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Raped and Slaughtered: Muslim Persecution of Christians, April, 2014

by on Aug.31, 2014, under Christian News Articles

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah… There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.” — Abubakar Shekau, leader of Boko Haram.

Hillary Clinton repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization.

In Malaysia — regularly portrayed in the West as a moderate Muslim nation — any attempt to promote religions other than Islam is illegal.

“The reason they want to kill me is very clear — it is because of being a convert to Christianity.” — Hassan Muwanguzi, Uganda.

From one end of the Islamic world to the other, the abduction and rape of Christian girls at the hands of Muslims—both terrorists and laymen—was a dominant theme in April.

On Easter Sunday morning, for instance, four Muslim men raped a 7-year-old Christian girl named Sara in a Pakistani village. Last reported, the child was in an intensive care unit in “critical” condition. According to Asia News, “the police, instead of arresting the culprits, helped the local clan to kidnap the girl’s father; Iqbal Masih was taken and hidden in a secret place to ‘force the family not to report the story, to reach an agreement with the criminals and to avoid a dispute of a religious background.’”

According to a human rights lawyer involved in the case, “Such cases are frequent: abuse against women and girls by Muslim men are examples of how the minorities in Pakistan live under constant fear of persecution. We believe that many cases of violence go unreported.” A new report appearing in April by the Solidarity and Peace Movement—a coalition of NGOs, associations and institutions including the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the Pakistani Bishops—confirmed that “an estimated 700 cases per year involve Christian women, 300 Hindu girls…[T]he true extent of the problem is probably much bigger, since many cases are not reported.” (Click here for a better understanding of the extent of this tragedy.)

The biggest story, however, came from Nigeria, where the Islamic terrorist organization known as Boko Haram abducted nearly 300 teenage schoolgirls, mostly Christians. The group justified its actions in Islamic terms. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared on video, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah. …There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.”

Some of the Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram. (Image source: Boko Haram video)

The so-called mainstream media, which generally downplays or ignores Boko Haram’s terror campaign, actually reported on this particular atrocity, prompting Western authorities—who are much more accustomed to, and comfortable with, pretending these sorts of things do not exist—to respond in awkward, hypocritical and bewildering ways.

Secretary of State John Kerry, after saying the U.S. had been in touch with Nigeria “from day one” of the crisis, then asserted, “I think now the complications that have arisen have convinced everybody that there needs to be a greater effort. And it will begin immediately. I mean, literally, immediately.”

It is not clear to whom Kerry was referring when he said, “convinced everybody”—unless he was referring to himself. After all, there might not have been any need for “greater effort,” or the need to act “immediately. I mean, literally, immediately,” had Kerry only let the Nigerian government do its job a year ago, when it was waging a strong and successful offensive against Boko Haram in the same region in which the schoolgirls were kidnapped.

Back then, in May 2013, soon after Nigerian forces killed 30 Boko Haram members, Reuters reported that “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued a strongly worded statement [to the Nigerian president] saying: “We are … deeply concerned by credible allegations that Nigerian security forces are committing gross human rights violations, which, in turn, only escalate the violence and fuel extremism” from Boko Haram.

As for Kerry’s predecessor, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she publicly bemoaned the lot of the kidnapped girls. “[It's] abominable, it’s criminal, it’s an act of terrorism and it really merits the fullest response possible,” she said from a position to help offer “the fullest response possible.” But she repeatedly refused to designate Boko Haram a “foreign terrorist organization,” despite the countless atrocities it had already committed; despite that under her tenure Boko Haram had boasted that it would “strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women,” and despite extensive urging from the CIA, FBI, Justice Department, and several congressmen and senators.

Her logic was once voiced by her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton. In February 2012, he declared that “inequality” and “poverty” are “what’s fueling all this stuff“—a reference to Boko Haram’s terror—and he warned the Nigerian government, “It is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence.”

The rest of April’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity.

Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Afghanistan: Three Americans were shot and killed at a Kabul hospital funded by an American Christian charity. The murderer was a policeman employed as a security guard at the hospital. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for similar attacks this year, but issued no comment. Those killed were a doctor and a father and son visiting the hospital. “As they were walking out of the hospital, the security guard opened fire on them, killing three and wounding another one,” said a statement from the Interior Ministry. The attack was one of increasing attacks against Christians and Westerners in the country. Three weeks earlier, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, 48, was killed and reporter Kathy Gannon, 60, wounded while they were sitting in the back of a car in the east of the country. Also in March, a gunman shot dead Swedish journalist Nils Horner, 51, outside a restaurant in Kabul.

Central African Republic: Father Labbe Christ Formane Willbona was slaughtered by Muslim herdsmen believed to be close to the Islamic rebel organization, Seleka. Local security sources reported that the corpse was mutilated before being buried.

Egypt: A Coptic Christian teacher at the Marzouk prep school in Minya province was shot in the head by a student belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Eyewitnesses said that the student was caught smoking in class and was reprimanded. Apparently he decided to show his “infidel” teacher his place, and therefore shot him in the head while he was returning home. Two more Christian Copts were killed in villages near Asyut, according to Agenzia Fides, during “sectarian clashes” over land disputes between a Coptic family and local Muslims. On the same day as the Coptic funeral, a young Coptic entrepreneur, Mohsen Morris, was also kidnapped near Asyut. The kidnappers extracted a ransom of 250,000 Egyptian pounds [$35,000] from his family.

Libya: Three more Coptic Christians—all cousins—were targeted in post “Arab Spring” Libya. One was slaughtered and brought back to Egypt to be buried in a Coptic cemetery; another, half dead, was carried back home in an ambulance, with a bullet lodged in his skull; another cousin disappeared and is believed to have been killed by Islamic militants. Islamic enmity for Christians has been regularly on display in Libya after the U.S.-supported “Arab Spring”: Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (often for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. Earlier, Islamic militants said they would reward any Muslim who finds and kills Christians. Such persecution did not occur under the leadership of the late Colonel Moammar Gaddafi.

Pakistan: A Muslim security guard is accused of murdering a Christian worker who refused to convert to Islam. According to Morning Star News,

Sunny Masih, a father of two, was working as a cleaner at a branch of Bank Islami under construction on Nisbat Road in Lahore. On Wednesday morning (April 16), the bank security guard informed police that Masih had shot himself in the forehead with a pump-action shotgun that the guard had left unattended before going to the washroom.

The guard, Omar Farooq, of Khushab District in central Punjab Province, told police that Masih “looked depressed” when he arrived at the bank at 8 a.m. Sub-Inspector Muhammad Iqbal of the Nolakha Police told Morning Star News that Farooq told officers Masih was in the lobby of the bank when Farooq went to the washroom, leaving his weapon unattended.

Haider Masih, father of the deceased, told Morning Star News that his son was a lively young man and had shown no signs of depression.

On April 15, my son told me that Farooq had mocked his Christian faith and had asked him to ‘embrace’ Islam. He told my son, ‘You are a good-looking boy, and I don’t like to see you sweeping floors and cleaning the washrooms. If you embrace Islam, I’ll connect you with people who will take good care of you, provide you with a decent job and even get you married into a wealthy Muslim family.’”

Masih said his son told Farooq that he was satisfied with his Christian faith, and that he should stop nagging him.

“My son told me that when he snubbed Farooq, the guard had threatened him that he would have to face the consequences for refusing the Dawaat [an invitation to accept Islam],” the grieving told Morning Star News at the Mayo Hospital mortuary. “I took the matter lightly and told my son not to worry, as being Christians we have to face such people every second day. I told Sunny to avoid discussing religion with Farooq even if he brought up the matter and keep distance from him, and everything would be alright. Little did I know that my son would end up in a mortuary a day later.”

According to a Christian activist involved in the case,

Masih was hit on the forehead just above his eyes, and his skull and brain were completely blown away by the impact at point blank range. The doctor said he found it hard to believe that Masih could have shot himself in the head with a big weapon such as a shotgun. This is what we want the police to find out, but instead they are trying to cover up the matter. We believe the police are showing bias in its probe because it involves a ‘righteous Muslim’ who was trying to convert a Christian.

Syria: Frans van der Lugt—a 76-year-old Jesuit priest from the Netherlands who had established a community center and farm near the city of Homs where he had worked for over forty years for the betterment of people with disabilities and for Christian-Muslim harmony—was shot dead in the garden of the community center. After the Islamist-led siege of Homs, the priest continued to care for the sick and the hungry. In early 2014 he made a number of YouTube videos, asking the international community to help the besieged city. Yet he chose to remain in Homs, struggling with the daily bombings and the lack of food, until he was slain.

Uganda: The teenage daughter of a Muslim man managed to attend one church service after converting to Christianity before her father killed her. Abdul Hakim Ibanda severely beat his 17-year-old daughter and her 19-year-old sister with a blunt instrument after learning that they had attended a church service on April 6. The surviving sister said, “On Sunday morning we arrived at the United Believers Church… After prayers we then went to church, where the pastor introduced us to the church and that we were new members of the church. The church faithful were cheerful to receive us.” However, local Muslims who saw them enter the church immediately reported it to the father. He gathered a group of 32 “youths” to attack the church but the mob was eventually dispersed without incident. When the girls returned home, the father, described as “furious,” began questioning and eventually beating them with a blunt object, killing the girl. According to the pastor of the majority-Christian nation, where Muslims make some 11.5 percent, “The girl [surviving sister] is still traumatized as a result of the death of her sister and needs prayers and counseling.” Said the girl: “I know I cannot go back to my father because I have become a Christian. I am grateful to the church for welcoming me and taking me as their child. I now have a new home.”

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Austria: After reportedly listening to Muslim chants, a man, known only as Ibrahim A., went on a church-vandalizing spree, desecrating four churches. According to the Vienna Times, “the attack left Lazaristenkirche with all of its statues and side altars largely destroyed as well as statues damaged at St. Stephen’s, the Breitenfeld church in Josefstadt and the Neuottakring church in Ottakring.” The Archbishop of Vienna described the attack on churches as “so far the worst act of vandalism in my time as Archbishop…. I am shocked by the devastation in the churches. I hope that the perpetrator or perpetrators did not know what they were doing.” Ibrahim A., 37-years-old, was caught in the act of vandalizing St. Stephan’s but was released at the time because police did not realize it was one of many attacks that that had been carried out that day. Police have since been unable to find him.

Nigeria: According to AP, “Witnesses and an official say angry Muslim youths set ablaze a Catholic church and tried to destroy an attached school in northern Nigeria over an alleged insult to the Prophet Muhammad. Witness Tukur Musa says soldiers on Monday stopped the mob from setting ablaze the school in Funtua town in Katsina state, but they arrived too late to save St. Rita Catholic Church. He says the town was in an uproar about an examination question last week which they considered an insult to the Prophet Muhammad. They reported the matter to district authorities. When no action was taken, young Muslims attacked. Deputy Police Superintendent Aminu Abubakar Saddiq confirmed the church was burned and school damaged but said no one was injured. Religious strife is common in central and northern Nigeria.” Also, during early Easter Sunday morning, unknown gunmen, later attributed to the Islamic terrorist organization Boko Haram, launched an attack on the Christian-majority regions of Taraba State. The Christian Church of Nigeria was burned down, as well as many Christian homes. At least 15 corpses were seen littering on the streets.

Syria: Gregorios III Laham, Greek-Melkite Catholic patriarch of Antioch, visited some of the dozens of Christian churches hit by Islamic rebels, particularly churches in the historic town of Ma’aloula, where the Christian inhabitants still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus, and where some were executed for refusing to convert to Islam. (Click here for several pictures of the types of desecration that churches undergo if they fall into the hands of the Islamic terrorists. In St. Mary’s Greek Catholic Church alone, icons had their faces scratched out, church pews broken, statues of the Virgin Mary and Christ smashed, and Bibles burned.) In the prelate’s words: “An apocalyptic spectacle presented itself. Other churches have been destroyed in Syria, but I have never seen anything like this. I cried and I sought in vain a moment of solitude to pray. I am heartbroken. Ma’aloula’s four historic churches were hit. Our parish church, dedicated to Saint George, is riddled with bullets. The convent’s dome was damaged in two places. The walls were ripped open by cannon fire. Some parts of the convent is in danger of collapsing and must be rebuilt. The icons are scattered on the floor, dirty, or stolen. It is currently completely uninhabitable.” The patriarch further described the wanton destruction of churches as a “war crime.”

Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

Malaysia: An Islamic organization known as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia accused a Christian church of trying to evangelize to Muslims, simply because they used Bahasa Malaysia, the national language, for an Easter pageant. The organization’s website said that while freedom of religion for non-Muslims was guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, the open use of Bahasa Malaysia to promote the event outside the church compound was an abuse of this liberty. The organization also called on Muslim officials “to closely monitor this Easter Musical.” It further declared that “the notion of Easter was against Islam.” In Malaysia — regularly portrayed in the West as an example of a moderate Muslim nation—any attempt to promote religions other than Islam is illegal.

Pakistan: Eight days after a court in Lahore sentenced Sawan Masih, a Christian man, to death for allegedly insulting Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, another illiterate Christian couple in Punjab Province was sentenced to death for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages. Along with Asia Bibi, a wife and mother incarcerated since 2010, there are now four Christians on death row in Pakistan for allegedly blaspheming Islam or its founder. Also, a Muslim landlord almost beat to death his Christian tenant and employee, Saleem Masih, for observing Easter. According to Mushtaq Gill, a Christian activist and lawyer, because Saleem took time off to observe Easter, “the landlord became furious and beat him severely. He was eventually rescued and saved by some other villagers, otherwise he could have been beaten to death.” Gill added that many other Christian field workers “are forced into bonded labour, denied minimum wages and harassed and implicated in fake cases if they try to resist the oppression of their influential masters.” As for Mushtaq Gill, the Christian lawyer representing these Christians, he is facing death threats. In his own words: “On April 2, a stranger came to the Lahore Court and warned me that I might be attacked or involved in some fake criminal cases or even killed.” Such threats are not limited to “extremists.” Gil received information that he could also be expelled and barred from practicing law. “What am I supposed to do, stop?” said Gil. “Psalm 118 says: ‘The Lord is with me, I have no fear of anything. What can man do to me?’ My other colleagues and I have been threatened and attacked several times by strangers because of our work for human rights in Pakistan. But we are not afraid. We know that we could be killed because we support the campaign for the abolition of the blasphemy law. But this will not close our mouth and will not stop our work on human rights. The Lord tells us to have courage.”

Uganda: Muslim relatives of a convert to Christianity tried to poison him to death. Hassan Muwanguzi converted to Christianity in 2003. Soon thereafter, his wife left him and he was fired from his job as a schoolteacher. Most recently, he was hospitalized after an aunt put insecticide in his tea. According to Hassan: “After eating and taking tea, I started feeling stomachache, then I realized that she was the one responsible for it—and I believe she did not do it alone, since they have been hunting for me directly and indirectly, because when I left them and converted to Christianity it pained them so much. The reason they want to kill me is very clear—it is because of being a convert to Christianity; above all, to them it is like I brought shame by converting…” During the family meeting, when he started to feel ill, he telephoned a local Christian bishop, who advised him that he should leave secretly. “I knew if he were to mention to them that he was getting sick, they would harm him more,” said Bishop Kinyewa.

Uzbekistan: Christians are being prevented from burying their dead in the state cemeteries of the Muslim-majority nation. There have been three known cases so far this year. Most recently, the family of Gayrat Buriyev, who died on 9 April, was told by officials, “The cemetery is state property, but is under the management of the local mosque, and if the imam is against the burial then it will not take place. And the local imam said he was “acting in accordance with sharia law,” even though Uzbekistan is officially a secular state. The imam also cursed the family for being Christians, calling them “unclean and defiled infidels.” Although they took the matter to local authorities, officials refused to intervene, siding with the imam. (According to Islamic teaching, being buried next to an “infidel” could cause the Muslim corpse to suffer the “torments of the grave.”)

About this Series

While not all, or even most, Muslims are involved, persecution of Christians is expanding. “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month.

It documents what the mainstream media often fails to report.

It posits that such persecution is not random but systematic, and takes place in all languages ethnicities and locations.

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War in Christians (published by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute, April 2013).

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Iraqi Christians report a decade of blood – U

by on Aug.31, 2014, under Christian News Articles

The day the statue of Saddam Hussein was torn down in Baghdad’s Firdos Square in April 2003 — a day that was the basis for some of the most iconic and debated images of the war in Iraq — Sam, an Iraqi Christian who had a job at a barber shop just down the street from all of the action, skipped work.

“I saw everything with my eyes. I was there,” he said.

Like many Iraqis, he saw promise in the falling statue, and initially things were more or less OK. Even with the church bombings, the ransom kidnappings, the faith-based killings, the sectarian fighting between Shiite and Sunni militias, and the random atrocities that marked everyday life in occupied Iraq, Sam and his family were getting by.

That started to change in 2006, when militias made life unbearable even for those trying to keep a low profile. In late 2009, he fled to Jordan. That was after a group of women threatened his wife because she was Christian, and soon after a Shiite militia tried to recruit him. He eventually moved his family to San Diego.

In an interview this month at a coffee shop in El Cajon, home to one of the largest Iraqi populations in the U.S., Sam asked that his last name and workplace not be published. Even now, halfway around the world, he fears persecution because of his religion. He has a lingering regret: “We should have come before.”

But he knows he’s among the lucky. “Some people, they suffered more than us,” he said.

ISIS, the shorthand name for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a militant group that wants to create a fundamentalist caliphate, recently claimed much of northern Iraq and has been persecuting Shiite Muslims, Kurds, Christians and other minorities. San Diego County’s Iraqi population — estimated at 70,000 people — has watched with dread and a sense of familiarity because they say this is just the latest chapter in a slow and painful extinguishing of their people in a land they occupied for almost 2,000 years.

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For Iraqi Christians, the past decade has been one disaster after another: first the emergence of violence that touched the lives of Iraqis, regardless of their religion, tribe or ethnicity, followed by violent and political persecution by radical insurgents and a noninclusive government.

Chaldeans in San Diego say they are haunted by their own tortured memories, as well as a stream of anguishing updates from their homeland. Now that ISIS has stormed their ancient homeland and killed or displaced Christians in the north, there’s a sense among Chaldeans in San Diego and in Iraq that help is urgently needed, coupled by a fear that any action would already be too late.

Mark Arabo, a Chaldean community leader who’s been pushing for safety measures and humanitarian aid, relayed a message to the international community he received from a man stuck in Iraq: “By the time you guys do everything you’re doing, there will be no Christians left (in Iraq). We’ll all be dead.”

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Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

by on Aug.31, 2014, under Christian News Articles

According to a study by the Pew Research Center the number of Middle Eastern countries experiencing sectarian violence between religious groups has doubled from five to 10 since 2011.

The research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities and that Christians faced persecution in growing number of countries in the region.

In this climate of religious intolerance, experts say nearly one million Christians have been displaced from Iraq, half a million have left Syria, and Egypt’s Copts have lost scores of their churches to arsons. In Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, the number of Christians has been dwindling for decades.

“At one time, it was estimated that 25 percent of the citizens of East Jerusalem were Christians, now they are less than 2 percent,” said Yvonne Haddad, professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University.

She also says political developments and discrimination have for decades caused the decline of the Middle East’s Christian population.

“The formation of the state of Israel in 1947 resulted in displacement of Christians in the Galilee, which was mostly a Christian community, and then the 1967 war pushed out more Christians who were living near Jerusalem,” she said.

“Lebanon’s civil war in 1970s forced a lot of Christians to leave,” she added. “The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq resulted in pitting sectarian groups against each other, and, recently, when the Islamic State [group] took over some areas in Iraq and Syria, Christians were given options to convert, leave, or die.”

In some cases, discrimination against Arab Christians made them feel unwanted and pushed some to emigrate, she said.

“Everywhere, with the exception of Lebanon, there is an established state religion; in Egypt and Iraq, for example, the state religion is Islam. In Syria the president has to be a Muslim, so Christians felt they are a minority and they are not represented in the government or the state bureaucracy.”

Appeal for Iraqi Christians

Considering the magnitude of the decline of Christian minorities in the Middle East, some Christian leaders are appealing to the world not to remain indifferent.

In recent months, a military drive by Islamic State militants targeted Christians in Iraq, destroyed numerous ancient Christian sites and demanded that followers of the ancient Yazidi sect choose between conversion to Islam or death. Thousands of Yazidis fled into the mountains, leading to a U.S.-led assault on the militants and giant humanitarian mission to save them from starvation.

“What has happened to Iraqi Christians, along with other minorities, is terrible and horrific … therefore, we need urgent and effective international support from all the people of good will to save the Christians and Yazidis, from extinction,” said Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, president of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq in an open letter released on August 24.
 
The letter calls into question the West’s “moral and historical” responsibility toward religious minorities.

As Islamic State militants seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, Christians were asked to convert to Islam, pay a special levy for non-Muslims, or forced to flee to avoid death.

Iraqi Chaldeans, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, left their cities and villages in droves. Sako said he fears Christian life eventually could come to an end in the region.

“In 10 years there will perhaps be 50,000 Christians left in Iraq,” he said. “Prior to 2003, this figure was about 1.2 million. Within 10 years we have shrunk to a community of perhaps 400,000 to 500,000 Christians.”

Discrimination rages

The Reverend Refaat Bader, president of the Center for Catholic Studies and Information, in Amman, Jordan, said Christians are facing discrimination throughout the Middle East.

“All Christians of the Middle East suffer from a wide range of discriminatory practices, whether in their constitutions or laws and social pressures,” said Bader. “Every time a constitution specifies that Islam is the official religion of the state, Christian citizens are not treated equally.”

Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute, said Christians have become prey for militant Muslims.

“The U.S. invasion of Iraq resulted in a decade of unrest, which allowed for the rise of radical groups like al-Qaida in Iraq and then the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “Christian communities were targeted by radicalism that led to a historic disaster for these communities.”

Salem said that the Arab Spring rebellions spurred religious intolerance that has added to the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

“In the absence of organized political life and real political elites, Arab populations suddenly empowered with no political experience, religion became the only haven where people could meet and develop their identities,” said Salem. “And desperate, angry, and unemployed youth are more likely to take things to their radical extremes. Political Islam also has considerable financing from networks in the oil-rich gulf states, which are generally politically and religiously conservative.”

Christian future uncertain

Still, Salem is hopeful the decline of the Christian population could be stopped by ending the civil wars, reestablishing law and order, and fixing flaws in laws and constitutions.

“Christians in Egypt – the largest Christian population in the Middle East – went through a very difficult time during the one year of the Muslim Brotherhood rule feeling like second-class citizens. But they now feel much more secured with the new constitution, which gave them clear protection and rights to representation,” said Salem.

Analyst Haddad is so pessimistic about the future of the region’s Christians, however, that she is writing a book titled Vanishing Christians of the Middle East.

“Everybody thinks I am exaggerating, but I really think that eventually, if things continue as what is happening now, Christians will all leave,” she said.

Salem did said there is a historical lure, though, for some Christians to remain.

“They are not going to disappear from the region, they might disappear from certain areas here and there, but they are tough people and so attached to their land, history and identity – and they were in the region before Islam arrived – and they are there to stay,” he said.

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Warner Christian blanks Orangewood Christian

by on Aug.31, 2014, under Christian News Articles

After losing 17 seniors and most of its offensive playmakers from 2013, South Daytona Warner Christian was left out of the top five in its class in preseason state football rankings for the first time since 2004. That ommission may not hold up for long.

The Eagles, youthful but talented, scored touchdowns on four of their first eight offensive plays and coasted to a 35-0 victory at Orangewood Christian in a sun-baked season opener on Saturday.

First-year Warner head coach D.J. Mayo, an Eagles alum, said he was pleased to see his team focused and ready to play an 11:30 a.m. game against an underdog opponent.

“To be dialed in and execute early was good to see,” Mayo said. “Orangewood is coached up and you’ve got to earn what you get. We executed and we’ve got athletes.”

Senior Xavier Atkins turned the first official touch of his high-school career into a 57-yard TD on the opening snap. Atkins blocked Orangewood’s ensuing punt to set up the first of four TD passes by Eagles sophomore Anthony Butler II.

Butler completed his first seven throws for 150 yards. Blake Hinson, a 6-foot-4 eighth-grader, used his long strides on 37- and 62-yard TD receptions. Sophomores Chad Wilson and David Youkon had the other TDs catches.

“They made a lot of plays in the passing game I had not seen them make on film,” said Orangewood coach Bill Gierke.

It was a tough week for Orangewood to open against one of the best opponents they will face. All of its seniors were absent from practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to a senior retreat.

The Rams were led by seniors Jimmy Martin (three carries for 26 yards, 12 tackles) and K.J. Vanderpool (14 carries, 59 yards).

Warner Christian 35, Orangewood Christian 0

FIRST — WC: Atkins 57 run (Gaston kick); WC: Youkon 8 pass from Butler (Gaston kick); WC: Wilson 5 pass from Butler (Gaston kick); WC: Hinson 37 pass from Butler (Gaston kick). SECOND — WC: Hinson 62 pass from Butler (Gaston kick)

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Flynn: Christians slaughtered, who cares?

by on Aug.30, 2014, under Christian News Articles

Where is the moral outrage in America? Have we given up?

I don’t have much confidence in Washington politicians or the national media to be an effective voice for injustice and intolerance. I remember when a president spoke, the world listened. When the media reported on an abuse or a cause, politicians acted.

Not anymore.

As ISIS stacks up more atrocities, we seem to become more complacent.

I remember TV celebrity Jackie Gleason telling a small group of us one day in Washington that when Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s TV show, “Life Is Worth Living,” went on the air, even Hollywood stopped to listen to what he had to say. They and others were courageous voices who spoke truth to power, which sadly are long gone.

Politicians are only concerned about raising money from powerful special interest groups to win the next election, while Hollywood and the media focus on appealing to a changing secular culture and not for standing up for what’s right.

The worst example of this betrayal is the reported slaughter of Christians in Iraq by radical Islamic terrorists, who are determined to kill all Christians and Jews in the world. I have been talking about this crisis since I returned home from the Vatican and the Middle East and Africa. But because I no longer hold public office, the media can ignore what I have to say. Contacts in the Catholic church in the Middle East continue to inform me about what’s taking place, as do Vatican and U.S. State Department officials, intelligence officers and the CIA.

Based on information from religious and political sources in Iraq, I wrote a letter to President Obama and other political leaders — including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Bay State U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey — urging increased military action, but they have not responded. I have been speaking out about the killing and torture of Christians in Iraq, as have other concerned people. But not enough has been done. Our constant plea has been ignored in Washington.

So where is the outrage, America? Where are the voices of justice?

This is genocide, and I’m afraid we will be judged harshly for our lack of political courage.

Raymond L. Flynn is the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and former mayor of Boston.

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Convert or Die Are The Only Options for Christians Around the World

by on Aug.30, 2014, under Christian News Articles

About 100,000 Christians have been forced to abandon their villages in Iraq due to Islamic State attacks.

These individuals — including children — face rape, beheadings, child soldiering and all forms of human degradation — specifically because they’re Christian. In fact every Christian in the areas conquered by the Islamic State received a letter targeting them for their faith.

The Christian Post reports:

The letter that they [Islamic State] sent out with those three items, said convert, pay a fine or die. [Many Christians paid the fine] but after they paid a fine, they [Islamic State militants] actually took over their wives and their daughters and made them into their wives. So really it’s convert or die, face death by the sword…

Islamic State militants are bent on killing every Christian in their sight.

Iraqi Yazidis, who fled their homes a week ago when Islamic State (IS) militants attacked the town of Sinjar, gather inside a building under construction where they found refuge on August 10, 2014 in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region. 'The Kurdish peshmerga forces have succeeded in making 30,000 Yazidis who fled Mount Sinjar, most of them women and children, cross into Syria and return to Kurdistan,' said Shawkat Barbahari, a Kurdhish official who is in charge of the Fishkhabur crossing with Syria. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

Iraqi Yazidis, who fled their homes when Islamic State militants attacked the town of Sinjar, gather inside a building under construction where they found refuge on August 10, 2014 in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. ‘The Kurdish peshmerga forces have succeeded in making 30,000 Yazidis who fled Mount Sinjar, most of them women and children, cross into Syria and return to Kurdistan,’ said Shawkat Barbahari, a Kurdhish official who is in charge of the Fishkhabur crossing with Syria. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

These events may be 10,000 miles away from U.S. soil today. However, the Islamic State is openly threatening the U.S. and has declared they “We will hang the flag of Allah over the White House.”

Their plan is simple: conquer people-by-people, region-by-region, country-by-country, continent-by-continent, until they have complete control. They are coming. For anyone thinking I am whooping up a scare-tactic approach, stop reading me and study history.

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Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

by on Aug.30, 2014, under Christian News Articles

According to a study by the Pew Research Center the number of Middle Eastern countries experiencing sectarian violence between religious groups has doubled from five to 10 since 2011. The research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities and that Christians faced persecution in growing number of countries in the region.

In this climate of religious intolerance, experts said nearly one million Christians have been displaced from Iraq, half a million Christians left Syria, and Egypt’s Copts lost scores of their churches to arsons. In Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, the number of Christians has been dwindling for decades.

“At one time, it was estimated that 25 percent of the citizens of East Jerusalem were Christians, now they are less than 2 percent,” said Yvonne Haddad, professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University.

Haddad said that political developments and certain forms of discrimination have for decades caused the decline of the Middle East’s Christian population.

“The formation of the state of Israel in 1947 resulted in displacement of Christians in the Galilee, which was mostly a Christian community, and then the 1967 war pushed out more Christians who were living near Jerusalem,” she said.

“Lebanon civil war in 1970s forced a lot of Christians to leave, the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq resulted in pitting sectarian groups against each other, and recently when the Islamic State took over some areas in Iraq and Syria, Christians were given options to convert, leave, or die,” said Haddad.

In some cases, discrimination against Arab Christians made them feel unwanted and pushed some to emigrate, she said.

“Everywhere, with the exception of Lebanon, there is an established state religion; in Egypt and Iraq, for example, the state religion is Islam. In Syria the president has to be a Muslim, so Christians felt they are a minority and they are not represented in the government or the state bureaucracy,” she said.

Appeal for Iraqi Christians

Considering the magnitude of the decline of Christian minorities in the Middle East, some Christian leaders are appealing to the world not to remain indifferent.

In recent months, a military drive by Islamic State militants targeted Christians in Iraq, destroyed numerous ancient Christian sites and demanded that followers of the ancient Yazidi sect choose between conversion to Islam or death. Thousands of Yazidis fled into the mountains, leading to a U.S.-led assault on the militants and giant humanitarian mission to save them from starvation.

“What has happened to Iraqi Christians, along with other minorities, is terrible and horrific … therefore, we need urgent and effective international support from all the people of good will to save the Christians and Yazidis, from extinction,” said Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, president of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq in an open letter released on August 24.
 
The letter calls into question the West’s “moral and historical” responsibility toward religious minorities.

As Islamic State militants seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, Christians were asked to convert to Islam, pay a special levy for non-Muslims, or forced to flee to avoid death.

Iraqi Chaldeans, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, left their cities and villages in droves. Sako said he fears Christian life eventually could come to an end in the region.

“In 10 years there will perhaps be 50,000 Christians left in Iraq,” he said. “Prior to 2003, this figure was about 1.2 million. Within 10 years we have shrunk to a community of perhaps 400,000 to 500,000 Christians.”

Discrimination rages

The Reverend Refaat Bader, president of the Center for Catholic Studies and Information, in Amman, Jordan, said Christians are facing discrimination throughout the Middle East.

“All Christians of the Middle East suffer from a wide range of discriminatory practices, whether in their constitutions or laws and social pressures,” said Bader. “Every time a constitution specifies that Islam is the official religion of the state, Christian citizens are not treated equally.”

Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute, said Christians have become prey for militant Muslims.

“The U.S. invasion of Iraq resulted in a decade of unrest, which allowed for the rise of radical groups like al-Qaida in Iraq and then the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “Christian communities were targeted by radicalism that led to a historic disaster for these communities.”

Salem said that the Arab Spring rebellions spurred religious intolerance that has added to the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

“In the absence of organized political life and real political elites, Arab populations suddenly empowered with no political experience, religion became the only haven where people could meet and develop their identities,” said Salem. “And desperate, angry, and unemployed youth are more likely to take things to their radical extremes. Political Islam also has considerable financing from networks in the oil-rich gulf states, which are generally politically and religiously conservative.”

Christian future uncertain

Still, Salem is hopeful the decline of the Christian population could be stopped by ending the civil wars, reestablishing law and order, and fixing flaws in laws and constitutions.

“Christians in Egypt – the largest Christian population in the Middle East – went through a very difficult time during the one year of the Muslim Brotherhood rule feeling like second-class citizens. But they now feel much more secured with the new constitution, which gave them clear protection and rights to representation,” said Salem.

Analyst Haddad is so pessimistic about the future of the region’s Christians, however, that she is writing a book titled Vanishing Christians of the Middle East.

“Everybody thinks I am exaggerating, but I really think that eventually, if things continue as what is happening now, Christians will all leave,” she said.

Salem did said there is a historical lure, though, for some Christians to remain.

“They are not going to disappear from the region, they might disappear from certain areas here and there, but they are tough people and so attached to their land, history and identity – and they were in the region before Islam arrived – and they are there to stay,” he said.

 

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Why is Christian Sochor still on 'The Quest'?

by on Aug.30, 2014, under Christian News Articles

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HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 28 (UPI) – If you’re still watching ABC’s summer-doldrums mashup of reality TV and epic fantasy, The Quest, you’re probably wondering why Christian Sochor is still on the journey, and perhaps hoping he’ll be banished tonight.

The reality competition challenges 12 “paladins” against the scripted high-fantasy backdrop of Everealm, and goes to fairly great lengths to immerse them in a hero’s journey.

Living in a castle, training in the yard, performing feats of strength and skill for a beloved queen and a shadowy vizier, the paladins complete the Fates’ challenges to avoid the bottom 3, lest they lose another challenge and get banished by the other paladins. At the end of this Survivor-like process the One True Hero emerges to wield the Sunspear against the coming evil.

Christian Sochor, who was apparently selected for his “sword fighting talents” in the New York Renaissance Faire, has failed most of his challenges and doesn’t seem to have the “heart of a hero” everyone keeps talking about.

In episodes 1, 2 and 3, Christian landed in the bottom three, lost the Fates’ challenge, and was saved overwhelmingly by the other paladins, even after many of them expressed reasonable reservations about his performance.

“We had told Christian that the only way you’re gonna make it any further if you get the bottom three again is to win the fates challenge,” Patrick Higgens said in the third episode — right before they saved Christian again.

Adria Kyne was intent, as were a few others, that Christian has “skills” yet to teach them.

He avoided the bottom three by sheer luck in episode 4, and Jasmine Kyle was banished having initially entered the balance-beamed Battle Dome to fight the much larger Patrick and MMA fighter Shondo Blades.

The way the show is edited, Christian spends an awful lot of time talking a big game. So is that why all the other paladins keep saving him despite is repeated failures?

Maybe.

According to a small study published Wednesday, overconfident people easily fool other people into believing they merit all that confidence. So-called “self-deceived” individuals, as such, are more likely to receive promotions. Similarly, study participants who underrated themselves were underrated by others, regardless of performance that proved otherwise.

This seems like a particularly powerful tool to wield among a group of self-professed fantasy nerds, several of whom admit they’ve never believed in themselves — until they dressed up and mounted a horse for the show.

“We think this supports an evolutionary theory of self-deception,” said study author Dr. Vivek Nityananda of Newcastle University. “It can be beneficial to have others believe you are better than you are and the best way to do this is to deceive yourself — which might be what we have evolved to do.”

It’s certainly getting Christian through The Quest so far, but what realm wants a self-deceived One True Hero?

Episode 5, “Under Siege,” airs Thursday night at 8/7C on ABC.

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Baptist leader says Mideast Christians don’t need visas, but help to stay in …

by on Aug.29, 2014, under Christian News Articles

By Bob Allen

A Lebanese Baptist leader says the West should be helping Christians to stay in the Middle East, not offering them visas to escape.

Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Society for Education and Social Development, opposes recent initiatives by European and Western governments to offer visas for Christians fleeing violence by Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.

“We want the Christians in the West to lobby for us to live here in peace,” Costal told BMS World Mission.

“In America the Christians should voice it to those in Congress, and the Congress should help in this,” said Costa, a trustee of the mission organization founded in 1792 by William Carey, an English Baptist missionary known as the “father of modern missions.”

The government of Australia recently approved 4,400 humanitarian visas to resettle people fleeing violence in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month 11 family members of a slain leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church fled Iraq to begin a new life in France.

Costa said short-term humanitarian relief to those fleeing ISIS in Iraq is to be commended, but he fears unless Christians and other religious minorities are returned to their homes, they will become long-term refugees similar to the exodus of Palestinian Christians from the Holy Land.

“In the long run we need to help Iraqis stay in Iraq,” Costa said. “The Iraqis that left Mosul need to go back to Mosul, Christians that are leaving Syria need to go back to Syria. You need to help them go back to their countries.”

Reuters reported that as of Aug. 29, 3 million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries, and nearly half of 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced by the advance of Islamic State forces.

Because of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Christian population in the Holy Land has dwindled from over 10 percent prior to Israel’s founding in 1948 to about 2 percent. An estimated 80 percent of Palestinian Christians live abroad.

In the last month, the Syrian conflict has spilled over into Lebanon. On Aug. 28 the Daily Star in Lebanon reported the apparent beheading of a Lebanese Army solder captured by ISIS militants.

“The Middle East is our land,” Costa said. “Bethlehem is our land. Jesus was born here. These are the lands which Jesus visited: Damascus, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan.”

“You do not help us as the West when you give us visas to emigrate,” he said. “We don’t want to emigrate. We want your power to help us to stay here.”

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Christians May Be Unwittingly Hastening America’s Downfall

by on Aug.29, 2014, under Christian News Articles

It’s a bold statement to make that Christians may be unwittingly hastening America’s transformation but it needs to be said.

Most Christians would be shocked to think that they had anything to do with negatively impacting the country that they love so much and have, in many cases, even fought to protect.

However, it needs to be discussed because America as we know it is being changed beyond recognition on a daily basis.

As state primaries occur and as the 2016 elections draw near, it is high time that Christians recognize their invaluable potential in changing the course of our country.

For far too long now, many Christians have chosen to stay home instead of getting out to vote in national, state, and local elections. The reasons vary for their apathy, but commonly there are two factors which keep Christians home.

Anti-abortion protesters holding placards walk through Ireland's capital, Dublin, in an anti-abortion protest Saturday, July 6, 2013. More than 35,000 activists marched to the parliament building to oppose Irish government plans to enact a bill legalizing terminations for women in life-threatening pregnancies. The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill is expected to be passed into law next week. Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Either Christians believe that there is no one worth electing because the candidate does not hold their same Biblical beliefs or Christians wonder if they, pursuant to Biblical principles, should even vote at all.

While I am not a Biblical scholar, I know one thing for certain and that is the Bible is not filled with a lot of indifference or the absence of actions taken by Christians.

David didn’t slay Goliath by staying home. Joshua didn’t bring down the walls of Jericho by refusing to obey God’s direction to join in the battle.

Certainly, Christ didn’t raise Lazarus from the dead by choosing not to travel to Bethany. Christ was anything but apathetic. He stood for truth and continued to speak out until the day He was crucified. He was and is a model for Christians to follow.

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