Does Persecution Create Strange Bedfellows?


In William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a drunken jester named Trinculo declares, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”  This familiar expression has oft been adapted to the political arena: “Politics makes for strange bedfellows.”  Indeed, the twisted manipulations of political warfare can lead former enemies into convenient beds of agreement.

Yet Trinculo’s statement is not meant to highlight the peculiarity of such sleeping arrangements as much as it is intended to focus their necessity. Misery made it impossible for Trinculo to survive a terrible tempest without snuggling up to a monster for security. Necessity called him to action.

Christian persecution middle eastPerhaps necessity has raised a spiritual tempest of misery to such a degree for Christians suffering persecution that strange bedfellows are beginning to emerge once again. Hundreds of Christian leaders have joined together to sign a pledge of solidarity and call to action on behalf of Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East (particularly in Syria, Egypt, and Iraq).

As Nina Shea points out, this pledge was signed by a host of Christians across both the lines of denomination and lines of doctrinal conviction:

Some 200 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox leaders have signed on — from Catholic Cardinal Wuerl, to National Association of Evangelicals’ chair Leith Anderson, to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church to Armenian Orthodox Archbishop Oshagan Cholayan.

The pledge describes some of the atrocities Christians face in these countries:

  • Christians, including some clergy, after being identified as such by their names, identity cards, or some other means, have been beheaded, shot execution-style or otherwise brutally murdered. Clergy have also been killed for their peace-making efforts or simply as personifications of the Christian faith.
  • Untold numbers of Christians, including bishops, priests, pastors, and nuns, have been kidnapped and held for ransom.

    Nina Shea Hudson Christian Persecution

    Nina Shea

  • Young women have been abducted and forced to convert to Islam and marry their captors.
  • In some instances, Christians have been told to convert to Islam or be killed; some have been forced to pay protection money.
  • Muslim apostasy and blasphemy codes and standards for dress, occupation and social behavior are being enforced for Christians, as well as for Muslims, in some communities.

I agree that Christians and all people of “good will” ought to voice their concerns and call others to action. Government leaders and concerned citizens alike ought to care for oppressed and suffering people. Christians in particular have an obligation before God to care “especially” for the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). Our own faith family is suffering these atrocities; thus we must not remain unconcerned.

There are other concerns, too, that must not be forgotten. The list of signatories seems short on theologically-minded evangelicals. Evangelicals rightly hesitate locking arms with those (like Katharine Jefferts Schori) who advocate for doctrine and ethics contrary to the Scriptures. Some on the list of signatories advocate for abortion rights, gay marriage, and errant ideas related to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. These are matters of utmost importance.

Somehow, evangelicals must find a way to act on matters of utmost urgency without compromising doctrines of utmost importance.  The severity of Christian persecution pushes unity and action on behalf of Christ’s followers into the urgent need category.  Our brothers and sisters urgently need our prayer, support, advocacy, and physical care. They need for us to advocate on their behalf with one voice against the horrific crimes of persecution.

If evangelicals of good will cannot join with liberal professing Christians (or vice versa), then, by all means, let them advocate separately. But advocate we must. We must pledge our support. We must minister. We must call other professing Christians to action. We must obey the command of Hebrews 13:3: Remember the persecuted.

I, for one, am not comfortable with an Orthodox vision for icons and intercession of the saints. I’m uncomfortable with Roman Catholic instructions on justification and congruent merit. I reject liberal Christianity’s capitulation to the sexual revolution. Yet, I am very glad that these groups are speaking out against the atrocities of persecution being perpetrated against the body of Christ around the world.

As the tempest of persecution rages against Christ’s flock, let us be sure—whatever our doctrinal convictions—that we are found very near to our fellow Christian soldiers, regardless of who else may have drawn near to help. Our obligation is first and foremost to Christ Himself. And He is present with His suffering sheep. Are we?

Will There Be a Church in Egypt?


Two articles recently published get to the heart of the matter of Christian persecution in Egypt. The first, published by Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute, offers a firsthand account of a visit he made to a Jewish synagogue in Egypt. What does a visit to a Jewish synagogue have to do with Christianity in Egypt? Quite a bit, actually.

Christian persecution egypt coptYou see, Marshall visited one of the last remaining Jews in Egypt. There will soon be no more Jews in Egypt. Here is how Marshall describes his visit:

In living memory there were nearly 100,000 Jews in Egypt. Just weeks ago there were 15 left in all the country: 12 in Cairo, three in Alexandria. All were aged, and only one was a man.

Another of the 15 has died so that there are now 14 Jews left. There are approximately 86 million people in Egypt, but only 14 Jews. There are nearly twice as many members of Egypt’s national soccer team as there are Jews in the country.

Marshall’s trip to the synagogue was to meet with the leader of Egypt’s Jews, Magda Haroun. Magda Haroun has no hope of a returning population of Jews to the country. Her efforts now are targeted upon the simple hope of establishing a museum of Jewish history. Conceding the fact that Jews will soon be absent from Egypt’s population, Magda hopes that at least Jews might live in Egypt’s history. As Marshall notes,

She is driven by the commitment and hope that people will not be able to forget that “there were once Jews in Egypt.”

Magda had occasion recently to meet Pope Tawadros, the head of the Coptic Church in Egypt. She had a simple, sober message for him: “Do not let your people leave. Do all that you can so that you do not become as we are…”

Of course, Pope Tawadros shares her desire to preserve a Christian witness in Egypt. But that is no small task. There is a second article recently published which offers a glimpse into the difficulty of preserving Christianity in Egypt.

Raymond Ibrahim at PJ Media chronicles a recent re-invigoration of an old practice: “milking Christians.” According to Ibrahim, Muslims in Egypt are purposefully threatening and extorting money and possessions from Christians—even those living in remote, desert monasteries. Ibrahim says,

In other words, Egypt’s Christians are increasingly being seen and treated, in the words of some early caliphs, as “milk camels” to be milked dry of their money and possessions. (Crucified Again, p. 200)

In addition to being “milked,” Christians are actually being attacked, too. Last summer, more than 40 church buildings were completely destroyed in a matter of hours. Over a three day period last August, about 150 church buildings were attacked, many of them destroyed.

Magda’s counsel to Pope Tawadros is more easily understood than executed. Christians feel isolated and alone in Egypt. Secular media sources—if they cover the plight of Christians at all—cover the atrocities under the obscure headline of “sectarian violence” continuing in the country. Referring to the persecution of Christians in Egypt as sectarian violence is like calling armed robbery a financial transaction. The violence works one way: Christians—like Jews before them—are being targeted for extinction in Egypt. In the last three years, probably 150,000 Christians have taken refuge out of Egypt.

If Christians are to remain in Egypt, then they will surely need the help of Christians from the U.S. and around the world. Undoubtedly, Christ has not abandoned His flock in Egypt. Has Christ not promised always to be present with His followers (Matthew 28:20)? Is there no God in Egypt? Yes, Jesus Christ is Lord in Egypt, and He will build His church there. Will we be a part of His work? Twice the Lord has called His son out of Egypt. There is no reason to think the Son will ever leave Egypt again. God’s Son has now been raised once for all as the sovereign Lord of Egypt and the earth.

May the Lord raise up His church from the devastated ruins of ancient Egypt, and may He grant us a heart to pray for and serve our suffering brothers and sisters there.

Around the World


A Devastating Question

Rod Dreier asks a devastating question to Christians: Why don’t you care about fellow Christians suffering in Syria?

“If you are a Christian, why don’t you care? And if you do care, have you spoken to your pastor, your friends, and most importantly, your Congressman and Senators, about it?”

Persecution globalHistoric Persecution?

In August, about 10% of Egypt’s Christian church buildings were attacked and burned in a mere 48 hours.  David Alton, remembering the holocaust of the Jews in Germany, calls this two-days of terror “Egypt’s Kristallnacht.
Christians Eradicated?

The situation in Syria is so bad for Christians that terms like eradication and ethnic cleansing are being used.

Most puzzling of all, though, is why the United States seems so determined to eradicate Christianity in one of its oldest heartlands, at such an agonizingly sensitive historical moment…

Around the world, scholars and intellectual leaders are debating how to commemorate the approaching centennial of that cataclysm [Armenian Genocide] in 2015. Through its utter lack of historical awareness, the United States government may be pushing towards not a commemoration of the genocide but a faithful re-enactment.

Nigeria: Most Dangerous Place for Christians

The militant Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram is still actively killing Christians in Nigeria. Though their activity has decreased since the government declared a state of emergency and unleashed an offensive attack to eradicate their terrorism, Boko Haram is still actively targeting Christians. This latest attack happened in Dorawa, Yobe [state], Nigeria. A pastor and his two children were killed when the church building was attacked and burned.

Syria (and Hebrews)

This story from Syria speaks of how Muslim leaders have issued a fatwa giving Muslims the right to confiscate the property of Christians in order to use that property to buy weapons.  Just as described in Hebrews 10, Christians are having their property confiscated by their local rulers.  Not much has changed for Christians since the first century.  The world is still fallen and under a curse.  The redemption of Christ is still unfolding.  And the followers of Christ are still suffering and groaning, awaiting with creation itself the full redemptive purposes of God.  Christians in Syria and Nigeria have need of endurance, and I think we would serve them well by praying for them in accordance with Hebrews 10:32-39,

32 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, 33 partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. 34 For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property,knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. 35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God,you may receive what was promised.

37 FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.

38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

 

 

 

Helpful Primer on Persecution


Christianity percentage by country

Christianity percentage by country (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Recently, Nina Shea, was interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review. Nina is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute. She is also co-author of a helpful book detailing the present state of persecution around the world:  Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians.  

 

In the interview, Nina Shea points out that Christians are fleeing en masse from Iraq and Syria. And in Nigeria, Egypt, and Syria, Christians are being slaughtered by the thousands. She tells of one incident in which Christians were murdered while attending a Christian funeral. And, in another situation in Egypt, Nadia Mohammad Ali was arrested with her 5 children and sentenced to 15 years in prison for converting to Christianity.

 

The interview points out that little is being done to aid Christians. While Nina Shea (like her colleague Paul Marshall) pleads for political solutions to come forth from a so-far non-responsive Obama Administration, she is doing a favor for all Christians. All Christians are commanded to remember the persecuted as though in prison with them. My hope in posting this is that Christians will read the interview and get acquainted with the present state of persecution and, even more importantly, will begin praying for those Christians who are suffering in the name of Christ.

 

 

 

Where Are John Piper and Rick Warren on Persecution?


English: Official Congressional portrait of Co...

English: Official Congressional portrait of Congressman Frank Wolf. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you, Representative Frank Wolf. A long-time advocate for religious freedom, Representative Wolf (R- VA) is now crying out for Christians in America to advocate on behalf of suffering Christians around the world.

The slaughter of thousands of Christians in Syria at the hands of Sunni Muslims and the killing of thousands more Coptic Christians in Egypt has Representative Wolf calling out famous Christian pastors like John Piper and Rick Warren. Having been taught much by the former, I can vouch for Dr. Piper’s concern for the persecuted. A search of the Desiring God website will deliver hundreds of messages related to Christian persecution.

Nevertheless, Wolf’s cry rings true.  Will it be effective, or will it go the way of the tornado test siren, which gets our attention for only a second before we conclude nothing really serious is underway?  Let us pray that Piper, Warren, and many others will hear the siren call and be stirred into action on behalf of suffering Christians.

Representative Wolf made his challenge to Christian leaders on the Janet Mefferd Show: “The church in the West is relatively silent,” He then asked, “Where’s Rick Warren? Where’s John Piper? Where are the people? Why aren’t they speaking out on this? I just have a hard time wondering why more in the West are not speaking out.”

The problem is greater than one which can be solved by Rick Warren or John Piper. The entire Christian Church in America and around the world needs immediately to wake up to the suffering bride of Christ.  Cedar Grove Baptist Church founded Project 13:3 for the sole purpose of helping Christians to remember the persecuted church. It is an urgent need and high priority for Christ Himself.

Thank you, Representative Wolf, for your work. For anyone interested in being part of the growing movement on behalf of persecuted Christians, you can join us from anywhere this Sunday, November 11.

Do You Know What Is Glorious?


Egypt Coat of Arms Muslim Persecution Christians

 

Christians in Egypt are glorious. Or, more precisely, Christ is being glorified through the lives of Christians in Egypt.

 

Since the so-called “Arab spring,” which toppled Hosni Mubarak and other leaders throughout the Middle East, Egypt has become increasingly more hostile to freedom and more open to Islamic rule.  As a result, Christians have suffered as the targets of horrific violence. And the results of their suffering? Glory.

 

According to this report from Charisma News, more than 10,000 Christians from all over Egypt traveled to a secret location in the desert north of Cairo for the sole purpose of worshiping Jesus Christ in the midst of their suffering. The effort—called “One Thing”—was designed to encourage believers to stay true to the one thing that matters in life:

 

“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”

 

While we can certainly join them by praying for them, we can also take great delight in seeing the glory of Christ once again being glorified through suffering. Isn’t this indicative of the original gospel work He completed? It was for glory that Christ endured the cross.

 

Christians understand that the glory of Christ is on fullest display through suffering. Whatever suffering the saints endure is multiplied into an eternal weight of glory. So Paul says, For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Corinthians 4:17).

 

If you want to know what is glorious, look to Egypt. No doubt, there is glory in Egypt.

 

Women Becoming Targets for Violence in Egypt


The Apostle Paul once lamented the fact that he was guilty of throwing women into prison (Acts 22:4).  Though it is politically incorrect to say, it is also patently obvious to see that women are, according to the Scriptures, the “weaker vessel.” As the typically more physically dominant of the two sexes, the man (again, according to the Scriptures) has an added responsibility to honor and respect the woman, ensuring her well-being. If he fails, then his relationship with God suffers, as his prayers will no longer be heard (according to 1 Peter 3:7).

I bring up this topic because not all religions and not all government authorities think the same way about Muslims Target Female Missionariesprotecting women. Even in the U.S., some are grossly offended at the notion of a man “protecting” his wife. Still, hidden within the most liberal critique of Christian instruction lies a biblical necessity of protecting the woman from harm. So, Susan B. Anthony—a champion of women’s rights—once stated:

Trust me that as I ignore all law to help the slave, so will I ignore it all to protect an enslaved woman.

Her comments came against a critique levied against her when she decided she had to help an abused wife run away from her abusive husband.  (Sadly, it is true that women need to be protected from men at times, when they should be protected by them). Biblically, the call is clear that women are to be honored and protected.

As controversial as the above statements may feel to some, they are completely benign in the global realities of this present world. The Christian view does not demean women; it protects them, honors them, and counts them as equals before God.  The Muslim view, well…

In Egypt, the U.S. Embassy has put out a notice for female missionaries to be on extra alert because, apparently, they are being targeted by violent Muslims.  According to the Embassy, there is “credible information suggesting terrorist interest in targeting U.S. female missionaries in Egypt.”

2 Important Persecution Stories from the News


 

Pakistan

Persecution Pakistan christian GirlQuite a bit of coverage has been given to the sad case of Rimsha Misrak, a Christian girl in Pakistan who is accused of blaspheming Muhammad.  She remains in jail, and her family is in protective custody.  I have read some reports which say Rimsha is 11, but this story reports that she is 12.  (Does it matter?)

Her crime is blasphemy. Supposedly, she defamed pages of the Quran, possibly by burning them.  The BBC reports,

The crowd wanted to burn her alive, this is a condemnable act and a clear violation of human rights.  She is an innocent child – she doesn’t even know what she did. She is in a state of shock.

Many will say that no one is ever actually killed under the law, but the truth is that 46 people who have been charged were killed by mob violence either before or after their trials (see here).  If Muslims are peace-loving and value human life, then surely they will decry not only this incident but also Pakistan’s horrendous law 295 which encourages such behavior.

Egypt 

In Egypt, Christians and others protesting the new Muslim Brotherhood government are in fact being crucified (See Here). Crucifixions are not unheard of, but they are almost certainly a religious statement as much as a punishment. If one wished only to kill dissidents, a bullet would work just fine. The extra labor involved in setting up a crucifixion must be to make a point.

I think the point being made is this: If you wish to follow Christ, then follow him—all the way to the cross.  In an ironic way, the executor ends up making the same point Christ made in Luke 9:27,

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

 

Christians Still Being Crucified


After a missions meeting this morning, I am heading out to the KY State Fair with the family. However, even as we enjoy seeing jugglers and giant pumpkins, our brothers and sisters around the world are facing harsh conditions.  christians crucified egypt persecution

 

As I have written about before, the so-called Arab Spring is actually a winter disaster for Christians in Egypt.  I just read this story which tells of those opposing the Muslim Brotherhood being crucified naked on a tree.  Obviously, that is the most heinous way to die.

But might it not also be symbolic of someone else’s death? And did that Man not bring about redemption when he was hanged naked on the tree?

 

Arab Spring More Like Kentucky Spring


Spring is supposed to be the time of blossoming life. Flower buds burst forth with petals gleaming white against the grassy green canvas of trees and lawns.  Purple, pink, and yellow splash

Spring Flowers

throughout the portrait we call spring.  It is springtime.  But in Kentucky, spring has brought violent storms, tornadoes, and rain.  Lots of rain. Historic deluges of rain rarely seen in these parts since the days of Noah.  Spring is supposed to be colorful and sunny, but it has proved, instead, to be dull and rainy.

Such is the way this spring has gone in Kentucky.  But we have no reason to complain.  As bad as the weather has been around here lately, the problems we have are nothing compared to those of Christians suffering through the so-called “Arab spring.”  If we think the storm clouds are hanging low over our horizon right now, we ought to think about what is happening to our brothers and sisters throughout Arab lands.

In Egypt, where many in America were celebrating the rise of “democracy” and demanding that Mubarak resign, Christians now face a bleak future indeed.  The Muslim Brotherhood is wielding political clout like a Saif al Din, seeking to enforce Shariah law on all Egyptians, including Christians.  If you want to know how destructive Shariah law is for non-Muslims, read this Andrew McCarthy piece.  The “progress” of the Islamic direction of the “New Egypt” has Christians Coptic Christian Persecutionbegging  to leave Egypt, even though there were Christian churches in the country before Islam ever existed.  One Coptic Christian leader says that he is already receiving hundreds of calls each week from Christians trying to flee from Egypt.

Egypt isn’t alone. In Iraq, the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Baghdad was bombed on Easter Sunday.  In India, more than 15,000 Christians took to the streets of Mumbai on Good Friday to protest the continuing persecution of the saints in India.  Christians in Orissa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and other provinces have endured hundreds of violent attacks since 2008.

For a rundown of the persecution of Christians in Palestine and the Middle East, see here.  There is no shortage of persecution for Christians around the world this spring.  Even as the rain continues to fall in Kentucky, we should recall that the real storm is falling on our fellow believers in Muslim areas of the world.  The “Arab Spring” which was supposed to bring greater freedoms through the spread of democracy is turning out to be more of a Kentucky spring, where one violent storm is followed by another.

Christians in Egypt (out of Egypt blog)


I have been posting news concerning Christians in Egypt for the past few months.  On at least 2 occasions, I have posted under the title “Out of Egypt” (see here and here).  Now, the folks at International Christian Concern have begun a new blog specifically designed to keep us up to date about the persecution of Christians in Egypt.  Praise the Lord for this new blog.

Check it out and stay up to date on Christian persecution.  Presently, the website has testimonies and videos posted from Christian in Egypt.

Stay tuned for more important news on Christian persecution.

Out of the New Egypt


In his mid-twenties, Mikail Nabil has determined to make his life count. Like many Americans of the same age, Mr. Nabil spends his days keeping his friends and followers up to date through his blog posts and social networks.  And, also like many Americans, Mr. Nabil is not afraid to share his political views.  Unlike Americans his age, Mr. Nabil is now in prison for three years because of his activities.

Mikail Nabil is a Christian living in Egypt.  He has used the internet to voice his concerns about the direction of the “New Egypt.” Of particular concern for him is the manner in which the Army in Egypt appears to be violating human rights, especially the rights of other Christians. The violations include excessive violence against protesters, torture of prisoners being detained, and forced pelvic exams for all the young woman.  (These are not medical exams but “virginity tests” conducted by the soldiers).

In being arrested for telling the truth to the world, Mikail Nabil is being called “the first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution.” Undoubtedly, he is, considering that he is the first Egyptian arrested for his internet speech. Yet, he won’t be the last.  He is only the latest Christian to be arrested in Muslim Egypt. Many have gone before him, and, apparently, many will follow after in the not-so “new Egypt.”

Christians in Egypt Attacked by Army


The Assyrian International News Agency offers the latest update on the case of Christians in Egypt.  According to their news report, the Egyptian army feels free to lash out at Christians.  From the story,

Lawyer Hany Ramsis, one of the organizers of the sit-in who was present at the time of the attack, told Coptic Free Voice “We were surprised by the army attack. The youth were cleaning the place and some families who came from the provinces were packing. There were around 500 people still there at the time of the attack.” He said the soldiers cut the wire fences and started running towards the people, shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

The story goes on to report that 15 or more Christians were hospitalized after the attacks.  Most of the 15 had a combination of broken limbs and head wounds.  There were reports of gunfire.  Some claim that Christians were shot with live rounds, but those claims have not yet been established.

The Christians were able to video the incident (which you can watch here). However, the quality of the video is rather poor.  The incident happened at 3:45 a.m., in what should have been the closing hours of a “sit-in” demonstration.  Christians have continued protesting peacefully in Egypt in order to settle their claims of abuse, oppression, and persecution.  The Christians had agreed to stop their protest for a 9-day period to give the government time to respond.  This incident happened just hours before the scheduled stoppage of the protests.

Christians have a very tough assignment in Egypt and the Middle East.  They need our prayers. Pray for Christians in Egypt (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).


Where Peaceful Muslims Stand


I don’t understand the outrage against Representative Peter King.  He is asking whether there is a problem with Islamic terror within the population of Muslims in America.  The sensible nature of his inquiry is on display in the shootings at Ft. Hood and in the attempted bombing of Times Square and in the attempted bombing in Detroit and in the attempted bombing in Oregon—not to mention the fall of the World Trade Center and the more than 3,000 souls who perished in a single day of Islamic terror.

Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison weeping at hearings on extent of radical Islam in America.

I watched a news report concerning these hearings, and the audience appeared overly eager to pronounce the patriotism of Muslims in America because there was a Muslim man killed on 911 in the World Trade Center.  Yes, he was a courageous American, but the 19 other Muslims who carried out the terrorist attack that day certainly were not.  The question being asked by Representative King is not whether Muslims are patriotic in general.  The question is not whether the majority of Muslims are terrorists. No one thinks that the majority of Muslims are terrorists.  But anyone who doubts whether the majority of terrorists are Muslims is a lunatic.  The majority of terrorists in the world and in the United States are Muslims. It is a fact.

This fact needs to be admitted by all so that a measure of sanity might again prevail.  The question is not whether the average American Muslim is a terrorist.  The question is whether the average American Muslim understands the nature of Islamic terror.  Indeed, the question is whether the average American understands the nature of Islamic terror.  We desperately need to get a handle on the reality of Islamic terror.

Calling a member of congress an Islamaphobe because he is asking important questions is childish, and, worse, it is deadly.  The case of Major Hassan in Ft. Hood, TX, shouts as an indictment against our feigned outrage concerning Muslim inequality in America. Major Hasan was propped up in his position as a Captain and a therapist in the army, even though he was known to have sympathies with Jihadist terror movements. So, while he was plotting the murders of 13 innocent and unsuspecting Americans, our military leaders were appeasing him at every turn so as not to give the impression that there is any bias against Muslims.  Granted, there should be no bias against Muslims, but there should be no bias toward them either—especially when those Muslims are known to have ties to terror cells!  How many Americans have to die before we wake up from our drunken stupor of political correctness?

I am glad Representative King has the fortitude to ask some basic questions to find out how many Major Hasan’s are plotting to kill American citizens.  I don’t want America to become like Egypt or Ethiopia, where Muslims slaughter non-Muslims at an alarming rate.  I don’t think anyone living in Soul (Atfif), Egypt, really cares that the majority of Muslims are peaceful.  All they know is their village was ransacked and burned, and their relatives were killed by Muslims in the name of Allah.  Likewise, in the Jimma zone of Ethiopia, 59 churches have been burned, 28 Christian homes have been destroyed, and more than 4,000 Christians have been displaced in the name of Allah.  Do these thousands of displaced people need to be told that the majority of Muslims are patriotic and peace-loving?  It hardly matters to them.  What matters to them is finding a place to live now that Muslims destroyed their homes.

The sad reality is that Egypt and Ethiopia are not as bad as other Muslim areas.  To act as though there is no problem with Islamic terror is to act as a fool who naively offers the hangman his own noose.  Moderate Muslims are irrelevant.  They do not speak for Islam.  If moderate Muslims wish to become a relevant part of the conversation, then let them speak out against Islamic terror rather than speaking out against an American representative who is trying to do something about it.

When has there even been such an Islamic outcry against acts of terror as there is now an Islamic outcry against Representative Peter King of New York?  When there is, then we will know where the peaceful Muslims stand.

More News About Christians in Egypt


As feared, the revolution in Egypt appears to be escalating the violence against Christians in the home place of the pyramids.  According to this news report, Christians in the village of Soul (which is 30 kilometers from Cairo) were ambushed by a mob of 7,000 angry Muslims.  The Muslims stormed the Church of St. Mina and St. George, setting the facility ablaze.

The church and all of its contents were lost.  Included in the loss were a number of ancient relics which the church had preserved.  In addition, the whereabouts of the pastor and three deacons is unknown.  Some have said that they perished in the blaze; others claim they are being held captive by the Muslims.

Nina Shea, who has been covering this story for the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, reports that the churches in Egypt are now more vulnerable than ever because the guards who once were keeping watch over them now are engaged in other matters relating to the protests and demonstrations.  The churches in the provincial areas remain unguarded and have become easy targets for Muslim violence.

On February 23, there were heavy machine gun attacks by armed men against two monasteries in Egypt.  Allegedly, these attacks were in response to “zoning violations.”  In the Soul village attacks, the reason for Islamic ire was ostensibly a rumored relationship between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.  Muslims apparently were outraged that a Muslim girl would be involved with a Christian man, on the one hand, and irate, on the other hand, because of the unwillingness of the girl’s father to kill her in order to restore honor to the village. (See more on honor killings).

According to International Christian Concern, a similar instance occurred in a separate village which ended with two people being killed and another church torched. And, in yet another attack against Christians,  Nina Shea also reports that members of the Muslim Brotherhood stormed a Christian school in downtown Asyut, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” while attempting to take over control of the school.  The school was built a century ago by Presbyterians.

Suffice it to say, the news does not look good for Christians in Egypt.  Of course, some may say that the Christians must learn to stop angering the Muslims.  Maybe the Christians should work harder to comply with local, arbitrary zoning laws so armed militants won’t be forced to storm their unarmed facilities and unload heavy machine gun fire on peaceful monks.  Or, Christians could possibly commit themselves to refusing any urges of affection toward Muslims of the opposite sex.  Yet, even then, I suspect that some other reason for outrage would emerge.  It almost seems like Muslims in the Middle East just want to kill Christians.

Are Christians Persecuted in America?


Well, we have been discussing Christians in Egypt a good bit lately, but what about Christians in America? Do you think Christians suffer persecution in America?

It would be great to hear your opinions below. If you are interested in my attempt to answer the question rightly, you can check it out here.

Christians in a Muslim Egypt


I have been reading more to understand the situation in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. Freedom is indeed on the march throughout the Arab world. It is something that few thought was even a remote possibility. President Bush deserves credit for believing the impossible was possible throughout the Middle East (see here).

However, the significance of Egypt is much more than political.  The future of Christians in the Arab world could well follow the course of Christians in Egypt.  Will there be a place for Christians in Egypt?  Christians aren’t sure.

Part of the reason for the uncertainty is the uncertainty in the movement itself.  No one seems to have expected this uprising. There was no planned revolution.  No one is in charge of this sudden demand for democracy.  So, not surprisingly, Christians were surprised, too.  Christians were not sure of how to respond.  Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders were originally supportive of the status quo.  On February 1, they were still supportive of the Mubarek regime.  The Orthodox Christian Pope declared that the demonstrations were not from God.

Yet, by February 9th, Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox leaders were encouraging their followers to join the protests for freedom in Egypt.  Now, Christian lawyers and professionals are joining with other professionals in Egypt to draft a new constitution.  The hot wind blowing throughout Egypt these days is the wind of democratic change. While their air right now is as filled with the hope of freedom as our air will be filled with pollen in the spring, Egyptians still have a long way to go—especially Egyptian Christians.

The main point of contention in the constitution is Article 2, which states that Egypt is Islamic.  Some are insisting that the new Egypt be an Islamic Egypt.  Others are hoping that the new Egypt will be a free Egypt which will allow the Christian minority to express freedom of religion.  Christians represent about 10% of the population of Egypt.  Of that 10%, only a tiny fraction is Protestant.  Most of Egypt’s Christian population is Orthodox.

Will Christians be allowed in the new Islamic Egypt?  Christians are hoping so.  They are asking us to pray for it in fact.  As this report makes clear, Christians view the prospect of freedom of worship to be a “second miracle.”  They never dreamed of democratic freedom.  Now that it is on the horizon, might they dare dream of the freedom of religion?

A major hindrance to the freedom of religion will be the role of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Whatever some Western elites might be saying about the “new” Muslim Brotherhood, the truth of the matter is that major Islamic terrorist organizations have their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.  Needless to say, Christians in Egypt aren’t excited about the prospect of an Egypt under their

Christians protecting Muslim Prayers

command.  Christians in Egypt admit that they have lived with the fear of the Muslim Brotherhood for the past 20 years.  They are not looking forward to 20 more years under their control. So, what role will the Muslim Brotherhood have in the new Egypt?  The verdict is still out.  Christians are praying that the future of Egypt is not given into their hands.

Finally, I mentioned the prayer protection ring earlier, and it has happened again since. The good news is that it proved reciprocal.  Christians encircled Muslims to protect them during their Friday prayers, and Muslims surrounded Christians during their Sunday worship service to protect them from the protesters.  Surely, this is a good message for all to hear concerning the potential for peace in Egypt, but it is not at all the end of the matter.  There are years and years of historical tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt. The future remains an open question. So, maybe it is time for us to form our own prayer circle around Egypt for the protection of the saints.

Wondering About Christians in Egypt?


In case some of you are wondering how Christians are doing in Egypt, you can follow this link to a news report that paints a grim picture.  Notice that the violence is taking place in a rural area far from Cairo.  It surely isn’t getting reported, and, according to the article, our present administration appears either disinterested or unaffected by news of the persecution of Christians in Egypt.

Indeed, the news article offers another example of what I was speaking about in Bush, Jesus, and Egypt.  There seems to be support for “democracy” without concern for humanity, or at least without concern for Christian humanity.

Bush, Jesus, and Egypt


Bush, Jesus, and Egypt: How Democrats, Republicans, and Christianity Are Doing in the Middle East
by Gregory C. Cochran

In speaking about the Democrat Party, Gov. Mitch Daniels in his recent speech to CPAC said, “Our opponents are better at nastiness than we will ever be.  It comes naturally.  Power to them is everything, so there’s nothing they won’t say to get it.”   Believe it or not, he is speaking of something fundamental to the Democrat Party—not the nastiness.  I don’t mean here either to slander the Democrat Party or exalt the Republican. I hope only to explain the difference between the two parties and, in so doing, demonstrate how the two approaches are being played out in the Middle East.  In other words, I want us to understand better the political movements in America and Egypt.  History is offering us a teachable moment through current affairs in Egypt.

Many Republicans share Gov. Daniels’ disdain for democrats, while many democrats, likewise, despise the republican tendency to resist change and to “impose” values on others.  While nastiness is not endemic to either party, the other factors—a thirst for power by democrats and an imposition of values by republicans—are quite natural to the respective political parties.

Here is what I mean. By nature, democrats support democracy, meaning democrats believe in a majority rule.  What has to happen for the democrats to rule, then, is for the democrats to be the majority.  Thus, they naturally are quite interested in public opinion.  They will gravitate toward offices and institutions (media, academia) which shape public opinion because public opinion determines the rule of law in a democracy.

Republicans, on the other hand, hold primarily to the principle of the rule of law, a principle which says that certain things are never right regardless of what 51% of the people say.  Republicans, typically, are more conservative, in the sense that they are quite interested in preserving (or conserving) traditional beliefs and instruments which have been effective in the past.  By nature, conservatives aren’t as adept at stirring up the masses like democrats because they aren’t of the opinion that their causes are right or wrong based on the percentages of people who agree with them.  They don’t need majority support, they have the constitution.

I understand that I am oversimplifying and painting with very broad strokes in these descriptions of democrats and republicans.  Yet, at root, these are valid distinctions.  They are important distinctions.  The case of the revolution in Egypt brings out these distinctions clearly.  The New York Times has an article posted concerning George W. Bush’s role in stirring up democracy in the Middle East.  Yes, even the New York Times is able to see that President Bush—against public opinion—was right to assert that democracy would catch on in the Middle East.

Bush, of course, was a Republican. Yet, he advocated for democracy in the Middle East.  The New York Times article explains that President Bush—though advocating for democracy in Iraq and throughout the Middle East—was no fan of a “mere” democracy.  A mere democracy is one in which there is actually 51% rule.  Bush opposed such “democracies” on the basis that certain principles must exist in any democracy—such as the freedom of speech, a free press, and freedom of religion.  As a result, President Bush did not recognize Hamas as a legitimate democratic government, even though they were elected by 51% of the inhabitants of Gaza.  In Bush’s understanding of a democracy, terrorists organizations could not rightly rule.  The reason, of course, was that Bush—a republican—believed in a democratic republic, not in a mere democracy.  This is what another New York Times writer meant when he said,

The left has wrongly distilled President Bush’s emphasis on democracy into emphasis on elections, or on movements free of American influence. Bush rejected both those concepts. For Bush, like Churchill, democracy was a means to enable freedom; the ballot box was not the silver bullet.

So, President Bush advocated for an American democracy, a democratic republic in which a mere majority rule is not enough for a stable government.  There are checks and balances, even for the 51% majority, and that is a very good thing.  As we know, there was once a 51% majority who thought slavery was acceptable, and there was once a 51% majority who cried, “Crucify him! Crucify him.”  Both were wrong.  Even the majority is wrong on occasion.  Inalienable rights (such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) must be protected by law despite public opinion.

This reality brings us to the present state of Egypt.  Both democrats and republicans have applauded the freedom march of street protestors in Egypt.  Yet, both appear concerned about which direction the future march will take.  Democrats tend to lean toward accepting whatever government arises out of Egypt as a legitimate government because it is a government of the people. (I know this is oversimplifying again, but leaders in President Obama’s administration have already made statements justifying the Muslim Brotherhood as legitimate governing partners).  Republicans are sounding the alarms about the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in Egyptian governance.

The issue in Egypt (as in Iraq) is not whether 51% approve; it is whether there is a legitimate democracy.  Already, in the New York Times article mentioned above, you can see the disdain which some democrats have for placing “caveats” on democracies.  In other words, the democrat tendency is to accept majority rule, while republicans insist on basic principles of human rights to be enshrined in a constitution which does not rely on a might-makes-right, majority mentality.

Egypt’s future on (a) whether it will be a democracy and (b) exactly what kind of democracy might emerge is still an open question.  As an American—and especially as a Christian—I am quite concerned about what will happen next.  Even though there is a democracy in Iraq, for example, there is a terrible oppression of Christians there.  This post by Rich Lowry explains how, for Christians in Iraq, the democracy there has been a disaster.  Something President Bush should not applaud (at least not completely).

According to Lowry, an Iraq-type democracy in Egypt would mean “Lights Out” for Christians in the Middle East.  In one sense, his comments hit the mark precisely.  Democracy alone is not enough to preserve liberty.  Yet, in another sense, let’s hope that he is wrong.  There was once a Friday afternoon in which everything turned dark indeed for Christians from the sixth hour to the ninth hour, but three days later, there was a victory over every enemy known to man.  The light shone more brightly from that day forward. Sometimes, it seems, there may be darkness just before the dawn.  Let’s hope a new day is dawning indeed in Egypt and the Middle East.

‘Save That Sound Bite; It Might Come Back to Haunt Him’ – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online


Kathryn Jean Lopez interviewed Barry Rubin,Director of Global Research in International Affairs and author of 2 books concerning Egypt and Islam.  She asked him the following question. I post the question and the response so you will get an idea of what it’s like for Christians in Egypt:

Lopez: Human Rights. Christians. Democracy. Any of these winners today?

Rubin: Christians in Egypt, truth be told, are likely to lose either way. A more radical regime is likely to tolerate more attacks on them, a weak moderate one is likely to tolerate attacks so as not to set off Islamist militants. The existence of some anarchy will also endanger them.

via ‘Save That Sound Bite; It Might Come Back to Haunt Him’ – By Kathryn Jean Lopez – The Corner – National Review Online.

What Are Christians Doing in Egypt?


What about the Christians in Egypt? What are they doing during this revolution?

I forewarned (here) that the protests in Egypt might bring on more violence against Christians, and it has.  Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute details one of the latest attacks in this article.  The Barnabas Fund chronicles other hardships Christians are facing in Egypt.

Yet, the Christians are not defeated by on-going violence against them.  I thought it might be interesting for you to consider the various ways which the Christian minority in Egypt is responding to this present crisis.

According to Jordan Sekulow in this account in the Washington Post, some Christians are joining in the protests with others who are standing for democracy in Egypt.

Over at the IMB, stories are being told about avenues opening up for the spread of the gospel in the midst of what otherwise might be chaos.  Indeed, there is a long history in Christianity of turning violence into opportunity for doing the good work of spreading the gospel (see Acts 8:1-4).

And, finally, there is this incredible photograph (which you probably will not see on mainstream outlets).  It shows Christians locking hands to encircle a group of Muslims, enabling them to carry out their prayer obligations.  (The picture was posted here).  Amazing.

Christians in Egypt Making a Protective Wall so Muslims Can Pray

Coptic Christians in the Egyptian Culture Clash


This piece from GetReligion is asking the same questions we have been asking: What about the Christians in Egypt?  There are Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Christians living in Egypt.  Granted, they are a minority, but they do exist and have suffered worse than the Muslims marching in the streets.

This article from GetReligion is helpful in its links to other news coverage relating to Christians, but as the article demonstrates, there is not much coverage out there.  Particularly, it seems the New York Times must be ignorant of the presence of Christians in Egypt or completely unconcerned for their welfare.

Uh-Oh Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood Are One


Andrew McCarthy, a pretty smart guy on the spread of Islamic Jihad, asserts in this blog post that Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are one and the same with deep connections (and the same mission statement).  If he is right, then the signals are going negative for the situation in Egypt. The revolution may hurt Christians even more in Egypt and, in the long run, hurt all Egyptians.

Out of Egypt


Interesting that Egypt is still in the picture and still in the news.  Since the days of Abraham, Egypt has been in the news.  Now, out of Egypt comes news of revolution in the streets.  From a global perspective, the uprising is largely a cry for freedom and opportunity.  I have already posted a couple of times on what might be driving this.

However, President Obama and his administration have a terribly difficult dilemma.  Whereas it would seem that the obvious solution is to support the freedom protesters, the truth of the matter is that the outcome of these protests may be less freedom rather than more.  As this editorial points out, Islamists are very active in Egypt (see also here).  The heart which now drives Islamic terror may have begun its beating in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood and Sayyed Qutb.  See here

For Christians, more power to Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood (which may be fanning the flames of this uprising) would undoubtedly mean less freedom for the Christians.  In other words, if Egypt moves toward a more pure form of Islamic governance, Christians will be further oppressed and persecuted.  Michael Youssef offers one possible explanation of what this might mean.

For us in America, prayer is the best mechanism we have to help Christians in Egypt.  It is difficult to know what is going to happen next.

 

Middle East Moving to Democracy?


This interesting blog post makes an assertion that uprisings in the Middle East are actually connected to a desire for liberty throughout the Arab world.  And what is the engine beneath these longings for democracy? It may be the results of the war in Iraq.

Indeed, Victor Davis Hanson notes that Iraq is the only stable country in the region.

 

Christians to Hold Prayer Day for Egypt amid Civil Unrest | Christianpost.com


Christians to Hold Prayer Day for Egypt amid Civil Unrest | Christianpost.com.

We should all join in praying for Egypt and especially for the Christians who live there.  They have been oppressed and persecuted for years, and it is not certain what will happen next.   Of course, the Lord knows what will happen next.  May He bless His people with the hope they need to persevere.  It is interesting that all of this has broken loose just after the Pope issued his sermon encouraging Christians there.

The Pity and Praise of Coptic Christians


Coptic Christian Persecution

Politically speaking, pity might be the right word to describe how we ought to respond to the plight of Christians living in Egypt and other Arab lands.  That is the argument in Fouad Ajami’s Newsweek article concerning the plight of Christians in Egypt (“Who Will Protect Christian Arabs in Egypt?”).  After recounting the glorious history of Egypt and the openness Christianity had to embracing Islam when Islam first arrived in Egypt, Ajami then offers a depressing look at what tolerance of Islam has gained for Egypt and for the Coptic Christians who once flourished there.  The nadir of Christian-Muslim relations came when Muslims in Egypt attacked a New Year’s worship service that killed and injured dozens of Coptic Christians.  Pitiful indeed.

Perhaps more pitiful has been the retreat of Christian nations from the courage that once helped these (and other) Christians in an Arab land to have the hope of freedom to worship.  Ajami recounts an earlier time when the U.S. and other freedom-loving nations would have gone to great lengths to protect Christian worshipers in Muslim lands, but those days appear to have disappeared, like the runway and airport disappears behind a departing flight.

One may think this is progress.  After all, a plane taking off is in fact heading somewhere as it leaves the airport in the distance.  Ajami says otherwise: “As the dream of modernity in Egypt has faded, there has settled upon that crowded land a deep sense of disillusion—and bigotry.”  Ajami explains,

“In times past, Western gunboats and envoys and the educational and religious missions of Western powers had concerned themselves with the fate of the Christians of the East. Consulates in the Levant provided a shield for local Christians. Jerusalem was dubbed a kingdom of the consuls. But the world has been remade, and the Christians of the East have to fend for themselves.”

The times have indeed changed, but not for the better.  Progress has been made, but in the wrong direction.  Who is to blame for the bathos of Egyptian progress?  In Ajami’s words, “The radical Islamists, and the multitudes that wink at them.”

Ajami’s article is sober and accurate, not sensationalistic.  He is right about the cause and right on the mark concerning the present plight of Coptic Christians.  You may recall that their plight was the subject of the Pope’s sermon of encouragement—which subsequently led Muslim dialogue with the Vatican to cease.  So, radical Muslims will be more emboldened to bomb other worship services with a sense of security that Muslim leaders won’t allow the Pope (or any Christian leader) to bring up the subject.  And the current administration in the U.S. will give a wink and a nod in the name of tolerance (of Islam).  Ajami has painted the scene all too well.

But Ajami’s piece lacks one significant note to complete its arrangement harmoniously.  He needs (as the Pope tried to provide) a theological perspective of hope.  From a theological perspective, these Christians are blessed.  They are presently suffering, to be sure.  But Jesus talked about what happens to the “non-sufferers” and how much better they are who remain faithful to him even while being persecuted.  Lazarus, you recall, went on to recline in the bosom of Abraham, while the rich man entered Hell (Luke 16:19-31).  These Christians in Egypt are persecuted, but surely (like the Apostle Paul) they know they have not been abandoned (2 Corinthians 6:3-10).

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” says Jesus.  In other words, there is an answer to the question raised in Ajami’s title, “Who Will Protect Christian Arabs in Egypt?”

For more on Christian Arabs in Egypt, see here.

Sunni Muslim Center Ends Dialogue with Vatican – By Nina Shea – The Corner – National Review Online


Sunni Muslim Center Ends Dialogue with Vatican – By Nina Shea – The Corner – National Review Online.

Looks like nothing shuts down dialogue as quickly as the truth.  Christians are persecuted in every nation in which Muslims have a majority (or even close to a majority).  The Pope was merely speaking a word of encouragement for Christians to persevere.  Once again, Muslim leadership is acting in a manner than affirms rather than obviates the suspicions that outsiders have toward Islamic violence.

Another Christian Shot


Another Christian was shot and killed in Egypt according to this news report.  It is not yet clear whether this was an act of persecution or murder.  The shooter opened fire on a bus filled with passengers.  It is possible that the bus was targeted because it was from a Christian village.  The news report points to a number of issues creating conflict between Christians and Muslims.  I think it is fair to say that Christians are not treated like other citizens in Egypt.  There are significant distinctions in the freedoms of Christians and the freedoms of Muslims.

Swine Flu Falsity


According to this report, Muslims in Egypt are using the swine flu fears to rid Christians of their livelihood–pigs.  Because Muslims consider pigs unclean, they are more than happy to get rid of them, even if it means people will starve to death.  Pigs do not cause the flu, but the swine flu fear may end up killing Christians in Egypt.