Monday, June 30, 2014

The West is Alienated from Christ and Therefore Intolerant

Orthodox England Blog — June 5, 2014

Many people worldwide have been amazed at the Western indifference and even hostility to the plight of massacred and fleeing Christians in Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria and now in the Ukraine. There, 55,000 refugees have fled to Russia in the last 24 hours from the devilish massacres by foreign mercenaries of the Christian people of the Ukraine. The neo-Nazi junta in Kiev, under strict Western control, sends in tanks, murders and maims Christians, refusing to talk to its own people.

Where do this intolerance and hatred for Christianity come from? Surely the West supports Christianity? It used to. 

ISIS Shortens Name, Expands Claim to Worldwide Caliphate

"Islamic State" issues call for global Muslim allegiance, declares all other Muslim states "null":
"It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to (him) and support him...The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khalifah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas."

See my earlier post on this ominous development. For all articles related to ISIS/ISIL, see here.

After Iraq Gains, Qaeda Offshoot claims Islamic 'Caliphate'
Pravoslavie — June 29, 2014

(REUTERS) An offshoot of al Qaeda which has seized territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic "caliphate" and called on factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance, a statement posted on Islamist websites and Twitter said on Sunday. 

The move poses a direct challenge to the central leadership of al Qaeda, which has disowned it, and to conservative Gulf Arab rulers who already view the group as a security threat. 

"He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere..."

The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and also known as ISIS, has renamed itself "Islamic State" and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as "Caliph" - the head of the state, the statement said. 

"He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere," the group's spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in the statement, which was translated into several languages and read out in an Arabic audio speech. 

"Accordingly, the "Iraq and Sham" (Levant) in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration," he said. 

The Sunni Muslim militant group follows al Qaeda's hard-line ideology but draws its strength from foreign fighters battle-hardened from Iraq. 

It seeks to re-create a medieval-style caliphate erasing borders from the Mediterranean to the Gulf. It deems Shi'ite Muslims to be heretics deserving death. 

[And it deems Christians infidels, kuffar, to be given the three choices: convert to Islam, or submit to Islamic rule as second-class dhimmis paying the jizya poll tax and following all the demeaning rules designed to humiliate the Christians, or face the sword and death.]

Persecuted Christians in Iraq look to Putin as an Unlikely Ally

Not really unlikely at all, as this article indicates towards its conclusion, and as I wrote about here last Summer in my article, Resurgent Russia: The Hope of Persecuted Christians.

by Kate O'Hare, Breitbart News — June 29, 2014

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Frequently cited as an old Arabic saying, this oft-quoted phrase more likely came out of India, in a 4th century treatise on military strategy written in Sanskrit. But whatever its origin, it reflects a universal human phenomenon: in desperate times, a friend is one willing to stand with you against your enemy, regardless of that friend's own history or former inclinations.

A post Sunday in The Daily Beast, titled "Iraq's Christians See Putin as Savior," points up the calamitous situation of the followers of Jesus in what is now Iraq, under siege from the Islamist militant group known as ISIS. In droves, Christians have been fleeing the first major city to fall to ISIS, Mosul, and the irony is thick on the ground.

Mosul is the capital of Nineveh province, and the modern city has spread across the Tigris River to encompass areas on the opposite bank, formerly the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. In Rudyard Kipling's 1897 poem/prayer "Recessional," written to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, he begs the Almighty to remain with England, lest it forget Christ's sacrifice and fade away like other great empires.

He wrote, "Lo, all our pomp of yesterday / Is one with Nineveh and Tyre / Judge of the Nations, spare us yet / Lest we forget – lest we forget!"

Forgetting is one charge leveled at the West by some Christians in Iraq, who believe they have been abandoned in the West's geopolitical gamesmanship focused largely on warring Islamic factions in the region, which target Christians as brutally as they target each other.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

ISIS/ISIL declares Islamic State, shortens name to “The Islamic State” (IS)

For in-depth background on ISIS, their bloody persecution of Christians, and how they have come to prominence, see here.

Jihad Watch — June 29, 2014
Introductory comments by Robert Spencer.

They clearly intend to hold the territory they have captured. They’ve also declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the new caliph; he claims to be a descendant of Muhammad, so it is possible that if they can make their state viable, this claim will gain currency. If that happens, it will be interesting to see how Muslims in the West react to the idea that he is the “leader for Muslims everywhere,” which historically was always a claim of the caliph.

“ISIS declares creation of Islamic state in Middle East, shortens name to ‘IS,’” RT, June 29, 2014:

ISIS jihadists have declared the captured territories from Iraq’s Diyala province to Syria’s Aleppo a new Islamic State – a ‘caliphate.’ They removed ‘Iraq and the Levant’ from their name and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance.

ISIS announced that it should now be called ‘The Islamic State’ and declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as “the caliph” of the new state and “leader for Muslims everywhere,” the radical Sunni militant group said in an audio recording distributed online on Sunday.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Intel Official: Americans Have Joined Militant Group ISIS

Muslims from America, Canada, England, Europe and Australia are joining the jihad. This raises several urgent questions:

  • Why are American Muslims inspired to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS and the jihad to create a new Islamic caliphate?
  • Why are American Muslims swearing their allegiance to an Islamic jihadist group waging open persecution against Christians?
  • Should they be allowed to return to the U.S. after swearing their allegiance to an Islamic jihadist organization?
  • What does this phenomenon tell us about Islam?


The Goal of ISIS: A renewed Islamic Caliphate

ERBIL, Iraq (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — The Sunni militant group in Iraq is a force roughly 3,000 strong and includes some Americans, a senior intelligence official told CBS News on Tuesday.

The majority of fighters in the group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are of Iraqi and Syrian origin.

In all, up to 10,000 are fighting with the group, 3,000 in Iraq and another 7,000 in Syria, the intelligence official said. Between 3,000 and 5,000 are foreigners, though how many of those are in Iraq is difficult to assess.

The fighters view Syria and Iraq as one battlefield and have been able to move swiftly inside Iraq with the help of local Sunnis, ties the intelligence official described as more of a “relationship of convenience” than a formal alliance.

The official said the group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, was well-positioned to keep the territory that it has captured but would be stretched thin if it tried to push south into Baghdad. It has intentions to target U.S. interests, the official said.

Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rose through the ranks of the organization before becoming emir some time in 2010-2011. The group relies on a handful of senior decision makers, but al-Baghdadi has the final word, according to the intelligence official. Most of its funding comes via robbery, extortion and smuggling, with a small percentage coming from donations.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s top Kurdish leader warned visiting Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday that a rapid Sunni insurgent advance has already created “a new reality and a new Iraq,” signaling that the U.S. faces major difficulties in its efforts to promote unity among the country’s divided factions.

The U.N., meanwhile, said more than 1,000 people, most civilians, have been killed in Iraq so far this month, the highest death toll since the U.S. military withdrew from the country in December 2011.

Sen. Rand Paul: 'American power, if it is to have value in the world, must be used as a force against persecution...'

"Our aid money should never go to countries that persecute women or Christians... Not one dime."

by Frances Martel, Breitbart News — June 25, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul called for an end to American foreign aid to Pakistan in the name of both persecuted young women and the many Christians forced to face the threat of violence and oppression in the country. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Sen. Paul named several examples of women suffering for their gender and faith.

Citing the globally acclaimed Malala Yousafzai as an example of the struggles women must face in demanding education and equality in that nation, Sen. Paul noted that no woman in Pakistan who seeks education is safe, thanks to the threat of the Taliban.

Christians, too, are in danger. Sen. Paul noted the case of Asia Bibi, a woman convicted and sentenced to death for being a Christian. Bibi allegedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad after being stoned, dragged through streets, and threatened with death while visiting a Muslim well. The insult landed her on death row. 

"According to her co-workers, she insulted the Prophet. In our country, we refer to such quibbling as gossip. In Pakistan, if you are a Christian, it can land you on death row," Sen. Paul noted.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative Mirrors “Pact of Umar”

by Joe Herring and Dr. Mark Christian

For those of you unfamiliar with Islamic history, Umar bin al-Khattab – the second Islamic Caliph – made an agreement with the subjugated Christians of Syria setting forth the conditions under which said Christians would be permitted to live in proximity to the conquering Muslims.

This Pact of Umar is the origination of the concept of dhimmitude, a dehumanizing status belonging to subjugated non-Muslims in Islamist societies.

The translation I have re-produced below comes from the stellar book by Raymond Ibrahim, titled Crucified Again.

In return for their lives, the Christians agreed:

  • Not to build a church in our city—nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas—and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters;
  • Not to clang our cymbals except lightly and from the innermost recesses of our churches;
  • Not to display a cross on them [churches], nor raise our voices during prayer or readings in our churches anywhere near Muslims;
  • Not to produce a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims;
  • Not to congregate in the open for Easter or Palm Sunday, nor lift our voices [in lamentation] for our dead nor show our firelights with them near the market places of the Muslims;
  • Not to display any signs of polytheism, nor make our religion appealing, nor call or proselytize anyone to it;
  • Not to prevent any of our relatives who wish to enter into Islam;
  • Not to possess or bear any arms whatsoever, nor gird ourselves with swords;
  • To honor the Muslims, show them the way, and rise up from our seats if they wish to sit down;

Adhere to these conditions and live. Break these conditions and all bets are off. While this pact was made in the early 7th Century, it is still considered relevant today as evidenced by its widespread application throughout the Middle East.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) certainly considers these conditions to be quite pertinent to the present-day conduct of interfaith relations. They are enforcing the conditions on the Christian residents of Syria, in addition to the regions they have recently conquered in Iraq.

According to the BBC, ISIS offers a heck of a deal – you must convert to Islam or if you remain Christian, you must accept dhimmi status and pay the jizya, (a tax for non-Muslims only) or… you can just be put to the sword.

As wildly enticing as the first or third choices may appear, most opt for door number two and live out their lives as second-class subjects. This is the hard-tyranny of Islamic supremacy. The inherently political and social nature of Islam and Sharia leave no room for other forms of intersection between believers and unbelievers.

This hard-tyranny is the hallmark of the Caliphate system. Freedom is an unknown concept; liberty is blasphemy in a system that crushes the individual into mortar paste for the building of greater Islam.

The global left views the advent of a new Caliphate as something akin to an Islamic version of the European Union, an economic and political alliance designed to trade with the rest of the world on an equal footing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Caliphate is a means toward an end; that end being Islamic dominance. The Caliphate is merely the structural entity that will administer Sharia throughout an Islamist-controlled world.

Considering the recent proliferation of “interfaith” initiatives throughout Western Europe and the United States, it seems prudent to give more than a cursory glance to the preferred ground-rules of the Islamists, and to examine the role such interfaith efforts might play in an expanding the Caliphate system.

One such interfaith initiative, here in Omaha, Nebraska intends to co-locate a Mosque, a Synagogue and a Church on the same campus.

There is a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOA) that governs the interaction between the three faiths that make up the Tri-Faith Initiative, as they call themselves. It lays the ground rules for everything from site planning, to building design and subsequent use.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Under the Protection of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God

On June 23 each year, the Orthodox Church commemorates Moscow’s deliverance from the hordes of Khan Ahmet in 1480 through the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos (Greek: 'Mother of God') and Ever-Virgin Mary:

In 1480 Khan Ahmet advanced upon Moscow and arrived at the Ugra River in Kaluga region, while John III, Grand Duke of Moscow, was waiting on the other side. Suddenly a strong and unreasonable fear came upon the Tartars; Ahmet did not dare to fight the Russians and retreated to the steppe. In honor of this event, an annual Cross procession was instituted, from the Dormition Cathedral to Sretensky monastery. To this day, the Ugra River is called the “Cincture of Theotokos.”

In commemoration this week of this beloved feast of the Protection of the Vladimir Icon, I thought it meet and right to re-post this special article. I hope it blesses and inspires you.

Originally posted June 3, 2013 —

In my book, Facing Islam: What the Ancient Church has to say about the Religion of Muhammad, I devote a special frontispiece to the Meeting of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God (celebrated August 26), which commemorates the retreat from Moscow and Russia of the fierce Muslim warlord Timur (Tamerlane) and his armies on August 26, 1395, after he had a powerful dream and vision of "saintly hierarchs with golden staffs descending from a high mountain, and a radiant Lady in the air above them, surrounded by unspeakable rays of purest light. A countless multitude of Angels with fiery swords encircled Her."

As the below article describes, there have been many instances where the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God (Greek: Theotokos) has protected the Russian Orthodox people. Indeed, Her protection of the Byzantine faithful is also well attested.

Significantly, the Muslim Tartars never permanently conquered the Russian land, in spite of centuries of repeated assaults and brief occupations. Now, after withstanding and being pruned by seven decades of merciless persecution by the militant atheists, the Holy Russian Orthodox Church has been resurrected, and is once again preaching traditional, Orthodox Christianity throughout the world. This renewed flowering of the Russian Orthodox Church is a dramatic historical event, prophesied by saints from St. Seraphim of Sarov (†1833) to St. John of San Francisco & Shanghai (†1966).

Such intercessions and interventions as described below are a mystery of the Orthodox Christian Church, and should encourage and inspire Christians to greater faith, repentance, prayer, and hope in the ultimate victory of Christ our True God, which will be accomplished and fully revealed at His awesome Second Coming.

For my non-Orthodox readers and visitors, please don't be scandalized by these forms of piety which perhaps seem very foreign to you. For us, the heavenly realm is quite close, and the saints, those who have led God-pleasing lives and have been recognized by the Church as being true and reliable witnesses of the Life in Christ, live with Christ, and never cease to intercede for us who are still struggling through our earthly journey. Just as you would ask your family or friends, or members of your church, to pray for you, so we unhesitatingly ask the prayers of those who "have fought the good fight, have finished the race, and have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7). The Virgin Mary, we believe, is unique among the saints, as she said "Yes" to God and bore the Son of God, Jesus, in her womb. We do not think of her as an intermediary between us and Christ (see 1 Tim. 2:5), but as a powerful intercessor, and as Mother of all the Faithful, whom Jesus mystically instructs us to take into the abode of our hearts (see Jn. 19:26-27). Here is a good article on the Orthodox understanding of the Virgin Mary.


The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God

Rejoice, our beloved Orthodox Russia; 
Rejoice, for the true Faith is strengthened in thee...
Rejoice, thou who prayest for us;
Rejoice, our fervent Intercessor!
Rejoice, O Most Pure, for from Thy icon mercy pours forth upon us.
From the Akathist to the Most Holy Mother of God
in honor of Her Vladimir Icon

The histories of Moscow and of the icon of Vladimir Mother of God are eternally inseparable. How many times did the Mother of God save the capital city from enemies through the grace of her holy icon? This icon has linked Apostolic times to Byzantium, Kievan Rus’ to Vladimir Rus’, and later to Muscovy, the Third Rome; as it is said, “there will be no Fourth.” The kingdom of Moscow was formed by divine providence and embraced the mystical ties of ancient empires, historical experience and traditions of other Orthodox peoples. The miracle working Vladimir icon became a symbol of unity and succession.

Meriam Yehya Ibrahim: Arrested, Released, Re-Arrested, Re-Released

See also International Christian Concern ( for updates on Meriam and her family's hoped-for departure from the Islamic state of Sudan.

Prayers Up!

by Faith McDonnell, Breitbart News — June 24, 2014

Meriam and Daniel with their children and Legal Team
On June 23, 2014, Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahya Ibrahim, who had been sentenced to death by a Shariah court in Khartoum, was cleared of all charges by the Appeals Court and freed

Today, while the world was still reacting with joy and surprise to the news of her release from prison, she and her husband, Daniel Wani, along with toddler son, Martin, and infant daughter, Maya, were re-arrested (some reports say “detained”) at the Khartoum airport while trying to leave the country. At approximately 3:10 pm ET this afternoon, the BBC reported that the family had been re-released and taken to a safe location. What is going on?

This is normal procedure for the Islamic Republic of Sudan. Deceptions, denials, and delays have kept the regime in business for decades. In this case, since Meriam was first arrested in September of 2013, all three of these tactics have been used against her, husband Daniel-- a South Sudanese Christian who is an American citizen-- and their children.

Khartoum’s Shariah court had sentenced Meriam to death by hanging for the crime of apostasy. Under Shariah she was considered a Muslim because her father was a Muslim, even though she grew up as a Christian under the care of her Ethiopian Orthodox mother. “Witnesses” attempted to provide a Muslim name for her and denied that she had ever been a Christian. The Sudanese government also denied that their incarceration of Meriam was religious persecution. They said it was a legal matter.

Meriam was also sentenced to receive 100 lashes for adultery for her relationship with Daniel. Under Shariah, their marriage was not recognized because a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian man. At one point during her captivity, Sudanese officials spread the rumor that she would be released in three days. They deceived many around the world and in the United States who are naïve about Shariah. For days afterwards, advocates had to counter the disinformation that had interrupted the flow of the grassroots movement for Meriam.

The Shariah court judge postponed Meriam’s death sentence for two years, to give her time to breastfeed baby Maya. No such delay was given for the flogging sentence, though. She could have been subjected to the lashes at any day now, if the appeal had not been successful.

But the appeal was successful. Meriam’s attorneys, who themselves have received death threats for defending her, had submitted an appeal soon after the sentence was confirmed by the Shariah court on May 15 and had been waiting to hear the court’s judgment.  According to Middle East Concern, “the Appeals Court overturned the conviction on procedural grounds, on the basis that the prosecution provided insufficient evidence to prove the claims against Meriam and that the defense had not been given adequate opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or provide their own witnesses.” Not exactly a conversion to religious freedom on the part of the court, but it worked for Meriam.

Hours after Meriam’s acquittal, reports told of the reunion of Daniel, and the joy of the attorneys, who accompanied them to a safe house until they could leave the country. The latest photo (included above) shows the whole brave little band of warriors that defied the Islamist masters of Khartoum. Now members of Congress who had been involved in fighting for Meriam’s freedom began plans for the best strategy to get the Wani family out of Khartoum, urging the State Department to provide the appropriate travel documents to enable them to come to the United States.  

Here is where delay entered the picture. 

ISIS forces Iraqi Christians to pay jizya, tells them to convert to Islam or face the sword

See also: Iraq: Islamic jihadists demand jizya from Christian family, rape mother and daughter when they cannot pay

by Matthew Fisher, Postmedia News
via Pravoslavie — June 23, 2014

ANKAWA, Iraq — Convert to Islam or face the sword.

That was the stark message Christians in the Syrian city of Raqqa received last year when ultra-fundamentalist Sunni extremists, proclaiming themselves to be members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), seized power and launched a reign of terror against Shiites and Christians that has included beheadings and at least three crucifixions.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kerry advocates for Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo

The Obama administration is obviously deeply compromised by its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and is doing all it can to keep the MB poised to return to power in Egypt. The Brotherhood continues its persecution of Coptic Christians, and its drive to institute sharia law in Egypt. The issue is not whether the MB is linked to ISIS as the article below reports, but what the MB has always stood for, and what it actually did when it came to power in Egypt. Banners like the one shown above were widely seen during the June 30 demonstrations last year which led to the Egyptian military removing Morsi and the MB from power. 

Kerry seeks to nudge Egypt's new president toward reforms on Cairo visit
by James Rosen, Fox News — June 22, 2014

CAIRO –  In a hastily-organized trip marked by extraordinarily tight security, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Egypt on Sunday, embarking on a weeklong tour of Middle Eastern and European capitals where he will try to rally support for the embattled central government in Iraq.
But as pressing as the Iraq crisis is, threatening to wreak further havoc on the volatile region and disrupt global oil supplies, Kerry's agenda in Egypt was already stacked with pressing bilateral issues he could scarcely afford to ignore.

Hundreds of Egyptian women and girls kidnapped, forced into Islam, claims report

Obama administration remains silent on Muslim persecution of Christians in Egypt, sends Kerry to Cairo to advocate on behalf of Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to target Coptic Christians, as documented in this report.

by Jack Ellis, Fox News — June 20, 2014

Fifteen-year-old Amira Hafez Wahim slipped out of the Christian church in Luxor, Egypt, where she had attended services with her mother in February, promising to dash to a nearby store and return quickly.

Five months later, she has not been seen since, although her parents immediately suspected a 28-year-old Muslim man named Yasser Mahmoud, who had tried to kidnap her before, had succeeded this time.  When her father went to the Civil Status Authority for a copy of her birth certificate, his fears were confirmed: Her name had been changed and she was now listed as Muslim.

Amira is one of approximately 550 Coptic Christian girls and women who have disappeared in Egypt over the last three years, according to a report from the Egyptian Association of Victims of Abduction and Enforced Disappearances.

Ebnar Louis, the Cairo activist who founded the association in 2010, said police are typically indifferent to reports of missing girls.

“We file an official police report, but it is often ignored,” Louis told the humanitarian think tank Atlantic Council.

The reasons behind this alleged police indifference are unclear. It could be individual sectarian bias, inadequate resources and funding, or plain incompetence.

The report concluded that many of the missing females were abducted by Salafi Muslims and forced to convert to Islam and marry their captors once estranged from their families. It found the abductions increased after secular strongman Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 and replaced by Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Mohammed Morsi. Although Morsi was in turn ousted by the military nearly a year ago, the abductions have continued.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What the Kremlin is Thinking — Putin's Vision for Eurasia

"... One can view progress in different ways. If one believes that the meaning of human existence is to gain more political freedoms and acquire material wealth, then Western society is moving forward. But if one thinks, as a traditional Christian does, that Christ’s coming was humanity’s most important development, then material wealth looks far less important... 
"Religious traditionalists see euthanasia, homosexuality, and other practices that the New Testament repeatedly condemns as representing not progress but a regression to pagan times. Viewed through this lens, Western society is more than imperfect; it is the very center of sin. 
"The values of many former Soviet republics really do differ from what prevails in the West. A great majority of Orthodox Christian believers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova agree with all of this, as do many people in Central Asia. And these beliefs have propelled to power leaders who support the integration of the former Soviet republics. They have also helped Putin succeed in establishing an independent power center in Eurasia. Western meddling, meanwhile, has only served to further consolidate that power."

by Alexander Lukin, Foreign Affairs
Pravoslavie — June 18, 2014

Man with a mission: Putin chairs a meeting at his residence, March 2014. (RIA Novosti / Courtesy Reuters)

Soon after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Western leaders began to think of Russia as a partner. Although Washington and its friends in Europe never considered Moscow a true ally, they assumed that Russia shared their basic domestic and foreign policy goals and would gradually come to embrace Western-style democracy at home and liberal norms abroad. That road would be bumpy, of course. But Washington and Brussels attributed Moscow’s distinctive politics to Russia’s national peculiarities and lack of experience with democracy. And they blamed the disagreements that arose over the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Iran on the short time Russia had spent under Western influence. This line of reasoning characterized what could be termed the West’s post-Soviet consensus view of Russia. 

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has finally put an end to this fantasy. In annexing Crimea, Moscow decisively rejected the West’s rules and in the process shattered many flawed Western assumptions about its motivations. Now U.S. and European officials need a new paradigm for how to think about Russian foreign policy -- and if they want to resolve the Ukraine crisis and prevent similar ones from occurring in the future, they need to get better at putting themselves in Moscow’s shoes. 


From Russia’s perspective, the seeds of the Ukraine crisis were planted in the Cold War’s immediate aftermath. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the West essentially had two options: either make a serious attempt to assimilate Russia into the Western system or wrest away piece after piece of its former sphere of influence. Advocates of the first approach, including the U.S. diplomat George Kennan and Russian liberals, warned that an anti-Russian course would only provoke hostility from Moscow while accomplishing little, winning over a few small states that would end up siding with the West anyway. 

It was only a matter of time before Russia finally reacted to its encirclement. 

But such admonitions went unheeded, and U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush chose the second path. Forgetting the promises made by Western leaders to Mikhail Gorbachev after the unification of Germany -- most notably that they would not expand NATO eastward -- the United States and its allies set out to achieve what Soviet resistance had prevented during the Cold War. They trumpeted NATO’s expansion, adding 12 new members, including former parts of the Soviet Union, while trying to convince Russia that the foreign forces newly stationed near its borders, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, would not threaten its security. The EU, meanwhile, expanded as well, adding 16 new members of its own during the same period. 

Russian leaders were caught off-guard; they had expected that both sides would increase cooperation, remain responsive to each other’s interests, and make mutually acceptable compromises. The Russians felt that they had done their part: although never entirely abandoning the idea of national interests, Russia had shown that it was willing to make sacrifices in order to join the prevailing Western-led order. Yet despite an abundance of encouraging words, the West never reciprocated. Instead, Western leaders maintained the zero-sum mindset left over from the Cold War, which they thought they’d won. 

It remains hard to say whether a different approach to the post-Soviet states would have produced a better result for the West. What is obvious is that the course Clinton and Bush took empowered those Russians who wanted Moscow to reject the Western system and instead become an independent, competing center of power in the new multipolar world. 

Today, the West’s continued advance is tearing apart the countries on Russia’s borders. It has already led to territorial splits in Moldova and Georgia, and Ukraine is now splintering before our very eyes. Divisive cultural boundaries cut through the hearts of these countries, such that their leaders can maintain unity only by accommodating the interests of both those citizens attracted to Europe and those wanting to maintain their traditional ties to Russia. The West’s lopsided support for pro-Western nationalists in the former Soviet republics has encouraged these states to oppress their Russian-speaking populations -- a problem to which Russia could not remain indifferent. Even now, more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, more than six percent of the population in Estonia and more than 12 percent of the population in Latvia, most of them ethnic Russians, do not have the full rights and privileges of citizenship. They cannot vote in national elections, enroll in Russian schools, or, for the most part, access Russian media. The EU, despite its emphasis on human rights outside its borders, has turned a blind eye to this clear violation of basic rights within them. So when it came to Ukraine and the threat of NATO forces appearing in Crimea -- a region for which Russia has special feelings and where most residents consider themselves Russian -- Moscow decided that there was nowhere left for such minorities to retreat. Russia annexed Crimea in response to the aspirations of a majority of its residents and to NATO’s obvious attempt to push Russia’s navy out of the Black Sea. 

Western leaders were taken aback by Moscow’s swift reaction. In late March, General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said with surprise that Russia was acting “much more like an adversary than a partner.” But given that NATO has acted that way since its founding -- and never changed its approach after the Cold War -- Moscow’s actions should have been expected. It was only a matter of time before Russia finally reacted to Western encirclement. 

In this context, the government of Vladimir Putin has interpreted Western protests about the situation in Ukraine as nothing more than a case of extreme hypocrisy. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how the Kremlin could think otherwise. Consider the EU’s recent criticism of right-wing groups in Ukraine. In March, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, condemned Right Sector, a militant nationalist group, for attempting to seize the parliament building in Kiev. But the EU had effectively supported Right Sector when it took to the streets to depose the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych only months earlier. None of this is surprising, of course; Western leaders have never had any difficulty justifying the actions of such extremist groups when convenient, as when it assisted Croatians fighting in the self-proclaimed republic of Serbian Krajina in 1995 or nationalists in Kosovo in 1997–98. 

Western hypocrisy doesn’t end there. Washington has regularly chastised Russia for violating the sanctity of Ukraine’s borders. Yet the United States and its allies have no leg to stand on when it comes to the principle of territorial integrity. After all, it was not Russia but the West that, in 2010, supported the ruling by the International Court of Justice that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in 2008 did not violate international law. And Moscow repeatedly warned that the precedents set by Western military interventions in such places as Kosovo, Serbia, Iraq, and Libya would undermine the existing system of international law -- including the principle of sovereignty as enshrined in the 1975 Helsinki Accords, in which the West formally acknowledged the national boundaries of the Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, and the Warsaw Pact states. 

In spite of such Western double standards, Moscow has offered up a number of proposals for resolving the Ukraine crisis: the creation of a coalition government that takes into account the interests of the eastern and southern regions, the federalization of the country, the granting of official status to the Russian language, and so on. But Western ideologues seem unlikely to ever accept such proposals. Working with Russia, instead of against it, would mean admitting that someone outside the West is capable of determining what is good and what is bad for other societies. 


Given the growing distance between Russia and the United States and Europe, it was only a matter of time before their two approaches collided in Ukraine, a border state that has long vacillated between the pull of the East and that of the West. The struggle initially played out between opposing Ukrainian political factions: one that advocated signing an association agreement with the EU and another that favored joining the customs union formed by Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. 

The West’s continued advance is tearing apart the countries on Russia’s borders.

Western leaders have consistently viewed such Russian-led efforts at regional integration as hostile moves aimed at resurrecting the Soviet Union and creating an alternative to the Western system. Most officials in the United States and Europe thought that bringing Ukraine into alignment with the EU would deliver a heavy blow to those plans, which explains why they interpreted Yanukovych’s decision to temporarily postpone the signing of the EU agreement as a Russian victory that called for a counterattack. 

Yet Western leaders are woefully misinformed about the idea of Eurasian integration. Neither Russia nor any of the states seeking to join a Eurasian system wants to restore the Soviet Union or openly confront the West. They do, however, believe that in a multipolar world, free nations have a right to create independent associations among themselves. In fact, the ruling elites of many former Soviet republics have long favored the idea of maintaining or re-creating some form of association among their states. In 1991, for example, they created the Commonwealth of Independent States. And of the 15 former Soviet republics, only a few of them, primarily the Baltic states, have used the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to permanently abandon all ties to the former union and join Western economic and political unions instead. The remaining countries struggled to arrive at a consensus on precisely what role the CIS should play. 

In some former Soviet republics, leaders have actively sought to create new forms of integration, such as the Eurasian Economic Community, whose members include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan (Uzbekistan suspended its membership in 2008). In others, such as Georgia, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine, the ruling elites considered the commonwealth the primary means for obtaining a civilized divorce from Russia and dividing up the ownership rights and authorities that were previously held by a single, unified state. In most of these countries, at least part of the official establishment and a significant segment of the general population wanted to maintain close relations with Russia and the other former Soviet states. In Georgia and Moldova, for instance, various ethnic minorities feared increasingly assertive nationalist majorities and hoped that Russia would help protect their rights. In other states, including Belarus and Ukraine, significant parts of the populations had such close economic, cultural, and even familial bonds with Russia that they could not imagine a sharp break. 

Yet economic problems have long stood in the way of real integration. Although Putin came to power convinced that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century, he waited a decade -- until Russia had gained sufficient economic and political strength -- to do anything about it. It wasn’t until 2010 that Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia launched a customs union, the first real step toward meaningful economic cooperation among post-Soviet states. The union created a territory free from duties and other economic restrictions, and its members now apply common tariffs and other common regulatory measures in their trade with outside countries. Negotiations are currently under way to add Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan to the union. 

In addition to providing economic benefits, Eurasian integration has fostered security cooperation. Like NATO, the Collective Security Treaty Organization -- which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan -- requires signatories to help assist any member that comes under attack. Many Eurasian countries put a special value on the CSTO; their leaders know that despite assurances from many other countries and organizations, in the event of a real threat from religious extremists or terrorists, only Russia and its allies will come to the rescue.


With economic cooperation a success, political elites in the countries of the customs union are now discussing the formation of a Eurasian political union. As Putin wrote in the Russian newspaper Izvestiya in 2011, Moscow wants the new union to partner with, not rival, the EU and other regional organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the North American Free Trade Agreement. That would help the member states “establish [themselves] within the global economy,” Putin wrote, and “play a real role in decision-making, setting the rules and shaping the future.” For such a union to be effective, however, it will need to evolve naturally and voluntarily. Moreover, taking post-Soviet integration to a new level raises the question of what deeper values would lie at its foundation. If the countries of Europe united to champion the values of democracy, human rights, and economic cooperation, then a Eurasian union must stand for its own ideals, too. 

Some political thinkers have found the ideological foundation for such a union by looking to history. The concept of a Eurasian space or identity first arose among Russian philosophers and historians who immigrated from communist Russia to western Europe in the 1920s. Like Russian Slavophiles before them, advocates of Eurasianism spoke of the special nature of Russian civilization and its differences from European society. But they gazed in a different direction: whereas earlier Slavophiles emphasized Slavic unity and contrasted European individualism with the collectivism of Russian peasant communities, the Eurasianists linked the Russian people to the Turkic-speaking peoples -- or “Turanians” -- of the Central Asian steppe. According to the Eurasianists, the Turanian civilization, which supposedly originated in ancient Persia, followed its own unique political and economic model -- essentially, authoritarianism. Although they valued private initiative in general, many of the Eurasianists condemned the excessive dominance of market principles over the state in the West and emphasized the positive role of their region’s traditional religions: Orthodox Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. However dubious the Eurasianists’ historical claims about the Turanians may be, this theory now enjoys wide popularity not only among a significant part of the Russian political elite but also in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and other Central Asian states where the Turanians’ descendants live. 

Although the old ideas advanced by today’s Eurasianists may seem somewhat artificial, the plan to establish a Eurasian union should not be considered so far-fetched. The culture and values of many former Soviet republics really do differ from what prevails in the West. Liberal secularism, with its rejection of the absolute values that traditional religions hold as divinely ordained, may be on the rise in western Europe and the United States, but in these former Soviet republics, all the major religions -- Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism -- are experiencing a revival. Despite the significant differences between them, all these religions reject Western permissiveness and moral relativism, and not for some pragmatic reason but because they find such notions sinful -- either unsanctioned or expressly prohibited by divine authority. 

Most inhabitants of these post-Soviet states also resent that people in the West consider their outlook backward and reactionary. Their religious leaders, who are enjoying increasing popularity and influence, concur. After all, one can view progress in different ways. If one believes that the meaning of human existence is to gain more political freedoms and acquire material wealth, then Western society is moving forward. But if one thinks, as a traditional Christian does, that Christ’s coming was humanity’s most important development, then material wealth looks far less important, for this life is fleeting, and suffering prepares people for eternal life, a process that physical riches hinder. Religious traditionalists see euthanasia, homosexuality, and other practices that the New Testament repeatedly condemns as representing not progress but a regression to pagan times. Viewed through this lens, Western society is more than imperfect; it is the very center of sin. 

The values of many former Soviet republics really do differ from what prevails in the West. 

A great majority of Orthodox Christian believers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova agree with all of this, as do many people in Central Asia. And these beliefs have propelled to power leaders who support the integration of the former Soviet republics. They have also helped Putin succeed in establishing an independent power center in Eurasia. Western meddling, meanwhile, has only served to further consolidate that power. 


The situation in Ukraine remains tense. It might very well follow the example of Moldova, effectively splitting in two. The United States has perceived Russian calls for dialogue as an attempt to dictate unacceptable conditions. In Russia, the continuing strife has fueled the activity of nationalists and authoritarians. The latter group has become especially active of late and is presenting itself as the only force capable of protecting Russia’s interests. An uncontrolled escalation of the confrontation could even lead to outright war. The only solution is for the United States and its allies to change their position from one of confrontation to one of constructive engagement. 

After all, a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis is still possible. Even during the Cold War, Moscow and the West managed to reach agreements on the neutral status of Austria and Finland. Those understandings did not in the least undermine the democratic systems or the general European orientation of those countries, and they even proved beneficial to their economies and international reputations. It is no coincidence that it was Finland, a neutral state with strong ties to both the West and the Soviet Union, that hosted the talks leading to the signing of the Helsinki Accords, which played a major role in easing Cold War tensions. The solution to the current crisis similarly lies in providing international guarantees for both Ukraine’s neutral status and the protection of its Russian-speaking population. The alternative would be far, far worse: Ukraine could well break apart, drawing Russia and the West into another prolonged confrontation.

Assyrians and Christians Under Attack in Iraq and Syria

OCP Media — June 19, 2014

By Stephen Starr

With extremists battling for control of Iraq’s largest oilfield on Tuesday, upping the stakes in a burgeoning war against the central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s Christians once again find themselves at risk.

Over the past 10 days, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a fundamentalism jihadist group, has streamed across the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq from its bases in eastern Syria, capturing a line of towns and cities, including several with large Assyrian and Chaldean Christian populations.

Some 160 Christian families have fled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, for Christian-inhabited towns and villages in northern Iraq over the past week, according to Associated Press.

Hundreds more have left seeking safety in the autonomous Kurdish region to the east. Mosul was home to about 130,000 Christians before the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and following last week’s Isis takeover, is reported to be almost empty of Christian families.

Assyrians are one of the oldest indigenous communities in the region. Their roots in what is today northern Iraq and eastern Syria go back over 2,000 years, with the latter stages of that history increasingly marred by bloodshed.

During the dying days of the Ottoman Empire as the first World War unfolded, about 750,000 Assyrians were killed as part of the broader slaughter of Christian Armenians and Greeks in modern-day Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Then in 1933, about 3,000 Assyrian Christians were killed by Iraqi soldiers and Kurds in the northern Iraqi town of Sumel, leading to mass migration across the border to Syria.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Mystery of Archbishop Averky and the End Times

"Today, with the world situation on a knife edge, with the Western world gripped by the Satanic urge for global military and economic control and seeking to destroy the last vestiges of spiritual life everywhere, with many of the last strongholds of Orthodox piety... under threat..., it is clear that the end is approaching once more. Now only the Mother of God can extend history and grant us another period for repentance. Now we should turn again to the prophecies and warnings of Archbishop Averky."

by Archpriest Andrew Phillips, Orthodox England
via Pravmir — June 17, 2014

The mystery that concerns us is why the Archbishop was so convinced that the end was near. After all, forty years on, we are still here. The answer, however, is not complex.

The future Archbishop Averky (Taushev) was born in 1906 in Kazan. Due to the nature of his father’s work, in his youth he travelled all over Russia and grew to love its monasteries, reading deeply. In 1920 the Taushev family fled Russia for the Bulgarian city of Varna. Here, while still at high school, the young man met the exiled Archbishop Theophan of Poltava, who further inspired his love of monastic life. After leaving school the future Archbishop enrolled at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Sofia.

On graduating he accepted a position as assistant secretary in the Carpatho-Russian Diocese in what was then Czechoslovakia. There, in 1931, he was tonsured monk with the name Averky, ordained deacon and in 1932 ordained priest, serving in local parishes. After carrying out various tasks for the diocese, in 1940 Fr Averky was forced to leave Carpatho-Russia. He moved to Belgrade where he taught Pastoral Theology and Homiletics, but in 1945, moving out in front of the advancing Red Army, he arrived in Munich together with the Synod of Bishops of the Church Outside Russia. Here he continued teaching.

In 1951 Fr. Averky was assigned to teaching at Holy Trinity Seminary at Jordanville in New York State. Fr Averky was soon consecrated bishop and in 1960 he was chosen by the monastery to be their Abbot. As Abbot, Archbishop Averky, as he had become, led the curriculum, teaching New Testament and Homilectics, writing and preaching. He also actively participated in publishing the Russian periodical ‘Orthodox Rus’. He reposed in 1976, known for his Orthodox writings and sermons calling to repentance, his saintly life, adherence to the Tradition against ecumenism and extremism, and his conviction that the end of the world was rapidly approaching amid contemporary apostasy.

The mystery that concerns us is why the Archbishop was so convinced that the end was near. After all, forty years on, we are still here. The answer, however, is not complex. Already, over 1950 years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote similarly of the end of the world. Is it possible then that saints can be wrong? In reality, the saints are not wrong. The end of the world has been near on several occasions. Saints and the saintly have intuitions of this and this is precisely why they are sent by God to warn us and to call to repentance. This is what the Apostle Paul did and it is also what Archbishop Averky did. And people did listen to him and others.

In 1981, five years after Archbishop Averky’s repose, the Synod of Bishops canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Thanks to their prayers, persecution ceased in the Russian Lands and there began the process of the Rebaptism of Rus. With this act of repentance for the overthrow of Old Russia and its Orthodox foundations three generations before in 1917, the world changed. God gave an extension to the world and the end that had indeed been near in the 1960s and 1970s, just as the holy Archbishop had said, drew back.

Today, with the world situation on a knife edge, with the Western world gripped by the Satanic urge for global military and economic control and seeking to destroy the last vestiges of spiritual life everywhere, with many Orthodox countries like Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria compromised by Western propaganda, with many of the last strongholds of Orthodox piety, including Serbia, Georgia, Moldova and now the Ukraine, under threat, and with Russia only half-way to repentance, it is clear that the end is approaching once more. Now only the Mother of God can extend history and grant us another period for repentance. Now we should turn again to the prophecies and warnings of Archbishop Averky.*


* Archbishop Averky's patristic commentary on the Book of Revelation, The Apocalypse in the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, is out of print, but still available from used booksellers and through References to this important work and Fr. Seraphim Rose's introduction to it are also found in Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works.

ISIS/ISIL vows to destroy all churches in Mosul, Iraq

Pravoslavie — June 20, 2014

Terrorists from “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIS/ISIL) group intend to destroy all churches in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq (396 kilometres from Baghdad), which they have seized, reports ITAR-TASS.

According to the Al Mayadeen TV channel, the armed extremists who follow the doctrine of religious intolerance (takfir), announced this on Monday to Mosul residents through loudspeakers, installed on the automobiles with black flags, which are moving around the city, informing the population about orders of the islamists. 

On June 14 takfirists executed in the city 12 sheikhs-theologians for refusing to swear allegiance to them. The sheikhs were executed by shooting before the Al-Isra Mosque. Then the ban on selling alcoholic drinks and cigarettes was declared and women were ordered to wear abayas – a traditional outer garment worn by Muslim women. 

From today, Christians of Mosul will most probably be persecuted, reports Al Mayadeen. In the Syrian city of Rakka (Ar-Raqqah) on The Euphrates, where the ISIS has been throwing its weight around for more than a year, Christian men are ordered to pay jizyah in gold – a tax levied per capita on some categories of subjects for refusal to embrace Islam. 

Pact of Omar: An old Islamic/Christian agreement with new meaning

by Bob Taylor, Washington Times
via — June 13, 2014

Much of the persecution of Christians taking place in Middle Eastern nations that have come under the cloud of Sharia law today is based upon the Pact of Omar and, as Muslims seek to reclaim what they perceive as their lost Islamic heritage, they are increasingly enforcing these age-old precepts on non-Muslims around the world, especially Christians.

Since 9/11/2001 we have learned much about Sharia law and the tenets of Wahhabi Islam which are so pervasive in Saudi Arabia, but the Pact, or Covenant of Omar goes largely unnoticed in the West.

Following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, Islam ushered in a line of succession known as the caliphate. According to some historians, the Pact of Omar was an agreement between Christians and their Muslim conquerors that was created in the 7th century by Omar ibn Khattab, Islam’s second caliph.

Other authorities believe the covenant may be a 9th century document, but either way it is a major foundation of Sharia law and the conflicts raging throughout the Middle East today.

In exchange for personal safety, protection of property and limited religious freedom, Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims, known as “dhimmis”, were forced to endure numerous demeaning sanctions in deference to their more superior Islamic rulers. Among the conditions were that churches could not be built or fixed and crosses, bibles and singing must be suppressed around Muslims. Dhimmis were also required to give up their seats and to honor Muslims above all others.

Similar requirements are still demanded in Saudi Arabia today during Ramadan. Infidels are threatened with immediate deportation if they are seen eating, drinking or smoking in the presence of a Muslim during the holy month.

Unfortunately, thanks to a liberal multicultural media and a president with an Islamic upbringing who empowers jihadi thinking, much of this movement is seen as an attempt to be more inclusive and culturally diverse by accepting a greatly misunderstood minority.

The truth is that Islam, for all of its 14 centuries of existence, has never undergone or experienced an enlightenment. Some educated Muslims, many of whom were born into the faith before they could walk or talk, quickly recognize Islam’s fallacies and begin to critically question some of its beliefs. Christians have been doing this for centuries and continue to do so, making it a religion that is constantly in a state of interpretation.

[Actually, the 'Enlightenment' was a purely Western phenomenon, and was a symptom and result of Western Christianity falling away from the Apostolic Faith and into scholasticism and rationalism. Eastern Christianity — the Orthodox Christian Church — has had no need of an 'Enlightenment' nor a Reformation, as the Holy Spirit abides in and perpetually renews the Church. The Orthodox Church is not in need of and does not exist in a constant "state of interpretation," but rather is in a constant state of pilgrimage, the Body of Christ proceeding through its historical sojourn towards the Kingdom which is to come, which is "not of this world."]

Critical Muslims who cannot accept the precepts of their faith frequently convert or secretly become apostates out of fear of discovery.

Islam is a desert based concept born of a poor nomadic Bedouin culture. Its worldview is largely founded upon emotion rather than in-depth thinking. Like it or not, it is based upon violence rather than peace, a fact which any reasonable observer in the 21st century cannot ignore.

As author Raymond Ibrahim notes in his book Crucified Again, 

The long record of Muslim violence specifically targeting churches, monasteries, and crosses is conclusive evidence of Muslim hostility toward the Christian religion itself. This centuries-old, continents-wide pattern of violence cannot be explained by the race, culture, or particular circumstances of the perpetrators… The common factor in all these attacks on Christian worship — the real reason behind them — can only be Islam itself.

Any honest evaluation of the global war on terrorism must accept Ibrahim’s statement as truth.

Americans generally shy away from confrontation when it comes to the prospects of offending other religions. It is a double edged sword, however, that is not only a great strength but also a major weakness. In our efforts to be inclusive, we fail to recognize the elephant in the room because we are not as directly influenced by such matters as is much of the rest of the world.

If we continue to ignore such realities, such vulnerabilities may quickly be exposed before there is time to respond. The Middle East is on fire and Europe is struggling to build a fire-wall of protection. Ultimately however, the goal is the United States.

It is time to wake up. The Pact of Omar has been around for somewhere between 12 and 14 centuries. The concept is not new, even though we may think it is.

Research group on the state of Oriental Christians formed in French Parliament

Pravoslavie — June 20, 2014

The National Assembly of France has accepted the proposal of “Oriental Christians under threat coordination” (CHREDO) to form a research group the state of Oriental Christians. The initiative was put forward by deputy Valery Pekress and supported by more than 110 parliamentarians of various political views, reports L'observatoire de la Christianophobie, reports 

The major aim of the research is to give practical resolutions for the most essential problems facing Christians in the Middle East (whose survival is under threat). 

The creation of the research group in the French Parliament was stimulated by the aggravated situation in Syria and Iraq. 

The coordination received support from the Foreign Minister of France Laurent Fabius, who in his letter to the CHREDO president Patrick Karam noted the necessity of forming research groups in the National Assembly and the Senate.

Muslim Views on the Apostate: An Insider’s Take

By an American Teacher in the Muslim World
via — June 17, 2014

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article regarding a personal experience I had with a Sudanese Muslim co-worker who believed that my wife should be killed because she is a Muslim apostate.  One reader, who has been living in the Islamic world for the past six years, seemed to disagree with my generalization of Muslims.  According to his experience, 80% of them simply “want to live in peace, raise their children, and be happy”, while the remaining 20% are radicals with their zombie followers who won’t hesitate to kill someone for the “crime” of apostasy.

Those numbers would seem reasonable to anyone who has limited himself to the daily handshakes and smiles of his Muslim colleagues.  I even stated myself that my first impression of my Sudanese co-workers was very positive. However, when one scratches below the surface of those friendly smiles and handshakes and brings up the topic of apostasy, he quickly realizes that the percentages presented above should be inverted.  In my view, 80% of the Muslim population would be willing to kill an apostate (if they could get away with it) while the remaining 20% believe in the saying, “live and let live”.   In order to prove my point, I will elaborate on my previous experience and add the account of a friend and previous co-worker.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Current Headlines on Islam in America, Canada and the West

Every now and then I post a list of links like this. The frequency of such incidents grows each month. Deeply concerning...

How to Respond to Islam's Blasphemies against Christianity

"Let’s try to explain to the blasphemers that they are destroying their lives and are a temptation to others."

In our self-indulgent, self-neutered, politically-correct culture, criticizing Islam is a hate crime. Setting aside the documented fact of Muslim persecution of Christians throughout the entire Islamic world, Islam's ideology itself wages relentless theological jihad against traditional Christianity, as it has for fourteen hundred years. 

For a right-believing Christian, Islam projects into the world a bizarre mess of heresies and blasphemies, which taken by themselves should stop all the "Same God" nonsense talk. A few excerpts from the Quran prove Islam's virulent anti-Christian nature, which calls down curses on Christians, condemning them to eternal torment, and charging them over and over with blasphemy:

The similitude of Isa before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”: And he was. (Sura 3:59)

Say not “Trinity”: desist: It will be better for you: For God is One God: Glory be to Him: (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. . . . (Sura 4:173)

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the Son of Mary. (Sura 5:19)

They do blaspheme who say: “God is Christ the son of Mary . . .” They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them (Sura 5:75,78)

Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God doth make His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! (Sura 5:78)

The Jews call 'Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. God's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! (Sura 9:30)

In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him — they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. (Sura 4:157)

Perhaps the most cruel irony regarding Islam's blasphemies against Christianity is that many Islamic countries enforce "blasphemy laws," by which Christians are routinely charged for slandering Islam or Muhammad, offending Muslims, apostasy from Islam, or for just being Christian. The penalties are brutal in the extreme, up to and including death. Islam's death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy is the false religion's main prop, without which, according to one of its leading clerics, it would never have survived to the present day.

How should we Christians respond to Islam's endless blasphemies against God, against Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary (whose title, 'Theotokos', means 'Mother of God'), and to Islam's assault against non-Muslims, women, conscience, freedom of speech, and so on?

I consistently write and maintain that we must firmly and vigorously reject Islam, while at the same time praying for our Muslim neighbors and persecutors, that they — in the words of St Silouan of Mt Athos — "may come to know Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit."

In this same spirit, the below article provides some very helpful and godly counsel for us as we continue to press on towards the goal of the upward call in Christ Jesus:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

More Tyranny in America: Catholic TV Network Forced to Comply With HHS Mandate

The repeal of the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.) continues to accelerate both at home and abroad under the openly corrupt Obama regime, supporter of Muslim extremist groups and persecutor of traditional Christians.

Catholic TV Network Forced to Comply With HHS Mandate
by Christine Rouselle, — June 18, 2014

EWTN: Global Catholic Television Network (EWTN), a Catholic-themed television network founded in 1980 in a garage studio by a nun, has been denied protection from the HHS contraception mandate following a decision yesterday by Mobile, Ala. District Judge Callie V. Granade.

A statement posted on EWTN's website and Facebook page by CEO Michael P. Warsaw expressed his disappointment with the decision and said that EWTN will seek an appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta: