Turning the World Upside Down, Down Under | Christianity Today

Source: Turning the World Upside Down, Down Under | Christianity Today

Australian Biblical scholar Michael Bird writes on the defetist so-called ‘Benedict Option’ vs the (active resistance) ‘Thessalonian Strategy’, as a way of engaging the militant anti-Christian atmosphere in Australia.

If I had to chose between the two, I would certainly opt for Bird’s suggestion. Dreher’s (falsely) monastic soluton was tried by the fundamentalists in the tweentieth centurry and it utterly failed).

Yet, I would like to offer and extra suggestion, based on the same first century that gave birth to the Thessalonian approach and on my experience as a persecuted Christian for 35 years beehind the Iron Courtain.

What about a ‘Calvary Strategy’, one based on happily carrying the cross and willfully accepting persecution as a normal part of the faitful walk with Christ?

CSW – Prayer Diary: Sudan

Sudan has been on our minds a lot this year with the case of Reverend Hassan, Reverend Kuwa, Mr Jašek and Mr Abdumawla, all of whom were on trial on unjust charges last year. The men went through many months of imprisonment, separated from their families and frequently enduring harsh conditions. But God is good – Rev Kuwa was found innocent of all charges and released in January 2017. Mr Jašek received a presidential pardon and was freed in February, and in May both Mr Abdumawla and Rev Hassan were set free after receiving a presidential pardon. This, of course, exists in a wider context of extreme pressure on Christians in Sudan: let’s pray through the things they’re facing this week (source, HERE). Read More »

Ioan T Morar – Sarbatoarea Corturilor

morar-Sarbatoarea-corturilor

Citesc cu asiduitate, enorma placere, si deosebit interes ultima carte a domnului Ioan T Morar, Sarbatoarea corturilor. (Am fost nevoit sa merg mai incet, deoarece nevasta mea a reusit sa devoreze prima cartea, asa cum se intimpla de obicei la noi in familie).

Am citeva motive speciale pentru care subiectul acesta ma intereseaza in cel mai inalt grad:

  1. Am in familie (sau mai degraba am avut, caci a plecat deja la cele vesnice) o matusa care a facut parte din ‘miscarea trezitilor’, condusa de Jan Gligor, despre care vorbeste aceasta carte. Matusa mea, pe numele ei Lidia Ababei, a facut din aceasta pricina zece ani de puscarie psihiatrica – pe motiv de delir religios, o veritabila crima in comunism – intr-o clinica de trista amintire (si inca neexplorata ca fapt istoric, probabil pentruca medicii criminali care au condus-o sunt inca in viata, si probabil cu functii mari in sistem) in orasul numit cindva Dr Petru Groza (ce potrivire de nume si ce ironie macabra!). Arestarea a avut loc dupa ce matusa mea a fost excomunicata din biserica baptista in care se inchina, la presiunea Securitatii comuniste si cu larga cooperare a pastorului de atunci al bisericii, Radu Cruceru, un colaborator al acestei institutii opresive, care a avut el insusi un sfirsit tragic, din cite se pare dupa ce a incercat sa rupa legatura cu aceasta (in dosarele mele de urmarire de la Securitate, publicate pe acest blog – vezi categoria File I-1065 – apar multe dintre notele informative scrise de el). In urma tratamentelor inumane aplicate, matusa mea nu a mai fost niciodata un om normal. In cele din urma a emigrat in Statele Unite (am vizitat-o in timpul primei mele calatorii in aceasta tara, in 1991, in Portland, Or.) si a murit prematur in urma cu mai multi ani, posibil si din pricina efectelor nocive ale acelor tratamente.
  2. In virtutea acestei legaturi de familie, si a relatiilor apropiate intre membrii comunitatii evanghelice, din care fac parte, am cunoscut, de asemenea destul de indeaproape, pe mai multi membri ai grupului ‘trezitilor’ din Iasi. Cu una dintre acestea, doamna Lili Anton, profesor la Agronomie, ne-am inchinat o vreme in aceeasi biserica, dupa 1989. Am observat atunci ca dupa persecutiile la care au fost supusi in anii ’70, membrii grupului vorbeau foarte rar si cu precautie despre implicarile lor in acea miscare. In fapt ‘s-au dat cu totii la fund’, ca sa zic asa, preferind activitatile spirituale conspirative, implicarilor oficiale. Cu totii insa au continuat sa fie mentori pentru cei interesati de formare spirituala. Si, din fericire, chiar daca vadeau mai departe anumite inclinatii dogmatice sau spirituale stranii, specifice acelei miscari, in cea mai mare parte s-au pastrat cu totii pe linia ortodoxiei evanghelice.
  3. Dupa o intilnire providentiala, despre care voi vorbi mai tirziu, a povestit in mai multe rinduri cu autorul cartii despre aceasta miscare si despre planurile lui de a scrie o pseudo-fictiune pe aceasta tema. Am incercat chiar, din pacate fara succes, asa cum n-a avut nici el in incercarile lui, sa-i conving pe unii dintre cei care au cunoscut miscarea miscarea dinauntru, sa povesteasca cu el despre experienta lor acolo. Teama si suspiciunile lor funciare i-am impiedicat sa faca asta. In acest punct trebuie sa recunoastem ca noi, cei care am trait mai mult de jumatate din viata sub comunism pastram inca inclinatii paranoice, si vedem inca mai peste tot pericole, informtori si securisti.
  4. Nu am fost prea surprins sa aflu ca unii dinte cei care au cunoscut miscarea trezitilor din perioada ei aradeana au reactionat negativ la vestea nasterii acestui proiect. Si ei, probabil, tot din pricini de paranoia. Nu-i asa, domnule Doru Radu? Sper totusi ca acestia isi vor depasi blocajele, irationale, vor citi cartea, si se vor convinge ca scopul autorului nu a fost nicideum batjocura, ci ca acesta a facut de fapt un serviciu comunitatii evanghelice, fiind chiar, as spune eu, extrem de tolerant cu unele dintre nazbitiile si smintelile teologice care au caracterizat miscarea despre care vorbim aici. Domnul Morar este insa scriitor, nu teolog, si isi poate permite acest lux. Eu unul, nu prea.
  5. Asa cum scriam in alte locuri, dupa cartea lui Dan Lungu, Cum sa uiti o femeie, si cartea lui Vasile Ernu, Sectantii, aceasta este a treia carte din literatura romana recenta (sau poate dintotdeauna) a carei actiune se desfasoara in mediul evanghelic, care a fost cel mai adesea ignorat, ca fiind virtualmente inexistent, si tratat, cel putin pina acum, ca un veritabil paria de spatiul cultural romanesc, pretins foarte tolerant. Interesant este ca toate cele trei carti au aparut la Polirom (felicitari pentru curaj editurii iesene! sper sa si cistige ceva bani de pe urma acestui pariu, caci n-au facut-o doar de amorul artei). De asemenea, mi se pare relevant ca, desi scriu din afara spatiului confesional evanghelic, toti cei trei autori au legaturi de un fel sau de altul cu acest mediu, ceea ce le permite sa scrie cu competenta, credibilitate si simpatie, chiar daca nu toate cele descrise in cartile lor sunt neparat vrednice de admiratie.

Read More »

Nadine Al-Budair – How Would Muslims Act If Christian Terrorists Blew Themselves Up In Their Midst

Nadine Al-Budair
Nadine Al-Budair

Liberal Saudi journalist Nadine Al-Budair, who lives in Qatar, penned an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai in which she wondered how Muslims would have acted if Christians had blown themselves up in their midst or tried to force their faith on them. She called on the Muslim world to be introspective and enact reforms, instead of condemning Western attitudes towards it.

The following are excerpts from the article:

“Imagine a Western youth coming here and carrying out a suicide mission in one of our public squares in the name of the Cross. Imagine that two skyscrapers had collapsed in some Arab capital, and that an extremist Christian group, donning millennium-old garb, had emerged to take responsibility for the event, while stressing its determination to revive Christian teachings or some Christian rulings, according to its understanding, to live like in the time [of Jesus] and his disciples, and to implement certain edicts of Christian scholars…

“Imagine hearing the voices of monks and priests from churches and prayer houses in and out of the Arab world, screaming on loudspeakers and levelling accusations against Muslims, calling them infidels, and chanting: ‘God, eliminate the Muslims and defeat them all.’Read More »

Mișcarea Penticostală din Norvegia, prima reacţie în cazul Bodnariu: “NU suntem persecutaţi de autorităţi. NU găsim niciun argument rezonabil pentru utilizarea violenței fizice ca pedeapsă”

Source: Mișcarea Penticostală din Norvegia, prima reacţie în cazul Bodnariu: “NU suntem persecutaţi de autorităţi. NU găsim niciun argument rezonabil pentru utilizarea violenței fizice ca pedeapsă”

Desi optiunea religioasa  a familiei Bodnariu NU este cauza pettru care copiii acesteia au fost preluati de serciciile norvegiene de protectia copilului, cazul in sine are, in mod implicit, conotatii religioase, care nu pot fi ignorate in cazul in care urmarim o intelegere profunda a resorturilor acestuia. Pe de alta parte, exagerarea acestei dimensiuni, asa cum s-a indimplat deja uneori, risca sa deturneze discutia inspre chestiuni colaterale si sectare.

Acest articol raspunde, partial si implicit la unele dintre primele intrebari pe care mi le-am pus in legatura cu acest caz. Iata-le:

  • de ce tac (si nici nu s-a alaturat protestelor impotriva Barnevernet) penticostalii norvegieni, unul dintre cele mai importante culte religioase din aceasta tara?
  • de ce familia Bodnariu nu a apelat la sustinerea acestei comunitati? sau au apelat? daca da, care a fost raspunsul?
  • care sunt relatiile acestei familii cu comunitatile penticostale din Norvegia?
  • de ce liderii penticostali din Romania si din diaspora nu au apelat la ajutorul penticostalilor norvegieni? sau au apelat? daca nu, de ce nu? daca da, care a fost raspunsul?

Cazul Bodnariu, prin ochii norvegianului Steinar Lone: „Din secolul 19, noi nu ne mai batem nici câinii”

„Am auzit că vine o delegație din Parlamentul României, dar în Norvegia instituția Protecția Copilului e independentă. Niciun primar, nici parlamentul, nici guvernul nu pot interveni în niciun caz”

Source: Cazul Bodnariu, prin ochii norvegianului Steinar Lone: „Din secolul 19, noi nu ne mai batem nici câinii”

Iata o noua voce norvegiana, vorbind despre Barnevernet si despre cazul Bodnariu. Si este vorba despre cineva care vorbeste romaneste si este un foarte bun cunoscator al mentalitatilor romanesti.

Interviul contine si citeva detalii noi care singur nu vior conveni unora.

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.’Read More »

World Watch Monitor – Vietnam’s Religion Law

vietnam-map

ANALYSIS: The ‘Great National Unity’ requires a great big bureaucracy

The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is drafting a “Law on Belief and Religion,” for passage in the National Assembly in 2016, and possibly this year. It is almost inevitable the new law will disappoint proponents of universal human rights.(1)

Diverse religions and religious practices flourish in communist Vietnam. Religious believers far outnumber the government figures on the number of people who practice religious faith. Yet Vietnam maintains restrictive and controlling managerial policies, some quite harsh, especially toward religions that are feared to have political influence, including the Catholic and Evangelical Christian traditions, mistakenly still deemed Western.

A deep, politically-constructed narrative called Dai Doan Ket, or the Great National Unity, appears to be the standard against which religions are tolerated and deemed to be sufficiently conformed to Vietnamese tradition and culture. Dai Doan Ket, nebulous though it may be, tries to define a national identity, a common culture and even a spiritual bond. Rights are relativized in reference to support for the Dai Doan Ket. Some are hopeful that globalization will dilute DDK thinking. (2)Read More »

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.

* * *

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.Read More »

World Watch Monitor – Vietnam’s Two Faces

vietnam-map

Religion-law reforms awaited at time of ‘remarkable spike in attacks’ on Christians

As Vietnam celebrates 40 years since the end of what is commonly known elsewhere as the ‘Vietnam War’, its government faces accusations of failing to ensure the rights of its citizens to religious freedom.

“In Vietnam, we still have a government that shows two faces – the friendly and welcoming face on one side and the oppressive face on the other.”

These words, attributed by Open Doors to a Vietnamese Christian whose name was withheld, provide an insight into a country which, on the one hand, is reportedly close to making positive reforms to its laws on religious practice, but on the other is accused by the UN of “gross violation” of religious freedom “in the face of constant surveillance, intimidation, harassment and persecution”.

Where Vietnam is concerned, religious freedom is rarely black and white.

Consider the “cautious optimism” of Nigel Cory, a researcher at the The Center for Strategic & International Studies, who suggests “the space for religious freedom [in Vietnam] seems to be growing”.Read More »

Ross Douthat – Imaginary Interview with A Christian on Indiana ‘Religious Liberty Bill’

Ross Douthat
Ross Douthat

I must confess I did not follow very closely the hot debate in the American media on the Indiana ‘Religious Liberty Bill’. The characteristic pathological excesses on the American political and religious scene put me off most of the time. Yet, I wondered from time to time what is this fuss all about. Until today, when I found this Op-Ed article in The New York Times, which helped me make some sense of it.

Ross Douthat, a The New York Times Op-Ed columnist, is the author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, published in 2012.

Although I do not necessarily agree with everything that Ross writes here, or in other articles, he actually represents quite well what I think on these matters.

Here is the beginning of this imaginary interview.Read More »

Pierre Berthoud – Are There Any Limits to Freedom of Speech and Caricature?

After the tragic events in Paris on the 7th of January, the director of a major weekly magazine declared that democracy gives the right to blasphemy. Such a radical statement of freedom of speech may seem shocking, but is a long-standing practice within the French culture going back to the Enlightenment, Voltaire being the emblematic figure. Tolerated under the Ancien Regime, it was adopted as a principle in the Declaration of human rights and became effective with the abolition of the blasphemy law in 1830; it was confirmed in 1905 in the legislation on the separation of Church and State.

Of course we are all in favour of freedom of conscience (thus freedom of religion) and of speech, whether in words or caricatures. Minorities in France such as Jews and Protestants have paid a very heavy tribute because of its absence. Though double-edged, satire even with regards to religious matters can be healthy and thought-provoking! But ‘one cannot scoff at everything and deride what is left’ without measuring the consequences of one’s action. Contempt, scorn and disrespect towards someone and their belief or world and life view is to be regarded as irresponsible behaviour and reveals a total lack of consideration for one’s neighbour. This of course doesn’t imply that we should avoid challenging one another nor should we shy away from a healthy debate. Ideas matter and are of paramount importance. We are what we think. But the principle of the love and respect of one’s neighbour implies that we consider carefully both the content and the form of our speech and caricature.

In fact, French law establishes limits to freedom of speech. One can for example be sued for abuse and slander, for discrimination and racism as well as anti-Semitism and revisionism. Why then such complacency in French culture and legislation towards offences against religious belief? Since the Enlightenment, divine transcendence has gradually been excluded from the public sphere. A contemporary thinker recently said that one of the major differences between the American and French Revolutions was that the latter lacked any reference to God. Conceived on a purely horizontal level, it was an expression of humanism. As a consequence, religious belief is incompatible with a man-centred world and life view and its present resurgence creates perplexity and hostility among many of our contemporaries. Since the sense of sacredness is considered as unreal at best, as a speech event and as fiction it should have disappeared from the cultural and social environment by now! Apparently humanism doesn’t account for an essential aspect of reality, the invisible world with God as its apex. The freedom of blasphemy can thus be seen as an illusory attempt to negate and even to eradicate it!

That’s why beyond the question of freedom of conscience and of speech (however important they may be) the real issue at hand is related to what constitutes the foundation of a civilization. As André Malraux said prophetically many years ago: ‘The nature of a civilization is made up of the sum of what is brought together by a religion. Our civilization is unable to build either temple or tomb. It has the obligation to find an ultimate value or to decline and fall into decadence.’ If we are to meet the challenge of the Islamic religious world and life view and its drifts towards violence and terror, humanism with its rejection of the supernatural reality, so well illustrated in the ideology underlying CHARLIE HEBDO, will not suffice. It is thus of paramount importance for the French and European cultures to rediscover their Judeo-Christian roots and to place the infinite and personal God who has not kept silent at the centre of its value system, including the key notion of the separation of religious communities and State.

Pierre Berthoud

Pierre Berthoud
Professor Emeritus, Faculté Jean Calvin
Chair of the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians

(Source, HERE)

 

 

 

Obama Sifted Wheat from Chaff as He Called for Religious Freedom in India

Obama in INdia
(Picture, BBC)

February 04, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama’s three days of diplomacy in India last week demonstrated not only Washington’s pursuit of strategic interests but also its proactive disassociation from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.

Obama was in India for Republic Day celebrations on the invitation of Modi, ironically the same man who was banned from U.S. travel for his failure to prevent the killing of more than 2,000 minority Muslims in the western Gujarat state that he ruled in 2002.

Obama accepted the invite, becoming the only U.S. President to have visited India twice in his tenure, for purely strategic reasons.Read More »

Roundtable/Consultation on Religious Persecution in Occupied Territories of Ukraine

Ukrainian delegation

Dear Friends and Ministry Partners,

I am writing to request your urgent prayers for a strategic Roundtable/Consultation on Religious Persecution in Occupied Territories of Ukraine that Mission Eurasia is hosting today in Washington, D.C. in partnership with the International Religious Freedom Roundtable (USA). The goals of this special Roundtable/Consultation are to create awareness about the state of religious persecution in Ukraine—that now includes abduction, torture, and even murder—and to mobilize the US Congress and global Christian community to support and advocate on behalf of those in Ukraine who are suffering for their faith.  Special reports and presentations will be made by religious leaders from Kiev and eastern Ukraine as well as by other experts in the fields of religious freedom and human rights.   Read More »

Georgian Baptist Bishop Receives Freedom Award after Pope Francis

Richard Norland & Archbishop Malkhaz - Freedom Award reception
American Ambassador Richard Norland and Archbishop Malkhaz

Prof. Dr Malkhaz Songulashvili, the Bishop of Tbilisi and the Senior Minister of the Baptist Peace Cathedral has been awarded with the annual Shahbaz Bhatti Freedom Award “for his  multidimensional work for peace building and the promotion of mutual respect among various religions.”

The awards ceremony took place  on January 10, in Berlin, Germany, at the annual gathering of the First Step Forum members.  The award was presented to Dr Songulashvili by German Government minister Mr Hermann Groehe who praised the Bishop for his bridge building ministry between cultures, religions and minority communities.

Bishop Songulashvili is the fifth recipient of the Freedom Award. Previous recipients of Freedom Award were Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan (posthumously – 2011), Dr. Hany Hanna, Egypt (2012), Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma (2013), and Pope Francis, Vatican (2014).Read More »

Vlad Mixich – Cea mai buna zi din an pentru rasistul din mine

E greu sa nu caut vinovati pentru masacrul de la Charlie Hebdo. Valul emotional a fost atat de mare, incat doar trei criminali nu-mi ajung. Vreau mai mult. Vreau sa dau vina pe jurnalistii care critica prea mult. Vreau sa dau vina pe musulmani. Vreau sa dau vina pe religii.

12 oameni au fost executati cu sange rece, in toiul zilei, in cea mai frumoasa capitala a Europei. Acolo unde ma duc sa ma indragostesc. Sa ma imbrac bine. Sa ma visez frumos.

E prea grotesc. E prea enorm pentru ca doar trei criminali sa fie de vina. E sigur vorba de ceva mai mult. De o ciocnire mai apocaliptica. De o revolta. De inceputul unui razboi.

Asa am simtit in ultimele 24 de ore. Si in continuare tot asa sunt ispitit sa simt. Ispita periculoasa, greu de respins dupa ce-l vezi pe Abu Musab, un lider ISIS, spunand mandru ca “Leii nostri au comis atacul. Curg doar primele picaturi de sange. Cruciatii trebuie sa se teama, pentru ca o merita”.Read More »

Freedom of Faith – Comment by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

Bishop Angaelos
Bishop Angaelos

The freedom to choose and practice one’s faith is a fundamental right for all under international law, and yet we continue to see numerous tragic cases around the world in which that same right is non-existent, and exercising this freedom is punishable, sometimes even by death.

As Christians we believe that all are created in the Image and likeness of God, with His Image intrinsic to our human nature, which lays the foundation for respect and love for all. Within this nature, we believe that all have been given the freedom to choose and live according to those choices, and while freedom of religion is one choice that is central to the lives of millions across the world, it continues to be widely violated.

As recently reported by Amnesty International, Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag is a Christian Sudanese woman in Sudan who was sentenced “to death by hanging for ‘apostasy’” after refusing to renounce her Christian Faith and convert to Islam, although she has lived as a Christian since her childhood. Meriam, who is twenty seven years old and is eight months pregnant, was reportedly also sentenced to “flogging for ‘adultery’” because her marriage to a Christian man is considered unlawful. This, among other cases, sheds light on the intensity of the struggle facing so many around the world who strive to merely practice their faith.Read More »

Are Christians Being Persecuted in the Middle East?

2 April 2014

Communique of the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land and the JUstice and Peace Commission

On 2 April 2014, the Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land and  the Justice and Peace Committee issued a statement about the persecution  of Christians in the Middle East.

Persecution! In many parts of the Western world, this word is people’s lips. It is said that Christians are being persecuted in the Middle East today! However, what is really happening? How should we speak in truth and integrity as Christians and as Church about the suffering and violence that are going on in the region?

There is no doubt that the recent upheavals in the Middle East, initially called the Arab Spring, have opened the way for extremist groups and forces that, in the name of a political interpretation of Islam, are wreaking havoc in many countries, particularly in Iraq, Egypt and Syria. There is no doubt that many of these extremists consider Christians as infidels, as enemies, as agents of hostile foreign powers or simply as an easy target for extortion.Read More »

Peter Kuzmic – The Kingdom of God and Caesar

Forum 18 Archive: KAZAKHSTAN: Religious freedom survey, March 2014 – 20 March 2014

Forum 18 Archive: KAZAKHSTAN: Religious freedom survey, March 2014 – 20 March 2014.

Kazakhstan proven again to be one of the major human rights criminal states.

Forum 18 – UZBEKISTAN: Anti-Terrorism Police seize religious literature, tear down religious posters

uzbekistan_map

(Article written by By Mushfig Bayram, Forum 18 News Service)

In two separate raids in early March, Anti-Terrorism Police and other officials seized religious literature from private homes, Forum 18 News Service has learned. In one raid in Uzbekistan’s central city of Samarkand, Anti-Terrorism officer Makhmud Nodyrov “tore posters with Scripture texts from the walls, and kept threatening [home owner Veniamin] Nemirov that his home could be taken away from him, and that his children could be expelled from school,” Baptists complained to Forum 18. Personal details of the 25 adults and the family’s 12 children present after the Baptist congregation’s Sunday service were taken. Four church members face administrative punishments. Asked why he tore down posters in Nemirov’s home, and why he threatened that Nemirov’s children would be expelled from school, officer Nodyrov referred Forum 18 to the Foreign Ministry, and put the phone down.

Read More »

Christians aren’t being driven out of public life – they’re just losing their unfair advantages

Christians aren’t being driven out of public life – they’re just losing their unfair advantages.

Thanks, Daniel, my son, for this link. This is a brilliant article. I fully agree with the author. Often, these days, some atheists make much more sense than some ultraconservative Christians, who cry for the death of Christendom and describe as persecution their legitimate loss of privileges and an age which, that goodness, is dead for good.. These people have no idea what real persecution is, not even at the level I have experienced it in 35 years under communism. If they want to learn what real persecution is, in invite them to live for only a month in North Korea, or Eritrea. If they ever come back, we may be able to finally have a sensible conversation about genuine rights and legitimate privileges.

The Growing Societal Disinclination Toward Protecting Religious Liberty | Musings of a Hardlining Moderate

The Growing Societal Disinclination Toward Protecting Religious Liberty | Musings of a Hardlining Moderate.

Here is another interesting post from my virtual friend Carson Clark. It is really worth reading.

How Should the Church Respond to the Arab Uprisings – An East European Perspective

Here, as I have promised, a summary of the presentation I made at the annual conference of IMES in Beirut, on the topic How Should the Church Respond to the Arab Uprisings: Challenges & Opportunities within the Emerging Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Region

I have started by saying that I agree with the three points made by Dr Martin Accad in the introduction to the topic. He highlighted the problems of the church in the MENA region under three headings:

1. Church siding with power
2. Minority complex
3. Scare of the future
In my presentation of the Arab Spring viewed from an Eastern European perspective, I have covered the following points:
1. I have started with a story. A number of years ago I was in Beirul for a conference of Evangelicals for Middle east Understanding, where a number of Iraqi church leaders spoke enthusiastically about how good and humane is then President Saddam Hussein to the church in Iraq, which reminded me of the way church leaders in communist Romania were praising Ceausescu, the dictatorial leader of the country, for the great religious freedom we/they had . One of the four, the head of the Protestant Church in Iraq at the time, was also a general in Saddam’s army. I have heard that after the war he published in the US a book on Iraq. I am sure his message there was radically different from what I have heard. This illustrates the first problem of the church in MENA as presented by Martin.Read More »

World Watch Monitor – The Rise of Islamic Extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Summary

Islamic extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus will further increase in the next few years, predicts a new report by Anna Münster, a Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.

US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, and expected regime changes in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan threaten to destabilise the region, providing radicals with a platform from which to operate, claims Growing Islamic Extremism in Central Asia and the Caucasus – Situation and Outlook.

The notion of Islam growing as a response to disillusionment is referenced several times, as is the existence of solidarity between Muslims in Central Asia and the Caucasus who feel victimised by the West and believe themselves to be subjected to a “grand conspiracy against the Muslim world”.

Perhaps most notably, Münster highlights a deliberate “closing of the eyes” to human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, where Western governments have vested interests. Here, Munster says Islamists have been subjected to brutality and torture in prisons – “even those who never engaged in violent actions and were [incarcerated] simply for possessing a Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflet”.

Torture is often “systematic” and “deeply disturbing”, she writes, while the “extension of government control over life, including religious life, has been reminiscent of Soviet times, though the use of new technologies and events of the Arab Spring may present a stark warning to today’s repressive governments”.Read More »

Areopagus Timisoara – Libertate religioasa si dizidenta in perioada comunista

Libertate religioasa

Dragi prieteni,

Vă invităm luni, 27 mai, de la ora 19.00, la o masă rotundă având ca temă Libertate religioasă şi dizidenţă în perioada comunistă. Invitatul special al serii este domnul Petru Cocîrţeu, cunoscut pentru eforturile depuse, în perioada comunistă, pentru apărarea libertăţilor religioase ale credincioşilor din România.

În aprilie 1978, în Bucureşti, împreună cu alţi lideri religioşi, studenţi, intelectuali şi muncitori, pune bazele organizaţiei interconfesionale Comitetul Creştin Român – Apărarea Libertăţilor Religioase şi de Conştiinţă, afiliată la Solidaritatea Creştină Internaţională cu sediul la Zürich, având totodată reprezentanţă în Naţiunile Unite. La 15 octombrie 1978 este arestat şi condamnat la 1 an de închisoare pentru activitate religioasă şi de conştiinţă, iar în ianuarie 1979 devine membru al organizaţiei Solidaritatea Creştină Internaţională. La 8 februarie 1981,împreună cu familia părăseşte ţara, obligat de regimul communist, fiind considerat persona non grata, iar în 1981 devine membru al organizaţiei Amnesty International de la Geneva. Printre poziţiile ocupate de domnul Petru Cocîrţeu a fost şi cea de Chairman al Academiei Româno-Americane de Ştiinţă şi Artă.

Vă aşteptăm cu drag la acest eveniment.
Cu preţuire,
Paulian Petric
Coordonator – Departamentul educaţional
Centrul Areopagus Timişoara

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Rev. Michael Bourdeaux Arrived in Iasi

Today in the early afternoon Rev Cannon Michael Bourdeaux, from Keston College, arrived in Iasi for a few days of lectures at the university, on the history of communism.

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We have had the pleasure of having him as a guest at our table tonight, for a Romanian dinner.

Tomorrow morning at 10am we start work.

Since I am at it, let me tell you how I have met Rev Bourdeaux for the first time. Read More »

Spotlight on Syria

Spotlight-On-Syria

Please stand with us in prayerful support of the people of Syria.  We want to see God end the conflict and bring peace to the millions of innocent people caught up in the violence.  We want to see ordinary Syrians returning to their homes and rebuilding their lives.  The numbers of those effected by the violence make grim reading:

  • 4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria;
  • 2.5 million have been internally displaced;
  • 1 million have been displaced to neighbouring countries

..and the numbers are rising daily.Read More »

Rolul religiei in prabusirea comunismului – UPDATE

CSCP_Rolul religiei in prabusirea comunismului_Afis conf MBourdeaux-24 mai 2013

NOTA: Gasiti AICI inregistrarea unei emisiuni  Digi24 TV din 21 mai, in care Dr. Dorin Dobrincu vorbeste despre prezenta la Iasi a Rev. Canon Michael Bourdeaux.

UPDATE: Michael Bourdeaux a sosit cu bine la Iasi si va prezenta miine diineata, 22 mai, la ora 10am, un curs in programul de masterat dedicat Istoriei comunismului romanesc din cadrul Facultatii de istorie a Universitatii AL. I. Cuza din Iasi.

Read More »