Operation Safe Havens: Rescuing Christians in Danger

Jun 12, 2015 by

By Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, Barnabas Fund: “Be a safe place for those on the run from the killing fields.” (Isaiah 16:4)* Operation Safe Havens: Rescuing Christians in Danger I recently returned from a trip to five countries of the Middle East. I have visited the region countless times over the last two decades and have seen first-hand the tragic deterioration of the situation for Christians, especially in countries like Syria and Iraq where they used to be treated with respect as equal citizens. The Christians are now in deadly danger. They compare the rise of the Islamic State group (IS) with the invasion of the Mongol hordes many centuries ago. The Mongols completely destroyed the Church in much of their territory, and IS seems intent on doing the same. A Christian presence and witness 2,000 years old is disappearing before our eyes. We cannot do much to change the course of political/military events (except to pray), but we can rescue our brothers and sisters from the acute threat they face in the “killing fields” of IS. Many Christians, who had clung on in their beloved homelands until now, have finally decided they must leave. But how? They are desperately vulnerable to abuse from people-traffickers who take all their money and abandon them. Some have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean. Even getting a passport can be unaffordable. What they need is a safe route to a safe haven where they can settle and live in peace, freedom and security. Barnabas Fund has launched Operation Safe Havens to rescue Christians in danger and to resettle them with dignity. Read here Listen to The Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 on the same question. A very significant contribution was made by Professor Paul Collier about 30 minutes into the programme recommending safe havens for the refugees, and that they should be allowed to work in the refugee camps ( which at the moment they are forbidden to do to prevent them...

read more

Conciliation with Liberal Modernity is Not Possible

Jun 10, 2015 by

By James Kalb, Crisis Magazine: The transcendent aspects of religion have little meaning for most educated Westerners today. They may consider religion worthy of respect or at least toleration when it relates to practical matters like willingness to help others and accept them as they are. Otherwise, it’s “fundamentalist”—strange, irrational, dangerous, oppressive, and very likely fraudulent. So when the issue comes up, they want doctrine to be subordinated to social and personal concerns or else abandoned, at least as a practical matter. The reasons they give vary somewhat. Some think of religion as basically a way of talking about this world from a poetic or ideal perspective. Others intend to accept something like traditional doctrine, but interpret it in a way that focuses on human things understood from the simplest this-worldly point of view. Love, for example, becomes identified with accepting and celebrating people just as they are, and supporting them in whatever goals they have that seem to fit into a general system of mutual toleration and support. That is why it seems obvious to many people that if Jesus appeared on TV today he would come out in favor of “gay marriage.” Very often the two tendencies blend, so that it’s unclear how far someone views his religion as more than a collection of inspirational stories and rituals to which he is attached. If the situation became too clear the stories and rituals might become less inspirational, so people who at bottom are committed to a wholly this-worldly perspective typically leave the question unresolved. They talk about God, but if you ask them what they mean they obfuscate and change the subject. They say that you haven’t made your question clear, that Christianity is more than a list of propositions, that there are many kinds of truth, or whatever. Read here...

read more

The lamps are going out all over the Middle East. They may not be lit again for decades

Jun 8, 2015 by

By Paul T Horgan, The Conservative Woman: There are many things that pollute our media experiences: events or persons who continually intrude upon the text and images we use to inform, educate and entertain ourselves. Although I do not watch televised talent shows, I have become aware that a dog has again won one of these. Kim Kardashian’s bottom seems virtually impossible to avoid and seems deserving of its own representation in the world of show-business. At least one man has chosen to assume the body shape of a woman through the use of hormones and cosmetic surgery. For this he has apparently been the subject of secular beatification. There are more sinister forms of visual pollution. Our screens have of late been regularly visited by the images of young men, clad in dark clothing from head to foot, brandishing swords towards the camera in a threatening fashion. For the curious or just plain ghoulish, the accompanying videos have apparently depicted them eagerly committing atrocities against people whose only crime has been either to disagree on forms of worship or just to merely exist. Isis has made maximum use of the internet to publicise itself, daring governments in the West to come after it, while influencing those of weak morals to emulate its barbaric activities. The rise of Isis seems unstoppable and appears to stem from the Arab Spring, where the populations of those countries in North Africa and the Middle East suddenly decided that their governments needed replacing and, realising that the ballot-box was not available or viable, took to the streets in what appeared to be a re-run of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989. There the similarity ended. The reaction of most of the governments affected by the uprisings was close to, but not as effective as, the Chinese response twenty-six years ago this month. Revolution turned into civil war as the weak institutions that had been repressing populations for decades were shown to be unable to survive transitions and challenges from demonstrators or armed groups of militants. It was naive in the extreme to assume that the Arab countries would follow the pattern of Eastern Europe and have dissident academics and jurists waiting on tap to assume the role of leadership as well as populations ready to accept multi-party politics, any more than it was reasonable to expect the fall of Saddam Hussein would allow Iraq to be rebuilt in the same way as the Federal Republic of Germany emerged from the ashes of another vicious dictatorship that was conquered by an international coalition. History tells us a different story. Read...

read more

VE Day anniversary: Church bells ring across UK

May 9, 2015 by

From BBC News: Churches and cathedrals across the UK are ringing their bells as part of 70th anniversary commemorations of VE Day, the end of World War Two in Europe. Bells began ringing at 11:00 BST on the second day of celebrations, and a 1940s-themed concert will be held later at London’s Horse Guards Parade. Acts including Status Quo and Pixie Lott will perform at the event. On Friday, wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph and the Queen led a ceremony to light beacons across the UK. Other European and Commonwealth countries have also held VE Day events. Russia, which lost more citizens to the war than any other nation, is holding a Victory parade in Moscow’s Red Square. The US, Australia, Canada and most of the EU heads of state have declined to send a representative in protest at Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Sir Nicholas Soames, a former defence minister and grandson of Winston Churchill, is the UK government’s representative, but is not attending the parade. He will lay a wreath in Moscow and attend the official reception. Read here...

read more

Religion is hugely overrated…as a cause of war

Oct 10, 2014 by

By Peter Franklin, Conservative Home: For atheists of a certain frame of mind, recent events in Iraq and Syria are confirmation that religion is the main cause of conflict in the world. John Gray, an atheist of a very different stripe, disagrees. In a book review for the New Republic, he provides some much needed perspective. For a start, one only has to start listing the great conflicts of history to see that there are countless of examples of wars where the cause is clearly non-religious. For instance, the first two Gulf Wars, the proxy conflicts of the Cold War, World Wars I and II, the American Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Mongol invasions and most of the wars perpetrated by the empires, kingdoms and city states of the ancient world. Of course, the above examples do include wars fought with an ideological motivation – but the ideologies involved are often overtly secular in character: “…the Inquisition pales in comparison to later frenzies of secular violence. Recent estimates of the numbers who were executed during the first 20 years of the Inquisition… range from 1,500 to 2,000 people. By contrast, about a quarter of a million people were killed in the Vendée (out of a population of roughly 800,000) when a peasant rebellion against the French Revolution was put down by republican armies in 1794. And some 17,000 men, women, and children were guillotined in the purge that ended in July that year, including the man who had designed the new revolutionary calendar.” The special charge levelled at religion is that because it makes truth claims about an ultimate reality beyond the full comprehension of human reason, it is uniquely capable of inspiring inhuman and irrational thoughts and actions. And yet one needs no appeal to the metaphysical to motivate the most terrible atrocities. Some of the darkest deeds in modern history were justified and committed by those convinced of the rational, practical and downright progressive nature of their cause: Read...

read more

Vicar of Baghdad leaves Iraq

Oct 8, 2014 by

From ICN: The Anglican priest known as the ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ has left Iraq and won’t be returning in the immediate future because of the dangers there. Canon Andrew White, who is currently in Jerusalem, told Premier Christian Radio that his departure was on the advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, but his work there would continue. “I’m really stupid…I have no concept of fear,” he told Premier’s Marcus Jones in an exclusive radio interview. “I’m not frightened of anything so I have to listen to people who are wiser and more sensible than me, like the Archbishop of Canterbury. “He happens to be a very good and close friend of mine and he’s taking the right decision. There is no guarantee that I will be safe. There is no guarantee that Baghdad won’t fall. At the moment it is in the hands of the Iraqi government but, if it did fall and I was there, I would fall as well – or my head would. “God often talks to us through other people and God is saying to me ‘get out you idiot’.” Canon White admitted that he’ll miss the young people of Baghdad most of all. “I’m really going to miss my youth, my young people, my children. That’s what I’ll really be in tears about,” he said. He confirmed that he plans to work in other parts of Iraq in due course. Read here Read also:  Vicar of Baghdad: ISIS Cells Already in Baghdad from The Clarion...

read more