Vinoth Ramachandra – Pocket-Sized Gods?

vinoth_ramachandra
Vinoth Ramachandra

The Malaysian Church, in recent decades, was engaged in a prolonged legal battle with their Islamist-influenced government which prohibited non-Muslims from using the word Allah to refer to the supreme God and creator. Church leaders received directives stating that several words of Arabic origin, including Allah, Nabi (prophet) and Al Kitab (Bible) were not to be used by non-Muslims as Arabic was the language of Muslims. Usage by Christians would sow the seeds of “confusion”. The import of Malay Bibles printed in Indonesia (which used Allah) was effectively banned.

Christians countered by pointing out that Allah was the common term used to refer to the supreme God long before Islam came into existence in North Africa. Arab Christians continue to worship God as Allah and Malay-speaking Christians have also been using Allah for centuries. Far from sowing “confusion”, it has facilitated communication and promoted mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims.

Clearly this was more than a matter of official historical ignorance. Islamists fearful of the conversion of Muslims sought to deter the latter from reading the Bible by claiming that Christians and Muslims worship different Gods. They have been successful. Christians lost the legal battle, with dire consequences for the future of social justice and religious harmony in Malaysia.

How ironic, then, to find these Islamist arguments flourishing among conservative Christians in the so-called American Bible Belt. Continue reading “Vinoth Ramachandra – Pocket-Sized Gods?”

Marc Barnes – Why “Getting Along” Isn’t Working

coexist

These violent, extremist, and racist days need to try the discussion of our differences all over again. No dumbass bumper-stickers this time. 

To tell the Jew that his culture is “worthy of respect” and “as valuable as any other culture” is to insult him in a far worse manner than telling him that the Jews can piss off. Being Jewish is precisely a being set-apart, being a chosen race and a royal priesthood. The recapitulation of the Jew as dwelling within the same, homogeneous value-status as everyone else is a strike against his Jewishness. An insult, while nothing to strive for, at least recognizes the Jew as Jew, while our “compliment” hollows him of his Judaism and smiles at him as ”just another culture.”

In fact, the “equality of all cultures” excludes most cultures, for most cultures, from the Greeks to the Nigerians, are united by a vision of themselves as superior, destined, chosen — special. In a similar manner, the “equal dignity of all religions” excludes most religions, for most religions — whether Islam, Reformed Presbyterianism, or Judaism — only exist insofar as they are a series of absolute claims about the nature of God and of man, claims which by definition exclude contrary claims and thus can never be melted into a mediocre soup of “equal dignity” with “every other religion.” Continue reading “Marc Barnes – Why “Getting Along” Isn’t Working”

Parable of the Good… Muslim

Source: Thoughtful Engagement – Gospel and Humanity

Did you ever read the Parable of the goo… Muslim?

Here it is.

Stephen Holmes – Mr Graham, you ain’t no Baptist, bruv – An open letter to Franklin Graham

franklin graham
Franklin Graham

ear Mr Graham,

This week someone who has put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of your great nation made a number of hate-filled and inaccurate comments about Muslims, and proposed some extreme policies on the back of those comments. This came to our attention here in the UK because one of the things he claimed, entirely erroneously, was that parts of London were so radicalised that they had become no-go areas for our police and security services.

Our national response was, as our national responses so often are, as mocking as it was derisive. The mayor of London led the way, but on social media many of us joined in with the humour. I know London well; I trained for ministry there, took my PhD there, pastored my first church there, made, with my wife, our first home there, and saw two of our three daughters come into the world there. My home has been elsewhere for eleven years now, but it is a city I still visit several times a year, a city that still has a significant place in my heart. For all these reasons, I know that the truth about London was expressed far better by a young Muslim Londoner caught on camera as our police arrested someone who had attempted violence, pretending to represent Islam. In a pure London accent he called out to the attacker, ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv!’

London is an exhilarating and sometimes disorientating coming together of people of different national backgrounds and of different faiths; London is also a city that is passionate that people come together, without denying who they are. London Muslims are truly Muslim, and devoted the the peace of the city also; London Baptists the same, as I know well. In London, the person who believes the two are impossible to hold together will be told, straightforwardly, ‘You ain’t no Muslim, bruv.’ Continue reading “Stephen Holmes – Mr Graham, you ain’t no Baptist, bruv – An open letter to Franklin Graham”

Brian McLaren – An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr, Students and Faculty of Liberty University

Brian_McLaren

Dear Mr. Falwell,

In the tradition of your father, you made some reckless and inflammatory statements to your students the other day.

Just as I appreciate it when peace-loving Muslims, Hindus and others repudiate hostile and reckless statements made by prominent members of their religions, I feel impelled by conscience to repudiate your words as not being representative of authentic Christianity as I, and thousands like me, understand it.

For us, authentic Christianity is the loving, peaceful, justt and generous way of life embodied in Jesus. It is characterized more by self-giving than self-defense, by pre-emptive peacemaking rather than pre-emptive violence.

Your message faithfully represents a longstanding (and ugly) stream of American culture and politics. This tradition goes back to those who argued against the equal human rights and dignity of the Native Peoples and African-American slaves, often abusing the Bible to justify white supremacy under its various guises. Continue reading “Brian McLaren – An Open Letter to Jerry Falwell Jr, Students and Faculty of Liberty University”

It’s Official – I Am Leaving World Vision

world-vision

Note: Today, my World Vision supervisor, Conny Lenneberg, the leaders of our region, made the official announcement about my leaving the organisation. Here is what she wrote.

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Dear colleagues,

It is with great regret that we advise that, due to funding challenges in F[inancial] Y[ear] [20]16, we will not be able to maintain our Faith in Development Director Position held by Danut Manastireanu beyond February 2015.

Danut has played an instrumental part in the development of the Christian Witness and Spiritual Formation of our leadership and staff over the past 17 years. We are most appreciative of the dedication and passion he has brought to FnD throughout the entire MEER [Middle East & Eastern Europe] region.

Danut started his relationship with WV as a member of WV Romania’s advisory board in 1995, later joining as WV staff in the position of MEER Christian Commitments Director in 1999.  During his service with WV Danut has contributed in so many ways, developing FnD [Faith in Development] staff across the region, supporting the N[ational] O[ffice]s,  advocating on behalf of the region to ensure good understanding of both the unique inter-denominational sensitivities and complex inter-faith context.   Some of the highlights of his contribution include:   Continue reading “It’s Official – I Am Leaving World Vision”

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks on His New Book ‘Not in God’s Name’

Notable Rabbi Jonathan Sacks talks to Andrew Marr on “The Andrew Marr Show” about the War on Terror; Islam; Islamic Extremism and the history of religion combining with war.

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If you are interested, you may listen below, to a lomger discussion about this very important book.

Are Islam’s Allah and Christianity’s God the Same Deity? | University Abbey

My virtual friend Carson Clark discusses in tis post the tough question of whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Here are just two comments on this matter:

  1. Until about a century ago, the unanimous answer of Christians was a resoundiong  ‘yes’. We need to ask ourselves what made us all to of a sudden doubt it.
  2. This question cannot be answered legitimately if we cannot also add to it the question if Christians and Jews worship the same God. If we answer yes to this question and no to the second, we are in a blatant contradiction.

 

Visit the post for more.

Source: Are Islam’s Allah and Christianity’s God the Same Deity? | University Abbey

My World Vision Story – 3 – From ‘Prisoner’ in the Communist Camp, to Globe Trotter

world-vision

From ‘prisoner’ in the communist camp, to globe trotter

I have started in my new adventure as a World Vision staff member on December 1st, 1999, one month before the turn of the Millennium. It was not an easy ride, by any means, but I have learned enormously during the last sixteen years as a staff member of this Christian humanitarian organisation.

Although my Christian ministry had from the beginning an ecumenical dimension, and my theological studies centred on contemporary Orthodox theology helped me to go beyond the narrow confines of the evangelicalism of my youth, it was in WV that I have come to understand in very real terms, and to be able to serve the entire breadth of the Church. Furthermore, it was in the WV context that I had real human interaction with people of other faith, and was often humbled by the sincerity of their commitment to a faith other than mine, and by their genuine love to others. Without my WV experience, these dimensions of faith would have remained theoretical, distant realities for me. Continue reading “My World Vision Story – 3 – From ‘Prisoner’ in the Communist Camp, to Globe Trotter”

Miroslav Volf – In Light of the Paris Attacks, is it Time to Eradicate Religion?

Miroslav Volf1

Paris is where a long trail of blood and tears, meandering through the centuries and from continent to continent, has now stopped — for a brief while.

The Islamic State has taken the responsibility for the 129 dead and more than 350 injured, almost 100 of them seriously. In Paris as in many other places, the hands that pulled the triggers of Kalashnikov rifles and pulled the fuses of bombs to kill the innocent people belonged to men and women in whose hearts burned the fires of religious zeal.

Religion, it would seem, breeds violence. Far from being great, God might be thought terrible.

In a globalized world, the terror of God’s crazy-eyed followers is threatening lives, peace and prosperity of everyone on the planet. We are tempted to conclude: The sooner that humanity either eradicates or quarantines off religion, the better our world will be. This conclusion would be too hasty, however. Continue reading “Miroslav Volf – In Light of the Paris Attacks, is it Time to Eradicate Religion?”

Executive Summary of 120 Islamic Scholars Addressed to Daesh

(RNS1-sept24) Nihad Awad, center, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, and more than 10 Muslim-American leaders Wednesday (Sept. 24) endorse a letter written by more than 100 Islamic scholars that denounces ISIS by relying on sacred Muslims texts. For use with RNS-MUSLIM-SCHOLARS, transmitted on September 24, 2014, Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe.
Religion News Service photo by Lauren Markoe

1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas, and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith.

2. It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.

3. It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Shari’ah matters and ignore established Islamic sciences.

4. It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know.

5. It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings. Continue reading “Executive Summary of 120 Islamic Scholars Addressed to Daesh”

These Men Tried To Kill Each Other. Now They’re United For Peace.

Source: These Men Tried To Kill Each Other. Now They’re United For Peace.

 

This is an amazing story of reconciliation between Muslims and Christians in NIgeria. I have written previously about this on my blog. You may find HERE a link tothe documentary.

Danut Manastireanu – Interviu pentru cotidianul Adevarul

Ramona Iacobute
Ramona Iacobute

In urma cu putin timp am avut deosebita placere a unei convorbiri prietenesti cu Ramona Iacobute, jurnalist in cadrul echipei din Iasi a ziarului Adevarul. Am discutat despre credinta, despre secularizare, despre islam si islamofobie, despre criza refugiatilor sirieni si multe altele. O parte a acestui dialog si-a gasit locul in interviul publicat astazi, 21 octombrie, 2015, de cotidianul Adevarul.

Redau mai jos prima parte a interviului.

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Ieşeanul doctor în Teologie ajuns în marile zone de conflict ale lumii: „Criza refugiaţilor e un turnesol pentru Europa. Arată lipsa de coerenţă, lipsa unui lider.”

DanutM

Dănuţ Mănăstireanu (60 ani), cu o vastă experienţă în zonele de conflict şi la catedrele universităţilor care au cursuri de istoria religiilor, îşi expune punctul de vedere în privinţa crizei imigranţilor din Siria şi a evoluţiei religiilor în Europa. Continue reading “Danut Manastireanu – Interviu pentru cotidianul Adevarul”

Interfaith Prayer for Peace

prayer of a child

O God, you are the source of life and peace.
Praised be your name forever.
We know it is you who turns our minds to thoughts of peace.
Hear our prayer in this time of crisis.
Your power changes hearts.

Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm,
that they are followers of the one God,
Children of Abraham, brothers and sisters;
enemies begin to speak to one another;
those who were estranged join hands in friendship;
nations seek the way of peace together.

Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these
truths by the way we live.
Give to us:
Understanding that puts an end to strife;
Mercy that quenches hatred, and
Forgiveness that overcomes vengeance.
Empower all people to live in your law of love.

And as a follower of Jesus,
I pray these things in the name of Christ.

Amen!

(Thanks to my friend Rev Mae Cannon for this annonimous prayer.)

Welcoming Those Less Fortunate

Welcoming those less fortunate

Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos,

General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

22 September 2015

Until now, the Middle East crisis has been contained in that part of the world, and has, for some, become somewhat of a distant reality. If we have occasionally been moved by what we have seen or heard in reports, we have also had the relative comfort of being several steps removed from the situation. Now however, we are witnessing the movement of tens of thousands of desperate people fleeing that crisis and approaching the shores of Europe to seek refuge, and so the issue has become much more immediate and closer to home. Continue reading “Welcoming Those Less Fortunate”

Mesajul unui pastor din Orientul Apropiat

Dragi pastori din Europa,

Salutări în Hristos,

Ne aflăm într-o perioadă de timp foarte critică în ceea ce privește refugiații care se îngrămădesc să intre în țările voastre. Aveți o oportunitate de aur. Fie o acceptați, fie o pierdeți și pierdeți și Europa pentru totdeauna.

Familiile care ajung pe țărmurile țărilor voastre sunt zdrobite, rănite și nevoiașe. Un bun venit călduros le-ar putea schimba perspectivele și convingerile numaidecât. Ei fug de tirania islamului și se află într-o luptă reală în ceea ce privește credințele lor. Ei au crescut cu mentalitatea că fac parte din cea mai bună națiune și religie creată vreodată pe pământ și creierele lor sunt spălate să creadă că toți ceilalți sunt pierduți. Nu li s-a permis niciodată să gândească sau să se îndoiască de aceste lucruri. Li s-a spus că vin de la Dumnezeu. Continue reading “Mesajul unui pastor din Orientul Apropiat”

Message of A Palestinian Christian to ‘Christians United for Israel’

My name is Elizabeth Daoud. I, like over a million Palestinians, am both Palestinian and Christian. I actually come from the Assyrian Orthodox Church, the first and original church of Christians in the Middle East. My parents were born in Palestine and have a long blood line from Jerusalem and Bayte Sahour. Many members of my family were first hand victims of the “nakbah” and had to flee their homeland after being expelled from their homes by Zionist militias, leaving them without the right to return to their land, even to this day. Today in Palestine, Christianity is experiencing what some believe is a crisis. The plight of Palestinian Christians, similar to what Palestinian Muslims are going through, is daily injustice at the hands of oppressive, doctoral and inhumane police forces of the Israeli government. This is occurring in both the West Bank and Gaza, where my Palestinian people live under a brutal and illegal military occupation, and also inside Israel itself, where Palestinians, Muslim and Christian, live as second-class citizens.

Palestinian Christians, like their Muslim brothers and sisters, have lived under Israeli policies of occupation and injustice while many living in the West deny this fact. Many Palestinian Christians feel betrayed by Christians living in North America and Europe who support the state of Israel and the oppression of the Palestinian people. We see them as hypocritical, standing by a state that has left us Palestinians, indiscriminately Christian and Muslim, without a state for over half a century.

Today, Palestinian Christians live under harsh, extreme oppression and apartheid policies. While Christian and Muslim Palestinians living in the West Bank under the heavy hand of martial law are not permitted to vote, undocumented Jewish settlers are subject to civil law and are allowed to vote in Israeli elections. South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who fought to end Apartheid in South Africa, has even embraced the movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until they respect my people’s equal rights, an end to the occupation and the return to the homeland which Israel expelled them from, saying, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces … Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.” Palestinian land continues to be confiscated and Palestinians continue to be humiliated by the Israelis for their religious beliefs. They were almost unable to celebrate Christmas in 2014 due to riots and street fights caused by the Israeli Police. They experience unemployment, poverty and illegal occupation. Moreover, they are routinely prohibited from visiting one of the most holy sites of Christianity: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, the church that commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection from the dead.

As a Palestinian Christian, it is truly upsetting and disappointing to see Christians United for Israel justify the oppression of Palestinian Christians under the banner of Christian values. Palestinian Christians don’t have the smallest right to visit even the holiest of sites that started Christianity because of Israeli policies. How can Christians United for Israel be in support of this when indigenous Christians are being prevented from exercising Christianity in the very place that Jesus walked. I end this by calling upon CUFI to please stop justifying oppression, persecution and repression of my people in the name of the message of the Bible and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Elizabeth Daoud is a Rutgers Business School senior double majoring in finance and management information systems.

(Source, HERE)

The Centre on Religion and Global Affairs

CRGA logo

Our approach to the interplay of religion and global affairs in 5 simple paragraphs!

1. Religions and beliefs play a major role in the way human beings locate themselves in the world and live their day-to-day lives, both as individuals and as communities. Therefore, religions are not simply a matter of personal beliefs about life after death or matter of transcendence. They have direct implications for social, political and economic interactions.

2. At their core, religions are attempts to offer a moral reading of the universe and answer fundamental questions of meaning, and how individuals and communities should live their lives, interact with each other and handle the process of human life. Thus, religions manifest not simply as theological beliefs formulated from sacred texts, but also as social structures and social forces offering belonging, as well as stability and order, to communities. Through rituals and activities of their clerical structures, religions maintain their networks and provide spiritual and physical support to their followers. For this reason, religion often demonstrates itself as the most basic form of civil society in most parts of the world, and emerges as one of the strongest form of mobilisation — cutting across ethnic, socio-economic class, and political differences. Continue reading “The Centre on Religion and Global Affairs”

13 Million Flee Religion-Linked Conflicts Worldwide

Here are some excerpts from a recent article on religious persecution in the world published by Timothy C. Morgan in Christianity Today, occasioned by the release of the 2015 Report of the Unites States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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More than 13 million people worldwide have fled conflicts and crises in which religion has been a key factor, according to the 2015 report from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

The annual report released today reveals that most of the 13 million people displaced are from seven nations: Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Central African Republic (CAR), Eritrea, Burma, and Afghanistan. Continue reading “13 Million Flee Religion-Linked Conflicts Worldwide”

The Peacemaking Palestinian Evangelicals of Israel

AS Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded cantankerous negotiations to finalise his right-wing cabinet, Palestinian-Israeli evangelicals were hoping for something better.

Alienated by campaign rhetoric stigmatising Arab citizens as an electoral threat, they turned in response to the source they know best: the Gospel.

In doing so, they seek to reverse a disturbing trend of isolation from society as a whole, and in particular their Jewish neighbors.

‘Are we not asked to be the salt and light of the earth?’ asked Revd Azar Ajaj, president of Nazareth Evangelical College, in an open letter shortly after the Israeli elections.‘How important, then, to show love to those who have been styled as our “enemies”. In fact we are asked to be peacemakers.’

And from April 16-18, he gathered 60 local and international leaders to discuss how. Continue reading “The Peacemaking Palestinian Evangelicals of Israel”

Bishop Angaelos reflects on Ethiopian victims of Daesh | Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative

Bishop Angaelos reflects on Ethiopian victims of Daesh | Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative.

Pastoral Letter to Ethiopians

Pastoral Letter to Ethiopians.

Dr. Girma Bekele, a former Ethiopian colleague from London School of Theology, now teaching at Wycliffe College in Toronto, writes this important prophetic open letter addressed to Ethiopian Christians, at a time when the Church in that country is reckoning with the brutal killing of some of its members at the hands of Daesh militants in Libya..

It is worth reading, as many of the matters Girma addresses in this letter are also relevant in other parts of the church.

Here is just a short quote:

‘We need to pray and do our part for national visitation: healing for our fractured spirituality, national unity, politics and economy- the very reasons why so many risk their own lives as migrants and refugees. We can do justice and honour the blood of those who have been killed, if we truly live as a nation where God’s righteousness reigns! That means an intentional and purposeful national effort for a more just, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.’

Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide

The State Commission on the Coordination of Events Dedicated to the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in consultation with its regional committees in the Diaspora,
– expressing the united will of the Armenian people,
– based on the Declaration of Independence of Armenia of 23 August 1990 and the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia,
– recalling the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, whereby recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
– guided by the respective principles and provisions of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96(1) of 11 December 1946, the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide  of 9 December 1948,  the United Nations Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity of 26 November 1968, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966 as well as all the other international documents on human rights,
– taking into consideration that while adopting the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the United Nations specifically underlined the importance of international cooperation in the struggle against that criminal offence,
– emphasizing the inadmissibility of impunity of the constituent elements of the crime of genocide and the non-applicability of statutory limitation thereto,
– condemning the genocidal acts against the Armenian people, planned and continuously  perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire and various regimes of Turkey in 1894-1923, dispossession of the homeland, the massacres and ethnic cleansing aimed at the extermination of the Armenian population, the destruction of the Armenian heritage, as well as the denial of the Genocide, all attempts to avoid responsibility, to consign to oblivion the committed crimes and their consequences or to justify them, as a continuation of this crime and  encouragement  to commit new genocides,
– also considering the 1919-1921 verdicts of the courts-martial of the Ottoman Empire on that grave crime perpetrated “against the law and humanity’’ as a legal assessment of the fact,
– appreciating the joint declaration of the Allied Powers on May 24, 1915, for the first time in history defining the most heinous crime perpetrated against the Armenian people as a “crime against humanity and civilization” and emphasizing the necessity of holding Ottoman authorities responsible, as well as the role and significance of the Sevres Peace Treaty of 10 August 1920 and US President Woodrow Wilson’s Arbitral Award of 22 November 1920 in overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide: Continue reading “Pan-Armenian Declaration on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide”

Nick Danforth – The Armenian Genocide’s Samantha Power Problem

Armenian genocide victims
A picture released by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute dated
1915 purportedly shows soldiers standing over skulls of victims from the
Armenian village of Sheyxalan during the First World War

We are living strange times. Although both Nazi and communist ideologies have made tens of millions of victims, we still have Nazi and communist adepts on one side, and Gulag and Holocaust deniers on the other. Besides, we have the fanatics, on both sides. Even today, Lavrov, the Russian (I almost said Soviet) foreign minister, was vehement about the (unproven information) that Americans instigated one of the East European countries to tear down one of the monuments dedicated to the (supposedly heroic) Soviet Army, while at the same time denying that they are the natural heirs of the Soviet empire, that Putin in foolishly and violently trying to rebuild, as we can see these days in Ukraine.

Things are not different with the Armenian Genocide that we are commemorating these days. One one side we have the Middle Ages-like Turkish regime of Erdogan, which continues to deny the primes of the Young Turks in 1915, while of the other side we have fanatic Armenian nationalists, who are trying, at any cost, to oversimplify things and to present the whole matter as merely anti-Christian persecution, denying the role played in these tragic events by the Armenian insurgents, who followed the example of various Christians nations in the Balkans who obtained – in most cases by violence, their legitimate independence from under the oppression exercised by the Ottoman Empire. Armenians in Eastern Turkey, a territory which for many centuries, even before the time of Christ, belonged to Armenia, until it was occupied by force by the Turks.

No surprise then that Armenians (in an absolutely legitimate way, I believe) tried to obtain their independence, if needed by the use of force, while Ataturk’s Young Turks, tried to hold on at any price – even that of genocide – to the leftovers of their damned empire.

This is, more or less, the argument of a well written article published by Nick Danforth in Foreign Policy. Continue reading “Nick Danforth – The Armenian Genocide’s Samantha Power Problem”

Armenian Genocide Timeline

Ottoman Armenians are marched to a prison in Kharpert, Armenia, by armed Turkish soldiers in April 1915. Up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed in what is now recognized as the 20th century's first genocide.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were massacred under the Ottoman Empire. But the most horrifying event was to come in 1915.

1913: Coup brings the ultranationalist Young Turks to power in Constantinople (Istanbul). Three ruling figures were Grand Vizier Mehmed Talat Pasha, Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha and Minister of the Navy Ahmed Djemal Pasha: principal architects of the genocide.

October 1914: After signing a secret treaty with Germany, Turkey launches attack on Russian ports and enters war on German side. Armenians considered “internal enemies.”

February 1915: Talat Pasha tells the German ambassador it is time to conclude the “Armenian question.” The ruling Ottoman Central Committee discusses plans to “eliminate the Armenian people in its entirety.”

April 24, 1915: Talat Pasha orders arrest of more than 200 Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople, and about 2,000 others follow. They are deported and many of them killed.

April 1915 to May 1918: Ethnic cleansing of Armenians launched on vast scale with murders, looting, burning of villages, rapes, deportations. Western observers estimate more than one million are dead at the campaign’s end.

October 1918: Turkey signs armistice with the Allies, Ottoman Empire is subsequently dismantled.

1923: Turkey becomes republic under Kemal Ataturk.

(Source, HERE.)

Sat 7 – The Bishop of the Poor, Justin Welby – An Interview

The interview begins at minute 4.55. It is interspersed with other short statements and video presentations on the Christians in the Middle East, with commentaries unfortunately only in Arabic.

Statement on the Murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

Islamic State militants stand behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians along a beach in Wilayat Barqa, in this still image from an undated video made available on April 19, 2015.

Statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, following the murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

20 April 2015

The confirmation of the murder of Ethiopian Christians by Daesh (IS) in Libya has been received with deep sadness. These executions that unnecessarily and unjustifiably claim the lives of innocent people, wholly undeserving of this brutality, have unfortunately become far too familiar. Once again we see innocent Christians murdered purely for refusing to renounce their Faith.

The Christians of Egypt and Ethiopia have had a shared heritage for centuries. Being predominantly Orthodox Christian communities with a mutual understanding of life and witness, and a common origin in the Coptic Orthodox Church, they now also share an even greater connection through the blood of these contemporary martyrs.

This sad news came on the day that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury visited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Egypt to personally express his condolences following the similar brutal murder of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians in Libya by Daesh in February of this year.  Continue reading “Statement on the Murder of Ethiopian Christians in Libya”

Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim Leaders Affirm Christianity’s ‘Essential Role’ in Middle East

Inter-faith Summit in Bkerke
Inter-faith Summit in Bkerke

Lebanon’s Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim religious leaders affirmed the “essential role” of the Christian presence in the Middle East and called for terrorism in the region to be confronted “culturally, educationally and politically.”

In a joint statement issued March 30 at the conclusion of an inter-faith summit in Bkerke, the seat of the Maronite Catholic Church north of Beirut, the religious leaders emphasised that the Christian presence “plays an essential role” in the identity of the region “and predates Islam by several centuries”.

Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite Catholic patriarch, presided at the summit and the leaders agreed to continue meeting quarterly to continue their discussions.

Terrorism, the religious leaders said, “must be fought through unifying the ranks of moderation” and “modernising the religious rhetoric” with an emphasis on “reconciliation, tolerance and co-existence.” Continue reading “Lebanon’s Christian and Muslim Leaders Affirm Christianity’s ‘Essential Role’ in Middle East”

WEA-RLC – Let’s Eradicate Terrorism in Response to Killing of Christian Students in Kenya

WEA-RLC

We condemn the cowardly, senseless, inhuman, targeted killing of innocent Christian students at Kenya’s Garissa University College by masked gunmen from the Al-Shabaab terror group this week. But let’s not stop there, and see this attack as the last straw.

We were at a loss of words as we heard the news of attackers with explosives and AK-47s targeting a campus site where Christians had gone to pray on Thursday. This deep sorrow should now impel us to defeat terrorism in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere.

“We cannot look at terrorism in isolation, be it Kenya or Somalia or Iraq or Syria,” WEA-RLC Executive Director Godfrey Yogarajah said. “Al-Shabaab, which claimed responsibility for the shameless killing, as well as groups like al-Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS) and Boko Haram are transnational terror groups or aspire to become one, and appear to be either cooperating or competing with each other in revealing their evil intent.” Continue reading “WEA-RLC – Let’s Eradicate Terrorism in Response to Killing of Christian Students in Kenya”

Rabbi Joshua Stanton – Two Faces of Evangelical Christianity

two faces

An evangelical pastor saved my life. But not in the way you are probably thinking.

While a sophomore at Amherst College, I was trying to find my way. Without a clear path, I figured that philanthropy would be a nice occupation. But to be a philanthropist, I needed to make money and lots of it. So I set my sights on finance and began working towards a major in economics.

Even as I was pursuing a lucrative (and generous) future, I remained rooted in Judaism. I had been brought up in the Conservative movement and had long been active in my synagogue and, in college, the international Jewish campus organization Hillel. In time, I became co-president of the organization’s Amherst chapter and began taking part in regular meetings with Amherst’s director of religious life, the Rev. Dr. Paul Sorrentino.

Paul was not like most pastors I had met, or for that matter religious leaders of any sort. Although he spoke to me about his own beliefs and process of becoming reborn as a Christian, it was not with the intention of proselytizing. He did not want to preach all the time. Instead he wanted to listen. He heard of my ambitions and also saw my love of Judaism. So he planted a seed in my mind, telling me, “You know, you would make a wonderful rabbi, if that were something you were interested in.” Continue reading “Rabbi Joshua Stanton – Two Faces of Evangelical Christianity”