in reality more about the cross than it is about the manger. Christ came to be crucified for our sake. Rev. Ken Scarborough, Somerset Baptist Church

The Cross is all.

Well, I hope the idiocy of the teacher and principal involved don’t ruin this boy’s Christmas or his academic career.  God bless him and his family.

You can read more here and here.

Connecticut state flagEarlier this year the State of Connecticut legislature proposed Bill 1098 which would require that Catholic parishes in the state turn their finances over to a layperson instead of a priest.

4,000 Catholics gathered peaceably at the Capitol building in Hartford to protest this bill, a vote on which was postponed in March.  Should the bill pass, the Catholic Church would be the first religious denomination to be subject to it.  Other denominations could follow.

Bill 1098 was the result of a case in Darien involving a Catholic priest who was convicted of stealing up to $1.4m of parishoners’ donations.  However, critics of the bill believe that the two legislators who proposed it are retaliating against the Church for condemning same-sex marriage, an issue which they support. 

On June 1, 2009, WND reported that Connecticut is going after the Catholic Church again.  The state’s Office of Ethics (OSE) has written to the Diocese of Bridgeport saying the Church is under investigation ‘to ascertain if the diocese had violated state law by failing to register as a lobbyist organisation’ when it opposed Bill 1098.

WND reports that the OSE says that the Diocese acted as a lobbyist ‘first, by listing the actual bill number of RB 1098 and second, by spending in excess of $2,000 – an amount established by Connecticut lobbying laws – to bus Catholics to the Capitol’. 

The Diocese has responded by filing a federal lawsuit.  Bishop William E Lori issued a statement saying:

… a proposal that singled out Catholic parishes and would have forced them to reorganize contrary to church law and the First Amendment, our diocese responded in the most natural, spontaneous, and frankly, American, of ways: we alerted our membership – in person and through our website; we encouraged them to exercise their free speech by contacting their elected representatives; and we organized a rally at the State Capitol. How can this possibly be called lobbying?

Bishop Lori also sent a letter to be read aloud at Mass at each of the diocesan churches at the weekend.  It reads in part:

This new action cannot be seen as anything other than an attempt to muzzle the church and subject our right of free speech to government review and regulation. This government action tramples on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly and religion, and should shock the conscience of all citizens of the Constitution State.

He also asked parishoners to contact State legislators to:

… discuss why state lobbying laws, which are designed to protect the integrity of the legislative process and monitor and control backroom manipulation of that process, are now being used to stifle our freedoms of speech, religion, and assembly.

WND states that if the complaint is upheld, the Diocese could face a $10,000 fine and possible criminal charges. If they were to register as a lobbying organisation, they would be required to ‘comply with reporting  requirements, submit to audits and wear badges at the Capitol’.

The Hartford Courant obtained differing opinions on the matter.  A spokeswoman for the United Church of Christ said that they had to abide by the laws of the State of Connecticut and understood that religious groups were ‘just like any other group’.  Yet, attorney and First Amendment expert Alan Neigher told the paper:

There’s a difference between petitioning as a citizen and lobbying as a lobbyist and I don’t blame the diocese one bit for going after the state. The state seems to be going down a slippery slope here. On its face this seems to be a very, very questionable investigation by the state. 

We’ll keep you posted on the outcome.

 

LifeSiteNews.com reports that a delegate of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) has asked that Christianophobia be included in international law as a form of discrimination and intolerance.

‘It is very important to the Russian Orthodox Church to raise the issue of introducing to the list of threats the notion of Christianophobia in addition to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia,’ deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Georgy Ryabykh told the Interfax news service.

Ryabykh pointed out that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon mentioned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in his opening speech at the conference but failed to say ‘a single word about Christianophobia.

Today there are a lot of ‘examples of violations of Christians’ rights, insults of their feelings, public distortion of the Christian teaching, to make the notion of Christianophobia enter the international circulation,’ the archpriest said. Emphasizing the contribution of the Russian Orthodox Church to European civilization, Ryabykh declared that the increasing discrimination against Christians should not be taken lightly.

WCAR is also known as Durban II.  It follows on from WCAR Durban I, held in South Africa in 2001.  The conference is not without controversy.  In 2001, the US and Israel walked out of proceedings after some participating countries attempted to label Israel an ‘apartheid state’.

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