Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Patriarch Irenej: Serbia Must Not Renounce Its Spirituality

A lament for formerly Christian Europe, and a glimpse into the fond closeness of Serbia and Russia, hinting at Russia's protection of Serbia and the Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo. — 7/29/2013

Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Irinej said at the end of his visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow that Serbia is not running away from Europe, but cannot join Europe as it is now under the conditions that are being imposed on it.

"We do not have the right to renounce our spirituality, our culture, everything that makes us a nation. This is why I hope the people will consciously gather around the Church and thank God for giving us a chance to preserve the apostolic faith," the Patriarch said in an interview for the Voice of Russia, expressing hope Serbia will become stronger over time, both in the spiritual and the political sense.

Asked if Serbia can keep its Orthodox roots once it joins the EU, Patriarch Irinej said "the present spiritual state of Europe is pathetic."

"Like Nietzsche said 'God is dead' there. Still, a few little islands of church life remain," he said.

The Fate of Indonesia

This is a brief follow-up to Raymond Ibrahim's article, Buddhist Common Sense vs. Western Nonsense.

Fr Daniel Byantoro is a convert to Orthodox Christianity from Islam, and founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Mission. In his endorsement for my book, Facing Islam, he provides a short history of how Indonesia became an Islamic country.  Myanmar's Buddhist monks are certainly keenly aware of the fate of Indonesia:

For thousands of years my country (Indonesia) was a Hindu Buddhist kingdom.  The last Hindu king was kind enough to give a tax exempt property for the first Muslim missionary to live and to preach his religion. 
Slowly the followers of the new religion were growing, and after they became so strong the kingdom was attacked, those who refused to become Muslims had to flee for their life to the neighboring island of Bali or to a high mountain of Tengger, where they have been able to keep their religion until now. 
Slowly from the Hindu Buddhist Kingdom, Indonesia became the largest Islamic country in the world. 
If there is any lesson to be learnt by Americans at all, the history of my country is worth pondering upon. We are not hate mongering, bigoted people; rather, we are freedom loving, democracy loving and human loving people. We just don’t want this freedom and democracy to be taken away from us by our ignorance and misguided ‘political correctness’, and the pretension of tolerance. 
Archimandrite Daniel Byantoro, Orthodox Christian Convert from Islam, and founder of the Indonesian Orthodox Mission.

Understanding Islam: Buddhist Common Sense vs. Western Nonsense

by Raymond Ibrahim, via CBN News

A recent New York Times article titled “Extremism Rises Among Myanmar’s Buddhists” offers important lessons on common sense and nonsense.  Witten by one Thomas Fuller, it begins by telling of how:

After a ritual prayer atoning for past sins, Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk with a rock-star following in Myanmar, sat before an overflowing crowd of thousands of devotees and launched into a rant against what he called “the enemy”—the country’s Muslim minority.  “You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu said, referring to Muslims. “I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers.”

While the article is meant to highlight the supposed “intolerance” of Myanmar’s Buddhists, for those who can read between the lines—or who are familiar with Islamic teachings, history, and current events—it is clear that Buddhists are responding to existential threats posed by the Muslims living among and around them.

Here is the first lesson: unlike the West, Buddhist monks, despite their reputation as devotees of peace, are still able to accept and respond to reality; are still governed by common sense.  Unlike the West, whose sense of reality has been so thoroughly warped by a nonstop media propaganda campaign emanating from ubiquitous TVs and computer screens, conditioning Americans how to think and what to believe, “third world” Buddhist monks are acquainted with reality on the ground.  They know that, left unchecked, the Muslim minority living among them—which began hostilities—will grow more aggressive, a historically demonstrative fact.

Interview with Vladimir Putin for Russian Documentary — 7/30/2013

Vladimir Putin gave an interview to the makers of the documentary film The Second Baptism of Rus, which screened on Rossia 1 television channel on July 22.

The Second Baptism of Rus is a full-length documentary film about the resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia over the last 25 years. The film gives a detailed presentation of the main stages in rebuilding church life in Russia from 1988, when the country marked the 1000th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, to today.

QUESTION: We still remember the times when you could ruin your career prospects if you had your child baptised and it got found out. You could face problems in university too, not to mention the situation back in the 1920s-30s, when clergy and laypeople alike faced repression. What are the lessons you think we should learn from those years of persecution against the church?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I felt the effects of those times too. My mother had me baptised and kept it secret from my father, who was a communist party member. He wasn't a party official of any kind, just worked at a factory, but he was some kind of grassroots party organiser in his factory workshop. Anyway, my mother, supposedly without letting him find out, had me baptised, did it in secret, and so my family too felt the constraints of those times.

Orthodox Christianity Made Russia Great World Power – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin kisses an icon during
a service and ceremony in Kyiv on July 27 to celebrate the
1,025th anniversary of Christianity in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.
via OCP Media — 7/26/2013

MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday praised the role of Orthodox Christianity in the country’s history and congratulated the heads of the world’s Orthodox churches on the 1025th anniversary of the Christianization of Kievan Rus, a medieval state comprising parts of modern-day Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

“The adoption of Christianity became a turning point in the fate of our fatherland, made it an inseparable part of the Christian civilization and helped it turn into one of the largest world powers,” Putin said in a message addressed to participants of a commemorative celebration on Red Square, the Kremlin reported.

“It is Orthodoxy that gave Russia a powerful impetus for the development and rise of culture and education,” the message says.

Putin also praised the Russian Orthodox Church’s role in developing a constructive dialogue with other Orthodox churches as well as international collaboration.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, opened the celebration.

“The foundation of our national, spiritual and cultural life was laid 1025 years ago,” he said. “Our ancestors adopted the Christian faith and, together with it, a system of values and morals … that no historical upheavals were able to destroy.”

Despite the fact that Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians live in different countries today, the patriarch said, their spiritual foundation remains common and unites the Slavic nations.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The First To Fly Was A Greek From Constantinople in 1637

"This is proof of a historical revision by nationalist Turks who want to take credit for such an impressive and historical feat achieved not by one of their own, but by a second class citizen whose land was occupied by the Turks."

By John Sanidopoulos — MYSTAGOGY — 7/30/2013

According to the latest historical study out of Bilgi Universtiy in Istanbul, a Greek from Constantinople was the first man in the world to fly over a long distance, in the 17th century.

This discovery was made by Sinan Cetin, a Turkish man who teaches History at Bilgi University. Up until now it has been believed that Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi, who is celebrated in Turkey as the first to fly, was a Turkish Muslim man. However, according to findings by Sinan Cetin, Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi was not a Turk but a Roman (Greek), whose real name was Arsenios Tselepis, son of Savvas and Elizabeth Tselepis from Tatavla (a neighborhood in Constantinople today known as Kurtulus).

This is proof of a historical revision by nationalist Turks who want to take credit for such an impressive and historical feat achieved not by one of their own, but by a second class citizen whose land was occupied by the Turks. Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi is a national hero in Turkey, with one of the three airports in Istanbul carrying the name "Hezarfen Airfield", and even a mosque next to the Istanbul Ataturk International Airport named the Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi Camii. This news, which will likely be disputed, is a tremendous blow to Turkish history, but welcome news to modern day Greeks that the truth has come to light.

Muslim Persecution of Christians: May, 2013

by Raymond Ibrahim — via Gatestone Institute — 7/30/2013

The month of May continued to prove that Nigeria is the most dangerous nation for Christians—where more Christians have been killed last year than all around the Muslim world combined.  In one instance, Boko Haram Muslim militants stormed the home of a Pentecostal pastor and secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and opened fire on him, instantly murdering him.

Separately, other Boko Haram gunmen killed 14 Christians, including the cousin and two nephews of the Rev. Moses Thliza, head of a Christian organization dedicated to preventing AIDS and caring for AIDS patients and orphans:  Said Thliza: “My cousin, Bulus [Paul] Buba, was dragged out at gunpoint from his house by the Boko Haram members. They collected his car keys, demanded money and asked him three times to renounce his Christian faith, and three times he declined to do so [prompting them to execute him]. The attackers met three guards on duty, killed two of them by cutting their necks with knives, and then proceeded to take the third guard, Amtagu Samiyu, at gunpoint to lead them to where the keys of the deputy governor’s house is.”

As for some Christians observing a wake two kilometers away, Boko Haram Muslims asked to know what was going on there, and when they learned that people were saying prayers for an elderly Christian woman who had died, they charged in and shot into the crowd. “The attackers went there and shot indiscriminately at the worshippers, killing eight Christians—two women and six elderly men,” said Thliza. “In all, we buried 14 Christians. Some were injured and taken to the hospital.”

Despite all this, when the Nigerian government tried militarily to confront and neutralize Boko Haram, the Obama administration criticized it, warning it not to violate the “human rights” of the Islamic terrorists.

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

Church Attacks 

Bosnia: The Serbian Orthodox church of Saint Sava in Sarajevo, where Muslims make up approximately half of the population, was “desecrated” and six of its windows panes broken.  The unidentified vandals wrote “Allah” in dark paint twice on the church wall.  A month earlier, unidentified persons tried to set the church on fire.

Erasing Turkey's Christian Past

This analysis from a secular journal confirms what I addressed in my article on Islam's Iconoclasm, regarding Muslim hatred of Christianity's "sinful" images.  More and more media are reporting on Islam's war against Christianity.

The Economist, via — 7/30/2013

Sinful paintings on the ceiling?
On July 5th the mufti of Trabzon gathered with other citizens for the first Friday prayers of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, not at a mosque but at an ancient Byzantine church. The gathering was a symbolic re-enactment of the conquest in 1462 of this ancient Greek Black Sea port by Mehmet II, the Ottoman sultan who had wrested Constantinople from the Byzantines in 1453. He marked his victory by converting the Haghia Sophia cathedral of today’s Istanbul into a mosque.

Haghia Sophia’s sister of the same name in Trabzon is less grand. Yet with its dazzling frescoes and magnificent setting overlooking the sea, the 13th-century building is regarded as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture. As with other Christian monuments, the Haghia Sophia in Trabzon has become a symbol in the battle between secularists and Islamists. It was converted into a mosque around the 16th century and, after other incarnations, became a museum in 1964. But the Islamists won the last round in 2012 when a local court accepted the claim by the General Directorate of the Pious Foundations, the government body responsible for Turkey’s historic mosques, that the Haghia Sophia belonged to the foundation of Mehmet II and was being “illegally occupied” by the culture ministry.

The decision provoked surprising anger in a city notorious for its ultra-nationalist views. “It’s about erasing the Christian past, reviving Ottomanism,” says a local historian. “There are enough mosques in Trabzon, half of them empty, what was the need?” chimes in Zeki Bakar, a neighbourhood councillor. A lawsuit has been brought to undo the conversion.

Spiritual Sunni leader calls Russia ‘enemy number one’

This is an older story, from October 2012, yet very relevant given Russia's new prominence which I have been reporting on.

Russia's growing role as protector and guardian of oppressed Christians in the Islamic world has already been noticed by Muslim extremist leaders. Russia's support for Assad in Syria is cited as the reason for Al-Qaradawi's attack. However, below the surface of geo-politics are the spiritual battle lines being drawn between Christian Russia and the Islamic Extremist movement.

Al-Qaradawi is spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, and most recently summoned all Muslims of the world to come to Egypt and wage jihad.

Spiritual Sunni leader calls Russia ‘enemy number one’
Voice of Russia — 10/18/2012

“Brothers, Moscow has become the enemy of Islam and of Muslims these days. It has become the number one enemy of Islam and Muslims”. This was the astonishing statement made by leading Sunni scholar, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi. With this new theological ruling, he also blamed Moscow for the bloodshed in Syria.

This latest attack on Russia, made on October 12 on television in Qatar, is far more significant than a simple emotional outburst. Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi is the Sunni world’s most respected theological authority. He is also the sole spiritual leader of the “Muslim brotherhood” in Egypt, Syria, Libya and the rest of the world. When Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi declares that a certain country is the number one enemy, many of his followers are sure to act accordingly.

1,025 years of Christianity: Ukraine hosts Orthodox celebrations while questioning its future

More on Ukraine and Russia...

RussiaToday, via OCP Media — 7/28/2013

The Orthodox Church is celebrating the 1025th anniversary of introduction of Christianity into medieval Russia. Clerical delegations and the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are joining the festivities in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.

Orthodox Hierarchs at 1025th Service, Kiev Caves Lavra

The culmination of the celebrations will be a liturgy in Kiev’s  central cathedral Kiev Pechersk Laura (Kiev Monastery of the  Caves) and a sacred procession carrying the St. Andrew’s cross, a  symbolic relic that once united the nations on the territory of  modern Belarus, Ukraine and European part of Russian Federation  over a millennium ago, when Kiev was the main center of the  Eastern Slavic world.

Kyiv and Moscow Patriarchates to Unite

Closely related to this story...

OCP Media — 7/28/2013

Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of Kyiv and Moscow Patriarchates will merge into a single local Orthodox church, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kyiv Patriarchate Filaret said, ForUm correspondent reports.

“We believe and are convinced that the Kyiv and Moscow Patriarchates will unite in a local Orthodox church. The reasons for this are – we are not enemies, and those kisses that were (at the time of greetings at the opening ceremony of the exhibition “The Great and Majestic. – Ed.) are a sign of the future union. Time will come when we will minister together, and belong to the same Ukrainian church,” he said.

However, Filaret did not say when the Churches will unite.

Putin Lauds Russian-Ukrainian “Spiritual Unity,” Urges Integration

Another follow-up post from the celebrations in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus into Orthodox Christianity.

It bears mentioning that this anniversary — which at first glance seems an odd number to make such a big splash about — really is far more significant than the 1000-year anniversary in 1988, which was of course held under the cloud of the Soviet Union. That was a miracle, this is a mobilization.

This year's celebration is more about the future than about marking time from a millennium ago in an Orthodox self-congratulation-fest. As I wrote here a few days ago, the tested and vigorous Russian Republic, coupled with the resurrected and visionary Russian Church, is using the 1025th celebrations as "a launch platform for Russia’s new role in global Christian and human rights leadership."

During Baptism Anniversary, Putin Lauds Russian-Ukrainian “Spiritual Unity,” Urges Integration
OCP Media — 7/28/2013

KIEV, July 27 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin praised on Saturday the “spiritual unity” between Russia and Ukraine and urged closer integration between the two nations.

Putin arrived in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to take part in festivities celebrating the 1025th anniversary of baptism of Kievan Rus, a medieval state that comprised parts of what is now Russia and Ukraine. His calls for integration emphasized Moscow’s concerns over Ukraine’s reluctance to join a Moscow-dominated economic bloc.

“Spiritual unity is something so strong that it is not affected by influence of authorities – neither state nor church [authorities]”, Putin told top Ukrainian Orthodox clerics.

Patriarch Irinej Voiced Expectation That Russia Will Help Resolve Kosovo Issue

Yet more confirmation of Russia's role as protector and defender of Orthodox Christians, especially those being persecuted by Muslim extremists.

PRAVMIR — 7/25/2013

MOSCOW – Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Irinej has voiced expectation in Moscow that Russia, as the major Slavic power, will help resolve the Kosovo issue in a fair way, reported Tanjug.

We pin our hopes on Russia that it will help settle the Kosovo issue, Patriarch Irinej said on Tuesday in talks with Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the State Duma which is the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.

The Serbian Patriarch said that Serbia is going through a difficult period, pointing to the suffering of the Serb people in Kosovo-Metohija (KiM).

Everything is at risk in Kosovo, Patriarch Irinej said, voicing hope that Russia has a clear picture about real developments in Kosovo, the Russian news agency reported.

Patriarch Irinej is on his first official visit to Russia since assuming duties. With the delegation, he will tour Russian churches and monasteries, and Orthodox holy sites in Ukraine and Belarus during the two-week visit.

Together with other patriarchs of autocephalous Orthodox churches, he will take part in the celebrations of 1025th anniversary of Russia’s christening.

The Orthodox patriarchs will be received by presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Qaradawi Summons Foreign Jihadis to Martyrdom in Egypt

by Raymond Ibrahim — 7/29/2013

Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi—one of the most influential Islamic clerics in the world, author of over 100 books on Muslim doctrine, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood—has just posted a new video where he calls on all the Muslims of the world to come and wage jihad with their lives in Egypt on behalf of “what’s right”—that is, the return to power of the Muslim Brotherhood. He called on everyone and anyone—the “sons of Al Azhar,” businessmen, journalists—and from all around the world, specifically mentioning Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Senegal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan.

Qaradawi called on them to be shuhada, “martyrs” who sacrifice their lives in the course of the jihad. Several Egyptian religious authorities have expressed surprise at Qaradawi’s reckless call for jihad in Egypt, saying the latter is not part of Dar al-Harb (Abode of War) where jihad should be waged to bring non-Muslims under Islamic authority, but rather is part of the Islamic world, where Islamic authorities like Qaradawi should be calling for peace, not promoting more bloodshed between Muslims. Amana Nasir, professor of doctrine and philosophy and former dean of humanities in the Alexandrian branch of Al Azhar called Qaradawi’s remarks products of “senility, not wisdom,” adding that “I’m surprised that Qaradawi sealed his life with such words void of understanding.”

Homily delivered by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia

 in Kiev Laura of the Caves on the commemoration day of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles

July 29, 2013 — PRAVMIR

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia delivered this homily after the festive liturgy celebrated by the heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches and an assembly of bishops from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova, who came to Kiev for the celebrations marking the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, at the cathedral square of the Kiev Laura of the Caves:

I wholeheartedly greet you on the occasion of the feast of the Baptism of Rus’!

We have counted off 1025 years of our common history which has developed under the cross of St. Andrew the First Called. And today the whole plenitude of the Orthodox Church, through her primates, bishops and priests, has assembled here, in the Kiev Laura of the Caves, to thank God before this very cross of St. Andrew for the fact that the apostle’s prophecy about Orthodoxy in our lands, about the truth shining forth in them, has come true.

We all have been brought together by the power of God as One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What is the foundation of our unity? Why are we all together in the Orthodox Church despite the hard conditions of our life in history? – Because the foundation of our life is the foundation stone which is our Lord Jesus Christ. Precisely for this reason the word of God states: On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Mt. 16:18). They will not overcome it because what lies in the foundation of the Church is not human wisdom or human power but the power of God. This power of God is almost never realized in human power because the Lord said, My power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

The whole history of Christianity in Rus’ shows this human weakness of ours. But if we were the only foundation of the building that Christ has built, would it withstand the pressure of various ethnic and cultural factors and especially the tremendous influences from outside, which for centuries have worked to undermine the unity of the Church, to weaken her witness? Christ is the foundation stone of our Church’s and our life.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On The Wrong Side of History

As Obama pivots in the wind, a new moral leadership rises to defend the powerless.

by Ralph H. Sidway — Originally published at

In perhaps the most significant reversal of political and global alignment since the overthrow of Christian Russia by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Barack Hussein Obama has transformed the United States of America from a Christian-centric, Western democratic republic, into an Islamist-enabling oligarchy drowning in Soviet-style scandals, casting a long, dark shadow across hundreds of millions of innocent victims the world over.

Other outlets are ably covering the Obama administration’s numerous domestic scandals (Benghazi, IRS, NSA, etc.), but the unifying theme seems to be government control over every aspect of life, with rapid erosion of personal and religious liberty. 

In the geo-political sphere, we can quickly survey what has been repeatedly documented here at this site concerning Obama’s determined support for the Muslim Brotherhood from the very beginning of his first term, through to the Administration’s blatant interference on behalf of the MB prior to the June 30 protests leading to Morsi’s ouster. 

The Copts (joined by pro-secular forces) in Egypt have utterly rejected Obama and U.S. Ambassador Patterson due to their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, with an unprecedented grass roots movement now calling for the removal of Patterson

Even more dramatically, in the July 26 demonstrations in support of the Egyptian Military, protesters called not only for the exit of Obama and the United States, but for a re-alignment with Russia.

Op-Ed: To end Syria civil war, West must guarantee minorities' safety with peacekeeping force

This is a solid piece of analysis, treating very seriously the fears of Syria's Christians, although it lacks any specific mention of Russian President Vladimir Putin's goal of a multi-national peace conference led by Russia and the U.S., which could convene as early as August.

CSMonitor - 7/25/2013
Op-Ed by Thorsten Janus, Helle Malmvig

Minorities in Syria support the Assad regime because they fear the alternative. To erode Bashar al-Assad's base of support, Western leaders should offer meaningful security reassurances to Syria's minorities, including the promise of an international peacekeeping force.

A commander of the Ghurabaa al-Sham Front (a jihadist rebel group that is fighting in Syria)
speaks on his phone in front of a church that was shelled by mortars at the Christian
village of Judeida, in Idlib province, Syria, Feb. 21. —Hussein Malla/AP/File

Though Syria’s civil war rages on, Western leaders may have the power to help end the bloody conflict. And it’s not by arming the rebels.

Instead, Western countries – in cooperation with regional powers like the Arab League – should work to offer meaningful security reassurances to the minorities now supporting the Assad regime. This will undermine Bashar al-Assad’s base, move the country toward a political resolution to the conflict, and help ensure an inclusive post-Assad society. Without safety guarantees, Syria’s minorities are unlikely to shift support away from Mr. Assad. The promise of an international peacekeeping force, possibly headed by NATO and backed by the Arab League, could achieve that goal.

Syrian Christian describes religious cleansing of city by Islamic extremists

7/25/2013 -, h/t Answering-Muslims

( In a recent visit as part of a humanitarian aid mission to Syria, Dr. John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), met with a Syrian Christian man from the city of Qusayr who described the religious cleansing of his home by Islamic extremists.

According to CSI, before the civil war the city of Qusayr, located in eastern portion of Syria near the Lebanese border, had around 40,000 people, including 7,000 Christians.

“In late 2011, the Sunni townsmen came and told us to either join us in anti-regime demonstrations or leave the town. If we didn’t, we would be killed,” Fadul Abu Yohanna Kasouhah, a Christian resident of Qusayr, described to CSI.

According to Fadul, the Sunni Islamists in his village used the loudspeakers from the Mosques to name the Christian families by name and told them to leave.

Fadul told CSI how his cousin was gunned down by Sunni extremists for refusing to leave.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

MORE OBAMA HATE IN TAHRIR – Protesters Blast Muslim Brotherhood Supporting Prez (Photos)

by Jim Hoft - The Gateway Pundit -7/26/2013

Tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday to grant the armed forces a mandate to confront “violence and terrorism.”

The anti-Morsi protesters were not impressed with Barack Obama’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Here are a few signs from today’s protests.

The Holy New Martyr Christodoulos from Kassandra (27 July)

July 27, 2013 — PEMPTOUSIA

The new martyr and servant of Christ Christodoulos was from Kassandra, the first leg of Halkidiki, from a village called Valta. When he was still young, he left his home and went to Thessaloniki and, when he’d learned how to make thick woolen cloth and capes, he plied his tried there and went on business to the surrounding area before returning to the city where he lived. On one occasion, however, he went to the island of Chios with his master, where he bought a plain cross. When he returned to Thessaloniki he paid to have it painted, since it was large enough to do so. When he’d done this, he took it to the church of Saint Athanasios and left it there, since he was friends with the verger.

It happened that, at that time, a certain Bulgarian converted to Islam and when Christodoulos saw him he was very much saddened over the loss of the man’s soul. So he decided he’d die a martyr’s death. On 26 July, then, without telling anyone what he was doing, he sat down and wrote out all the sins he’d committed from his youth up, picked up his cross and went to his confessor. He gave the cross to his confessor, read out the paper himself and confessed his sins and then, after confession, went to his friend, the verger of Saint Athansios’.

Sen. Rand Paul of Ky: US Churches should challenge IRS

Indeed we should.  One of the lessons learned from the Russian Revolution is how quickly the Orthodox Church lost any residual political power after the Bolsheviks ascended.  A second lesson concerns Soviet support of the "Living Church," the false, liberal body which sought to replace the true, Orthodox Church in the 1920s. The analogy can readily be drawn between the Soviet-era Living Church and today's liberal Protestant denominations, with their militant pro-homosexual agenda, support for abortion, and complete abandonment of traditional Christian dogma.

Hence the importance of the Manhattan Declaration, and for our Orthodox bishops to "speak truth to power." Some of you have likely already read When Orthodox Bishops Spoke Boldly: Clear Teaching on Marriage and Family by Chris Banescu. If not, it's a must read.

An Orthodox monastic I know believes a preemptive rejection of tax-exempt status by Orthodox churches will free us from the threat of IRS targeting. It is a compelling argument and now is the time to have that discussion. The Orthodox Church in the United States needs to be clear and bold in her stance on moral issues, criticizing the government and speaking truth to power, and freedom to practice our faith (including open evangelism, not the neutered "freedom of worship" Hillary Clinton advocates).

Sen. Paul: US Churches Should Challenge the IRS
Charisma News - 7/25/2013

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says churches in America should challenge the Internal Revenue Service by speaking boldly from the pulpit, without worrying about the consequences.

In an exclusive interview with CBN News Chief Political Correspondent David Brody, Sen. Paul issued a challenge to pastors.

"What I would say to the churches is be bold and challenge them and say, 'In our church we're still going to discuss good and evil and what we think of it and so be it if the government wants to come and challenge us because if we don't stand up and try and protect our God-given rights, they're going to be taken from us.'"

Many pastors are reluctant to speak out on political issues because they fear being audited or fined by the IRS.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Busy on Royal Baby Watch, Nets Ignore Jihad Against Mid-East Christians

Matthew Philbin - July 25, 2013 -
h/t Trudge at SmartVote over at Monomachos

Everyone’s happy about the arrival of the future king of Britain – that is, everyone at leisure to take note. Presumably, Middle Eastern Christians have been too busy trying to survive to worry over whether the Duchess of Cambridge was in false labor.

And while the hard-nosed journalists at ABC, CBS and NBC have been knitting booties and speculating on names, Middle Eastern Christians have been attacked by Islamists, prevented from worshipping, driven from homes and villages, beaten and executed.

Between April 22 and July 21, the three broadcast networks mentioned Kate Middleton’s pregnancy 110 times. That’s 110 more mentions than they gave the escalating violence against Christians in Syria and Egypt.

In recent months, as the Syrian Civil War has ground on and the situation in Egypt has destabilized, the plight of Middle Eastern Christians has intensified. The proof can be found in any number of newspaper reports and magazine articles. But not on the network news. ABC, CBS and NBC often mentioned Egypt’s Christians, and even their opposition to the Morsi Muslim Brotherhood government. But the networks gave no indication of how bad things were for the Christian minority in the Muslim nations.

In July, according to The Guardian (UK) newspaper, “A Coptic priest was killed in northern Sinai.” The Daily Telegraph (UK) identified the victim as Mina Aboud Sharween, a priest serving el-Arish’s Coptic Christian community, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorbike. All this went almost unnoticed in the international media.”

Well, certainly by the U.S. networks. Even liberal papers like The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times have covered the anti-Christian violence. On July 16, The New York Times reported on the chaos of Egyptian politics. “A controversial Salafi preacher, Abu Islam, defaced a Christian Bible to make his sectarian point. (He was ordered to pay a fine.) Meanwhile, in southern Egypt, a Coptic Christian schoolteacher, Dimyana Abdel-Nour, was tried on trumped-up charges of attacking Islam in the classroom. She paid a much larger fine, and her case is still open.”

But that’s mild compared to a Times article from just four days before, which detailed “scapegoating attacks by Muslim extremists against Christians they accuse of supporting [Morsi’s] fall.” The piece noted that “attacks have been reported across the country – in the northern Sinai Peninsula, in a resort town on the Mediterranean Coast, in Port Said along the Suez Canal and in isolated villages in upper Egypt.”

“Islamists have painted black X's on Christian shops to mark them for arson and mobs have attacked churches and besieged Christians in their homes,” the report went on. “Four Christians were reported killed with knives and machetes in one village last week.”

In Syria, the situation is even more dire. Two Orthodox bishops were kidnapped by rebel forces on April 22 and are feared dead. On June 23, Francois Murad, a Franciscan priest, was shot and killed by jihadists who were pillaging a monastery. It was mistakenly thought that Murad had been beheaded on a video that surfaced at the same time. However, the three victims decapitated by Syrian rebels for the camera were also Christians.

In a June 30 article, the Los Angeles Times reported on besieged Christians. “In Qusair the Roman Catholic Church of St. Elias was defaced during a more than yearlong rebel occupation of the town near the Lebanese border. During a recent visit, a reporter saw vandalized images of saints and Christ and graffiti scrawled on church walls berating ‘infidels.’”

“Residents of minority communities, such as the Christians of Sednaya, predict that eviction or death will be their fate if they do not resist now,” the Times reported. “‘If the terrorists come here, none of us will be left alive,’ says Hussam Azar, a.k.a. the Whale, who heads the self-defense effort here. ‘They will kill us all.’”

‘“I have a question for you,’ Azar asks a U.S. reporter. ‘Why does America want all the Christians out of the Middle East?’”

It’s not an idle question. According to a March, 2013 article in The Economist, a century ago “Christians made up a tenth of the region’s population; today it is less than 4 percent.”

The networks lavished incredible time and resources to report that England’s Christian population was growing by one. Their audiences might find it interesting to learn that the Middle East’s Christian population is shrinking by more than that. 

Graham: Why is Obama Silent While Iran Tortures American Pastor?

[Axios to Franklin Graham for speaking out like this. Orthodox Christians can follow this fine example of speaking truth to power. Public pressure on our elected officials on behalf of fellow Christians being persecuted by genocidal Muslim jihadists can influence U.S. policy and help the conditions of our brothers and sisters in Syria, Egypt and throughout the Islamic world.]

By Todd Starnes -

One of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders wants to know why President Obama has remained silent as Iran tortures an American pastor held captive in one of the Islamic republic’s most notorious prisons.

Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, told Fox News the imprisonment and torture of Pastor Saeed Abedini is a blatant example of “religious intolerance.”

“Many in the international community are expressing outrage over this blatant example of religious intolerance,” Graham said. “I ask that our government do the same and demand that Pastor Saeed Abedini be released and allowed to return home to his wife and family in the United States.”

Graham said Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, is terrified to hear reports of her husband’s physical condition.

“Naghmeh worries that she and her two young children may never see Saeed again,” he told Fox News.

Statement by Heads and Representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches Assembled for the Celebration of the 1025th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia

[AXIOS to The Russian Orthodox Church, which leads the Christian world in standing for our Christian brothers and sisters being persecuted for their faith in the Islamic world. I hope to post more articles related to this initiative over the coming days.]

Pravmir - July 25, 2013

We, heads and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, who have come to Moscow on the occasion of the celebration of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia at the invitation of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, consider it our duty to raise our voice in defense of our Christian brothers subjected to persecution for their faith in various parts of the world today.

Every day thousands of believers in Christ are being tortured and driven out of their native lands; many people meet their death.

News about tortures and murders are coming from Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India. In Kosovo, religious shrines are being defiled, many churches have been destroyed, and many people are deprived of the opportunity to visit the graves of their relatives and to pray to God in the land of their ancestors.

The situation in the Middle East causes deep concern. Many countries of this region are swept with a wave of violence and terror, with Christians falling victims to it. Libya, where there are almost no Christians left, is breaking into warring tribes. Terrorist acts go on in Iraq, where one tenth of the former one and a half million Christians has left. The situation in Egypt is getting more and more alarming as the conflict there has entered into another bloody phase and the Christian population flees the country in a mass exodus. Grief and sufferings have befallen families of thousands of ordinary people. As a rule, the first to suffer from unfolding conflicts are the most unprotected groups of the population including ethnic and religious minorities.

In September 2010, the first meeting of the Orthodox Primates of the Middle East region took place in Cyprus. The Primates expressed their deep concern over the situation in this region and the future of Christians in the area. The same concern was expressed at the similar meetings in Jordan in August 2011, in Constantinople in September 2011, and in Cyprus in March 2012. The statement in support of suffering Christians in the Middle East was adopted at the meeting of the heads and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches, held in Moscow in November 2011.

The situation in Syria is particularly tragic today. In the heat of the fratricidal war, Christians, as well as representatives of other religious groups, are massacred, driven out of their native cities, towns and villages, out of the places where they used to live for centuries in peace with people of other religious traditions.

Islam’s Iconoclasm and the War Against Christians

by Ralph Sidway - originally published at

(For an expanded treatment of the theology behind Eastern Christian iconography, see my article here.)

Orthodox Church in West Bank desecrated by Muslims,
showing the burnt and defaced iconostasis (icon screen).

Naming and confronting Islam's profound, innate hatred of traditional Christianity's holy images helps us grasp the deeper motivations behind the recent push to re-convert all the Hagia Sophia churches of Turkey into mosques, including and especially the great Hagia Sophia of Constantinople (Istanbul) built by the Emperor Justinian in 537AD.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Christian Tragedy in the Muslim World

Book Review By Bruce Thornton — originally published in Defining Ideas, a Hoover Institution Journal

Few people realize that we are today living through the largest persecution of Christians in history, worse even than the famous attacks under ancient Roman emperors like Diocletian and Nero. Estimates of the numbers of Christians under assault range from 100-200 million. According to one estimate, a Christian is martyred every five minutes. And most of this persecution is taking place at the hands of Muslims. Of the top fifty countries persecuting Christians, forty-two have either a Muslim majority or have sizeable Muslim populations.

The extent of this disaster, its origins, and the reasons why it has been met with a shrug by most of the Western media are the topics of Raymond Ibrahim’s Crucified Again. Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an associate fellow of the Middle East Forum. Fluent in Arabic, he has been tracking what he calls “one of the most dramatic stories” of our time in the reports and witnesses that appear in Arabic newspapers, news shows, and websites, but that rarely get translated into English or picked up by the Western press. What he documents in this meticulously researched and clearly argued book is a human rights disaster of monumental proportions.

Congress Will Ship Arms To Syria Rebels Despite Overwhelming Public Disapproval

...and despite certain escalation of the religious cleansing of Christians by the Syria Jihadists.

See also Obama's Proxy War On Mideast Christians

Deal done for U.S. to ship arms to Syria rebels

A deal reached in Congress to allow the United States to ship arms to Syrian rebels could spur more support from other nations, blunting the military gains of dictator Bashar Assad and preventing him from crushing the rebel movement.

Syrian rebels say the decision by U.S. lawmakers to go along with President Obama’s plan announced weeks ago to arm their factions will give them an edge.

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a statement saying committee members questioned the plan but have agreed it can move forward.

“The House Intelligence Committee has very strong concerns about the strength of the administration’s plans in Syria and its chances for success,” Rogers, R-Mich., said in a statement issued this week.

Rogers and other committee members declined to elaborate on the deal.

More here, with links to related news items, and commentary...

The Kidnapped Bishops: Three Months and No Word

by Claire Lesegretain - July 25, 2013 - Notes on Arab Orthodoxy via Pravmir

In the absence of proof of their death, it is not possible to confirm that they were killed by their kidnappers.

But we can wonder why international authorities, who are in contact with the Syrian rebels, are not demanding proof that they are alive or evidence that negotiations are ongoing.

This past Monday, July 22, made three months that we are without any news of Bishop Paul Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, and Bishop John Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox bishop of the same city. “We have no information,” confirms Mgr Pascal Gollnisch, director of Œuvre d’Orient, who emphasizes the urgency and seriousness of this question. “Since seizing bishops demonstrates that priests and faithful are no longer safe in Syria, it threatens all the Christians of this country,” he says.

'The Fruit of Tribulation' - A Sermon on Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky)

This sermon is a prophetic and sobering word for our generation, as we face as yet unimaginable sufferings.   I found great consolation in this. I pray you do also.  Let us keep this word as a reminder in front of us as we press forward...

More on Hieromartyr Hilarion


"The tribulation itself and our overcoming it brings us the greatest fruit.
The tribulation itself gives us a sign, wisdom, an understanding of God’s ways,
and the strength of spirit to endure."

S. Ivleva. Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion on Solovki.
by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) -
July 24, 2013

Today, at the Liturgy for the commemoration of the uncovering of the relics of Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky) and Equal-to-the-Apostles Princess Olga, Archimandrite Tikhon, the abbot of Sretensky Monastery, gave a sermon on the Gospel reading.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Today we commemorate the uncovering of the relics of our heavenly protector, Holy Hieromartyr Hilarion (Troitsky). The Gospel reading for today (Mt. 12:38–45) is about how the people came to their teacher and demanded a sign from the heavens—a sign as pay for their faith in God. “We would see a sign from thee” and we will believe, they said. However, Christ did not accept that plan. He said, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.

So, what is that sign? It is the sign of overcoming tribulations and understanding the meaning of trials, suffering, and the cross. The prophet Jonah received great mercy from God—Divine wisdom—but not before he had been cast into tribulation, and through this tribulation he received the gift that he had requested: wisdom, eternal life—a foretaste of eternal life. Thus did our Lord Jesus Christ say. So should you also be emulating this example. He Himself emulated His own servant Jonah, who was once unwise but later became a God-seer and prophet, when He said, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. He would have to endure mockery and death, and all those tribulations that we are talking about today.

There is no other path to the knowledge of God, and there is no other path to the knowledge of eternal life, other than this path. Why? Because it is God’s will. A Christian (and we are now talking about Christians) should through their own life experience be cast out of this world, oppose this world, so that having rejected the world he might have the opportunity to receive eternal life; to have the opportunity to receive a higher understanding of the eternal ways of God. We have to reject the temporary in order to receive the eternal.

During St. Hilarion’s time, probably many were saying, “Such tribulations! Where can we find the strength to have faith?” These were the times just after the Revolution—times of terrible trials. But in order to preserve their faith they may have said, “Give us a sign, if to have something to grab onto.” But for all times and for all peoples, the Savior’s words have resounded about how when we ask for a sign, we become a part of that evil and adulterous generation. The tribulation itself and our overcoming it brings us the greatest fruit. The tribulation itself gives us a sign, wisdom, an understanding of God’s ways, and the strength of spirit to endure.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Muslim Persecution of Christians: April 2013

Compiled by Raymond Ibrahim

Before Egypt’s President Muhammad Morsi was ousted, April was one of the worst months for Christian Copts there.  On April 5 near Cairo, when a longstanding feud between a Christian family and a Muslim family—based on male Muslims sexually harassing Christian girls—culminated in the violent deaths of six Christians, including two of the participants, a Christian and a Muslim, being set on fire, local Muslims went on another “collective punishment” spree.  It resulted in the injury of at least 20 other Copts, an Evangelical church being set on fire, and an attack on a Coptic church, Two days later, after Copts had mourned their dead in the St. Mark Cathedral—Coptic Christianity’s holiest site and home to the Coptic pope—Muslim mobs, who had waited outside, launched yet another attack—aided by state security forces. Eyewitnesses said as many as 40-50 tear gas canisters targeted the mourners, many of whom were women and children hiding in the cathedral. Two more Copts were killed and many dozens wounded as other officers stood by while the Muslim mob tried to destroy the cathedral.

On one Friday after prayers, the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque in Cairo was turned into a “torture chamber” for Egyptians, many of whom were Christians, protesting the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the victims, Amir Ayad, a Christian, said he was severely beaten before being left for dead at the side of the road. He suffered a fractured skull, a broken arm, bleeding in his right eye and pellet wounds.  Coptic Christian children, mostly boys, were targeted for kidnapping and held for ransom; one 6-year-old, after his family had paid the Muslim kidnapper, was killed.  And a video appeared on Arabic-language websites showing a crowd of Muslims in Egypt assaulting and raping two Christian women on a crowded street and in broad daylight. Throughout, the women scream in terror as the men shout Islamic slogans such as “Allahu Akbar” “[Allah is Greater.] None of the many passersby intervenes in any way.

Also in April, during Easter week in Nigeria, Muslim herdsmen launched a series of raids, killing at least 80 Christians, on Christian villages. Most of those slain were either children or the elderly.  Over 200 Christian homes were destroyed, eight churches burned, and 4,500 Christians displaced. According to a pastor present at the time, “It was a helpless situation, as no Christians had any weapon to fight back.  Women, children, and the elderly who were not able to escape were shot and killed. Luckily, all my children are in school, so this made it easier for our escape from the Muslim attackers. We sneaked away in the midst of the confusion and trekked for more than 20 kilometers [12 miles] to find a place to stay.”

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

Ramadan Halftime Update

Hieromartyr Teodor of Vrsac

Icon of Bishop Teodor being skinned alive by Turkish
Muslims. St Sava of Serbia at top right.

Our father among the saints the martyr Teodor or Theodore (Nestorović) of Vršac (Свети свештеномученик Теодор (Несторовић) Вршачки) was the Serbian Orthodox bishop of Vršac in the sixteenth century. His feast day is May 16/29.

During the Austro-Turkish War (1593-1606), many Serbians suffered under the Turkish Islamic warriors. The Serbs in Banat decided to protect their families from these Turkish troops and asked their bishop, Teodor, to lead them. He joined the rebellion against the Turks in 1593. The Serbs liberated some towns but in the end were defeated. Bishop Teodor, along with a large group of people, left for Transylvania. The Turks then promised that they would stop killing innocent people if Teodor were to return. When he did, he was seized and then killed in a terrible fashion: his skin was ripped off.

Kontakion in Tone 8

Let God be praised in the fields and meadows, on the green mountain tops and in the valleys below, on the rushing rivers and in dark caves, since every place has been watered by the innocent and holy blood of many Serbian Martyrs: worthy stewards, brave soldiers, young boys and children and chaste virgins; let God be praised and let everyone keep silent, for the Lord of all rules the world.

Icon of Hieromartyr Teodor is available from Uncut Mountain Supply.

Uproar Over Rolling Stone Cover Missed the Real Story

In more than 10,000 words of intrigue and victimization, almost no credence was given to the intoxicating role of global Islamist ideology.

by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser - The Clarion Project

Rolling Stone’s August cover story on Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, elicited a surprising public furor largely focused on the “rock star” treatment of Tsarnaev in its cover photo.

Did 19-year-old Tsarnaev look “too cool or too glamorous” for someone suspected of committing a terror attack?

Did the accompanying story balance that by revealing the real workings of his radical mind?

The coverage fixated on the glamour shot instead of the substance lacking in the story itself, but our nation needs to have a deeper conversation about how Muslims “next door” become our enemies.

In more than 10,000 words of intrigue and victimization, Janet Reitman wove a narrative that Tsarnaev was a victim of a mentally ill older brother and, worse yet, that America may have failed these poster boys of Islamist radicalism. She gave little to no credence to the intoxicating role of global Islamist ideology — political Islam — upon his radicalization.

Bill Passes in India Jailing Converts, Clergy for Failure to Give Prior Notice of Conversion

Although I don't often post news from India, this is an important development, as such methods are a common tool for anti-Christian governments to exert control over and intimidate Christian communities.

Similar laws have been oppressing the Copts in Egypt, and Christians in Iran, for decades, and are common throughout the Islamic world. This specific Indian legislation is being advanced by Hindu nationalists.

Bill Passes in India Jailing Converts, Clergy for Failure to Give Prior Notice of Conversion
Madhya Pradesh legislature approves amendment to ‘anti-conversion’ law.

July 23, 2013 - NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – India’s Madhya Pradesh state has passed legislation that would send those who convert and their religious leaders to prison for failing to obtain permission from authorities at least one month prior to conversion.

The bill requires the governor’s signature before becoming law. Existing law in Madhya Pradesh requires those who convert to notify government officials after conversion; the new legislation not only requires prior permission but also obligates religious leaders to report the conversions, and it increases prison terms from one to three years for clergy and converts who fail to do so.

Islam on Cows, Horses, Camels and Women

I also discuss this dehumanizing aspect of Islamic doctrine in my book, Facing Islam - What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad.

Islam on Cows, Horses, Camels and Women
by Raymond Ibrahim

One of the few positive developments following the rise of the Islamists during the “Arab Spring” is that today many average and/or nominal Muslims are seeing the true face of Islam and its teachings.  And many—as evinced by the June 30 Revolution of Egypt, which saw the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood—don’t want to deal with it.

Taliban: “herding” women with a stick
For example, during a recent episode of “With Dr. Islam Buhira” on Al Qahira Wa Al Nass TV station, Buhira explained how he had attended “a conference in Morocco on the status of women in society post Arab Spring,” and how at the conference, the following interpretation of the Koran by renowned Islamic exegete, al-Qurtubi (d.1273), was read:  “Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”

After quoting al-Qurtubi’s words, Dr. Buhira continued, in a disappointed tone: “This is how al-Qurtubi speaks about women, who include his mother, his daughters—basically all Muslim women.  He says they are ‘all ridden.’  This is what makes them similar to animals.”

Hard to believe or not, the idea that “Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden,”  is in fact recorded in Tafsir al-Qurtubi (see vol. 17, p. 172), one of the Islamic world’s most authoritative exegeses, or commentary on the teachings of the Koran.

In fact, comparing women to beasts is not uncommon in Islam and traces back to Prophet Muhammad himself, who is recorded saying, “Women, dogs, and donkeys annul a man’s prayer” (Musnad Ibn Hanbal, vol. 2, p. 2992).

Three suspects who allegedly killed Syrian bishops captured in Turkey

No certain information as to the condition and location of Bishops Paul and John of Syria, who were abducted on April 22 at gunpoint, their driver, a Syrian Orthodox deacon, killed in the attack. Let us keep these confessors in our prayers!

Three suspects who allegedly killed Syrian bishops captured in Turkey
Hurryet Daily News via OCP Media

KONYA – Doğan News Agency – 24/7/13

Three suspects have been detained and released in the Anatolian province of Konya after being suspected of killing Aleppo’s GreekOrthodox Bishop Boulos [Paul] Yaziji and Syriac  Orthodox Bishop Yohanna [John] Ibrahim, who were kidnapped by armed men in Syria.

However, the nephew of the one of the bishops has previously denied rumors his uncle had been killed after the circulation of an undated video showing two Christians, including a bishop, being brutally killed.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gay ‘marriage’ a ‘sign of the apocalypse’: Russian Patriarch

Here is another, somewhat longer and more contextualized, report on Patriarch Kirill's landmark sermon, to follow up on my post here.  As I said then, His Holiness' apocalyptic warning is equally applicable to the global resurgence of an emboldened, militant orthodox Islam.  Both the false religion, and the false sacrament, are signs "of the approaching end of the world," and are "dangerous and apocalyptic symptoms."

Gay ‘marriage’ a ‘sign of the apocalypse’: Russian Patriarch
by Hilary White - LifeSiteNews via

Moscow, July 22, 2013.

In his Sunday sermon this weekend in Kazan Cathedral in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill, Primate, of the Russian Orthodox Church, warned against the extraordinary rise in many western countries of the homosexualist movement. Kirill said that the trend of legalizing “gay marriage” is “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse.”

It “means people are choosing a path of self-destruction,” he said. He said he supports the recently passed national ban on homosexualist propaganda that has prohibited the Gay Pride festivities that have become a prominent feature of national life elsewhere.

“Lately, we have enormous temptations, when a number of countries opting for sin is approved and justified by the law, and those who, acting in good conscience, are struggling with such laws imposed by a minority, being repressed,” Kirill said.

He added that everything must be done to prevent the approval of sin “on the spaces of Holy Russia.” Otherwise, “the people are embarking on the path of self-destruction”.

Egypt: Security forces abandon Coptic Christians during deadly attack in Luxor

Amnesty International via Answering Muslims
July 23, 2013

Security forces stood by and failed to intervene during a brutal attack on Coptic Christians in Luxor, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today. During the sectarian violence, security forces left six besieged men –four of whom were then killed and one hospitalized – to the mercy of an angry crowd.

In an attack lasting 18 hours on 5 July, four Coptic Christian men were killed and four others were seriously injured. An angry mob armed with metal bars, knives, tree branches and hammers attacked Christian homes and businesses in Nagah Hassan, 18 km west of Luxor, after the dead body of a Muslim man was discovered near the homes of Christian families. Despite local residents’ and religious leaders’ repeated calls for help, security forces on the scene made only half-hearted attempts to end the violence and sufficient reinforcements failed to arrive.

“It is outrageous that this attack was left to escalate unhindered in this way. Amnesty International has documented a series of cases in the past where Egypt’s security forces used unnecessary force or live fire during demonstrations, yet in this case they held back even though people’s lives were threatened,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Escaped Priest Now Helps Syrian Refugees Resettle in British Columbia

By Agnieszka Krawczynski
Catholic Register via AINA - July 23, 2013

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- A priest who escaped from Syria is now helping other Christian refugees flee oppression and resettle in cities in British Columbia.

"I know what it's like to be a refugee there," said Father Sarmad Biloues of Sts. Peter and Paul Chaldean mission. "They lost everything, even their dignity."

Several years ago, Father Biloues worked day and night among thousands of faithful at a parish in Syria. He saw refugee camps and heard about people who had been abused or killed because they were Christian.

The day he fled was the day a terrorist group put his name on their kill list. A member of the group knew the priest personally and was able to warn him.

"Father, we're going to come and kill you today. Leave the church," Father Biloues said, recounting the man's words.

The priest fled and later found out that a car bomb had been set up near the church.

"They're still asking for my name. If I come near the border, they will take me and kill me," Father Biloues added.