Friday, July 31, 2015

Mosques and Massacres

Orthodox Christians may wish to study and share this fine summary of the linkage between mosques and outbursts of Muslim jihad terror attacks. We must face and admit the undeniable fact that there is murderous evil at the core of Islam. It is commanded in the Quran, was lived by Muhammad, is preached in the mosques, and is the cause behind the new age of martyrdom we have entered into.

RelatedChallenging Mosque Expansions - The Time is Now (Includes direct links to four recent studies showing 80% of mosques in the U.S. teach offensive jihad and Islamic supremacism) 

Mosques and Massacres
by William Kilpatrick, Crisis Magazine — July 28, 2015

On June 26, Saif Rezgui walked on to a beach in Tunisia and opened fire on German, British, and Irish sunbathers in front of the Imperial Marhaba resort hotel, killing 39 and wounding dozens more. If various world leaders are to be believed, the massacre had nothing to do with Islam. In response to the attack which left thirty British citizens dead, Prime Minister David Cameron said the terrorism “is not in the name of Islam. Islam is a religion of peace.” A day later, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott assured the world that “what’s being done by Daesh [the Islamic State] has nothing to do with God, it has nothing to do with religion.”

There was one notable exception to the usual nothing-to-do-with-Islam mantra. Immediately after the attack, Tunisia’s prime minister, Habib Essid, ordered the closing of 80 mosques.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Report: Muslim Persecution of Christians, May 2015

Raymond Ibrahim's monthly report highlights anti-Christian/pro-Muslim bias in the U.S. government; documents how the U.S. State Department repeatedly bars Christians from testifying about persecution.

by Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute —July 24, 2015

The St Catherine of Siena Church and its statue of
Christ in Mississauga, Ontario were vandalized by
Iqbal Hessan, a 22-year-old Muslim man.
During the height of one of the most brutal months of Muslim persecution of Christians, the U.S. State Department exposed its double standards against persecuted Christian minorities.

Sister Diana, an influential Iraqi Christian leader, who was scheduled to visit the U.S. to advocate for persecuted Christians in the Mideast, was denied a visa by the U.S. State Department even though she had visited the U.S. before, most recently in 2012.

She was to be one of a delegation of religious leaders from Iraq — including Sunni, Shia and Yazidi, among others — to visit Washington, D.C., to describe the situation of their people. Every religious leader from this delegation to Washington D.C. was granted a visa — except for the only Christian representative, Sister Diana.

After this refusal became public, many Americans protested, some writing to their congressmen. Discussing the nun’s visa denial, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said:

This is an administration which never seems to find a good enough excuse to help Christians, but always finds an excuse to apologize for terrorists … I hope that as it gets attention that Secretary Kerry will reverse it. If he doesn’t, Congress has to investigate, and the person who made this decision ought to be fired.

The State Department eventually granted Sister Diana a visa.

This is not the first time the U.S. State Department has not granted a visa to a Christian leader coming from a Muslim region. Last year, after the United States Institute for Peace brought together the governors of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim northern states for a conference in the U.S., the State Department blocked the visa of the region’s only Christian governor, Jonah David Jang.

According to a Nigerian human rights lawyer based in Washington D.C., Emmanuel Ogebe, the Christian governor’s “visa problems” were due to anti-Christian bias in the U.S. government:

The U.S. insists that Muslims are the primary victims of Boko Haram. It also claims that Christians discriminate against Muslims in Plateau, which is one of the few Christian majority states in the north. After the [Christian governor] told them [U.S. authorities] that they were ignoring the 12 Shariah states who institutionalized persecution … he suddenly developed visa problems…. The question remains — why is the U.S. downplaying or denying the attacks against Christians?

The testimony of another nun, Sister Hatune Dogan, also made in May, indicates why the State Department may not want to hear such testimonials: they go against the paradigm that “Islam is peace.” According to Sister Hatune:

What is going on there [Islamic State territories], what I was hearing, is the highest barbarism on earth in the history until today… The mission of Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please. Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this is, he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS… We know that in Islam, there is no democracy. Islam and democracy are opposite, like black and white. And I hope America will understand. America today has the power that they can stop this disaster on the earth, with other Western countries.

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.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Pakistan: Three separate incidents involved attacks on churches:

1) On May 28, in the city of Chakwal, south of Lahore, Muslim men destroyed a Protestant church and beat six Christians, including the pastor. Some of those wounded had to be hospitalized. A few days earlier, Pastor Suhail Masih and his companions had been accused by local Muslims of carrying out “proselytism and conversions of Muslims,” according to a preliminary report.

2) Javed David, head of Hope for the Light Ministries in Lahore, and his associates, have been receiving death threats since February. The latest incident occurred in April, but became public knowledge only in May. According to David:

I had been to church in Sheikhupura to attend a meeting with colleagues. It was 8 o’clock in the evening when we left to return to Lahore. We were about to reach the main road when a motorbike drove up and blocked the way. Maybe they were following us. The two bikers were wearing a helmet (sic). One of them came up to my window and spoke to me. “We know what you are doing here,” he said. “Stop building churches. Convert to Islam, which is the true religion. Otherwise we will make a horrible example of you.”… [On another] occasion too, I was going home when a motorcycle stopped in front of me. The driver knocked on the window and threw in a piece of paper. I did not open it before I got home. It said, “This is an Islamic nation. We cannot allow church building. Either you convert to Islam or you leave this country! Stop building churches or you’ll pay the consequences!”

3) On May 29 in Faisalabad, around 2 a.m., a gang of Muslims on motorcycles attacked a church near the Sadar police station. They opened fire on the church and set its main gate on fire, damaging its windows. According to church cleric Dilawar Masih, “Though no human loss was reported in this incident, attackers gave a clear-cut message that Christians and their places of worship are not safe and they may be attacked any time by the terrorists.”

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bishop Mark of Berlin: A Voice in the Wilderness

Orthodox Bishop Mark (Arndt) is that rare example of a Christian hierarch speaking the truth about Islam.

by Ralph H. Sidway

Islam is at its core anti-human... Reading the Quran, you will see that all of this [extremism] lies at the foundation of Islam. One must look truth in the eye: this is all anti-human, it is directed against humanity...  
Yes, there were times when Muslims tried to live in peace with their neighbors, they even acknowledged that we Christians are people, too. But for many, those times have passed, and now they reveal who they really are.   
— Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin, ROCOR (Full interview below.)

Some readers may be familiar with the refusal of Roman Catholic bishops to address the global issue of Muslim persecution of Christians and Jews (and other non-Muslims) and its grounding in the Quran and the example of Muhammad. The prime example may be that of Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester Mass., whose infamous quote reads more like a parody from the Onion every day:

Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.

Pope Francis of course leads this disturbing trend, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium including the emphatic affirmation that authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

It seems many Muslims have failed to read that particular epistle.

Sadly, things are not much different in the Orthodox Church. The world's second largest Christian communion, comprising between 225 and 300 million members (source), retains a dwindling remnant in the Middle East, the "cradle of Christianity," and is one of the main bodies suffering most from the resurgent global jihad.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Eleven Turkish Muslims baptized into Orthodox Church

Their anonymity has been preserved for obvious reasons.

Mystagogy via Pravoslavie — July 17, 2015

Eleven Turkish citizens, among them a famous Turkish actor, were baptized in May 2015. The baptism was celebrated by the Metropolitan of Attica.

The [original] 13 muslim men and women (between the ages of 30 and 40) were impressed by the beauty of the Orthodox monuments of the island [of Chios], and on their return to Turkey, they decided to read and generally learn about Orthodox Christianity.

This led to them asking a priest to undertake their catechism with the intention of converting to the Orthodox religion.

OCA All-American Council: 'AAC delegates express solidarity, support for suffering in Middle East'

Council statement another missed opportunity for a strong Orthodox Christian stance against Islamic jihad and Muslim persecution of Christians.

While a welcomed gesture, this statement could have been so much stronger, and could have, thereby, provided an inspiring example of the very theme of the AAC: "How to Expand the Mission." As worded, it projects a cautious image of timidity and uncertainty of the Orthodox Church's voice and role regarding the challenge posed by the global resurgence of Islamic jihad.

Read the report from the OCA website, then see my comments below.

AAC delegates express solidarity, support for suffering in Middle East
OCA, July 23, 2015
After the celebration of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy early Thursday morning, July 23, 2015, and during the AAC’s fifth Plenary Session, delegates to the 18th All-American Council adopted a resolution expressing the Orthodox Church in America’s solidarity with Christians suffering persecution in the Middle East and calling on governments to do everything possible to ensure their safety. 
Presented by Dr. Paul Meyendorff and adopted by acclamation, the text of the resolution reads as follows. 
“Whereas recent developments in the Middle East have caused great suffering to Christians in the area, leading to numerous deaths, desperate living conditions and mass movement of refugees, we, gathered at the 18th All-American Council in Atlanta, Georgia, express our solidarity and support for all suffering peoples in the area, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we call on our respective governments to take vigorously all possible political and humanitarian measures to ensure their safety and the survival of Christianity in the lands where it first took hold.”

What is missing?  At least three key truths:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Oldest Qur’an fragments in the world discovered in the UK? Maybe, maybe not

Robert Spencer has written a superb analysis of some of the key problems with this story that many of you have likely seen already. 

Oldest Qur’an fragments in the world discovered in the UK? Maybe, maybe not
by Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch — July 22, 2015

This BBC article is circulating widely, but it raises more questions than it answers, and reveals more about the wishful thinking of the academic and media establishments than it does about the Qur’an.

The article is riddled with academic and journalistic sloppiness. We’re told that the radiocarbon dating shows, “with a probability of more than 95%, the parchment was from between 568 and 645.” Very well, but does the ink date to that time as well? We are not told. Parchment was often reused in the ancient world, with the earlier text erased and written over, and so if a parchment dates from 645, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the text does.

However, it is impossible to discover any more details from this shoddy BBC presentation. The best photo of this manuscript that the BBC provides shows clear traces of another text underneath the main text. It is not clear from the photo whether that is the text from the other side bleeding through on the photograph, or even if there is any text on the other side; nor does the BBC tell us whether or not the parchment shows signs of having been a palimpsest — that is, a parchment that was used more than once for different texts. There is also some red ink in the top lines of the manuscript in the photo but not in the succeeding lines. Has the red ink faded from the other sections, or is it itself evidence of the ink fading? Or is it a later hand filling in areas that had faded away (and possibly altering the text)? The BBC doesn’t tell us, yet this is an extremely salient point. Another recently discovered and much-touted fragment of the Qur’an, now in Germany and dated from between 649 and 675, shows clear signs of alteration, raising the possibility that the Qur’anic text was altered over time. If this is a possibility also for the University of Birmingham manuscript, the BBC should tell us so. But it doesn’t.

The Tubingen Quran manuscript, dated
from 649-675, showing clear signs of alteration.
What’s more, if the text along with the parchment really dates from between 568 and 645, it may not be a fragment of the Qur’an at all. The Qur’an, according to Islamic tradition, was compiled in its definitive form in the year 653 by the caliph Uthman, who ordered all variant texts burned and the canonical version distributed to all the provinces within his domains. As I show in my book Did Muhammad Exist?, however, there are numerous reasons to doubt this story. The principal one is that if the entire Islamic world had copies of the Qur’an by the mid 650’s, why is it that not until the latter part of the seventh and early part of the eighth century do mentions of the Qur’an begin to appear? The Dome of the Rock inscriptions date from 691; they are made up of many Qur’an verses, but out of their Qur’anic order and some with notable changes in wording. Who would have dared to change the words of Allah? And the first clear reference to the Qur’an as such occurred around the year 710—eighty years after the book was supposedly completed and sixty years after it was supposedly collected and distributed. During a debate with an Arab noble, a Christian monk of the monastery of Beth Hale (of which there were two, one in northern Iraq and the other in Arabia; it is not known in which one this monk lived) cited the Qur’an by name. The monk wrote, “I think that for you, too, not all your laws and commandments are in the Qur’an which Muhammad taught you; rather there are some which he taught you from the Qur’an, and some are in surat albaqrah and in gygy and in twrh.

By this point Arab armies had conquered a huge expanse of territory, stretching from North Africa, across the Levant, Syria, and Iraq, and into Persia, and yet those eight decades of conquest had produced scarcely a mention of the book that supposedly inspired them. And when the Qur’an finally was mentioned, it appears that the book was not even in the form we now know. Surat albaqrah (or al-Baqara) is “the chapter of the Cow,” which is the second, and longest, sura of the Qur’an. The eighth-century monk thus quite clearly knew of a Qur’an that didn’t contain this sura; he considered surat albaqrah to be a stand-alone book, along with gygy (the Injil, or Gospel) and twrh (the Torah). It is unlikely that the monk simply made an error: who ever mistakes a chapter of a book for a separate book?

So if this is a fragment of the Qur’an as it now stands (and what portion of the Qur’an is it, anyway? Neither the BBC nor its quoted academics tell us), and yet it could date from as far back as 568, two years before Muhammad is supposed to have been born, it might not be a fragment of the Qur’an at all. It could instead be a portion of some source that later became part of the Qur’an, as did Surat al-Baqara.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Special Request: For an Orthodox Priest and his Family in Great Need

Please consider helping to support Fr. Matthew Harrington and Matushka Anna and their family during this time of crisis. Rather than merely link to the GoFundMe site, I wanted to share Rod Dreher's full post, as Fr Matthew's story is a profound one of deep conversion, of brokenness, of mission, and of taking up one's cross and following Christ. Fr Matthew's story needs to be shared, because it is so authentic. Through his and Matushka Anna's crosses, through their suffering, and through our prayers and help for them, we all may learn and grow into the likeness of Christ together. . .

As posted at Pravoslavie: We would like to post on our site a plea from Rod Dreher, Orthodox blogger at The American Conservative, concerning the current pressing need of his priest Fr. Matthew Harrington and his family, as his wife faces a dangerous and costly surgery for the birth of their fourth child. Please consider contributing as you can, through prayer and donations.


by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative — July 19, 2015

If you’ve been following this blog for the past two or three years, or if you’ve read How Dante Can Save Your Life, you will have read about my priest, Father Matthew Harrington. As pastor of St. John the Theologian Orthodox Mission, he’s a terrific priest, and helped me tremendously through my own spiritual and emotional struggles, as I recount in the book. Here’s an excerpt from How Dante telling you a little about who he is:

St. John the Theologian is Father Matthew’s first parish. When Father Seraphim Bell, a Walla Walla, Washington, priest who is Father Matthew’s own spiritual father, dispatched the newly ordained Matthew to us, he told me that the former police officer was a naturally gifted pastor “because he has suffered.” 
After we had known each other a while, I asked Father Matthew what Father Seraphim had meant by that. I knew that Father Matthew had been raised by his grandparents and had never known his father. And I knew that he had been a police officer. One afternoon, sitting alone with him in the fellowship hall, I asked him to tell me his story. 
“I was a very capable police officer, but I always felt like I was being punished for doing my job,” he said, squaring his shoulders under his black cassock. “I would arrest some city bigwig for drunk driving, and my boss would fuss at me. Why? It really aggravated a sense in me of deep mistrust of authority. 
“And there were other things that are normal in police work but that started to get to me. I would think, ‘Why did that guy try to kill me? Why couldn’t I have saved that person?’ As I progressed in police work, I felt more and more of a sense of being orphaned. It all came out of self-pity, but those are real, hard emotions that being a cop coughed up.” 
“Tell me about the breaking point,” I said. 
“It was the second-to-last call I ever took,” he told me. “It was a little girl. She lived right by a big aqueduct, and fell in and drowned. I never saw her body, but by then I was so emotionally fragile that the pictures by themselves shook up me up pretty bad. She had on these pink sandals with flowers on them. 
“That was a Saturday. The next morning, I went to liturgy, and in front of me was a little girl wearing the exact same shoes,” he continued. “I came undone. That was the end of my career. It really was. My wife knew. I knew. It was just how I navigated the exit.” 
Father Matthew’s last deed as an active police officer was to chase two suspected thieves who were escaping on bicycles. They dropped their bikes and slipped away. Enraged by this, he took out his knife and cut their tires. 
“Just like that,” Father Matthew said, shaking his head. “Then I realized that I had become what I was fighting. I couldn’t be a cop anymore. I talked to my chief and told him I couldn’t go on. I wasn’t a bad cop, and I wasn’t a malicious cop, but I was a suffering cop, and I needed out.” 
Father Matthew and his wife, Anna, had discovered the Orthodox Church through the parish pastored by Father Seraphim. As the young police officer’s emotional life disintegrated under job pressure, the congregation held him up. 
“What I thought was a strong wall cracked, and I fell apart,” the priest told me. “They didn’t judge me when they saw me bawling through vespers and liturgy, just bawling.” 
“Wait,” I said. “You? You cried in front of all those people?” 
Tall and stern, with a piercing gaze, Father Matthew is not the kind of man you imagine crying in public, if at all. Though he wears a cassock now (“my dress,” he snarks), this priest does not look like the sort of cleric fat-mouthing heretics would want to mess with. 
“Yeah, I cried,” he said. “I was broken. I still am broken. I can’t watch war movies or anything like that. It’s a humbling experience to know that you’re in the prime of your life and you’re broken.” 
Meeting Father Seraphim had made all the difference in his life. “He tells it like it is,” said Father Matthew. “He made me face myself, and all my pride and anger. Man, was I ever angry. Orthodoxy allowed me to come out of that.” 
“Dante would call it a dark wood,” I said. “So is that why you became a priest?” 
“I haven’t thought about it,” he said. “It was a response to the love I received from Christ through the Church. If anything, my time in the civil service showed me that the only way I could help people was to heal my own heart. I had to seek the fullness of life in Christ, to be able to see the divine light in anyone. Otherwise, all they’re getting is the blind leading the blind.”

Starting tomorrow [July 20], Father Matthew and his wife Anna are going to face the biggest challenge of their lives. Anna—the priest’s wife is called “Matushka,” meaning “little mother,” in the Russian Orthodox Church—will be admitted to the hospital for a high-risk, extremely complicated surgery, to give birth to their fourth child, a daughter they will name Irene. Theirs is a clergy family, one that serves a very small mission church. We in the congregation are giving all we can, but it won’t be remotely enough to meet all the medical needs of the Harringtons. Friends of the Harringtons outside our parish have set up a GoFundMe for those who would like to help them. From the GoFundMe site:

Due to complications with Anna’s pregnancy, Irene’s delivery will require her month-early arrival (July 21) by a complex surgical procedure. She will also be born with a special condition called hemifacial microsomia that includes pronounced spinal scoliosis. 
Matushka Anna stopped working at the end of April due to these medical struggles. While the members of the Parish of Saint John the Theologian lovingly support Father Matthew financially in his priesthood , the Harrington family also depended on Matushka Anna’s income to fulfill their needs. The Harringtons are facing major financial hardship. Anna will not physically be able to work, and baby Irene will require her attentions full-time. Irene will likely need future surgical procedures and the attentions of specialists to care for the many possible complexities of her condition. This includes medical care and may include travel to major hospitals in other areas of the United States. 
Matushka Anna’s condition is delicate in the sense that the procedure she will undergo is complicated and will require a week or so long hospital stay and her recovery will be longer than expected. The family has never been known for anything but grateful acceptance of even the most challenging situations, but these new tests have involved selling Matushka’s car, delaying almost all purchases, and belt-tightening to an extent which we, both friends and those who have been affected by Father, as well as those who appreciate voices of his variety, need to step up and do what we can.

I can vouch for the fact that the Harringtons lived a very modest life since they arrived to start our tiny mission church. Theirs has become much more modest since Mat. Anna had to quit her job. The family has the spiritual resources to face this challenge, but the financial aspect is going to be an enormity. I don’t post things like this often, but because Father Matthew’s work among our little congregation has touched many of you, via this blog and my Dante book, I thought you would like to know that the need for prayer and other forms of assistance is great with this family. Please do what you can.

* * *
For updates on Father Matthew and Matushka Anna, please see Rod Dreher's Twitter page.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Message to Muslims after Chattanooga Jihad Attack: 'Time to Repent'

. . . and turn to Jesus Christ.

Christ receives the Prodigal Son

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, if you have a conscience, and if you are, at the very least, made uneasy deep in your heart of hearts every time another of your fellow Muslims launches a bloody jihad attack, there is an answer for you:

Repent, and leave your false religion.  Now.

Surely you must know that the Islamic State (ISIS) (and its “lone wolf” followers like Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez in Chattanooga) bases every single one of its atrocities on the commands of the Quran and on the example of Muhammad as conveyed in Islam's other sacred texts, the ahadith and the Sira?  

Is that the example you wish to follow?

That is the example being followed by every Muslim jihadi murderer, whether in the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, France, England, or here in North America.

Surely you must know that for nearly fourteen centuries all schools of Islamic jurisprudence have consistently mandated offensive jihad — the killing of non-Muslims to advance Islam — as an obligation for all Muslims. For those who cannot wage open jihad, supporting it financially or through other means is required. 

Is that the teaching you wish to follow, one that commands bloodshed, hatred, and unending warfare?

You have a choice. Each and every Muslim jihad attack slaps you in the face to wake you up. Is that what you want to belong to?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

St Paisios of Mount Athos: 'There's a war on today, a holy war. I must be on the front lines.'

"Today's situation can be resisted only spiritually, not by worldly means..."

St. Paisios of Mt Athos (commemorated July 12)

From an Orthodox Church Bulletin comes this 'word' (scroll to bottom) from the newly glorified St. Paisios the Athonite, which is directly applicable not only to the assault on the Faith, the Family and the Church by secularism, but also to the challenge and threat of Islam.

How many Orthodox Christians are so poorly grounded in their faith as to believe Islam is wholly compatible with Christianity? One of the reasons I wrote my book was to warn those like the young woman in my former parish (whom I write about in my Epilogue), who sincerely believed that because Muslims venerate Jesus, therefore they are virtually one with us. When she began dating a Muslim man, she was scandalized by our priest warning her that if she married a Muslim, she would be denying Jesus Christ and committing apostasy. She could not be dissuaded, and soon turned away from Christ and became a Muslim.

I recall another case of an Orthodox woman of Lebanese descent (whom I have known for many years) with whom I had a shocking discussion following the Divine Liturgy one Sunday. She was relating her views on the historical procession of the monotheistic religions, from Judaism to Christianity to Islam, and asserted that this sequential ordering reflected progressively higher forms of knowledge, with Islam representing the highest and most sublime form of knowledge! This due to Muhammad receiving supposedly divine revelations of the literal words of God.

Apparently this woman failed to be touched by the great mystery of the ultimate revelation: the very Word and Logos of God becoming incarnate, or by our divine calling to be children of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, acquiring the Mind of Christ, the Mind of God Himself. This poor woman, through listening to ideas "in the air" and assenting with her fallen reasoning had given herself over to an anti-Christ false "gnosis" which leads straight to apostasy.

The bizarre cognitive dissonance alone of an Orthodox Christian putting forth such a view was bad enough, but to hear someone say such a brazen and blasphemous heresy immediately after receiving Holy Communion — the very Body and Blood of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ — was one of the most disturbing moments of my Christian life.

Truly the enemy of souls is hard at work, striving however he can to lead people into spiritual delusion. As the Lord teaches us, Satan is the "father of lies" (JN 8:44) and the multifaceted heresy of Islam and our modern world's affirmation of it and all other religions as equally valid paths to God are among his most successful deceptions.

Satan seeks to increase his harvest of souls, drawing as many into perdition as he can. He uses governments, culture, comfort, affluence, political correctness, the desire to be "nice", to get along, and to be liked, to make us timid and ashamed to proclaim and live our faith. He is quite happy and content with Christians who remain silent and do nothing, for, as St Gregory the Theologian warned, "By your silence you can betray God."

Friday, July 10, 2015

When Muslims Betray Non-Muslim Friends and Neighbors

There is a "third category of Muslims that lurks between 'moderates' and 'radicals': 'sleepers', Muslims who appear 'moderate' but who are merely waiting for circumstances to turn to Islam’s advantage before they join the jihad; Muslims who are waiting for the rewards of jihad to become greater than the risks."

by Raymond Ibrahim — July 8, 2015

Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels rather than believers: and whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah—unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions – Koran 3:28

Days ago, after the Islamic State [IS] entered the Syrian city of Hassakè, prompting a mass exodus of Christians, a familiar, though often overlooked scene, took place: many otherwise “normal” Muslims joined ranks with IS, instantly turning on their longtime Christian neighbors.

This is the third category of Muslims that lurks between “moderates” and “radicals”: “sleepers,” Muslims who appear “moderate” but who are merely  waiting for circumstances to turn to Islam’s advantage before they join the jihad; Muslims who are waiting for the rewards of jihad to become greater than the risks.

There is no lack of examples of these types of Muslims.  The following are testimonials from non-Muslims, mostly Christian refuges from those regions of Iraq and Syria now under Islamic State (or other jihadi) control.  Consider what they say about their longtime Sunni neighbors who appeared “moderate”—or at least nonviolent—but who, once the jihad came to town, exposed their true colors:

Georgios, a man from the ancient Christian town of Ma‘loula—one of the few areas in the world where the language of Christ was still spoken—told of how Muslim neighbors he knew all his life turned on the Christians after al-Nusra, another jihadi outfit, invaded in 2013:

We knew our Muslim neighbours all our lives. Yes, we knew the Diab family were quite radical, but we thought they would never betray us. We ate with them. We are one people. 
A few of the Diab family had left months ago and we guessed they were with the Nusra [al-Qaeda front]. But their wives and children were still here. We looked after them. Then, two days before the Nusra attacked, the families suddenly left the town. We didn’t know why. And then our neighbours led our enemies in among us.

The Christian man explained with disbelief how he saw a young member of the Diab family whom he knew from youth holding a sword and leading foreign jihadis to Christian homes.  Continues Georgios:

Monday, July 6, 2015

New-Martyr Mary the Copt

The below account of the martyrdom of Mary Sameh George, by Raymond Ibrahim, highlights three important details:

  • Mary kept a cross hanging from her rearview mirror in her car, a quiet, visible confession of her faith in Jesus Christ, in spite of living in Egypt, a country where Christians routinely suffer persecution from their Muslim neighbors.
  • Mary put herself in harm's way to deliver medicine to a sick, elderly woman near her church, thus fulfilling Christ's words, "I was sick, and you visited me" (MT 25:36).
  • Mary did not fear those who can only kill the body, but cannot touch the soul (cf. MT 10:28).

Now her pure soul is with Christ:
“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (REV 7:14)

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters being persecuted for the sake of Jesus Christ, and let us rouse ourselves to imitate the faithful witness of Mary and all the New Martyrs! Let us never deny our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and let us prefer death rather than to commit apostasy and betray Him!

O Holy New-Martyr Mary, pray to God for us!

The Martyrdom of Mary Sameh George of Cairo
by Raymond Ibrahim — March 30, 2014

"Oh how lucky you are, Mary, you who are beloved of Christ.  They tore your body because of the Cross.  Yet they offered you the greatest service and gave you a name of honor as one who attained the crown of martyrdom."  
— Coptic Orthodox Bishop Raphaeil, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church

On Friday, March 28, in Ain Shams, a suburb of Cairo, rioting Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked the Virgin Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church, including by opening fire on it and setting parked cars aflame.  Four people died.

One of the slain, a young Coptic woman, was savagely mauled and molested before being murdered—simply because her cross identified her as a Christian to the Brotherhood rioters.

According to an eyewitness who discussed the entire event on the Egyptian program, 90 Minutes, Mary Sameh George was parking by the church to deliver medicine to a sickly, elderly woman:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Islamic Hate for the Christian Cross

For nearly fourteen centuries, beginning with Muhammad himself, Muslims have waged war against the symbol of God's infinite love for mankind, the means by which Jesus Christ was victorious over sin, death and the devil. 

The irony is that these deceived Muslims, unwitting allies of the devil, are blind to the truth, that Christ forgave even them, while hanging from the very Cross which they hate so much: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do..." 

To any Muslims reading this, we Christians hope and pray that you will repent, and turn to Jesus Christ in the Orthodox Church, that you may be delivered from spiritual deception and saved from hell.

See also my article: Islam's Hatred of Holy Icons — and what that means for Persecuted Eastern Christians

Islamic Hate for the Christian Cross
by Raymond Ibrahim, PJ Media — June 20, 2015

Muslims in Pakistan burn cross

Last May in Italy, a Muslim boy of African origin beat a 12-year-old girl during school because she was wearing a crucifix around her neck.  The African schoolboy, who had only started to attend the school approximately three weeks earlier, began to bully the Christian girl—“insulting her and picking on her in other ways all because she was wearing the crucifix”—before he finally “punched the girl violently in the back.”

What is it about the Christian cross that makes some Muslims react this way?

The fact is, Islamic hostility to the cross is an unwavering fact of life—one that crosses continents and centuries; one that is very much indicative of Islam’s innate hostility to Christianity.

Doctrine and History

Because the Christian cross is the quintessential symbol of Christianity—for all denominations, including most forms of otherwise iconoclastic Protestantism—it has been a despised symbol in Islam.

According to the Conditions of Omar—a Medieval text which lays out the many humiliating stipulations conquered Christians must embrace to preserve their lives and which Islamic history attributes to the second “righteous caliph,” Omar al-Khattab—Christians are “Not to display a cross [on churches]… and “Not to produce a cross or [Christian] book in the markets of the Muslims.”

The reason for this animosity is that the cross symbolizes the fundamental disagreement between Christians and Muslims.   According to Dr. Sidney Griffith, author of The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, “The cross and the icons publicly declared those very points of Christian faith which the Koran, in the Muslim view, explicitly denied: that Christ was the Son of God and that he died on the cross.”  Thus “the Christian practice of venerating the cross and the icons of Christ and the saints often aroused the disdain of Muslims,” so that there was an ongoing “campaign to erase the public symbols of Christianity, especially the previously ubiquitous sign of the cross.”

Devout Muslims believe they are honoring Muhammad AND Jesus by destroying crosses and persecuting Christians.

Islam’s hostility to the cross, like all of Islam’s hostilities, begins with the Muslim prophet Muhammad. He reportedly “had such a repugnance to the form of the cross that he broke everything brought into his house with its figure upon it.” He once ordered someone wearing a cross to “take off that piece of idolatry” and claimed that at the end times Jesus himself would make it a point to “break the cross”—an assertion the Islamic State regularly makes.*

[* In the end times, said Muhammad, Isa will “fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill the swine and abolish jizya” and establish the rule of Allah throughout the world. —Hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Battles, 37:4310]

Islamic history following Muhammad is riddled with anecdotes of Muslims cursing and breaking crosses.  Prior to the Battle of Yarmuk in 636, which pitted the earliest invading Muslim armies against the Byzantine Empire, Khalid bin al-Walid, the savage “Sword of Allah,” told the Christians that if they wanted peace they must “break the cross” and embrace Islam, or pay jizya and live in subjugation—just as his Islamic State successors are doing today in direct emulation.  The Byzantines opted for war.

In Egypt, Saladin (d. 1193)—regularly touted in the West for his “magnanimity”—ordered “the removal of every cross from atop the dome of every church in the provinces of Egypt,” in the words of The History of the Patriarchate of the Egyptian Church.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Raymond Ibrahim: Christian Carnage and Western Indifference - Muslim Persecution of Christians, April 2015

The sheer breadth of global Muslim persecution of Christians, and the depths and variety of the depravity involved, which Raymond Ibrahim dutifully reports month after agonizing month, is beyond horrifying, beyond anything we have seen in history.  There is an infernal spirit behind the resurgence of Islam in our age.

By Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute — June 22, 2015

Note: The following represents some of the persecution Christians experienced at the hands of Muslims during the month of April, 2015 alone.   After reading this, ask yourself how Western media, politicians, and other foolish talking heads would react if Muslims experienced the same sort and amount of persecution at the hands of Christians or in Western nations in just one month.

Islamic State Slaughters 30 Christian Ethiopians

Approximately two months after the Islamic State published a video depicting its members slaughtering 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, on Sunday, April 19,  the Islamic jihadi organization released another video of more Christians in Libya, approximately 30 Ethiopians—derogatorily referred to by an IS spokesman as “worshippers of the cross”—being butchered for not paying jizya, extortion money demanded of the “People of the Book” who refuse to convert to Islam, according to Koran 9:29.

One group of Christians were shot execution style to the back of their heads, the others had their heads carved off, like the Copts before them.

The IS spokesman further addressed “Christians everywhere”:
We say to Christians everywhere, the Islamic State will expand, with Allah’s permission.  And it will reach you even if you are in fortified strongholds.  So whoever enters Islam will have security, and whoever accepts the Dhimmah contract [subjugated, third-class treatment and social status] will have security. But whoever refuses will see nothing from us but the edge of a spear. The men will be killed and the children will be enslaved, and their wealth will be taken as booty. This is the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.

In a statement, the Coptic Christian Church of Egypt pointed out that the Ethiopian martyrs, like the 21 Copts before them, were “murdered purely for refusing to renounce their faith.”

Al Shabaab Murders 147, Separates Muslims from Christians

On April 2 in Kenya, gunmen from the Somali Islamic group, Al Shabaab—“the [Islamic] youth”—stormed Garissa University, singled out Christian students, and murdered them, some beheaded.  A total of 147 people were killed in the attack—making this jihad more spectacular than the 2013 Al Shabaab attack on the Nairobi mall, which left 67 people dead (then, Islamic gunmen also singled out Christians for slaughter).

Islamic gunmen were careful to separate Christians from Muslims before beginning the carnage said eyewitnesses.  (While Kenya is 83% Christian, it still has an 11% Muslim minority the jihadis are careful not to kill.)  Collins Wetangula, vice chairman of the student union, said he could hear from inside his room where he was hiding the gunmen opening doors and inquiring if the people inside were Muslims or Christians: “If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot.  With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

Al Shabaab has a long history of singling Christians out from among Muslims for slaughter (here are four examples).  Other jihadi groups—including Boko Haram and the Islamic State—also make it a point to distinguish between Christians and Muslims before slaughtering the former, a fact often omitted from “mainstream media” reports.

Egyptian Churches under Attack
  • On Sunday, April 5, as Coptic Christians were celebrating Palm Sunday, a church was attacked in Alexandria, Egypt.   Gunmen in a vehicle opened fire on the church during the night injuring a police officer and two civilians.
  • On April 12, Easter Sunday according to the Orthodox calendar, two explosions targeting churches took place in Zagazig vicinity.  One car explosion took place near a Coptic Orthodox church and another bomb exploded near the Evangelical Church in the same area.  Although no casualties were reported, large numbers could have easily resulted, based on precedent.  For example, on January 1, 2011, as Egypt’s Christians ushered in the New Year, car bombs went off near the Two Saints Church in Alexandria, resulting in 23 dead worshippers and dozens critically injured.
  • Muslims rioted because President Sisi had agreed for Copts to build a church in Al-Our, where 13 of the 21 Christians who were beheaded by the Islamic State grew up and where their families still live.  Local Muslims rose in violence soon after Islamic prayers Friday, April 3.  They yelled that they would never allow a church to be built, that “Egypt is Islamic!” By night time, Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at another Coptic church, cars were set ablaze—including one belonging to a relative of one of the those decapitated by the Islamic State—and several people were injured.[i]
  • A day later, on Saturday, April 4, Muslims rioted and attacked the Christians of the village of Gala’, Samalout district.  After waiting for years to repair their dilapidated church (see pictures here) Coptic locals finally received all the proper permits to begin restoration.  Soon Coptic homes, businesses, and persons, were attacked including by hurled stones.  Christian owned wheat farms were destroyed and their potato crops uprooted.  Islamic slogans were constantly yelled, including “There is no god but Allah” and “Islamic! Islamic!”
  • After waiting for 44 years, the Christians of Nag Shenouda, in Sohag City, finally got the necessary permit to build a new church.  Muslims again rioted and even burned down the tent the Christians had erected to worship under.  Denied, the Christians of Nag Shenouda celebrated Easter in the street (picture here).  And when one of them tried to hold worship service in his home, he and his household were attacked by a Muslim mob.

More Islamic Attacks on Christian Churches

Syria: The Islamic State destroyed at least three churches under its jurisdiction:
  • On Easter Sunday, the Islamic State destroyed the Virgin Mary Church in Tel Nasri, northeast Syria.  The Assyrian church was built and consecrated in 1934.  Loosely translated as “Christian Hill,” Tel Nasri is an ancient Assyrian Christian village.  It is one of the dozens of Christian villages along the Khabur river that were attacked and occupied by the Islamic State in late February (more here and here).
  • On April 28, the St. Odisho Assyrian Church in Tel Tal and the St. Rita Tilel Armenian Church in Aleppo, were also destroyed.
Nigeria: A Muslim mob set fire to a church in a Christian village in Nigeria’s northern Kano State on April 1.  Muslims were searching for a young man who had renounced Islam and re-converted to Christianity in order to kill him. They also attacked Christian villagers with machetes and torched the home of a pastor, killing one of his daughters.  According to General Dikko, a local official,

The church and all the properties were burnt down in the presence of the Christian community despite all pleadings for them to stop the destruction. The arsonists gathered cornstalks and put them inside the church in order to cause greater damage….  We have the right to belong to any religion of our choice and live anywhere in this country. We call on the authorities at all levels to rise up to their responsibilities of protecting lives and properties of every citizen in this country.

Pakistan: Two assailants on motorbikes opened fire on the main gates of a church and Christian school in Lahore.  The school had just closed half an hour earlier and several students were present outdoors.  Police were present, causing the attackers to ride off.  Two passersby were injured in the crossfire.

Malaysia: On Sunday, April 19, a Muslim mob of approximately 50 people rioted and protested against a small Protestant church in Kuala Lumpur, the capital.  The object of their wrath was the cross atop the building of worship—which was removed during the Islamic protest.  Rioters exclaimed that the cross, the central symbol of Christianity, represented “a challenge to Islam” and could “influence the faith of young people.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke

Learning of and becoming inspired by the accounts of the neo-martyrs of the Orthodox Church is essential for our time, in which Muslim persecution of Christians is a truly global phenomenon, and in which pressure against traditional, orthodox Christians in the West generally and the United States in particular is mounting by fits and spasms.

by Fr. Alexey Young (Schema-Hieromonk Ambrose in monastic tonsure)

via Orthodox America, (The following article is condensed from a lecture delivered at the St. Herman Summer Pilgrimage, August, 1982)

On May 29, 1453, the troops of the Moslem leader, Mohammed II , took the great city of Constantinople. For more than 1000 years Orthodox Christians had assumed that the Byzantine Christian Empire would stand until the Second Coming of Christ. They had always called their city the "God-protected City," and indeed, until now it had been protected by Heaven. But when their Emperor, Constantine XI , fell in battle, the holy city of Byzantium became the capital of a new empire, the Ottoman Empire, ruled by a pagan people, enemies of Christ and Christianity, the Moslems. It was a dark, dark time for Orthodox Christians in that part of the world.

In their violent hatred of Christianity, the Moslem Turks embarked on a course of persecution designed to effectively muzzle the flock of Christ. Their strategy was no less cruel than that of atheist communists in the Soviet Union today; the parallels are striking. 

Most of the churches of Constantinople (whose name was changed to Istanbul, just as years later Petersburg was changed to Leningrad) were converted to mosques. Their movable icons were destroyed and whole walls of inspiring and radiantly beautiful mosaics were covered with paint or plaster. Crosses were torn off domes and broken off the roofs of churches. 

The Moslems guaranteed Christians a definite place in Turkish society; but it was a place of guaranteed inferiority. Orthodox Christians were required to pay an annual head tax, like cattle. To the Turks they were unbelievers, and they had absolutely no rights of citizenship. They even had to wear distinctive dress. They could not marry Moslems, nor could they engage in missionary work of any kind; in fact, it was a crime, usually punishable by death, to convert a Moslem to the Christian Faith.