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.
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. Continue reading “Rev. Michael Bourdeaux Arrived in Iasi”
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. Continue reading “Spotlight on Syria”
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.
Continue reading “Rolul religiei in prabusirea comunismului – UPDATE”
All churches in Syria will unite in prayer on Saturday 11 May in many places all around the war-torn nation. This is a unique moment of unity of Christians in that country. The Syrian Christians ask their brothers and sisters all around the world to pray with them on that day.
We as MEE field office want to invite all Development bases to contact your contacts to get as much as possible Churches and individual Christians to join in. This is a real request from the persecuted church to join with them in prayer. During the events there will be video recording and pictures will be taken. They will be made available afterwards. (Open Doors) Continue reading “11 May – Special Day of Prayer for Syria – UPDATE”
Thanks a lot, Rupen, for your very hearty presentation of the grim situation of Christians in Syria.
You are contrasting in your text two views on what is tragically happening in that country. The view of the West – favouring the rebellion, and the view of Syrian Christians – who seem to prefer the past status quo, of which they were beneficiaries, along with a few others. With a price though.
It is mostly about this price, and its implications, that I want to talk to you and our readers here, by presenting, if I am allowed, a third possible view on this, as painful as it may be for Syrian Christians to hear this. And if somebody is tempted to ask what qualifies me to say what I am going to share with you, I can show you my ‘scars’.
Let me begin with a story. A number of years ago I was in Beirut, Lebanon, at Notre Dame du Mont Monastery, for a conference of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding. Among other invitees, there were four Christian leaders from Iraq, one of them being a general in the Syrian army, and head of the Protestant community there. In their speeches, these four men could not praise more the supposedly deep wisdom and good will towards Christians of their ‘great leader’, the late Saddam Hussein. Allow me not to repeat here their pathetic stories. Continue reading “Repentance and Reconciliation – A Response to Rupen Das, on Betrayal and Redemption”
Pastor Makset in his prison cell in Kazakhstan
Djabbarbergenov lived in a Kazakh prison cell, under threat of deportation to his native Uzbekistan to face almost-certain years of harsh jail time.
His alleged crime: Leading small Christian communities in house churches without official registration. By 2007, this had made “Pastor Makset” a wanted criminal, and he fled across the border into Kazakhstan to escape arrest. By 2009, he and his family had won refugee status there from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR. So far, Kazakhstan has refused to recognize the family’s refugee status.
Last year, Uzbekistan bumped up the convert pastor’s “criminal accusations” to charges of terrorism, and demanded the Kazakh government send him back home to face trial and a potential 15-year prison sentence.
His pregnant wife, Aygul, and their four young sons were left watching wide-eyed as the Kazakh police arrested him in their Almaty home at noon on Sept. 5. It would be three months before they saw each other again.
In late December, a few weeks after they had flown to safety and a new life in Europe, they told the story of their family’s faith ordeal in a series of interviews with World Watch Monitor. Their location is being withheld to preserve their security. Continue reading “90 Days to Freedom – The Story of Pastor Makset – World Watch Monitor”
Reaffirming and Supporting Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
— Article 18, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Keenly aware of the titanic promise and peril of our time, as forms of global interconnectedness reach an unprecedented speed, scale, and scope across the earth, we issue this declaration to address a major world challenge whose resolution will be decisive for the cause of civilization and human flourishing. That is, we address the urgent problems raised by the challenge of “living with our deepest differences” when those differences involve core beliefs, worldviews, and ways of life, and when they are increasingly found within single communities, nations, and civilizations. Our purpose is to set out a vision of the rights, responsibilities, and respect that will be the foundation of a civil and cosmopolitan “global public square,” and the habits of the heart for those who would be “citizens of the world” as well as patriots in their own countries, and so to advance the cause of a “good world” and thus of global civilization over against the forces of global chaos.
- Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is a precious, fundamental, and inalienable human right – the right to adopt, hold, freely exercise, share, or change one’s beliefs, subject solely to the dictates of conscience and independent of all outside, especially governmental control.
- This right is inherent in humanity and rooted in the inviolable dignity of each human individual. As a birthright of belonging, it protects our freedom to be human and is the equal right of all human beings without exception.
- The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion contains a duty as well as a right, because a right for one person is automatically a right for another and a responsibility for both. Continue reading “The Global Charter of Conscience – Brief Summary of Principles”
In this article Lausanne Global A Editor David Taylor (DT) interviews Os Guinness (IOG) about the charter, its genesis and his hopes for its impact and how Christian leaders will use it.
DT: What was the impetus and origin of the Charter?
IOG: Many years ago, I was privileged to help draft the Williamsburg Charter, which was a celebration and reaffirmation of the Religious Liberty Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That, however, was limited to America. The Global Charter came out of more recent discussions at the EastWest Institute in New York as to what might benefit the whole world in the global era.
DT: What are the main points of the Charter?
IOG: It would be impossible to summarize the twenty-nine articles in the Charter. But essentially they are a reaffirmation and expansion of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in light of all the current controversies over religion and public life. For example, in light of certain misguided Muslim attempts to pass blasphemy laws, the Charter stresses that freedom of conscience is a protection for believers. It does not protect beliefs. Continue reading “An Interview with Os Guinness on the Global Charter of Conscience”
Poll shows a double standard on religious liberty | Religion News Service.
American evangelicals are utterly confused, a recent Barna poll shows, in terms of religious freedom. On one side they are worried that secularists will take away their freedom of belief, yet, at the same time, they are not willing to allow the same freedom for people of other faiths.
Guys, you can’t have the cake and eat it too.
While Chechnya (Chechen Republic) presently consists of about 1.4 million people, less than two percent of the population reflects its former predominant Russian leadership and citizenship. Since President Ramzan Kadyrov came into power in 2007, Sunni Islam has become the main religion. This includes the practice of Sharia law, women wearing traditional Muslim clothing, polygamy and honour killings.
As Christianity is now considered the religion of the Russian people, Chechens who have become followers of Jesus are considered traitors, and thus experience tremendous persecution for their faith (even from their own family members). Many remain secret believers because of the threat it poses to their lives. (A more detailed historical overview and past reports are available at the Russia Country Report.) Continue reading “Chechnya: Completion of Bible Translation Provokes Extremists”
Rimsha Masih (Source, Getty Images)
London, Jan. 16 (World Watch Monitor) — The Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out an appeal to reopen a blasphemy case against a 14-year-old Christian girl, who had been accused of burning verses from the Koran.
Rimsha Masih had been acquitted of the charges in November by the High Court in Islamabad. A Muslim cleric was subsequently charged with fabricating evidence against the girl. The lower court’s decision was appealed to the nation’s highest court.
One of the girl’s lawyers, Thahir Naveed Chaudhry, confirmed the Supreme Court’s rejection of the appeal to World Watch Monitor. Separately, Federal Minister for National Harmony Paul Bhatti told Asia News he was satisfied with the decision of the Supreme Court confirming “Rimsha Masih is innocent.”
According to Vatican Radio, the minister said these were “days of stress and tension” but “justice had prevailed”. Bhatti is the brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, the government Minorities Minister who was assassinated for calling for reform of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law.
Although Rimsha was 14 at the time of her arrest last summer, her developmental age is said to be lower. Some reports say she has Down syndrome and has never received an education. Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: Pakistan Supreme Court confirms decision to drop blasphemy case”
What do we owe to the Church in the Middle East in general and Palestine in particular and why our indifference can condone even more injustice in the (not so) holy land and can make the Church disappear from the land where she was born twenty centuries ago.
The autocratic regime in Uzbekistan continues its crusade against human rights. Here is the latest news from WEA-RLC:
It is reported that authorities in Uzbekistan have stepped up raids on homes of Christians, confiscating Christian literature and imposing heavy fines on believers for meeting to worship or Bible study.
In a recent incident, a court fined a Christian belonging to an unregistered Protestant church, USD 4000, (an equivalent of 100 times the minimum monthly wage) for distributing Christian literature. The court also ordered that 3 Bibles and 30 New Testaments found with the Christian be destroyed.
December 06, 2012
The Constituent Assembly of Egypt came out with a draft constitution on Nov. 29, and a referendum will be held for its adoption on Dec. 15. The draft prepared by the Islamist- dominated assembly shows where the Muslim Brotherhood stands on the role of Shari’a in public life and human rights as understood by the international community.
President Mohamed Morsi, who is from the Brotherhood’s political wing, is going ahead with the constitutional referendum despite an ongoing uprising over his Nov. 22 declaration that no one – not even the courts – can challenge his decisions until a new constitution is in place. Morsi wants people to believe that the constituent assembly hurried to prepare the draft, and the referendum is being held in haste, so that the period of his newly acquired supreme authority is short.
However, anti-Morsi protests increased after the date of the referendum was announced. The president did not want to give enough time to the people to discuss the proposed provisions. Continue reading “Does Egypt’s Draft Constitution Provide for Religious Freedom?”
Please join us as we pray for Rev. George Andrea and Manu Pedrosian who were kidnapped on Saturday in Aleppo. Pastor Andrea is the director of the Bible Society in Syria. The kidnappers are asking for a ransom of $140,000.
· Please pray for God’s divine will in this situation.
· We do not pray against persecution, but we do pray for God’s glory to be revealed through it.
· Pray that the Sovereign God will be glorified through Pastor Andrea and Mr. Pedrosian’s imprisonment.
· Please pray for strength and peace for their families as well as for these two men and for their kidnappers to see the love of Jesus through them.
This is the first of two abridged extracts from a book by Geraldine Fagan, Forum 18’s Russia and Belarus Correspondent, “Believing in Russia – Religious Policy after Communism” (Routledge, October 2012). The book presents a comprehensive overview of religious policy in Russia since the end of the communist regime, exposing many of the ambiguities and uncertainties about the position of religion in Russian life and revealing how religious freedom in Russia has, contrary to the widely held view, a long tradition. The book argues that continuing failure to resolve the question of whether Russia is to be an Orthodox country with religious minorities or a multi-confessional state is destabilising the nation. More details on the book are available from http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415490023/.
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The Russian Orthodox Church asserts itself as the definitive expression of Russian nationhood. Alternative worldviews are marginalised. The gravest consequence of this antagonism is its exacerbation of separatist tendencies among Russian Muslims, who seek to establish Islam locally in opposition to Patriarchate hegemony nationally. Far from its mystical vision, the Orthodox-centred model of Russian identity is thus failing to consolidate the modern Russian nation.
Chechnya’s bald imposition of Islamic norms in defiance of Russia’s 1993 Constitution goes unchecked by Moscow. Regional disparity is now acute: in June 2008 the Koranic verse “There is no god but Allah” adorned the mountainside opposite Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov’s palace. The same month, it was forcibly removed from the outer wall of a mosque in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. The Kremlin’s failure to uphold its own constitutional commitment to religious freedom means there is no firm barrier against further decline.
The erosion of religious freedom is not due to deliberate federal preference for the Russian Orthodox Church. Rather, it is the symptom of a disinterested Kremlin absenting itself from the religious policy sphere. Few top officials yearn for Orthodox Christianity’s restoration to the status of national ideology as under the tsars. The driving impulses of today’s Russian rulers are the pursuit and retention of personal wealth and influence, and it is these that determine the areas in which President Vladimir Putin’s “power vertical” (vertikal’ vlasti) operates. Since religious freedom (among other human rights and public concerns) is not one of them, it is left unregulated to the extent that it does not encroach upon the strategic interests of the elite.
Read the rest of this text on Forum 18.
There is a lot of talk these days about Islam and its supposedly evil foundations. Many Westerners are feeling threatened by the mere existence of Islam and Muslims. Strangely enough, some of these claim to be followers of Christ, who taught us to love our enemies, be them real or imagined.
Robert Hunt, a Methodist professor of theology in the US has traveled a lot in Muslim countries and has an intimate knowledge of the problem, both in the East and in the West.
I quote here below, for your attention, a few paragraphs from a recent post on his blog on the Patheos platform.
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“I also want to say that Islam, beyond the exaggerations, points the finger at something real: under the guise of freedom, in the West we tend to ridicule religion. In the days of his visit in Lebanon, the Pope spoke of violence in words and in deeds. If we want to free the world from violence, we must also free ourselves from the violence of words, from this strong way of offending religion. Unfortunately, the Christians of the West are submissive and unresisting in the face of insults to Christianity.” (Samir Kalil Samir, writing in the AsianNews and reported from Beirut on 9/23/12)
the exploitation of civil religion as a tool to achieve or secure political power by an emperor, king, or dictator is quite comprehensible. For the pre-modern state religion, whether it was Christianity or Islam or Buddhism or some Vedic cult, was an important symbol of the unity of the state and society, a source of social mores, an explanation of and justification for the existing hierarchy, and was thus a bulwark of state power. It was natural that the state supported and protected this civil religion, arguably for the good of all those who lived within it and benefited from its religious, cultural, and social cohesion.The problem in this system, a problem that animated the turn from pre-modernity to modernity, was the way in which this alliance of state power and civil religion constrained personal freedom of conscience. Continue reading “Robert Hunt – Religion Is the Problem”
I used to be a fan of Os Guinness, especially in my Schaefferian period. But not anymore.His political an philosophical stances worried me in the last year, as was the case with Chuch Colson, another man I used to admire.
This impression was strengthened when I saw him in person during his interventions at the Lausanne III Congress in Cape Town two years ago. Today he seems to me totally frozen in the modernity project, with no escape.
This particular venture (his latest book, A Free People’s Suicide. Sustainable Freedom and America’s Future) into the dubious concept of America (or, in fact, any other country) as a so-called Christian nation is another proof of that, as you can see in this recent interview published by Christianity Today. Here is the beginning of it.
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Many American Christians are ambivalent about their homeland. We are citizens of another kingdom, after all, so sometimes it’s hard to work up enthusiasm for this one. Besides, we’re told the church is called to take a prophetic stance against the culture, pointing out its immorality and injustice. We certainly don’t want to be caught celebrating America—we may be accused of mixing God and country.
Irishman Os Guinness suggests a fresh path to this conundrum in his A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future (IVP, August). Perhaps we can celebrate the American experiment and hold it accountable to its founding ideals in a way that doesn’t compromise our loyalty to the kingdom of God. CT senior managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Guinness in the Christianity Today offices to explore themes from his latest book. Continue reading “Os Guinness on America as a Christian Nation”
October 4, 2012
Russian police demolished Holy Trinity Pentecostal Church in Moscow last month. The members of the church now gather near the ruins for worship, bearing testimony to the continued persecution of “non-traditional,” or disfavored, religious groups after President Vladimir Putin assumed office about five months ago.
It is estimated that 90 percent of ethnic Russians – and around 70 percent of all Russian citizens – identify themselves as Orthodox. Since the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Russians have closely associated Orthodoxy with national identity, replacing socialism with Orthodoxy. However, people’s association with the Russian Orthodox Church is apparently more symbolic than representative of their commitment to the substance of the faith. This is perhaps why the church attendance is extremely low.
Russia’s 1993 Constitution states that all religious associations are equal before the law. However, the preamble of the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations, enacted in 1997 under President Boris N. Yeltsin to define the state’s relationship with religion, says respect should be accorded firstly to Orthodoxy, and secondly to Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and [non-Orthodox] Christianity. Continue reading “WEA – Why Russia Persecutes Non-Orthodox Churches”
Iran: Pastor Nadarkhani released, aquitted of apostasy.
CSW has been informed that Yousef Nadarkhani, the Church of Iran pastor sentenced to death for apostasy, has been released and is at home with his family.
Thanks be to God!
Posted on 25th July 2012
Greetings in the name of Jesus, Prince of Peace
Syrian Christians have requested our prayers concerning the continuing violence in their country.
Thousands of Syrians, including large numbers of Christians, have fled from their homes, especially in the Homs and Hama governorates and more recently Damascus and Aleppo. There have been reports of the targeting of Christians by both government and opposition sides. Continue reading “Syria: Christians affected by continuing violence”
June 22, 2012
Tens of thousands of Egyptians are once again converging on Cairo’s Tahrir Square following the decision of the military generals to postpone the results of the runoff presidential election that were expected on June 21. The protests are also against the military council’s move to strip the president’s office of its most important powers.
Meanwhile, the two presidential candidates, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and leader of Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party Mohammed Morsi, are both claiming victory. Morsi, who Christians fear will marginalize the minority, seems more likely to win initially according to media reports, but some claim Shafiq is using back room deals to ensure his victory.
However, just as the votes were being counted on June 17, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been ruling the country since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, announced amendments to the interim constitution, granting key powers to itself. Continue reading “What Lies Ahead in Egypt?”
May 10, 2012
From Boko Haram in Sub-Saharan Africa to al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa, Islamist terrorists across the continent have heightened attacks on Christians. This seems to be a part of an emerging strategy of al-Qaeda and associated local groups, which must be taken and dealt with seriously.
On April 29, Boko Haram members gunned down at least 16 Christians and wounded more than 22 others as they targeted an area inside the Bayero University campus in northern Nigeria where churches hold Sunday services. The same day, its gunmen shot at worshippers inside a chapel of the Church of Christ in Nigeria in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, killing the pastor who was preparing for Communion and four congregants.
Duminica 6.05.2012, de la ora 18:00,
la Biserica “Strajerul” din Iasi, str. Vinatori nr. 7
se va organiza o serata despre
“Responsabilitatea participarii la alegerile politice – o abordare crestina”.
Va fi un dialog cu Danut Manastireanu si Danut Jemna.
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Comentariu: Titlul seratei (nu stiu exact a cui este ideea) sugereaza ca participarea la alegeri este o responsabilitate crestina. Eu voi incerca sa argumentez duminica faptul ca participarea la niste alegeri fara miza si fara optiuni reale este o prostie si un act de lasitate civica.
Va intereseaza? Sunteti bineveniti
On 8 January 2012, ‘Al-Azhar, Egypt’s premier Islamic institution, has issued a document on basic freedoms to serve as the basis of the new constitution’ of the country (see HERE).
It argues, on the basis of classic non-fundamentalist Islamic teachings, for:
1. Freedom of belief
2. Freedom of opinion and expression Continue reading “Al-Azhar Document for Basic Freedoms”
Here is a fragment from this article published on the Electronic Intifada website:
The aims of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference did not go unnoticed. For months before the conference, Christian Zionists and Israeli Messianic Jews waged a campaign against the conference and its organizers, labeling them “anti-Semitic” in an attempt to have the conference canceled.
“You wouldn’t believe the negative stuff that was written about us — sometimes [it] was nasty, some was personal,” said Isaac. “Major Christian media stations have spread lies about Bethlehem Bible College, just because of this conference. I never expected it to get this nasty and this personal.”
These critics suggested the conference was one-sided, biased and anti-Semitic, and speakers were attacked individually and accused of being anti-Jewish and anti-Israel. One op-ed in The Huffington Post even asserted that Stephen Sizer had “joined hands with the Iranian regime” (“Christ at the Checkpoint Conference will only breed more Theological Extremism,” 9 November 2011). Continue reading “Palestinian Christians attacked for challenging Christian Zionism”
Some time ago I have initiated a research project on the situation of the refugees that were victims of the violent conflict in Iraq, with an emphasis on religious minorities, particularly Christians.
The study was realised by Midde East Concern and is now available for distribution.
Here is a summary of its findings and recommendations: Continue reading “Enabling Displaced Iraqi Christians to Return – A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT”
December 30, 2011
Christians in Iran have faced a wave of arrests since the disputed presidential elections in June 2009. Persecution intensified as international pressure began to build over Iran’s secret nuclear enrichment program leading to sanctions in the following months. And now, when the United States is likely to announce more sanctions, the going may get even tougher for minorities in this Shi’a-majority nation.
Authorities began to arrest Christians and members of other minorities following protests, known as the Green Revolution, over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claimed victory in the 2009 elections that were believed to be rigged. President Ahmadinejad, in power since 2005, curtailed civil liberties, brutally attacked protesters, arrested hundreds and executed a few. Persecution of minorities was part of Iran’s attempt to tighten control over all aspects of people’s lives in the face of domestic insecurity. Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who is facing death for apostasy, was also arrested from the city of Rasht in northern Gilan Province not too long after the protests. Continue reading “Iran’s Assault on Religious Freedom May Worsen”
A WCC interview with David Victor R. Youssef, from the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services.
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Churches in Egypt are praying and helping migrants, who flee home due to political turmoil, violence and uncertain future. There is a great need to develop stable democratic societies if the “Arab spring” is to bear fruits. Or else it might turn into an “Arab winter” with religious minorities at the risk of persecution.
David Victor R. Youssef expressed this concern at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Global Ecumenical Network on Migration meeting taking place in Beirut, Lebanon from 5-7 December, organized by the WCC office for Just and Inclusive Communities and hosted by the Middle East Council of Churches.
Youssef works for the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services and was interviewed by Naveen Qayyum, the WCC staff writer. Continue reading “Could “Arab spring” turn into “Christian winter”?”