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Catholic League slams Obama: ‘Do Christian lives mean so little to you?’

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

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Wiping Out the Christians of Syria and Iraq to Remap the Middle East …

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

Church destroyed

Historically, the Levant is the birthplace of Christianity and the oldest Christian communities have lived in it and the entire Fertile Crescent since the start of Christian history. Early Christian called themselves followers or people of «the Way» before they adopted the term Christian; in Arabic their antiquated name would be «Ahl Al-Deen». [1] Traces of this original name are also available in the New Testament of the Bible and can be read in John 14:5-7, Acts 9:1-2, Acts 24:4 and 14. From the Fertile Crescent these Christian communities spread across Africa, Asia, and Europe. Since that time the ancient communities of Christians, many of which still use the Syriac dialects of Aramaic in their churches, have been an integral and important part of the social fabrics of the pluralistic societies of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. Nevertheless, the Christians of the Levant and Iraq are now in the crosshairs.

Deceit and mischief has been at play. It is no coincidence that Egyptian Christians were attacked at the same time as the South Sudan Referendum, which was supposed to signal a split between the Muslims in Khartoum and the Christians and animists in Juba. Nor is it an accident that Iraq’s Christian, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, began to face a modern exodus, leaving their homes and ancestral homeland in Iraq in 2003. Mysterious groups targeted both them and Palestinian refugees…

Coinciding with the exodus of Iraqi Christians, which occurred under the watchful eyes of US and British military forces, the neighborhoods in Baghdad became sectarian as Shiite Muslims and Sunni Muslims were forced by violence and death squads to form sectarian enclaves. This is all tied to a US and Israeli project of redrawing the map.

The Christian communities of the Levant and Iraq have long distrusted the US government for its support of Israel, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and fanatical militants with anti-Christian leanings. Lebanon’s Christians have also been weary of US support for Israeli expansion and ideas about resettling Palestinians into Lebanon. There is also a widely held belief that the US and Israel have been involved in a policy to remove or «purge» the Christians from Iraq and the Levant in some type of Zionist-linked resettlement plan. Since the US-supported anti-government fighters started targeting Christian Syrians, there has been renewed talk about a Christian exodus in the Middle East centering on Washington’s war on Syria.

Silencing the Ancient Church Bells of Sham and Shinar

Christian Arabs and both the Assyrian and Armenian ethnic communities, which are overwhelming composed of Christian, inside Lebanon and Syria have been in the crosshairs. From Homs and Maaloula to Kessab, Syria’s Christians have been under siege. Various ecclesiastic councils or synods have expressed concerns as have Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Vatican or Holy See, Russian Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow Cyril (Kirill) I, Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Aram I, the Maronite Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Lebanon, Jerusalemite Greek Orthodox Archbishop Theodosios (Attallah) Hanna of Sebastia, the Anglican See of Canterbury, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, the Free Patriotic Movement of Lebanon’s Michel Aoun, the World Council of Churches, and various interfaith bodies. Even US celebrities Cherilyn Sarkisian (Cher) and Kimberly Kardashian joined the chorus and voiced their concerns about Syria’s Christians after the Turkish government perfidiously helped Al-Nusra overrun the predominately Armenian town of Kessab in Lattakia Governate on March 24, 2014. [2]

Inside Syria, Maronite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Damascus Samir Nassar, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham, Antiochian Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV, and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas have all condemned the violence. The leaders of Syria’s other faiths, Druze Sheikh Al-Aql Hamoud Hennawi, Sunni Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin, and Ashari Imam Mohammed Said Ramadan, have joined the Christian leaders in their calls for peace and condemnations of Washington’s war on Syria. These leaders have risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones by taking these positions. Sheikh Ramadan, who was also an ethnic Kurd, was murdered while he was teaching in a mosque for his backing of the Syrian government on March 21, 2013. Patriarch Ignatius IV had his brother kidnapped in Aleppo whereas Grand Mufti Hassoun had his twenty-two year-old son murdered on his way to university in Idlib. Despite the threats, all these figures have spoken against the insurgency as a cancerous threat to coexistence in Syrian society and the broader region. Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham has very vocally said that his country is being attacked by bandits and terrorists under the fiction of a revolution that seek to destroy the Christians and all Syria. [3]

The Christian communities of Syria, which constitute at least 10% of the Syrian population, have been systematically targeted; their churches have been attached and desecrated; their priests, monks, and nuns murdered; and generally discriminated against by the anti-government forces that the US, UK, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and their allies support. The objectives of establishing this exodus are reflected by the anti-government chants: «Alawites to the ground and Christians to Lebanon!» What this chant means is that Syria is no longer a place where either Alawis or Christians can live.

America’s Foot Soldiers and the Rape of Christians in Syria and Iraq

Fides News Agency, the official news agency of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church, has reported that the so-called religious leaders of the anti-government fighters declared it lawful for the anti-government fighters to rape «any non-Sunni Syrian woman» that they desired; the declarations of these corrupt pastors have been used to justify the rape, humiliation, torture, and murder of women and girls in towns and territory captured by groups like the so-called Free Syrian Army, Jabhat Al-Nusra, and the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Al-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah fi Al-Iraq wa Al-Sham (ISIL/DAISH). [4]

Here is the account given to the Fides News Agency by two priests about what was done to one fifteen year-old Syrian Christian girl in Homs Governate after the anti-government fighters took control of it:

The commander of the battalion «Jabhat al-Nusra» in Qusair took Mariam, married and raped her. Then he repudiated her. The next day the young woman was forced to marry another Islamic militant. He also raped her and then repudiated her. The same trend was repeated for 15 days, and Mariam was raped by 15 different men. This psychologically destabilized her and made her insane. Mariam, became mentally unstable and was eventually killed. These atrocities are not told by any «International Commission» say to Fides two Greek-Catholic priests, Fr. Issam and Fr. Elias who have just returned to town. [5]

These same US-supported multinational insurgent groups have begun to do this to Iraqi Christians too. «On June 12, [2014,] only two day after capturing Mosul and other territories in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria issued a decree ordering the people to send their unmarried women to ‘jihad by sex’» and made a decree ordering that unmarried women sexually be offered to their fighters for fornication. [6] The following account, which was confirmed by the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights and reported by the Assyrian International News Agency, deals with Mosul after its takeover by the insurrectionary forces entering Iraq from Syria on June 25, 2014:

A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn’t pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend. [7]

The molestation and rape of Christian women and girls as sex objects has not been limited to Christians alone. Syrian women and girls, regardless of their faiths, that have been captured by the anti-government forces are being raped and molested. Muslims, Christians, and Druze are all equally at risk. These perverted acts are being encouraged by corrupt clerics issuing legal opinions and decrees (fatwas) that support rape and womanizing.

These twisted legal opinions and decrees being issued include calls for foreign women to become concubines to the anti-government fighters in Syria in what is disgracefully called a «sexual holy struggle» (jihad al-nikah). The Tunisian government was even prompted to react in mid-2013 to these calls for sexual offering, because they were exploiting young Tunisian girls. [8] Tunisian Minister of Religious Affairs Noureddine Al-Khadimi condemned the corrupt and ignorant clerics and individuals behind the calls, insisting that they had nothing to do with Muslim teachings:

The minister’s statements came after the spread of an anonymous «sexual jihad» fatwa on the Internet calling on young women to support opposition fighters in Syria by providing sexual services. According to media reports and mujahideen who returned to Tunisia after participating in jihad in Syria, 13 Tunisian girls headed to the battlefield in response to the «sexual jihad» fatwa. [9]

«After the sexual liaisons they have [in Syria] in the name of ‘jihad al-nikah’ — (sexual holy war, in Arabic) — [these girls] come home pregnant», Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi bin Jeddou testified to Tunisian legislators months after Al-Khadimi’s condemnations, explaining that the misguided girls could have over a hundred partners. [10]

Targeting Bishops, Priests, Monks, and Nuns: Besieging the People of «The Way»

Since the start of the fighting, Christian spiritual figures have been targeted in one way or another. There are the cases of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Sayedna Paul (Boulos) Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Mar Gregorios John Abraham (Yohanna Ibrahim), which were kidnapped near the Turkish border, on April 22, 2013. Their driver, a Christian priest himself, was killed instantly for protecting the two Christian metropolitans by refusing to let them leave their car. A fourth person in the car, Fouad Eliya, managed to remain free (and explain what happened). [11]

The Turkish government is directly involved in the kidnapping of the two Orthodox Christian bishops. The Turkish newswire Dogan News Agency (Dogan Haber Ajansı) reported on July 23, 2013 that the murders or, using the report’s words, «assassins» of the two Syrian bishops were arrested in Konya. [12] The arrest happened to be of anti-Russian fighters from the North Caucasus, which corresponded to Foud Eliya’s account that Boulos Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim were taken by North Caucasian militants dressed like Taliban fighters from Afghanistan. [13]

Grand Mufti Hassoun revealed that Turkish-trained Chechen fighters were dispatched by Ankara to kidnap Sayedna Boulos Yazigi and Mar Gregorios, because of two important reasons. According to Sheikh Hassoun, the first reason is that Metropolitan Gregorios was asked by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas to head a church committee to begin the process of reclaiming the vast holdings of the Syriac Orthodox Church that the Turkish government had confiscated during its persecution of Syriac Orthodox Christians. [14]

In a meeting between Prime Minister Erdogan and Mar Gregorios, the Turkish government asked that the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch establish a eparchy (an ecclesiastical province or administrative division of the church with a metropolitan) in Turkey and to even relocate its patriarchate from Damascus to Hatay (Antioch), but Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim refused and said that the patriarchate of the Syriac Orthodox Church will never change locations, that Syriac Orthodox Christians recognized the Levant as one unified land, and that a bishop would be assigned to Turkey when the Syriac Orthodox Church’s properties were returned by the Turkish government, which angered Turkish officials. [15] The other reason that the Orthodox Christian cleric was targeted was that he was reconciling anti-government fighters peacefully with the Syrian government in Aleppo Governate, which upset Turkey and its allies. [16]

Other cases include those of: Father (Abouna) Fadi Jamal Haddad, a Antiochian Greek Orthodox priest acting as a mediator in Qatana during the fighting, who was tortured and shot in the head after he tried to mediate the release of a doctor that was being ransomed for money; Father (Abouna) Francois Al-Mourad, a Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order, who was shot for preventing fellow Christians and Syrians from being hurt by the anti-government fighters; and Father Frans van der Lugt, a Dutch priest of the Jesuit Order working in Homs. When Abouna Fadi went to pay the insurgents for the doctor they had abducted, they kidnapped him too; they would later kill the Christian priests and leave him on the side of the highway, «horribly tortured and [with] his eyes gouged out», where his body would be found on September 25, 2012. [17]

According to the Franciscan Order’s representatives in Syria, the insurgents «broke into the convent, looted it and destroyed everything. When Fr. Franҫois tried to defend the nuns and other people, the gunmen shot him dead» on June 23, 2013. [18]

The insurgents murdered Father Frans van der Lugt on April 7, 2014.This an account of the circumstances behind his murder:

Wael Salibi, 26, recalled how when the Christian area in Homs was taken over by rebels, 66,000 of the faithful «left their home, and just few of them stayed there. He was the only priest, he stayed in his church.»

«Just months before he died, he said ‘I can’t leave my people, I can’t leave my church, I am director of this church, how can I leave them?’» Salibi told CNA on April 11.

Salibi, who hails from the now-ravished city of Homs, grew up as a close friend and pupil of Fr. Frans, who was brutally killed on April 7. Days before his 76th birthday, an unknown gunman entered his church, beat him and shot him in the head. [19]

In Hasakah (Hasce) many of the Christian Syrians fled, but almost 30,000 stayed as internal refugees. The Syrian Christians who belonged to the Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Catholic Church collectively asked the world for help and to put an end to the fighting, in an appeal that went unheard, in late-2012; they have suffered from persecution, lawlessness, kidnappings, ransoms, and murder. One Christian from the area told Fides News Agency that Al-Nusra was targeting «all young people who were born between 1990 and 1992. They look for them, accuse them of being soldiers for the national service and kill them cold-bloodedly. They want to terrorize young people to prevent them from enlisting.» [20]

Another example of the assault on the Christian community is Al-Nusra’s assault on the town of Maaloula. Maaloula is one of a few villages maintaining an old dialect of Aramaic, known as the language of Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christian structures and historic sites fill the Syrian town, but the Melkite Greek Catholic Saint Sergius (Mar Sarkis) Monastery and Antiochian Greek Orthodox Saint Thecla (Mar Taqla) Monastery standout. The town became the scene of fighting between Al-Nusra and the Syrian Arab Army and switched hands between the insurgents and Syrian government four times between late-2013 and mid-2014.

Many of Maaloula’s residents, both Christian and Muslim alike, became trapped in their homes and local buildings, including forty Greek Orthodox Christian nuns and the orphans they were looking after, which sparked panic in the Christian populations of Syria and Lebanon. Hence the strong backing of Bashar Al-Assad’s government by all of Syria’s minorities and the expression of these type of sentiments were nearly universal among Christian Syrians: «‘They’re coming after us,’ [said] Odette Abu Zakham, a 65-year-old woman in the congregation who lives in the nearby historic Christian district of Bab Touma. ‘All they do is massacre people, all they know is killing.’» [21] Not only were the nuns held hostage by Al-Nusra, but the anti-government fighters desecrated absolutely all of Maaloula’s shrines and Christian buildings, stole its historic artifacts to sell in the black market, and scattered the partially Aramaic-speaking population of the town. Eyewitnesses who escaped Maaloula give this account below:

[The insurgents] tried to change the religious and architectural-historical look of the ancient Christian town entirely: completely destroying some churches, the militants brought down all bells from other ones. The fate of two other world-famous monuments of Ma’loula was no less tragic: extremists blew up the statue of Christ the Savior, which had stood at the entrance of St. Thecla Convent, as well as the statue of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, which had stood close to the Safir hotel, the latter of which served as the main shelter for Takfirists for many months. [22]

Easter, in 2014 was a special time for Maaloula. Around Easter, the Syrian government regained the town. Maaloula was finally secured and residents were returning. «The display of hatred was clear — the houses are totally destroyed, the whole village was destroyed. I can’t describe the amount of damage to the village», a returning resident by the name of Lorain told the press about what the insurgents did. [23] President Al-Assad visited too. Al-Assad himself came to visit it as a sign of the Syrian government’s commitment to its entire population regardless of their faith or ethnicity. Both the Western rite and Eastern rite Christian celebrations of Easter, respectively using the Gregorian and Julian calendars, fell on the same date too: April 20, 2014.

(To be continued)

NOTES

[4] «13 Syrian Christian Women Raped and Killed by Islamists» Pravoslavie, April 5, 2013; «Rape and atrocities on a young Christian in Qusair», Fides News Agency, July 2, 2013; Stoyan Zaimov, «Syrian Christian Mother Reveals Stories of Rape, Church Attacks in Streets of Damascus», Christian Post, October 17, 2013; Jamie Dettmer, «Syria’s Christians Flee Kidnappings, Rape, Executions», Daily Beast, November 19, 2013.

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Allentown church hosting day of prayer for Mideast’s persecuted Christians

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

An Allentown church will be one of many around the world where the faithful will join in prayers on Friday for Christians in the Mideast, who are facing dire persecution under the advance of Islamist radicals.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a militant jihadist group with roots in Al-Qaeda, has overrun much of northern Iraq and portions of Syria and proclaimed the region to be a caliphate — an Islamic religious state — in which Christians must convert, pay a heavy religious tax or face death.

ISIS seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in early June. It is now empty of Christians, who have fled to neighboring Kurdistan. As the jihadists continue to advance, the vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq has predicted the demise of Christianity in the nation.

The Rev. William Seifert of St. Stephen of Hungary Church in Allentown, which will be open for prayer all day Friday, likened the treatment of the Mideast’s Christians to the treatment of German Jews in the years leading to the Holocaust.

In both cases, Seifert said, the targets of persecution were marked by symbols. Jews under Hitler’s regime were identified by yellow Star of David symbols on their homes and clothing. In areas controlled by ISIS, Christian homes have been marked by militants with the Arabic letter “Nun,” equivalent to “N.” It stands for Nazarene, or Christian.

On Facebook and Twitter, many users have replaced their profile photos with the letter to draw attention to the crisis, which has been somewhat obscured of late by the crises in Ukraine and Gaza. The movement has trended on Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreN.

Seifert distributed Nun stickers after weekend Masses, asking parishioners to place them on their homes as a sign of solidarity.

The militants of ISIS “are making claims deriving from their own interpretation of the Koran,” Seifert said. “They are marking Christian homes off. We’ve seen people beheaded, we’ve seen the persecution of the Christians across the Mideast … As a Christian people we have an obligation to support each other as members of the church.”

Seifert said the idea to make Friday a day of prayer came from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an international society of Catholic priests created during the pontificate of Pope St. John Paul II. It will hold such events in more than 120 dioceses around the world.

Seifert isn’t sure how many people will show up to St. Stephen’s, but said it’s a chance for Christians of all denominations to unite around a clear message.

“Pope Francis has been clear that in war, no one wins,” he said. “You have children who are dead. Lives torn up. Homes destroyed. Is this what God is calling people to do, to destroy the culture and lives of other people?”

The Rev. Anthony Sabbagh, pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Allentown, praised Seifert for speaking against the persecution and said he will ask parishioners to attend the day of prayer.

“I think [Seifert's] message is our message, too,” said Sabbagh, whose church serves Allentown’s sizable Syrian community. “Our people are really persecuted. We’re almost abolished from that part of the world.”

That’s not an exaggeration. The 2013 International Religious Freedom Report compiled by the U.S. State Department found the Christian population in the Syrian city of Homs had dwindled from 160,000 to about 1,000 since the beginning of the civil war in that country.

In Iraq, the report found, half or more of the Christian community has left the country since the U.S. invasion in 2003, meaning the Christian population has fallen from about 1 million to about 500,000 in 11 years.

Nor are Christians the only victims. ISIS is a Sunni group, so it has been terrorizing Shia Muslims and various ethnic minorities.

“What really worries me is the indifference of the American people,” Sabbagh said, blaming media distortions and neglect for diverting attention from the plight of the persecuted. “We have relatives there. We speak to them. We know directly what is going on. This is something that is really scary for us.”

St. Stephen of Hungary Catholic Church at 510 W. Union St., Allentown, will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for prayer on behalf of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mass will be held at 7 p.m.

daniel.sheehan@mcall.com

610-820-6598

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Christian Louboutin Launches Red Nail Color

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

The tale of Christian Louboutin’s red soles is one made for the fashion history books. The shoe designer had the brilliant idea of adding that jolt of scarlet color to the bottom of his shoes after seeing his assistant paint her nails red at the studio. That simple and clever idea helped to launch Christian Louboutin to worldwide fame and his shoes to iconic stature.

With such a great story behind him, it was only natural that the designer expanded into nail color under the Christian Louboutin Beaute umbrella. It is a two-fold launch. The first part is the release of Rouge Louboutin (last July 23), a nail color that is the same shade of red as the soles of Louboutin shoes. The second part is the launch of the rest of the colors from the collection as well as a manicure kit slated for September.

Christian Louboutin in front of his shoes and new nail color collection Christian Louboutin in front of his shoes and new nail color collection

Christian Louboutin in front of his shoes and new nail color collection

The nail colors are encased in a bottle especially created by the designer with elongated caps that recall calligraphy and paintbrushes. The Rouge Louboutin color comes in a unique packaging different from the rest of the colors. It has a longer cap and its total height is 8 inches, the same height as the tallest shoe heel created by the designer  — a shoe called Ballerina Ultima, which was featured in a photography collaboration with David Lynch.

Rouge Rouge

Rouge

“The red sole was born from red nail polish. With Christian Louboutin Nail Color, I’m giving back tot he beauty of nails a product that largely influenced my work many years ago,” said Louboutin.

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Christian Louboutin Nail Color Christian Louboutin Nail Color

Christian Louboutin Nail Color

 

 

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New film Old Fashioned is 50 Shades of Grey for Christians, claims its creator

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

More spiritual than sexual, Old Fashioned will “tell a love story that takes the idea of Godly romance seriously”, said its writer-director-star, Rik Swartzwelder, in a statement announcing his film’s release date.

“[It’s] a story that, without apology, explores the possibility of a higher standard in relationships, yet is also fully aware of just how fragile we all are and doesn’t seek to heap guilt upon those of us that have made mistakes,” he added.

Backed by the Christian film finance firm Working Title Agency and distribution company Freestyle, Old Fashioned will be “the first faith-based theatrical release to specifically target the underserved Christian singles audience”, said Freestyle co-president Mark Borde.

The story follows “a former frat boy” and “a free-spirited woman” as they attempt an “‘old-fashioned’ courtship in contemporary America”. The film’s tagline is “chivalry makes a comeback”.

The filmmakers also plan to publish a novel of Old Fashioned, though it seems unlikely to make the same impact as the three books in the 50 Shades trilogy, which have sold well over 100 million copies.

Ms James’s erotic drama charts in unsparing detail the sexual escapades of its title character, the buff young business magnate Christian Grey, and his bookish, college student lover, Anastasia Steele.

The first trailer for the film version of 50 Shades of Grey, starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson, was released on 24 July and, according to the marketing firm Zefr, has already accumulated 36.4 million YouTube views in its first week online – more than any other trailer in 2014.

Comparing the cinematic contest between the two films to the biblical tale of David and Goliath, Mr Swartzwelder said 50 Shades “will have more screens, more money, more hype… but we’re hopeful that we are not alone in our belief that there are others out there who desire more from love – and the movies – than objectification or domination”.

 

Working Title Agency and Freestyle recently partnered on another faith-based film, God’s Not Dead, a college drama about a Christian student who is challenged to prove the existence of God by his cranky philosophy professor, played by Kevin Sorbo, the star of TV’s Hercules. That film has made more than $60m (£35m) at the US box office.

Working Title Agency also helped in the marketing of Heaven is For Real, a new Sony Pictures film based on the bestselling book by Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo, whose four-year-old son claimed to have gone to Heaven and back while unconscious during an emergency appendectomy.

Colton Burpo said he had met Jesus during his visit, and that the Son of God rode a rainbow-coloured horse. The film adaptation starring Greg Kinnear as Mr Burpo is currently in US cinemas, where it has made more than $90m at the box office.

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Why Christians Must Support Israel

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

Israel

Unless one has lived in a cave with no access to any type of internet, television, radio, or print journalism, then one probably knows that there are currently problems in Israel. Actually, to say there are problems may be putting it too mildly.  The Palestinians, spurred on by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Hamas, are seeking to once again lay ownership to at least a part of Israel.   Really, the bitter truth is that Hamas wants to destroy Israel.  There is another truth in this whole debacle in the Middle East which is that those who claim to be part of Christianity cannot support the agenda of Hamas and Christians must stand firm in their support of Israel.

Christians that have supported allowing the Jews to once again lay claim to their ancient motherland have been around for as long as those claiming to be Christians have been able to read the scripture on their own.  Once Christians understood scripture on their own merit, it became clear about God’s agreement with Abraham in which he promised him and all in his future bloodline a land that was known as Canaan. Canaan would eventually be called Israel. It became apparent through the reading of the Hebrew prophets that even though the citizens of Israel might be displaced from their land for a period of time, God was going to eventually return them to what the Bible calls the “promised land” one final time.

Of course, since a large portion of the history of Christianity is against the Jewish faith, a first glance at the current support of Israel from Christians may appear to be new. It may even to appear to be something that is a passing fad and will not last long.  However, it is important to realize that it came about over 500 years ago with an event that would forever alter the relationship between Christianity and the nation of Israel. That event was the translation of the scripture into a language that could be understood by the average layperson. This had a huge impact. Once the average layperson could understand scripture, attempts were made to change the state church. Christians fled from their homes as a result of this new revelation because of disagreements with their own families over attitudes toward the nation of Israel.

With the understanding of the scripture came an awareness of the Hebrew origins of Christianity. This led to studying the Hebraic language and gaining knowledge about the Jewish Feasts.  Soon, Christians found themselves empathizing with the persecuted citizens of Israel.  An understanding was also gained concerning God’s promise to one day restore the Jewish people to their homeland. Christians began praying to this end.  The reality is that four hundred years before Israel actually was reestablished as a nation, Christians were already praying to that end.

In time, the number of Christians who supported the inerrancy of scripture would grow.  As that number grew, the sphere of Christian influence broadened.  As the sphere of influence broadened, so did the involvement in seeing Israel once again reestablished.  Soon, Theodore Herzl would coin the term “Christian Zionists” at a meeting in 1897.

Scripture is black and white that the nation of Israel was given a land known as Canaan and that the gift came directly from God himself.  It was given to Abraham and to all of his descendants through his son Isaac because God had plans to form a nation that he would eventually use to reach the world with his plan of redemption.

The existence of Canaan as a homeland for the nation of Israel was crucial to God’s ultimate purpose of redemption. It was through the nation of Israel that he made known to the world the truth of the scripture with all of its prophecies, promises, and especially the prophecy, promises, and ultimate story of the Messiah.

Scripture foretold that the nation of Israel would be exiled into captivity as a result of their own disobedience. However, it also tells of God’s promise to return them to their land. This would not be a one-time occurrence. It would actually occur twice.

The story of God’s plan for Israel is not yet over.  In fact one day, she is supposed to become the chief of all of the countries of the world. God’s word is expected to come out of Jerusalem and go all over the world with the message of Jesus Christ.  The Savior of Israel is expected to return and rule with a righteous hand over all the nations of the world. There will be no more war. There will be only peace.

For this reason, the majority of people who wear the title of Christian will always support the return of the Israelites to their homeland to begin the rebuilding of their country.  Today, just as it has always been, the enemies of Israel are seeking to destroy Israel and remove it from the face of the planet in such a way that it can never exist again. Christians feel they have no choice but to be outspoken in their support and continue to stand with Israel.  They see part of their calling as being on a mission to comfort, bless, pray for, and encourage Israel.

Without the nation of Israel, Christians believe they would have never heard the message. God uses the nation of Israel to send his message. Christians believe that for this reason, they owe Israel a huge debt of a spiritual nature.  To that end, they offer the Israeli people their respect, support, and honor.

At the same time, Christians also are sorrowful and repentant concerning the part that many Christians have had in the persecuting throughout history of the Jewish people. It is their desire to right this wrong and forge a new relationship based on a shared understanding and respect.

There is a reason that Christians support Israel that goes beyond the scripture. Christians know the historical background of the modern nation of Israel. A careful examination of undisputable historical facts make Israel the clear victor. Israel has legally acquired its status as a nation. It acquired its territory through legal channels.  For this reason, it is right to want to continue to exist and especially to maintain that existence in legally protected borders.

Israel is not a perfect nation.  The people of Israel are not always right in the policies they enact.  However, Israel is a nation that is morally and legally correct in its existence and establishment. It is sad that the land surrounded on all sides by countries that want Israel completely destroyed.  Christians must always stand for the right of this long persecuted nation to exist.

Opinion by Rick Hope

 Christian Post

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Christians flee Mosul amid threats to convert or die

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

MOUNT ALFAF, Iraq — A little more than a decade ago, Mosul was home to 60,000 Christians who practiced their religion in the midst of their Muslim neighbors in Iraq’s second-largest city.

No more. Earlier this month, Muslim extremists who had captured the city ordered all Christians to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face execution. They later revoked the tax as an option.

The result has been a mass exodus of Christians to the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and laments that only Muslims are tolerated in the city today.

“It is no longer possible for Christians to live in Iraq,” said the wife of Raad Ghanem, one of 250 Christians who fled to the picturesque Mar Mattai Monastery atop this mountain, 12 miles from Mosul.

Ghanem’s wife, who did not want her name used because she worries about her safety, said that when she showed up one day at the hospital where she had worked for 30 years, she was told she wasn’t welcome anymore. “They told me I couldn’t work there because I am Christian,” she said. “I told them that I am from Mosul, that this is my home.”

To underscore that she and other Christians should not return, fighters from the al-Qaeda splinter group now known as the Islamic State, last week blew up a tomb believed to be the burial place of the biblical prophet Jonah, who survived in a whale’s belly.

On Monday, France’s interior and foreign ministers offered asylum to the fleeing Christians, who still have hope of remaining in their homeland.

Sipping tea at the monastery here, they recounted their frightening ordeal the night they were forced to flee. “The houses of Christians were specially marked with the Arabic letter “N,” meaning Christian,” said Nadia Nafik Ishaq, a woman with a broken leg.

“It was written that they were the property of the Islamic State. After that, all the properties were robbed. All our things were taken. What is the solution? How long will we have to be here?” Ishaq said.

“When we left in the middle of the night, we were stripped of everything. Money, wallets, jewelry, ID, passports, watches, everything,” Raad Ghanem said. “At the Daesh checkpoint on the way out of the city, my wife was even stripped of her earrings. They took everything of value we had.”

“They changed our church into a mosque, ruined historic museums and destroyed a monastery and manuscripts that were 1,000 years old. Iraq is gone. Iraq is finished. We’re finished. It’s impossible for us to go back,” he said.

In a small bedroom on the second level of the monastery, a disabled woman was stretched out uncomfortably with her wheelchair beside her as her sister described how they were among the last Christian families to flee the city.

“It was illegal for us to leave the house, so we knew it wasn’t going to end well,” Ikram Hama said. “Luckily a Christian soldier helped us, and we escaped late at night with just the clothes on our back.”

“Sick people, disabled people, poor people were all forced to leave. They killed my cousin after they looked at his ID,” she continued. “We have no money and my sister has a disability. There is no doctor here and no hospitals close by. We are in a bad situation. For us, Iraq is over.”

Twenty miles southeast of Mosul, the city of Qaraqosh has become a hub for Christians who fled the Islamic State fighters. But even it is unsafe. Although it is protected by Kurdish fighters, Islamist militants clashed with soldiers there in June, forcing thousands of Christians to flee to safer ground.

In an unfurnished townhouse still under construction on the outskirts of Qaraqosh, two families sat on the floor as they discussed the future of Iraq.

“I want to be a Christian but IS (Islamic State) took us to the mosque and tried to convert us to Islam,” said Flora Adwa, a mother of three.

She said the owner of the townhouse had allowed the two families to temporarily stay at the home.

“We gave them all our money, but then they took our car and our house,” she explained. “They told us that with the money we gave them we could go anywhere but Mosul. We cannot return. We are finished. What is our future?”

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Christian Brothers Auto Repair Franchise Expanding in Raleigh Area

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

RALEIGH, NC–(Marketwired – Jul 30, 2014) – Texas-based auto repair franchise Christian Brothers Automotive is building three new stores in the Raleigh area as part of an energetic national expansion.

Christian Brothers Automotive has been named the top automotive franchise for three years in a row by Franchise Business Review, which tracks franchisee satisfaction. It has more than 125 locations and expects to open eight more this year. It has never closed a location.

Looking for franchise partners
Charles and Kim Yun will open the first local facility at the intersection of Holly Springs and Ten-Ten in the Western Wake area. One of the things that attracted me to auto repair is that the industry as a whole has a black eye,” says Charles, a former equity trader. “I am fortunate to be in a situation where I can be a source of light for the community by providing great service.”

Christian Brothers is so confident customers will be impressed that it is about to construct a second store in the Wake Forest area at the intersection of Rogers Road and Heritage Center Drive, in anticipation of finding a franchise partner eager to be part of the business. The third store location will be in the Cary area at the intersection of Reedy Creek Road and Maynard Road, and was recently awarded to a family relocating from Michigan.

The difference between Christian Brothers Automotive and other auto repair facilities is dramatic. The attractive brick buildings feature a lobby that feels like a nice living room. Customers can relax while waiting for an oil change or simple repair, or if they don’t want to wait, they don’t have to. A courtesy shuttle can take customers wherever they need to go while certified technicians handle their auto needs.

“Nice difference” generates customer loyalty
Customers have rewarded Christian Brothers for its service and expertise by giving it one of the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty ratings in the industry. Customer loyalty has helped power sales growth for Christian Brothers franchise owners. Average franchise revenue grew 10.8% in 2013, and was on pace for even faster growth at the beginning of 2014. To learn more, visit www.christianbrothersfranchise.com.

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Obama To Iraqi Christians, U.S. Allies: ‘You’re On Your Own’

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

Last week, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who have been fighting simultaneous wars against the Iraqi Government and the Assad Regime, began marking a “ن”, pronounced “noon,” and standing for “Nazarenes,” on the door of Christians in Mosul, Iraq, as a signal that they would be driven out or killed. NBC news reports, the last Christian may already have left, or been killed, marking the first time in around 2000 years that Christians have not been present in this ancient city.

The symbol “ن” became a trend on Facebook and Twitter, similar to #bringbackourgirls, which was famously tweeted by Michelle Obama. Yet there was no tweet in favor of the persecuted Iraqi Christians from the Obama team. Instead, to add insult to injury, while the Christians of Mosul were being driven out and murdered, the Obama administration sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner, asking that the Authorization of the Use of Force (AUMF) in Iraq be repealed. The message to Iraqi Christians, who have explicitly asked for military invention to save their lives, was much the same message the Obama administration has sent to others around the world, namely, “You’re on your own.”

This is not the first time that the Obama administration has worked against the clear interests of Christians persecuted by Muslim extremists, yet it is not likely a lack of sympathy for Christians that’s behind the Obama administration’s indifference, either in Iraq or in Egypt. It is an unwillingness to accept responsibility for creating the problem. Since ISIS began vivisecting Iraq, after roughly 6 years of relative peace, and Joe Biden declaring Iraq one of the Obama administration’s “greatest achievements,” the hysterical reaction on the left amounts to — what else? — blaming Bush and telling any supporter of the Iraq War, (including, presumably, an only recently repentant Hillary Clinton) to shut up.

We can relitigate the decision to go to war against a man who killed nearly a million of his own people till doomsday, but the attempt by the Obama administration to shirk responsibility for the ongoing humanitarian and national security disaster is nothing but disgraceful. There can be no reasonable debate that, by the time Obama took office, Iraq was pacified, and could have survived with a fairly minimal amount of American forces to help keep the peace. The decision to withdraw completely, contrary to the Obama administration’s assertions, was not forced upon him by the Iraqi Government, but by his own unwillingness to put forward the rather small amount of troops necessary to keep Iraq stable. Neither can there be any reasonable debate that, had we had the roughly 30-40,000 troops thought necessary to keep Iraq stable, the current situation would simply not exist.

The Obama administration’s defenders have complained bitterly that it is absurd to expect Obama to follow the goals of George W. Bush or John McCain, who famously said we should stay in Iraq for 100 years, as if this justifies their failure to keep the peace won by American blood in Iraq. It is beyond churlish. It’s juvenile and indicative in a larger sense of the way the Obama administration views the world, and its own mission. Everything is done for politics.

62 years ago, General Dwight Eisenhower was running for president to succeed President Harry Truman, who at the time was at least as unpopular as Bush was in 2008, and for the same reason, namely, an unpopular war. Yet while Eisenhower pledged to end the war in Korea and slammed Truman’s conduct of the war, calling it, “a symbol — a telling symbol — of the foreign policy of our nation,” Eisenhower recognized that the failure of America to keep its commitments in Korea would be catastrophic, not only for the people of Korea, but for America’s geopolitical interests.

Ike went to Korea, and while we lost nearly 100 American lives in combat after hostilities ceased, we have preserved a lasting peace. South Korea is now one of America’s closest allies because they knew, regardless of which party held power, their American allies would stick by them in their hour of need. It is easy to overlook the fact that the Korean War did not happen in isolation, and meant far more than the freedom of South Korea. Our willingness to fight for our friends against a totalitarian force signaled to Japan, Pakistan, Turkey, and other key allies, that we were reliable defenders of their interests, cementing our alliance.

By calling for the AUMF to be repealed the same time Iraqi Christians are being driven out of their 2000 year-old home and murdered, the Obama administration has turned on its head John F. Kennedy’s famous declaration that we would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” and has emboldened the same ideology that destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan and led to 9/11. Instead, coupled with his shameful inaction concerning Ukraine, the administration has made quite clear that he sees foreign affairs as a political game to be managed, not a victory to be won by facts on the ground. Right now, Iraqi Christians are paying the price for his failure. Unfortunately, they will not be the last to do so.

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Iraq’s Under-Fire Christians Offered Refuge by France

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

PARIS – France said on Monday it was ready to welcome Christians from northern Iraq who have been told by the al Qaeda-inspired militant group now ruling the region to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death. Insurgents with the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) seized large swaths of northern Iraq last month, prompting hundreds of Christian families in Mosul to flee a city which has hosted the faith since its earliest years. “We are providing aid to displaced people fleeing from the threats,” France’s foreign and interior ministers said in a joint statement. “We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki earlier this month condemned the treatment of the Christians and instructed a government committee to help those made homeless. However, he has not said when the army might try to win back control of Mosul. ISIS has warned all women in Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment. The Sunni insurgents, who have declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, also view Iraq’s majority Shiites as infidels who deserve to be killed.

IN-DEPTH

- Reuters
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