Tag Archives: Christian Church

MUST-READ: Why Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world

A very fine article from the normally ultra-liberal Toronto Star. (H/T Jojo)

Excerpt:

Virtually every human rights group and Western government agency that monitors the plight of Christians worldwide arrives at more or less the same conclusion: Between 200 million and 230 million of them face daily threats of murder, beating, imprisonment and torture, and a further 350 to 400 million encounter discrimination in areas such as jobs and housing. A conservative estimate of the number of Christians killed for their faith each year is somewhere around 150,000.

Christians are “the largest single group in the world which is being denied human rights on the basis of their faith,” the World Evangelical Alliance has noted.

In a report to a conference on Christian persecution hosted by the European Parliament last month, the U.S. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put it this way: while Muslims and Jews worldwide and Baha’is in Iran certainly suffer too, Christians were “harassed” by government factors in 102 countries and by social factors, such as mob rule, in 101 countries.

“Altogether, Christians faced some form of harassment in two-thirds of all countries,” or 133 nations, the report said. Muslims also face “substantial” harassment, the Pew report found, but in fewer countries.

Christians face harassment in more countries “than any other religious group,” a Pew Forum spokesperson told the Star.

Put in sharper focus, “at least” 75 per cent of all religious persecution in the world is directed against Christians, the conference was told.

The euphemistic term “harassment” encompasses vigilante and terrorist attacks against Christians in more than a dozen Muslim countries. In Sudan, an estimated 1.5 million Christians have been murdered by the Islamic Janjaweed militia, including some who were crucified. In Nigeria, 12 states have introduced sharia law. Thousands of Christians were killed in the ensuing violence.

In Saudi Arabia, the only faith permitted by law is Islam. Christians are regularly imprisoned and tortured on trumped-up charges of drinking alcohol, blaspheming or owning religious artifacts.

In Egypt, Coptic Christians are still reeling from a church attack last January in which eight worshippers were killed. “The situation is deteriorating and is very tense,” Sam Fanous, a leader of Toronto’s Coptic community, told the Star from Cairo. He said that after Friday Muslim prayers, streets fill with anti-Coptic protests.

In historically tolerant Indonesia, Islamic militias have bombed churches in majority Christian regions and killed or forcibly converted thousands.

China, meantime, continues to shutter “underground” churches and ship pastors to prison.

Read the whole thing. This is one-stop shopping on the persecution issue, and the sources are unimpeachable. Send it to your friends.

Wes Widner’s suggestions for improving the effectiveness of church

Here’s a blog post from Reason to Stand. In it, Wes Widner examines some problems with the way churches operate today, and makes some recommendations for improvement.

Excerpt:

In the first place, a hierarchical system where non-preachers are viewed as less spiritual, where the gift of preaching is exalted above all other gifts is plainly against many passages found in scripture including Jesus’s own admonition that his own disciples not follow the pattern of the world in setting up hierarchical “power over” systems.

Secondly I would point to the perpetual spiritual immaturity that is fostered and festering in most churches (particularly Southern Baptist and Methodist churches as those are the ones I have the most experience in). When people are told that rigorous study of the word of God is limited to an elite few “chosen” men the end result is a logical abdication of serious study on the part of the “average” churchgoer. This is one of the reasons I believe areas such as apologetics have historically had such a hard time making inroads into the local church because most pastors feel threatened by the prospect of their congregation actually being educated and able (empowered?) to ask serious questions. Sadly it doesn’t have to be like this and I’ll explain in my third line of reasoning below.

Finally, I believe that the system we’ve manufactured (sure, as early as 300AD, but early errors are still errors) and have come to accept as an unquestionable fact is harmful to the Body of Christ is because it leads directly to pastors either being burned out or becoming dictators (I believe in some cases merely for self-preservation). Nowhere in Scripture are we presented with a description of a man who is supposed to shoulder the load that we expect the average “professional” pastor to carry. Nowhere in Scripture are we told that one man in a local group of believers is in charge of visiting the sick, ministering to all the members, responsible for the bulk of spiritual instruction, etc.

J.P. Moreland also recommends having a team of pastors instead of just one main pastor in his book “Love Your God With All Your Mind”, or LYGWYM, for short.

I chose this post to link to because I’ve experienced the problems he talks about here personally. But I’ve also noticed some practices I liked while listening to sermons online. One thing I like about Mark Driscoll is that he gives the sermon then takes questions from the audience. I also like Wayne Grudem because he preaches in a normal voice and isn’t afraid to talk about politics and other serious issues. And I like it when William Lane Craig surveys all points of view on interesting topics when he teaches Sunday school.

And I have some ideas of my own, too. Speaking as a man, I learn better when things are presented to me as an overview of conflicting viewpoints. I get bored when only one point of view is presented. It makes me sleepy. I like to fight, so that would be my recommendation to improve church – more apologetics, more debates and more disagreements. And I think having events where the church hosts debates for the public to attend at the local university is also good.

Obama golfs in Hawaii as Iran seeks uranium and murders protesters

Story here from Fox News. (H/T Hot Air)

Excerpt:

At least 15 people were killed during massive anti-government protests in Tehran when opposition supporters clashed with security forces in the streets, Iranian state television reported Monday.

The report said 10 people killed during Sunday’s fierce clashes in the Iranian capital were members of “anti-revolutionary terrorist” groups, apparently referring to opposition supporters.

The other five who died were killed by “terrorist groups” in a “suspicious act,” the report said, without elaborating.

Iranian security forces stormed a series of opposition offices on Monday, rounding up at least seven prominent anti-government activists in a new crackdown against the country’s reformist movement, opposition Web sites and activists reported.

And in the UK Telegraph:

In the six months that have followed, Barack Obama’s high-risk engagement strategy has simply encouraged more repression from the Mullahs, as well as ever greater levels of defiance over Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. As Con Coughlin noted in an excellent piece for The Wall Street Journal last month, Obama’s Iran diplomacy isn’t working:

“Iranian human-rights groups say that since the government crackdown began in late June, at least 400 demonstrators have been killed while another 56 are unaccounted, which is several times higher than the official figures. The regime has established a chain of unofficial, makeshift prisons to deal with the protesters, where torture and rape are said to be commonplace. In Tehran alone, 37 young Iranian men and women are reported to have been raped by their captors.”

Now once again huge street protests have flared up on the streets of Tehran and a number of other major cities, with several protesters shot dead this weekend by the security forces and Revolutionary Guards, reportedly including the nephew of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, and dozens seriously injured. And again there is deafening silence from the Commander-in-Chief as well as his Secretary of State. And where is the president? On vacation in Hawaii, no doubt recuperating from his exertions driving forward the monstrous health care reform bill against the overwhelming will of the American public and without a shred of bipartisan support.

Iran is also attempting to import 1350 tons of uranium – enough to make many weapons of mass destruction. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

Iran is close to clinching a deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan, according to an intelligence report obtained by the Associated Press on Tuesday. Diplomats said the assessment was heightening international concern about Tehran’s nuclear activities.

And as Muddling Towards Maturity notes, Iraq’s Christians are facing persecution.

Excerpt:

…Iraq’s dwindling Christian communities are still being targeted on the basis of their faith. That is especially the case in Mosul, long the most lawless and violent place in Iraq. By an unhappy coincidence, Mosul is also located in the ancestral heartland of Iraqi Christianity, and is thus the last refuge (short of exile) for Christians fleeing targeted violence in Baghdad, Basra, and other places.

Mosul is therefore a target-rich environment. In December alone, at least seven churches, convents, and schools have been bombed, claiming dozens of lives, including the latest holy innocent, an eight-day-old baby girl. Iraq’s central government deserves credit for dispatching some 3,000 additional police after a similar spate of bombings and attacks in October, but their presence has brought little improvement as Christians continue to flee Mosul for overcrowded and underdeveloped villages such as Qaraqosh in the adjacent Nineveh plain. Meanwhile, the situation around Kirkuk, also in northern Iraq, remains nearly as dire for Christians caught up in the Arab-Kurdish struggle for control of the area’s oil fields.

While the Iraqi government has belatedly taken some modest steps to ease the suffering of Iraqi Christians, the U.S. government’s consistent policy of studied and shameful indifference forms rare common ground between the Bush and Obama administrations. It is an indelible stain on American honor that two administrations did nothing to assist, much less protect, a beleaguered religious minority.

It’s a dangerous world. This is not the time for playing golf in Hawaii.