Establishment Media has it out for Christians. Because to them we are the enemy

  • Elites finally reveal their #1 enemy: CHRISTIANS
  • Consider a few recent major media stories:
  • “With the Buffalo massacre, white Christian nationalism strikes again” – The Washington Post
  • “The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science Is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response” – The New York Times
  • “White Christian Nationalism ‘Is a Fundamental Threat to Democracy’” – New York Magazine
  • “How Christian nationalism paved the way for Jan. 6” – Religion News Service
  • “Christian nationalism on the rise in some GOP campaigns” – The Associated Press
  • “‘The View’ co-host blames ‘Christian nationalism’ for mass shootings” – FoxNews.com
  • “It’s becoming increasingly clear that the United States is under siege by Christian fundamentalists and traditionalists,” warns MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones.
  • “Christian Nationalism Is The ‘Single Biggest Threat’ to America’s Religious Freedom,” announces the Center for American Progress.

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Christians are self-censoring and don’t even realize it; stopped seeing it as a problem

Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Secular intolerance of Christians’ views is leading to self-censorship, report warns
  • “Secular intolerance has a chilling effect on Christians, which directly affects their capacity to express their faith freely in society and is leading to various forms of self-censorship,” says the report, titled “Perceptions on Self-Censorship: Confirming and Understanding the ‘Chilling Effect,’” which includes case studies from France, Germany, Colombia and Mexico.
  • “Some people do indeed fear being subjected to legal proceedings or being criminally sanctioned on charges of discrimination, while others fear being subjected to disciplinary proceedings in their work or places,” notes the study
  • Many Christians interviewed as part of the study did not realize they were self-censoring. In some cases, they had self-censored to the extent that they now “stop seeing the characteristics related to self-censorship as a problem.”

Read the original article by clicking here.

Presumed jihadists stormed church in Nigeria, opened fire on worshipers killing at least 50

Mark 13:13 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Pentecost Massacre in Nigeria claims the lives of more than 50 Christians
  • The attack on St. Francis Catholic Church took place in the morning when the faithful had gathered to celebrate Pentecost.
  • While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, the targeting of Christians strongly suggests Islamic extremists were behind the assault.
  • Our peace and tranquility have been attacked by the enemies of the people.

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According to Barna Study 39% of Christians are Not Involved in Discipleship

Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Two in Five Christians Are Not Engaged in Discipleship
  • Perhaps this doesn’t surprise you; in our increasingly individualized culture, 56 percent of Christians tell Barna that their spiritual life is entirely private.
  • For this study, researchers identified Christians who were both being discipled and discipling others as those who are fully engaged in discipleship community.
  • Just over one in four U.S. Christians (28%) falls into this category. Another 28 percent are being discipled, but are not helping others grow closer to Christ, and a very small percentage (5%) is only discipling others.
  • By these definitions, this means the plurality of Christians (39%) is not engaged in discipleship, in any direction.

Read the original article by clicking here.

Pandemic Becomes Tool to Persecute Christians

Matthew 5:10-12 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Important Takeaways:

  • The Ignored Pandemic: 360 Million Christians Persecuted Worldwide
  • “When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they tried to appear moderate—but there’s no sign that Christianity will be anything other than a death sentence.” — World Watch List-2022.
  • “The persecution of Christians in India has intensified, as Hindu extremists aim to cleanse the country of their presence and influence. The extremists disregard Indian Christians and other religious minorities as true Indians, and think the country should be purified of non-Hindus…..” — World Watch List-2022.
  • In Qatar, “Violence against Christians rose sharply ….” — World Watch List-2022.
  • “The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a new weapon to persecutors. In some areas, Christians have been deliberately overlooked in the local distribution of government aid and have even been accused of spreading the virus.” — World Watch List-2022.
  • In the Central African Republic, which was “hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic … Christians were denied government aid and told to convert to Islam if they wanted to eat.”
  • In short, the persecution of Christians, which was already horrific, has increased by nearly 70% over the last five years, with no signs of abating.

Read the original article by clicking here.

Afghanistan after middle east blunder is now worst persecutor of Christians

John 16:2 Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God

Important Takeaways:

  • Afghanistan Now Tops Open Doors’ World Watch Persecution List: ‘Tracking Christians, Killing Christians’
  • One in seven Christians worldwide faces persecution for their faith in Jesus. That’s about 360 million people.
  • For 20-years, North Korea has topped the list. But this year, there’s been a seismic shift as Afghanistan has taken its place as the world’s worst persecutor.
  • “It’s the number one perpetrator of violence and pressure and discrimination against Christians in the world. North Korea hasn’t gotten better, Afghanistan’s gotten worse — the violence, the tracking of Christians, the killing of Christians, this is, unfortunately, I’m afraid, what we can expect from Afghanistan in the future,” Curry said

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In Iraq’s Biblical lands, scattered Christians ask ‘should I stay or go?’

By John Davison

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – A jihadist message, “Islamic State endures,” is still graffitied on the front gate of Thanoun Yahya, an Iraqi Christian from the northern city of Mosul, scrawled by Islamist militants who occupied his home for three years when they ruled the city.

He refuses to remove it, partly in defiance of the militants who were eventually beaten by Iraqi forces, but also as a reminder that Iraq’s scattered and dwindling Christian community still lives a precarious existence.

“They’re gone, they can’t hurt us,” said the 59-year-old, sitting in his home which he reclaimed when Islamic State was driven out in 2017. “But there aren’t many of us left. The younger generation want to leave.”

Yahya sold the family’s metalwork shop to pay a ransom for his brother, kidnapped by al Qaeda militants in 2004 at a time when Christians were being abducted and executed.

Since then, he has watched siblings leave for foreign countries and work and income dry up.

Of 20 relatives who once lived in the neighborhood, only his family of six remain.

Iraq’s Christians have endured unrest over centuries, but a mass exodus began after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and accelerated during the reign of Islamic State, which brutalized minorities and Muslims alike.

Hundreds of thousands left for nearby areas and Western countries.

Across Iraq’s northern Nineveh Plains, home to some of the oldest churches and monasteries in the world, the remaining Christians often live displaced in villages that fell easily to Islamic State in 2014 or in enclaves of bigger cities such as Mosul and the nearby self-run Kurdish region.

The Islamists’ rule over almost a third of Iraq, with Mosul as their capital, ended in 2017 in a destructive battle with security forces.

‘ONLY GOD CAN HELP’

Physical and economic ruin remain. Iraqi authorities have struggled to rebuild areas decimated by war, and armed groups that the government has not been able to control vie for territory and resources, including Christian heartlands.

Christians say they are left with a dilemma – whether to return to damaged homes, resettle inside Iraq or migrate from a country that experience has shown cannot protect them.

“In 2014, Christians thought their displacement would last a few days,” said Cardinal Louis Sako, head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church.

“It lasted three years. Many lost hope and migrated. There’s no security or stability.”

Iraq’s indigenous Christians are estimated to number around 300,000, a fifth of the 1.5 million who lived in the country before the 2003 invasion that toppled Sunni Muslim leader Saddam Hussein.

Christians were tolerated under Hussein, but singled out for kidnappings and killings in the communal bloodshed of the mid-2000s onwards.

Pope Francis is to visit Iraq on an historic trip that eluded his predecessors. He will say a prayer for the victims of conflict at a site in Mosul where old churches lie in ruins, once used as religious tribunals by Islamic State.

Christians welcome the visit, but do not believe it will improve their lot.

“The pope can’t help us, only God can,” Yahya said.

DISPLACED, DISTRUSTFUL

Yahya’s family, who fled to Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region during Islamic State’s rule, is one of just a few dozen that have returned to Mosul out of an original population of some 50,000 Christians, according to local clergy.

His two teenage sons help out at the local church, the only one fully repaired in Mosul, which fills to about half its modest capacity on Sundays.

Firas, his eldest, finds little more than a day a week of casual labor and sees no future in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

“If I want to marry, I’ll have to leave. Christian women from here are displaced to other areas and don’t want to come back,” he said. “Ideally, I’d go to the West.”

The experience of Islamic State, which told Christians to convert, pay a tax or be killed, and the inability of Iraqi and Kurdish security forces to prevent the group marauding through their hometowns, has left many Christians distrustful of any but their own.

The nearby Christian town of Hamdaniya boasts its own militia, which local officials say is necessary because of the proliferation of Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary groups which seek control of land, and Islamic State militants who remain in hideouts across northern Iraq.

“If there were no Christian militia here, no one would come back. Why should we rely on outside forces to protect us?” said a local militia leader, who requested anonymity.

Nearly 30,000 Christians, half of Hamdaniya’s population, have returned, including a small number from abroad, and began rebuilding infrastructure thanks to foreign aid. It is a rare bright spot.

In the neighboring village, Christian leader Sako said most Christians were unable or unwilling to return out of fear of a local Shi’ite militia, and because non-Christians had bought their property in their absence.

Some have showed interest in resettling in Hamdaniya, but local officials generally reject this, fearing it would weaken Iraqi Christians’ presence.

“If people move here from their own villages, it empties those areas of Christians,” said Isam Daaboul, the mayor of Hamdaniya.

“This threatens our existence in areas we’ve been for generations.”

(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs appeal by official who opposed gay marriage

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by a county clerk in Kentucky briefly jailed in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to two same-sex couples to avoid lawsuits they filed that accuse her of violating their constitutional rights.

The justices turned away an appeal by Kim Davis, who no longer serves as Rowan County Clerk, of a lower court ruling that allowed the lawsuits to proceed. But two conservative justices who voted in dissent against legalizing gay marriage in the court’s landmark 2015 ruling said in an opinion released as part of Monday’s action that the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, continues to have “ruinous consequences” for religious liberty.

“Davis may have been one of the first victims of this court’s cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision, but she will not be the last,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in an opinion joined by Justice Samuel Alito.

Thomas said the Obergefell decision has left “those with religious objections in the lurch” and made it easier to label them as bigots “merely for refusing to alter their religious beliefs in the wake of prevailing orthodoxy.”

Both justices agreed with the decision to reject the Davis appeal for technical reasons.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that Davis could be sued in her individual capacity in her former role as county clerk. The 6th Circuit rejected her argument that she is protected by a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which can shield government officials from liability in certain cases.

Davis, who has earned praise from some conservative Christians, defended her actions by saying that she stopped issuing marriage licenses to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, and the plaintiffs could have obtained licenses elsewhere.

She was jailed for five days in the aftermath of the Obergefell decision for defying court orders to issue licenses in accordance with the high court’s ruling.

The couples – David Ermold and David Moore, and Will Smith and James Yates – sued Davis in 2015, accusing her of violating their constitutional right to marry as recognized in the Obergefell ruling for refusing to provide them marriage licenses. Both couples received their licenses while Davis was in jail.

The stance taken by Thomas and Alito, two of the court’s most conservative justices, comes as the Senate is moving forward quickly with the confirmation process for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a favorite of Christian conservatives. With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, only three of the justices who made up the court’s 5-4 majority in the Obergefell ruling still serve on the bench.

In the Obergefell ruling, the court found that the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law meant states cannot ban same-sex marriages.

In recent years, a number of cases have arisen around the country testing the scope of the Obergefell decision, and the rights of those to object to gay marriage on religious grounds.

On Nov. 4, the justices are due to hear a major religious rights dispute involving the city of Philadelphia’s refusal to place children for foster care with a Catholic agency that bars same-sex couples from serving as foster parents.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Will Dunham)

Turkey’s Erdogan says Hagia Sophia becomes mosque after court ruling

By Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia open to Muslim worship on Friday after a top court ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.

Erdogan made his announcement, just an hour after the court ruling was revealed, despite international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument, revered by Christians and Muslims alike.

“The decision was taken to hand over the management of the Ayasofya Mosque…to the Religious Affairs Directorate and open it for worship,” the decision signed by Erdogan said.

Erdogan had earlier proposed restoring the mosque status of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, a focal point of both the Christian Byzantine and Muslim Ottoman empires and now one of the most visited monuments in Turkey.

The United States, Greece and church leaders were among those to express concern about changing the status of the huge 6th Century building, converted into a museum in the early days of the modern secular Turkish state under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

“It was concluded that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally,” the Council of State, Turkey’s top administrative court in Ankara, said in its ruling.

“The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws,” it said, referring to an edict signed by Ataturk.

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH EXPRESSES REGRET

The association which brought the court case, the latest in a 16-year legal battle, said Hagia Sophia was the property of the Ottoman leader who captured the city in 1453 and turned the already 900-year-old Byzantine church into a mosque.

Erdogan, a pious Muslim, threw his weight behind the campaign to convert the building before local elections last year. He is due to speak shortly before 9 p.m. (1800 GMT), his head of communications said.

The Ottomans built minarets alongside the vast domed structure, while inside they added huge calligraphic panels bearing the Arabic names of the early Muslim caliphs alongside the monument’s ancient Christian iconography.

The Russian Orthodox Church said it regretted that the court did not take its concerns into account when making its ruling and said the decision could lead to even greater divisions, the TASS news agency reported.

Previously, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and based in Istanbul, said converting it into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would “fracture” East and West.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greece had also urged Turkey to maintain the building as a museum.

But Turkish groups have long campaigned for Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque, saying this would better reflect Turkey’s status as an overwhelmingly Muslim country.

(Reporting by Daren Butler and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Dominic Evans, Jonathan Spicer and Timothy Heritage)

Coronavirus forces U.S. churches to offer Easter Sunday services unlike any before

By Rich McKay

(Reuters) – U.S. church leaders peppered their Easter homilies with references to the coronavirus on Sunday, in masses held online, on television and even in parking lots to people sheltering in cars to maintain social distancing during the pandemic.

For the world’s largest Christian population, the coronavirus pandemic has meant observing an Easter Sunday unlike any Americans have lived through before.

“Today as we hear the Easter bells as a call to solidarity among all the members of our community in the face of the pandemic, we might respond to witness to the power of the Resurrection, the power of love that is stronger than death, and faith in a provident God who can always bring good out of evil,” Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in his homily on BostonCatholic.org.

Governors and health authorities across the United States have broadly asked residents to avoid gathering in large numbers, leading to the closure of schools, businesses and churches.

The COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus has claimed more than 20,500 lives across the United States and infected more than 525,000 people.

Major U.S. religious institutions, including Roman Catholic dioceses and Protestant churches, have found alternatives to safely celebrate the holiest day on the Christian calendar.

In Easley, South Carolina, the 2,200 members of the Rock Springs Baptist Church were among the many U.S. churchgoers who turned to technology and the airwaves for help.

Reverend Jim Cawthon, 46, said he expected hundreds to spend Easter services in their cars in his megachurch’s parking lot, watching the proceedings on big outdoor screens and listening to its broadcast over local radio.

More will likely watch online, which Cawthon said should be easier as the church recently upgraded its video and internet systems.

“Just prior to this all going crazy, we were already set up,” Cawthon said. “It’s all about the cross and celebrating Easter even in a pandemic.”

Some older adults in retirement communities celebrated Holy Week by playing music and video broadcasts of services. Some communities held contests, asking residents, for instance, to decorate golf carts for Easter and leave them parked outside for judging, instead of holding annual golf cart Easter parades.

Curtis James, a youth pastor at the Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, dreamed up the idea of holding a safe Easter egg hunt for children with the online videogame Minecraft. Other churches have joined in as the plan garnered national attention.

The Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has held a sunrise Easter service for almost 250 years, weathering even the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, as well as the two World Wars. But for the pandemic, the service was canceled. It was to be replaced by an online and locally broadcast service with just a preacher and few choir and band members providing music.

A handful of churches have bucked social distancing rules aimed at slowing the disease’s spread and planned to go ahead with in-person services on Sunday, with some pastors predicting divine protection from the disease.

Most Catholic dioceses across the United States shut down all such live services, however.

Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Los Angeles diocese wrote to priests and parishioners across the nation online to hold steadfast.

“Future generations will look back on this as the long Lent of 2020, a time when disease and death suddenly darkened the whole earth,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles diocese wrote to priests and parishioners across the nation online.

“This Holy Week will be different. Our churches may be closed but Christ is not quarantined and his Gospel is not in chains.”

In Columbus, Georgia, the St. Anne Catholic Church found a unique way to fill up its pews for Easter Sunday.

More than 650 members of the 1,500-strong congregation sent in “selfie” photos of themselves that the priests taped to the pews, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“Now we look out and see faces,” pastor Robert Schlageter told the newspaper.

(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Scott Malone, Rosalba O’Brien and Tom Brown)