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Showing posts with label Persecution of Christians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Persecution of Christians. Show all posts

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Father Rutler: The Continuing Agony of Christ

Father George W. Rutler
An engineer in Alexandria named Ctesibius is said to have invented the pipe organ around 265 B.C., originally an “hydraulis” using water to raise air pressure. Although there was a “water organ” in the narthex of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople for heralding the Emperor, one theory holds that organs are not commonly used in the Byzantine rite because they are reminders of the horrors endured by the holy martyrs as pagan entertainment. There were many places in the various circuses and amphitheaters throughout the Empire where these spectacles took place. Possibly the first to be sentenced to the damnatio ad bestias, or being fed to wild beasts, in the Flavian amphitheater of the Colosseum of Rome, was Ignatius, bishop of Antioch.

On February 24, that Colosseum will be floodlit red, along with churches in Syria and Iraq, to publicize the persecution of Christians in our own day. The sponsoring organization, Aid to the Church in Need, reports that in a dozen countries, conspicuously in Egypt and Turkey, anti-Christian persecution has reached a new peak. The situation has worsened in Nepal since new “blasphemy” laws were introduced. While crowds applaud the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang to the sound of music, around 70,000 Christians are languishing in North Korean labor camps. There is a faint echo here of the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, but at least they had Jesse Owens.

Floodlighting may be one vivid way to awaken the attention of people in more comfortable lands to what is happening. Much of our media, as they either willfully or uncomprehendingly ignore the persecution, are like the idols that “have mouths but cannot speak; eyes, but cannot see; ears, but cannot hear” (Psalm 115:5-6). Looking the other way can become a habit. For instance, much of the world ignored the deportations by the Nazis in 1942 from Lyons, France, when those marked for death were herded into the same Colosseum where the saints Blandina, Ponthinius, Epidodius and Alexander were brutalized in the second century.

The modest abstinences and disciplines of Lent should awaken the senses to perceive things of God more clearly. They can also alert somnolent consciences to harsh realities in other parts of the Church. In Holy Week the Church will remember how Christ awakened the three apostles as they slept through his agony. Pascal said, “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world.” It was the triumphant risen Lord who asked Paul, “Why are you persecuting me?”—for heaven does not ignore earth: “… to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). The Resurrection acclamation, “Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat! – Christ conquers! Christ reigns! Christ commands!” was inscribed on the obelisk that is now in St. Peter’s Square, but that once stood in the Circus of Nero and cast its shadow on the suffering martyrs. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Will You Die for Him? (A Sermon on the Eve of Persecution in America)

From The Remnant
Letter by Father John Echert
Fr. John Echert, Ministering to the Souls of Soldiers in the Mideast
Editor’s Note: Whenever I hear it said that Catholic priests who continue to serve our war-torn Church from within the establishment are playing the part of the coward for not joining a traditionalist fraternity or society, my blood begins to boil. The following is the transcript of a sermon delivered a few weeks ago by a diocesan priest here in St. Paul. Father Echert has been providing daily Traditional Latin Masses in this archdiocese ever since 2007, and before that he opened his church willingly and enthusiastically to the TLM shortly after he was made pastor of the Church of St. Augustine in South St. Paul. A relatively young military chaplain who has served in Iraq and in various dangerous locations in the Mideast, Father’s courage seems to recognize no limits, unquestionably loyal to the Church but utterly unafraid to speak the truth no matter the personal costs. So the next time you’re tempted to claim that only priests trying to “save their skins” stay on and serve within our occupied Church, please remember Father Echert and the many good priests just like him who cannot find it within themselves to abandon their flocks to modernist priests during the present siege, and so have determined to stay on and hold the Catholic ground come what may. And as you read the following sermon, please consider the courage in the face of evil that is required of a priest first to deliver this sermon in the present climate and then to give the “rad-trad” Remnant permission to publish it. God bless you, Father! And, for what it’s worth, when they come for you, which now begins to seem almost inevitable, we’ve got your back!   Father Miguel Pro, pray for us and for our courageous priests. MJM

My Friends in Christ,

It has now been one week since the diabolical Supreme Court decision which now makes same-sex marriage a universal right for Americans. How ironic that in the days leading up to this national holiday that celebrates the Independence of the United States, the highest court in the land should abuse its power in such a blatant act against true human liberty and rights as determined by God.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Solzhenitsyn Mourned Bastille Day. So Should All Christians

The French Revolution invented radical nationalism and socialism, and launched the first modern genocide, aimed at Christians. 

Tuesday, July 14 probably passes without much fanfare in your home, but the date, Bastille Day, marks the beginning of the greatest organized persecution of Christians since the Emperor Diocletian. This day, the beginning of the French Revolution, also planted the seeds for the murderous ideologies of socialism and nationalism that would poison the next two centuries, murdering millions of believers and other innocent civilians. Between them, those two political movements racked up quite a body count: In Death By Government, scholar R. J. Rummel pointed out that

during the first 88 years of this century, almost 170,000,000 men, women and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens or foreigners.

But the first such modern genocide in the West took place in France, beginning in 1793. It was undertaken by modern, progressive apostles of Enlightenment and aimed at pious peasants in the Vendée region of France. By its end up to 300,000 civilians had been killed by the armies of the Republic.

This story is little discussed in France. Indeed, a devout historian who teaches at a French university once told me, “We are not to mention the Vendée. Anyone who brings up what was done there has no prospect of an academic career. So we keep silent.”

Read more at The Stream >>

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Patriarchs Urge West to Stop Extinction of Middle East Christians

Chaldean Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan Joseph and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan at an ecumenical service in Washington (CNS)

United in the suffering of their people, five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the Middle East.

“Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian action, to save Christianity in the Middle East,” said Catholicos Aram of Cilicia, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian patriarch said a comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat Islamic State extremism that “threatens the very survival of Christianity” in places like Iraq and Syria. He said it was essential to promote human rights, pluralism and religious freedom.

The September 11 panel was part of an inaugural summit, In Defence of Christians (running from September 9-11), a new Washington-based group formed to promote awareness of the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and to lobby US policymakers on their behalf.

Read more at The Catholic Herald (UK) >>

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Believers Rally After HGTV Cancels Reality Show Starring Christian Twin Brothers Who Oppose Abortion, Homosexuality, Divorce

"This is pure intolerance, discrimination, and bullying toward those who hold to widely held and legitimate views. HGTV's rash actions hold no place in America's rainbow of diversity,"

Christian viewers of the Home & Garden Television (HGTV) are now up in arms after the network announced Wednesday that they have "decided not to move forward" with a reality show called "Flip It Forward" starring conservative Christian twin brothers David and Jason Benham who are openly opposed to abortion, homosexuality and no-fault divorce.

The episodes of the show were expected to reflect the brothers' experience in flipping houses for profit and helping other families do the same "with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the brothers along the way," according to MSNBC.

HGTV made the announcement via social media just one day after Right Wing Watch highlighted their views in a report.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The World's Most Ancient Christian Communities Are Being Destroyed — And No One Cares

Christians in the Middle East have been the victims of pogroms and persecution. Where's the outrage in the West? 

Egyptian Coptic Christians mourn during a mass funeral in 2011. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Like many Coptic Christians in Egypt, Ayman Nabil Labib had a tattoo of the cross on his wrist. And like 17-year-old men everywhere, he could be assertive about his identity. But in 2011, after Egypt's revolution, that kind of assertiveness could mean trouble.

Ayman's Arabic-language teacher told him to cover his tattoo in class. Instead of complying, the young man defiantly pulled out the cross that hung around his neck, making it visible. His teacher flew into a rage and began choking him, goading the young man's Muslim classmates by saying, "What are you going to do with him?"

Ayman's classmates then beat him to death. False statements were given to police, and two boys were taken into custody only after Ayman's terror-stricken family spoke out.

Ayman's suffering is not an isolated case in Egypt or the region.

Read more at The Week >>

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The European Crusade Against Christianity

Photo: EPA
By Milena Faustova

The Christian civilization is in great danger. Today about 100 million followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ are being persecuted. People are suffering or sometimes even dying for their faith not only in the countries of the Middle East, Northern and Southern Africa but also in South East Asia – regions that are essentially non-Christian. The believers in Europe and America, i.e. residents of the states where the adoption of Christianity in the past determined their development and formation, increasingly often face anti-religious prosecution.
In 2013 Europe had a ceremonial celebration of the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan. At its time that document served as an important step towards turning Christianity into the official religion of the modern EU. However, that historic celebration did not stop those who are today convinced that there should be no place for religion in modern society. The latest scandal of the year was the firing of a Norwegian TV presenter this past November. The journalist was punished for showing up at work wearing a cross around her neck and refused to take it off. That is not the only such case in Europe. Such persecution is currently underway in practically all countries of the Old World. One of the main reasons for the growing phobia of Christianity is the total change of the view of the world and conscious abandonment of Christian values and rules, thinks Yuri Tabak, a specialist in religions:

“The last few decades have been tied to the process of final separation of the European values from the religious values. The secularization of modern Europe is going very fast. Its goal is to leave the religious values only for private, absolutely individual use by the people. A few years ago when the European Constitution was adopted, they seriously debated the issue whether the word God could be left in the document. Back then it was decided that the word God should not be mentioned in that document. In other words, the entire religious component, traditional for the many centuries of Europe's development, back then was left out of the modern view of the world. That is why they are currently trying to take out all the religious symbols and referrals from use”.

The persecutors are no longer shy to demonstratively give up their spiritual roots, to adopt laws that contradict the biblical rules, to ban all mass festivals with Christian attributes and try to replace the traditional faith by a non-traditional one. A couple of days ago the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom officially accepted scientology as a religion. In today's EU the cases when Christian churches and sacred objects are sold, desecrated or sometimes completely destroyed are taking place more and more often. With the silent consent of the European society about 200 unique ancient churches of Kosovo and Metohija have been lost. The Hagia Sofia, the famous church of Constantinople (now Istanbul) is also under threat. That grand cathedral-monument that goes back to the first centuries of Christianity might soon be turned into a mosque once again. With such an attitude towards the historic religion, muezzins' call to prayer will soon be heard all over Europe. Pavel Svyatenkov, a political scientist, expressed the following concern:

“As the sacred place does not remain empty for long, the European Union is most likely in for islamization. Today Islam is actively spreading. Representatives of that religion come to Europe from Middle Eastern and African countries. However, I am convinced that with the current persecution of Christianity the conservative layers of society will start protesting more loudly. For example, the decision made by the French president François Hollande to make legal same sex marriages, which this year went through the parliament, caused great protests in the country”.

Not only secular politicians, liberals and atheists are to blame for Christianity leaving Europe, but also the followers themselves. Despite the fact that the rights of Christians are violated practically every day, many people are in no rush to defend them. The appeals to the European Court to restore religious freedoms are quite rare. Meanwhile, there have been several cases at the European Court of Human Rights when the fairness in the area of faith has been restored, says Philipp Ryabykh, a representative of the Russian Orthodox Church at the Council of Europe:

“At some point a woman from Italy tried to prove that the schools in the country have no right to place a crucifix on the walls. Initially the ECHR passed a decision in favor of the woman and enacted that the country’s authorities took down all religious symbols from state schools. But then the same court revised its decision and passed a different verdict. The decision protected the presence in schools of crucifix as a symbol of Christian culture and identity”.

However, the revision of the crucifix case became possible only due to the protests expressed to the ECHR by many countries, including Russia. By the way, the Moscow Patriarchy has repeatedly expressed sharp criticism of any demonstration of Christianity-phobia and has appealed to the European community with a request to protect Christians. In 2011 a special document was passed at the meeting of the Holy Synod, in which Russian bishops called upon the political authorities, social activists and scientists, as well as international organizations to apply maximum effort in fighting the persecution of Christians.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

British House of Commons Discusses Persecution of Christians

On December 3, members of the House of Commons devoted nearly three hours to discussing the persecution of Christians, with some calling upon the British government to do more to address the issue. 

“I believe that the persecution of Christians is the biggest story in the world that has never been told, and its importance cannot be underlined enough,” said Member of Parliament Jim Shannon, who began the discussion. “The subject burdens me, and many other members, judging by the number here.” 
“100,000 Christians will be massacred this year because of their beliefs,” he continued. “200 million Christians will be persecuted due to their faith.”

Additional sources for this story Some links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

From the Pastor - Chaining Christian Conscience

A weekly column by Father George Rutler.

 Our many fellow Catholics now enchained for the Faith of our Fathers in such places as China, Syria, and Egypt are, as Father Faber’s hymn says, “in heart and conscience free.” But what happens when a government tries to chain the conscience itself?

A few weeks ago, in a remarkably unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the attempt of the present Administration in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC to restrict religious freedom. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the Administration's argument that the First Amendment does not guarantee the right of a religious organization to choose its leaders, was an “extreme” infringement of the free-exercise clause.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vatican: Chinese Catholics Should Not Receive Sacraments from Bishops Involved in Consecration

Fr. Joseph Huang Bingzhang illicitly ordained by the Communist government of China for the Shantou diocese.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is urging Catholics in China not to receive sacraments administered by Father Paul Lei Shiyin, who was illicitly consecrated Bishop of Leshan without a pontifical mandate, and by the seven bishops who consecrated him. 

China 'Kidnaps' Bishops to Stage Catholic Ordination

China has ordained another bishop without the Pope's approval and allegedly kidnapped four bishops to witness the ceremony, in its fiercest act of defiance against the Vatican yet.

There are thought to be millions of "underground" Catholics in China who remain loyal to Rome Photo: REUTERS
From The Telegraph
By Malcolm Moore, Shanghai

In a three hour-long morning ceremony, China's government-run Catholic church ordained the Reverend Joseph Huang Bingzhang as the new bishop of the southern city of Shantou.

It is the third time in eight months that the Communist party - which insists that it, rather than the Pope, controls China's church - has appointed a bishop without a Papal mandate.

Thursday's ceremony was particularly controversial after four bishops loyal to the Vatican were taken away by Chinese police and allegedly forced to participate.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Proposed Legislation Could Close All Catholic Adoption Agencies in US

By Kevin J. Jones

Lori Windham and Peter Sprigg
A proposal in Congress would ban Catholic adoption agencies and undercut the needs of children by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation, two legislative experts say.

“This legislation would prohibit adoption agencies and foster care agencies, including religious adoption agencies and foster care agencies, from providing services in many cases,” warned Lori Windham, Senior Counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “They would have to choose between following their religious beliefs and shutting down.”

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, agreed.

“It would have the effect of either banning Christian adoption agencies or forbidding them from acting on their faith convictions and their moral convictions in terms of what is in the best interest of a child.”

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) introduced the bill, titled “Every Child Deserves a Family Act,” on May 3. Its 52 co-sponsors in the House include Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is expected to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

'Six Shot Dead' in Egyptian Religious Clashes

Egyptian Coptic Christians demonstrate outside the state radio and television building in central Cairo

From The Age (AU)

Six Coptic Christians were shot dead and at least 45 were injured in religious clashes with Muslims in the Egyptian capital, a Coptic priest told AFP on Wednesday.

"We have at the clinic the bodies of six Copts, all of them shot," local priest Samann Ibrahim told AFP.
The clashes between Christians and Muslims erupted in the poor working class district of Moqattam late Tuesday after at least 1,000 Christians gathered there to protest the burning of a church last week.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cardinal Bertone: 'Christians the Most Persecuted Religious Group in the World'

'We die, we die, okay. But the cross lives'

From Catholic Online

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The fourth Gospel contains a stirring "promise" of the Bible. It is rarely recounted by some contemporary preachers who often refer to the "promises" of the Bible in a manner that seems to imply we can all be "healthy, wealthy and wise" if we simply "claim" them. However, this promise is found in all of the Gospel accounts and comes right from the mouth of the Lord Himself:
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:18-20)

Most of our readers know that I write often about the growing persecution faced by our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Just yesterday we published a stunning account from a survivor of the evil attack on Catholics during Holy Mass at Our Lady of Salvation (Deliverance) in Iraq. Here is an excerpt:

"It was a Sunday and evening mass had just begun. Shortly after the Gospel reading, about 17.15, we heard the sound of gunfire outside the church. Father Tha'er, who was celebrating the liturgy, tried to calm everyone down, telling us to pray together. The noise became louder, then we heard a loud explosion and the terrorists entered the Church - five or six in all - and started shooting everywhere.."

"I saw the injured girl. I decided to go and get her to try and bring her to safety. I took her on my shoulders, but one of the terrorists saw me and threw a grenade at us: the girl died and I was on the ground wounded. I pretended to be dead.

"While I was on the ground I saw Father Tha'er trying to defend the altar servers: he embraced them and covered them with his cassock, to protect them, as if he wanted to hide them. One of the men attacked him, trying to beat him to his knees, but he resisted and remained standing, in the end the terrorist killed him. I could hear the cries of the people in the church, terribly afraid, when at one point I heard a voice, I do not know who he was shouting to the terrorists: 'We die, we die, okay. But the cross lives. Whoever it was, was immediately killed."

In recent articles I have covered the plight of Asia Bibi, a Christian wife and mother in Pakistan whose "crime" is her love for Jesus Christ in a hostile Islamic State. She is scheduled for execution because she stood up for her faith in the midst of a crowd of angry persecutors. I have written about the horrid persecution against Catholics and other Christians in Mumbai India at the hands of Extremist Hindus and the continuous assault against Catholics and other Christians in Vietnam and China.

These are not isolated incidents. Sadly, they represent an ominous trend.

Those who live in the West have not had to face the kind of persecution that ends in the shedding of our blood - at least not yet. Instead, we are being squeezed out of the public square. We are facing the brunt of selective discrimination, verbal denigration and being increasingly marginalized; all of which is a sign of the intolerance of what Pope Benedict rightly labeled the "Dictatorship of Relativism." However, this too is a part of the same ominous trend.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is representing the Holy See this week at an international gathering occurring under the auspices of the "Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe" in Astana, Kazakhstan. The organization has 56 member countries which include the United States and Canada. It claims to be the world's largest intergovernmental organization dedicated to security and central to its claim is its expressed support for human rights.

This meeting had an agenda to cover terrorism, human trafficking, unrest in Kyrgyzstan and the ongoing tensions in Afghanistan. The Cardinal gave a strong address in which he addressed those concerns. However, what was most striking in his address was his explanation of the Holy See's concern that all Nations respect "that human dignity which unites the entire human family."

He insisted that "this unity is rooted in four fundamental principles: the centrality of the human person, of solidarity, of subsidiarity and of the common good. These principles harmonize well with the overall concept of security, which is the foundation of our organization, and are a constant reminder which the political community must bear in mind".

The Cardinal reminded the leaders "the CSCE and the OSCE have always had the promotion and protection of human rights in their respective agendas" and that "These fundamental freedoms include the right to religious freedom". He affirmed "Developments of recent years and the progress made in drafting the various texts adopted by the OSCE show, with increasingly clarity, that religious freedom can exist in different social systems".

He continued, "closely related to the denial of religious freedom is religiously-motivated intolerance and discrimination, especially against Christians. It is well documented that Christians are the most discriminated and persecuted religious group. Over 200 million of them, belonging to different denominations, live in difficult conditions because of legal and cultural structures".

It was that line, "It is well documented that Christians are the most discriminated and persecuted religious group" which caught most of the headlines around the world. Rightly so, because the Cardinal is absolutely correct. We are living in a new missionary age. The promise of the Lord is being fulfilled "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."

I am grateful for the efforts of Church leaders like Cardinal Bertone. I am encouraged by the witness of heroes like Father Tha'er in Iraq who covered the altar servers with his cassock in an effort to protect them. However, in the midst of this ominous trend I am inspired by the anonymous martyr in that same Church who spoke the truth while staring down the barrel of a gun, "We die, we die, okay. But the cross lives!" Christians are the most persecuted group in the world.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Man Militia

My good friend, Father John Roddy, Pastor of St. Hilda of Whitby Anglican Catholic Church in Atlanta and author of the Anglican Catholic Priest blog, posted the following poignant reminder of the persecution and murder of Christians that is underway in Islamic countries. Please see his appeal for help.


Photo: Son of Fr. Mushtaq Andrew stands guard outside of tent where his Father is holding a service.

Not far from Lahore, Pakistan is an Anglican Catholic parish of the Diocese of Lahore/Pakistan, Church of India, Pakistan, Burma, and Ceylon. This is the same country where Asia Bibi lives. Christians are not safe in this country, the government has proven repeatedly that it cannot protect the Christian minority from attacks from violent Muslims, murderous attacks.

Fr. Mushtaq Andrew is the archdeacon of this tiny diocese and leads a small flock of Christians. This group of Christians also provide medical and social services to the poor. Now they feel so threatened that Father has posted his own son to guard the tent where the parish holds religious services lest they be attacked while at prayer. His son is in effect a one man Christian militia. This is a situation that elicits both admiration and horror at the same time. Admiration for one so young and all alone to bravely stand watch so that his earthly father might preach the gospel of the heavenly Father, and horror at the prospect that the daunting odds against this young Christian might get him killed.

The events of the past few weeks in Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan reveal a new tactic on the part of al-Qaeda that calls for direct attacks on native Christian populations in Islamic dominated lands. In Iraq and Egypt there is no Christian militia to defend the faithful from these attacks. The national governments seem incapable of defending Christian homes and churches from attacks, in fact often the government is aiding in covering up for the attackers and even on occasion arresting Christians who call the police for protection.

With a sister parish of my own church under threat, the horror of what is transpiring in these countries is made real to me in a way that others perhaps cannot comprehend. We need to pray earnestly for Christians in all of these countries and we need to support them financially so that they can create a more secure environment for their families. They need a building to worship in. In a tent they are most vulnerable. If you want to help them build a church please contact me and I will tell you how you can help.

In Christ,
Fr. John

Friday, October 15, 2010

California School District Sued over Threat to Terminate Principal for Endorsing Prayer Breakfast

From LifeSiteNews

An elementary school principal is filing a lawsuit against the Goleta Union School District after it threatened to end his contract for appearing in a short video promoting the 52nd Annual Community Prayer Breakfast to honor teachers.

Foothill School Principal Craig Richter, an evangelical Christian, was disciplined by his district after a district board member saw the promo video on YouTube and reported it to the board, according to the complaint. The school district said that Richter’s 30-second speech in the video violated the line of separation between church and state.

“Personally endorsing a prayer event that invites people of all faiths to honor teachers should not be twisted into a constitutional violation,” said William Rehwald, Richter’s lead counsel in the case. “Principal Richter did a good thing, not a bad thing, and should keep his job.”

Rehwald is an attorney with Rehwald, Glasner and Chaleff in Woodland Hills, California, who is also supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian public interest firm, in the case against the Goleta Union School District.

Richter himself did not participate in the prayer breakfast, which was open to all religious faiths. The event’s organizers decided that this year’s theme would be to honor teachers. Organizers of the prayer breakfast designed the video to promote the prayer breakfast to local business owners who might also wish to honor teachers.

Richter made the ad in March and appeared for 30 seconds along with a Santa Barbara-area school superintendent and a local teacher.

However district officials claim that Richter identified himself in the video as a principal of the school district, implying their official support. The suit contends that Richter only represented himself as a local educator, the principal of Foothill School.

According to the complaint, Richter and other Foothill School educators did not attend the prayer breakfast because the district decided not to participate. Additionally, it says the district cited traffic safety concerns, possible lateness from teachers returning to their classrooms, but gave no indication that they had concerns about promoting religion.

“It’s ridiculous to punish and fire a Christian administrator simply because he wanted to honor teachers at an event that includes prayer,” commented Joseph Infranco Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is supporting the case. “Principal Richter did absolutely nothing wrong by appearing in the ad, which welcomed all Santa Barbara community members to join the half-century-old community event. The district’s contention that he was somehow violating the Constitution is not only unfounded, but absurd, as the video itself demonstrates.”

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bishops Urge EU to Defend Persecuted Christians

Destroyed homes of Christians in India

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) is urging the European Union to defend the rights of persecuted Christians.

“75% of the death[s] linked to hate crimes of [a] religious nature concern people of Christian faith,” COMECE noted in a press release announcing an October 5 conference, whose speakers include bishops from Sudan and Iraq. “Each year 170,000 Christians suffer because of their beliefs. The total number of faithful who are discriminated amounts already 100 million. This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group.”

“Persecution may also include obstacles to the proclamation of Faith, confiscation and destruction of places of worship or prohibition of religious training and education,” the statement added. “Europe cannot remain passive. The European Union must take the co-responsibility for the protection of religious freedom in the world.”

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

School Group Told Not to Pray on U.S. Supreme Court Steps

From LifeSiteNews
By James Tillman

Earlier this year police reportedly told a Christian school teacher who was leading her students in quiet, private prayer on the steps of the Supreme Court building that she was not permitted to pray there.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal association, has sent a letter to Supreme Court officials threatening legal action unless the Supreme Court police retract their policy and permit the teacher to exercise her constitutionally-protected right to the free exercise of religion.

“Christians shouldn’t be silenced for exercising their beliefs through quiet prayer on public property,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Nate Kellum. “The last place you’d expect this kind of obvious disregard for the First Amendment would be on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court itself, but that’s what happened.”

On May 5, Mrs. Maureen Rigo, a teacher at Wickenberg Christian Academy in Arizona, was taking an educational tour of the Capitol with ten students and three other parents. The first stop for the day was the front steps of the Supreme Court, where they took a few pictures before quietly gathering on the bottom level of the steps to pray.

According to ADF they were holding no signs and speaking only in a conversational tone; nevertheless, a court police officer quickly approached them and told them to stop.

“Ma’am, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t pray, but you can’t do it here," he said, according to Mrs. Rigo. "Please go somewhere else.”

She asked, "Since when?"

He answered, "This week."

The group then moved off the steps of the Supreme Court building and began to pray on the streets.

Their prayer was stopped based on statute 40 U.S.C. §6135, which pertains to parades and protests.

It forbids acting in a way meant "to bring into public notice a party, organization, or movement" on the Supreme Court building grounds.

The ADF, however, claims that it is absurd to say that 40 U.S.C. §6135 would forbid the sort of prayer in which the school group was engaged.

"Mrs. Rigo's prayers were not communicated to anyone outside of God and her very small group," the letter argues.

"Her prayers are akin to routine conversations conducted by any other small group of persons touring the Supreme Court grounds."

It continues: "Likewise, Mrs. Rigo was not engaging in a parade, procession, or assembly. She was speaking in a conversational level to those around her with her head bowed."

This means, according to the ADF, that the police officer had "targeted a particular viewpoint for censorship."

"They have singled out and censored religious prayer as the only form of conversation to be silenced," the letters states.

Unless Supreme Court officials inform Mrs. Rigo that she may engage in quiet prayer on the Supreme Court grounds within three weeks, the letter says she will have no choice but to take legal action to ensure that her constitutional rights are not infringed.

Mrs. Rigo and the students, however, say that they at least found the experience educational. The following day they toured the Holocaust Museum.

“Some [students] commented on the way the horror in Germany began so simply with the removal of rights for the Jews while so many others looked the other way,” Mrs. Rigo wrote in an article for the Sonoran News. Other students questioned whether similar policies for Christians were beginning in America.

She finished by saying that students at least learned that “now, more than ever before, they need to be praying for our country.”

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shari’a Court Consents to Destruction of Churches in Northern Nigeria

Three Protestant churches and a pastor’s home were demolished on May 15 and 19 in Kano state in northern Nigeria after a local Shari’a court consented to their destruction.

“It is unacceptable that churches can still be destroyed on the whim of a few extremists,” said an official of Christian Solidarity Worldwide. “These demolitions violate Nigeria’s constitutional and international legal undertakings to uphold religious freedom and freedom of assembly. In addition, the constitution stipulates that non-Muslims cannot be brought before Shari’a courts unless they have agreed to this in advance and in writing; thus there is no valid basis for these demolitions.”

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recently named Nigeria a country of particular concern because of “ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom” there.

50% of the nation’s 142.5 million people are Muslim; 25% are Protestant, 15% are Catholic, and 10% retain indigenous beliefs.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Graham: 'Never Retreat' Despite Day of Prayer Opposition

Evangelist Franklin Graham says he'll "never retreat," despite the withdrawal of his invitation to speak today at the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer observance.

In Washington Wednesday, Graham urged Christians to openly proclaim their faith -- "even if preaching the Gospel someday becomes against the law."

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