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ISIS Expels 1600-Year-Old Christian Community from Mosul

by on Jul.25, 2014, under Christian News Articles

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French Christians, Including 100 MPs, Rally for Christians in Iraq

by on Jul.25, 2014, under Christian News Articles


A large crowd of Christians and supporters gathered in front of the French Parliament building yesterday to express support for the native Christian Assyrian communities of Iraq, currently under siege by the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State. Joining them were 100 members of the French Parliament.

The crowd gathered with large signs with the Arabic letter “N” written on them– the letter Islamic State (formerly ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) spray-paints on Christian homes and businesses to mark them as “Nasrani,” Arabic for Nazarene, homes. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, the group organized to bring awareness of the situation in Iraq to French people, currently struggling against Islamist elements within their own country. Protests against Israel’s ground operation in Gaza have resulted in looting of Jewish businesses and extreme anti-Semitic violence.

In addition to the demonstration on Wednesday, about 100 individuals organized in Paris on Tuesday to call attention to the ethnic cleansing of Christians in Iraq, particularly in its second-largest city, Mosul, where Christians were told to evacuate, convert, pay an infidel’s tax (jizya), or accept being killed.

Supporters of the Christian population of Iraq in France posted images of the rally on Twitter, where a large group can be seen holding signs with the Arabic “N” emblazoned on them and one large banner reading: ”Look at Iraq — A People Perish Before Your Eyes.”

The brutality of the ISIS takeover of northern Iraq has prompted many to condemn them, even a minority of Muslims that refused to be characterized by the actions of the terrorist group. On Twitter, the hashtag #No2ISIS has become a haven for Muslims frustrated that Muslim officials and groups have not been more vocal in their condemnation of ISIS. The International Union of Muslim Scholars, meanwhile, issued a statement this week condemning ISIS and distancing their religion from the actions of the group.

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‘They are savages,’ say Christians forced to flee Mosul by Isis

by on Jul.25, 2014, under Christian News Articles

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

The expulsion of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq‘s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its “criminality and terrorism”.

Last weekend Isis gave the city’s Christians a stark choice: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face death. “They said there is no place for Christians in the Islamic state,” one distraught refugee said from the safety of Bashiqa, 16 miles from Mosul. “Either you become Muslim or you leave.” Mosul’s last 1,500 Christian families were reportedly robbed at Isis checkpoints as they fled.

Hundreds have found shelter in areas between Mosul and Irbil – the capital of the Kurdistan regional government – that are controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, but they face an uncertain future.

“If Isis stays, there is no way the Christians can return,” Father Boutrous Moshi said from Qara Qoosh, a Christian area south-east of Mosul. “It is up to God whether we return or not. They have not burned the churches but they did set fire to the pictures and the books and broke the windows.”

Monks at the 4th-century Mar Behnam monastery, a major pilgrimage site run by the Syriac Catholic church, were allowed to take only the clothes they were wearing.

Sarab Hazem, from the Zehoor neighbourhood of Mosul, said that initially there were no attacks on Christians when Isis took the city in a lightning offensive in June, though Isis fighters did capture and take away police, security agents and soldiers. “No one knows what becomes of them,” he said.

Then, statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary were destroyed. “They are savages,” Hazem said. “This is oppression for no reason. I believe it is no longer possible for Christians to live in Iraq.”

Bashar Nasih Behnam, 52, who fled with his two young children last Friday, told a similar story: “They [Isis] threatened us and said you can’t stay in Mosul and you have to leave,” he said. “They said we have conditions: either you comply with them or you leave. So we left.”

Deprived by Isis of Iraqi government rations (a legacy of the sanctions imposed in the Saddam Hussein era) they were too frightened to go out to their church, where the jihadis took down a statue of the Virgin Mary and put their black flag in its place. A monastery was turned into a mosque.

Two nuns who were looking after three orphans were kidnapped but later released. The Arabic letter “N” for Nasrani (Christians) was daubed on the doors of houses – to show that they had been seized as the property of the Islamic state declared by Isis.

“There is not a single Christian family left in Mosul,” Behnam said. “The last one was a disabled Christian woman. She stayed because she could not get out. They came to her and said you have to get out and if you don’t we will cut off your head with a sword. That was the last family.

“There is not a single family that left and was not robbed. They took our money, gold, even the earrings from their [women's] ears. They took everything, even mobile phones.

“We don’t know if we are going to go back. Until now we have no idea if there can be a return. We don’t know what our destiny is. They have even taken our houses in Mosul.”

Bassem Fadel Zarghit, a shopkeeper from Mosul’s al-Rifa’i neighbourhood, said the city’s Christians had felt doomed despite initial reassurance from Isis. “There is no one left,” he said. “It’s not just the Christians. It’s also the Shia that are being targeted.”

Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, was once among the country’s most mixed. Waves of attacks on Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam have eroded its once sizeable Christian population, mainly from the Assyrian and Chaldean denominations.

The decree issued by Isis in Mosul mirrored one that its fighters issued in the north-eastern Syrian city of Raqqa in February, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Isis for its vicious campaign against minorities in the Mosul area.

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Sudanese Christian woman spared death sentence meets Pope

by on Jul.25, 2014, under Christian News Articles

Rome (AFP) – A Sudanese Christian woman whose death sentence for renouncing Islam sparked a global outcry that eventually led to an acquittal, met Pope Francis after arriving in Italy en route to the United States.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and her family were received by the Argentine pontiff at his home for a 30-minute meeting Thursday in which he thanked her for her “courageous testament of faith” and her “tenacity”, the Vatican said in a statement.

Ishag and her American husband Daniel Wani in turn thanked Francis for the “great support and comfort” they had taken from “the pope’s and many other believers’ prayers”.

The meeting was “a sign of closeness and solidarity for all those who suffer for their faith, in particular Christians who suffer persecution”, the Vatican added.

The 77-year-old pope gave Ishag rosary beads after an “affectionate and warm” chat about her plans in the United States, where she is expected to fly with her family in a few days’ time, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

The White House in Washington said it was “delighted” Ishaq is now “safe and free and will soon be traveling to the United States”.

“For months, Americans of all faiths kept Ms Ishag in their thoughts and prayers as Sudanese authorities sentenced her to death for the alleged crime of apostasy,” read a statement released by President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Christian Sudanese womannbsp;hellip;

“Today, she and her family have left Sudan on their journey to freedom. Her departure with her immediate family — including her infant daughter, born in custody — is a testament to her unyielding faith and the support she received from friends and allies, including our Embassy in Khartoum and the broader US government,” Rice said.

“We look forward to the day when they arrive in America.”

The statement thanked the Italian government for its efforts on Ishag’s behalf.

- ‘A day of celebration’ -

The family flew into a military airport in Rome early Thursday and were greeted by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, as well as Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini.

“Today is a day of celebration,” Renzi said.

Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag (R) isnbsp;hellip;

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, who accompanied the family on the flight to Rome, tweeted a photo of the young mother aboard the plane cradling her infant daughter as her toddler son drank from a bottle.

“Mission accomplished,” he wrote.

A global outcry erupted in May after Ishag was sentenced under Sharia law to hang for apostasy.

Days after her conviction, the 26-year-old gave birth to a second child in prison.

Ishag’s conviction was overturned in June, but she was immediately rearrested while trying to leave Sudan using what prosecutors claimed were forged documents.

Two days later, Ishag was released from prison and she and her family — including her American husband Daniel Wani and the two infant children — took refuge in the US embassy.

Ishag was born to a Muslim father who abandoned the family, and was raised by her Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum says Ishaq joined the Catholic Church shortly before she married in 2011.

She was convicted under Islamic Sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983, and that says Muslim conversion to another faith is punishable by death.

The court had also sentenced her to 100 lashings because under Sharia law it considered her union with her non-Muslim husband to be adultery.

Ishag’s case raised questions of religious freedom in mostly-Muslim Sudan and sparked vocal protests from Western governments and human rights groups.

The case has re-focused attention on a country which has slipped from the international spotlight but where an 11-year-old war continues with millions of people in need of humanitarian aid.

Ishag’s husband Wani said her family had sought protection at the US embassy because of mounting death threats.

Ishag, Wani and their children are being hosted by the Italian government in Rome for a few days before they fly to New York.

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Claiming Christians, conservatives are hypocrites on immigration: A tactic of …

by on Jul.24, 2014, under Christian News Articles

View full sizeStephen King 

“Thou shalt not use religious arguments in politics.”

We’ve heard that rule again and again nowadays. We heard it from abortion-rights advocates. We heard it from gay-rights and gay-marriage advocates. We recently even heard it from activists opposed to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby and contraception.

The argument is based in long-cherished U.S. policy: Our forefathers came to the United States to escape religious persecution in other nations. The only way to avoid such persecution here was to forbid the establishment of an official religion in the United States, as the First Amendment to the Constitution did. The amendment also guaranteed the free exercise of religion.

Opponents of restrictions on abortion and gay marriage usually charge their opponents with violating the spirit of the First Amendment, and injecting religious beliefs — usually Christian beliefs — into the debate and into public policy.

Usually, that’s how it goes. On economic and immigration issues, American liberals often pivot and heartily use the New Testament of the Christian Bible to plead for policy changes. They also accuse Republican-leaning Christians of hypocrisy — if they do not support more spending, or looser immigration policies.

On “The Colbert Report” this week, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, said Jesus Christ was a refugee. She noted she was citing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ report on immigration. Pelosi was referencing the growing border crisis along the southwestern United States.

It was a refrain that Pelosi has sung before. It’s actually a refrain that liberal-leaning political players have used many times, unaware, it seems, they are committing the cardinal sin — the cardinal political sin — of injecting raw theology and religious philosophies into U.S. policy debates.

The top act lately in pleading religion be injected into public policy — something usually anathema to the speaker — has to go to writer Stephen King, who appears to always have a bone to pick with Christians in his novels and adaptations.

In “Carrie,” a zealous Christian mother persecutes her daughter. In “The Mist,” the crazy woman trapped in the grocery store with the other town folk is an overzealous Christian. And the villain in “The Shawshank Redemption?” The Christian warden, of course.

It seems the real villain in many of King’s works are Christians — not murderers, monsters and psychokinetic killers.

And in real life, King apparently believes many of the villains aren’t just Christians, but angry tea-party Christians with a strong hypocritical streak.

On Tuesday, King let loose on Twitter, claiming conservative Christians were big hypocrites on immigration. (Story continues after Tweets.)

And while Nancy Pelosi and Stephen King worry about the proper application of Christian theology into immigration policy, do you think they will raise alarm about death threats made against Iraqi Christians by the al Qaida offshoot, ISIS?

We’ll be in touch, Stephen.

What do you think?

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The last Christians in Iraq

by on Jul.24, 2014, under Christian News Articles

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An old damaged Orthodox Church is pictured in the besieged area of Homs.Reuters

Car by car, family by family, frightened Iraqi Christians by the thousands fled their ancient Iraqi homeland over the weekend. With broken hearts and little more than the clothes on their backs, they’ve left behind their houses, businesses, and churches – everything they’ve known.

The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group announced through their mosques on Friday afternoon that local Christians must either convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant Muslim tax – the jizya, which amounts to protection money – or leave the city. If they did not conform to these demands by noon on Saturday, July 19, there would be “nothing for them but the sword.”

Christianity is not new to the region. It was introduced by two of Jesus’ own disciples – St. Thomas and St. Thaddeus (also known as St. Jude) in the 1st Century.

But the ancient roots of Iraq’s Christianity have now been violently ripped out of the country’s spiritual soil.

‘Convert, pay the jizya tax, or die,’ means, quite simply, that there is little alternative but to flee.

Most of the Nineveh Plain’s Christians – once numbering more than a hundred thousand – had already fled to Erbil and other destinations in Kurdistan before ISIS’s recent declaration, seeking the protection of the Kurdish Peshmerga’s warriors.

Now the rest of the refugees – many of the last Christians in Iraq – have joined them.

It’s not surprising that the vicious tactics of the IS/ISIS terrorists horrify most observers. As is often reported on social media – with substantial videographic evidence – they have beheaded, mutilated, raped, stoned and even crucified those whose behavior is “unIslamic” or whose religious convictions displease them.

The West has managed to muster a tepid response. For example on Sunday, a statement emanating from the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesman:

“…condemned in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minority populations in Iraq by Islamic State (IS) and associated armed groups. He is particularly disturbed by reports of threats against Christians in Mosul and other IS-controlled parts of Iraq, including an ultimatum to either convert, pay a tax, leave, or face imminent execution…”

The UN, US, EU and numerous others have all denounced IS/ISIS. 

But the various powers’ “strongly worded” official condemnations seem to be little more than indignant complaints.

President Obama, for example, has demonstrated no inclination to apply American muscle to ISIS. Speaking about their activities in Syria, he explained,

“What we can’t do is think that we’re just going to play Whac-a-Mole and send U.S. troops occupying various countries wherever these organizations pop up….”

Rather than fighting fire with fire, western leaders apparently imagine that diplomatic endeavors – including “strongly worded” denunciations – will stop zealous murderers in their tracks.

Really?

Obama and his cohorts seem to have an astonishingly high regard for their persuasive skills.

At the same time, they demonstrate only a dim awareness of the terrorists’ fierce religious fervor.

Devoutly committed to radical Islamist ideology – whether of the Sunni or Shia variety – fanatics like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Iran’s ayatollahs quite sincerely view the West as the primary force of evil in the world.

Why would such “holy warriors” negotiate with western evildoers?

Only, perhaps, to deceive them.

In Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere, it is abundantly clear that such niceties as “dialogue” are of little interest to bloodthirsty savages.

In the meantime, as American strength diminishes around the globe, the dangers posed by radical Islamist groups like ISIS are exploding exponentially.

And where does this leave the Iraq’s Christians and other minorities whose lives are at stake? Sadly, they are well aware that no host of valiant defenders is going to come to their rescue. In fact, the Iraqi Army virtually melted away when ISIS appeared.

So for the Christians, “Convert, pay the jizya tax, or die,” means, quite simply, that there is little alternative but to flee  –  except in a small number of villages over which Kurdistan has extended a protective umbrella.  

Thus, most Christians have fled.

Still, some intrepid Iraqi Christians refuse to give up.  “If we all leave, it sends the message that there is nowhere safe for Christians to live in Iraq — and this worries me,” Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche, told the Washington Post.  “I’m not a vagabond. This is my home, and I will die here if necessary.”

Such fortitude is inspiring. And yet courage and determination cannot eclipse such excruciating losses.  Whether Iraq’s Christians stay or go, nothing can remove the devastating sense of injury and injustice they are experiencing.

 “Many Christians interviewed expressed a sense of utter abandonment and desolation,” the New York Times reported. They remarked that the sound of church bells mingled with the Muslim calls to prayer – a symbol of Mosul’s long-standing religious tolerance – “would likely never be heard again.”

Lela Gilbert is author of “Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner” and co-author, with Nina Shea and Paul Marshall, of “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.” She is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute and lives in Jerusalem. For more, visit her website: www.lelagilbert.com. Follow her on Twitter@lelagilbert.

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Purged by ISIS, Iraq’s Christians appeal to world for help

by on Jul.24, 2014, under Christian News Articles

 

Iraqi Christians are begging for help from the civilized world after Mosul, the northern city where they have lived and worshiped for 2,000 years, was purged of non-Muslims by ISIS, the jihadist terror group that claims to have established its own nation in the region.

Assyrian Christians, including Chaldean and Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox and followers of the Assyrian Church of the East have roots in present day Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran that stretch back to the time of Jesus Christ. While they have long been a minority and have faced persecution in the past, they had never been driven completely from their homes as has happened in Mosul under ISIS. When the terror group ordered all to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face execution, many chose another option: flight.

“By 12 noon on Saturday, the Christians — all of them — left the city,” Yousif Habash, an Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church, told FoxNews.com.

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, included 60,000 Christians in 2003. By last month, the number had dwindled to just 35,000. It now stands at zero, according to Ignatius Yousef Younan III, patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church.

“We have to pray to wake our master, the Lord Jesus,” a somber Younan, who was in Mosul earlier this month and has discussed the situation with the Pope, said Wednesday on Fox Friends. 

Habash, who roundly criticized the Obama administration and the United Nations, specifically, for what he called their “careless absence” in taking action against the militants, said such violent intolerance demanded action from the international community.

“Where is the conscience of the world? Where is the United Nations? Where is the American administration to protect peace and justice?”

- Yousif Habash, Iraqi-born bishop of the Syriac Catholic Church

“Where is the conscience of the world? Where is the United Nations? Where is the American administration to protect peace and justice?” he asked. “Nobody has said a word.”

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is the “first cradle of Christianity in Iraq,” Habash said. But after Islamic militants seized the city on June 10, Arabic letters with a chilling ultimatum were left at the homes of Iraqi Christians.

“The letter said that if you don’t convert or if you don’t pay, there is a sword between you and us, meaning execution,” Habash said. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned ISIS’s actions on Sunday, a day after Mosul’s Christian population fled to other areas, such as the nearby self-rule Kurdish region. 

“What is being done by the Daesh terrorist gang against our Christian citizens in Ninevah province, and their aggression against the churches and houses of worship in the areas under their control reveals beyond any doubt the extremist criminal and terrorist nature of this group,” al-Maliki said in a statement released by his office. “Those people, through their crimes, are revealing their true identity and the false allegations made here and there about the existence of revolutionaries among their ranks.”

Pope Francis also called for an end to Christian persecution in Mosul, holding a moment of silence Sunday in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“Violence isn’t overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace,” the pope told the crowd. “Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are chased away.”

The U.N. said on Sunday that at least 400 families from Mosul — including other religious and ethnic minority groups — had sought refuge in the northern provinces of Irbil and Dohuk.

Dr. Sallama Al Khafaji, a member of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights, reportedly told a local news agency that ISIS militants forced their way into the home of an Assyrian family in Mosul, demanding a “jizya” or poll tax. When the family said they could not produce the money, three jihadist militants raped the mother and daughter in front of the husband and father, who later committed suicide, according to the report

Mosul is home to some of the most ancient Christian communities, but the number of Christians has dwindled since 2003. On Sunday, militants seized the 1,800-year old Mar Behnam Monastery, about 15 miles south of Mosul. The resident clergymen left to the nearby city of Qaraqoush, according to local residents.

Irbil’s governor, Nawzad Hadi, has pledged to protect fleeing Christians and other minority groups. The territory is currently home to more than 2 million refugees and internally displaced people from Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations.

FoxNews.com’s Cristina Corbin and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Sudan Christian woman spared death sentence arrives in Rome

by on Jul.24, 2014, under Christian News Articles

Rome (AFP) – A Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam, then acquitted after intense international pressure on Khartoum, arrived on Thursday in Rome with her family en route to the United States.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag was greeted on the tarmac by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzo and his wife as well as Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli.

“Today is a day of celebration”, Renzi said.

A global outcry erupted in May after Ishag was sentenced under Sharia law to 100 lashings and then to hang for apostasy.

Days after her conviction, she gave birth to a second child in prison.

Ishag’s conviction was overturned in June, but she was immediately rearrested while trying to leave Sudan using what prosecutors claimed were forged documents.

Two days later, Ishag was released from prison and she and her family — including her American husband and two young children — took refuge in the US embassy.

Ishag was born to a Muslim father who abandoned the family, and was raised by her Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum which said she joined the Catholic church shortly before she married.

Ishag was convicted under Islamic Sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions which are punishable by death.

Her case has raised questions of religious freedom and sparked an outcry from Western governments and human rights groups.

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The Attack on Christians in the Middle East

by on Jul.23, 2014, under Christian News Articles

Though you would never guess it from the paucity of coverage in the major news media, there is a fierce persecution of Christians going on in the Middle East. In Egypt, convents and churches are being burned to the ground and Copts, members of one of the most ancient Christian communities, are being routinely harassed, tortured, and arrested. In Iraq, the ISIS group, hoping to re-establish a “caliphate” across the northern sector of the Middle East, is brutally persecuting Christians. Just recently, an ultimatum was issued in Mosul, where Christians have been living for over 1,600 years, that believers in Jesus have to pay a stiff fine, leave the country, or be put to death. And the sheer shock of these extreme instances can allow us to overlook the fact that in Saudi Arabia Christians are not permitted to build churches or to practice their faith publicly in any way. 

Moreover, Muslim persecution of Christianity is not limited to the Middle East. Islamist radicals have been attacking Christians in Indonesia, India, and Philippines for quite some time. And perhaps the most extreme examples of this persecution are the attacks launched by the Islamist group Boko Haram in Nigeria. This terrorist sect has burned churches, wantonly killed innocent Christians at worship, and most recently, kidnapped hundreds of Christian girls whose crime was attending school. 

It is easy enough to condemn these actions as deeply inhumane, but I would like to press the critique a bit further, drawing attention to the work of Pope Francis’s two immediate predecessors. Pope John Paul II was the most vocal defender of human rights in the 20th century. Across the world and in hundreds of different venues, he insisted that the respect for fundamental human rights must be the key to a just political order. And of all the human rights—to life, liberty, a just wage, access to the ballot—the most basic, he taught, was the right to religious freedom. This is because the spiritual aspiration of the human heart is what defines us as human beings. The violation of that most sacred of “spaces” is, therefore, the most offensive, the most heinous and de-humanizing. To use the threat of force to compel someone to change his religious beliefs—which we are regularly seeing in the Middle East—is not only criminal but wicked. 

It is also deeply irrational—a point made by Pope Benedict XVI in his address at the University of Regensburg in September of 2006. In that controversial speech, Pope Benedict drew attention to a little-known dialogue between the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a Muslim interlocutor. The Emperor pointed out that the idea of spreading the faith through violent conquest, which is recommended in the Qur’an, is supremely irrational, and the reasons he gives anticipate John Paul II by six centuries. Faith is a function, not of the body, but of the soul, and therefore coercion through bodily persecution cannot even in principle awaken authentic faith. One must, instead, be skilled in arguments that would appeal to the mind: “to convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.” In a word, the idea of the holy war is not syn logon (according to the word or reason). And here is the decisive point: what is unreasonable is out of step with God’s own nature, since God, on the Christian reading, is identified with Logos: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   

However, in Muslim teaching, Allah’s nature is so transcendent that it goes beyond any and all categories, including that of reason. Pope Benedict cites the noted French Islamic scholar R. Arnaldez, who points out that Allah is not even bound by his own word, so that if he so chose, he could recommend idolatry as morally praiseworthy. This elevation of the divine will over the divine mind, called “voluntarism” in the West, is, for Benedict, the source of enormous confusion and mischief. Most notably and dangerously, it opens the door to the idea of divinely sanctioned violence. Now I fully realize that many Christians over the centuries have done terrible things in the name of God and that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peaceful and non-violent. But I think it is clear that when Christians act in such a way, they are unequivocally at odds with their own conception of God. Is the same true of Muslims? I am still waiting for a compelling answer from the Muslim camp to the question posed eight years ago by Pope Benedict. At the time, of course, Islamist radicals responded by killing a number of innocent Christians – certainly a curious way of refuting the notion that divinely sanctioned violence is irrational!

In the meantime, I believe that all people of good will ought to pray for both the victims and their persecutors, for the best way to honor God is through an act of compassion. The same God who is identified with Logos is, according to the first letter of John, also identified with Love.

— Father Robert Barron is rector of Mundelein Seminary and founder of Word on Fire.

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ISIS Torches 1800-Year-Old Mosul Church After Expelling Christians

by on Jul.23, 2014, under Christian News Articles

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