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Persecution: Why is the Western Church silent

(Voice of the Persecuted) Recently I received an invitation to go on a conference call and pray for repentance concerning the wildfires in California. One of the prayer points concerning repentance is that America has not stood with Israel. I find this interesting since according to PM Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and many Israelis, President Trump is the best friend Israel ever had.

In my experience of praying on conference calls, I’ve found that Israel has more intercessors than tortured, imprisoned and endangered believers in Christ. I facilitate Persecution Watch, one of the few, likely the only conference call in North American that specifically prays for the persecuted church. By God’s grace we have labored for over 8 years in his mandate to intercede for those in the shadow of the cross, and that with a faithful, few intercessors.

I continually hear and am told that we must pray for Israel, the apple of God’s eye. At the risk of being construed as Anti-Semitic, I must ask what about the persecuted bride of Christ? Who intercedes for them as He intercedes for us? Given their experience of persecution, even Jewish people wonder why the West doesn’t have more concern for Christians facing extreme abuses, even death.

I do believe that Israel will play a prophetic role in the end times, but I leave that for the experts to work out. I must ask again who stands with persecuted believers, our own family in faith?

The writer of Hebrews tells us, Remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and they mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily. Hebrews 13:3

We are to remember our persecuted family, at least in our prayers, because we are members of one body. Indeed Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12 that if one member of the body suffers we all suffer. So how is it that we can easily ignore the wounded part of the Body in Christ?

I find the passages in Matthew 25 regarding the sheep and the goats to be quite sobering. Many of us know these passages found in chapter 25 verses 31-46. Let’s look at how is He’s judging the sheep and the goats. He’s not assessing them on the doctrine they held or their performance of signs and wonders, but if they fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, showed hospitality to the stranger, clothed the naked, took care of the sick, and visited those in prison. He’s judging the sheep and the goats as to whether they practiced the second great commandment, or what is called the royal law. Love your neighbor as yourself. I believe the persecuted bride of Christ is being considered here.

Many cry out for Israel and I respect those who do. Countless churches are active in meaningful outreach programs which I believe demonstrate goodwill and the love expected in our faith. But how often do we hear our pastors leading even a short prayer for the critical numbers suffering for their faith, today? Once a week, once a month, a year, never? To encourage all pastors, we have not met one believer who hasn’t confirmed they would like to hear more about the persecuted in church and to pray with the congregation for them. We thank those of you who are engaging their congregations and lifting up the suffering. We pray more consider to join you.

Will we continue to be silent, or will we speak out and pray for the persecuted? Below is a song written a few years ago at the height of the ISIS persecution of the believers in Iraq. It challenges us to not be silent for our persecuted family.

We stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters who are in the shadow of the cross. I must continue to cry out even though at times I feel as a lone voice in the wilderness.

Your brother at the foot of the cross,

Blaine and the VOP team

Blaine Scogin serves as Prayer Director of Persecution Watch and Voice of the Persecuted.

The Persecution Watch conference call meets 3 times a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sundays. If you are interested in joining the Prayer Team on the call, we invite and welcome your presence to intercede for our brothers and sisters with us. It means more to the persecuted than you can imagine. MEET YOU ON THE CALL!
(Please check your time zones)
9 p.m. Eastern
8 p.m. Central
7 p.m. Mountain
6 p.m. Pacific

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#

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Andrew Brunson’s daughter testifies at the first U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Jacqueline (Brunson) Furnari addresses Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom about her father’s imprisonment by the Turkish government

See video: Jacqueline Furnari, daughter of Andrew Brunson, testifies to the U.S. State Department’s inaugural Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C., on July 24, 2018. Brunson has been imprisoned in Turkey since October 7, 2016, and is being tried on charges of terrorism, espionage, and attempting to convert Turks to Christianity.

Judge Rules in Favor of Group of Asylum Seeking Iranians

Advocates for a group of nearly 90 Christian and other religious-minority refugees from Iran are praising a ruling by a federal judge in California earlier this week that forces the Trump administration to reconsider their asylum requests after issuing a blanket denial of all of them earlier this year.

(Mohabat News)  The refugees and U.S. human rights activists representing their interests say the decision is a break-through in a troubling case that has left the group of Iranians marooned in Vienna and has earned the sympathy and attention of a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress, as well as high-level Trump administration officials.

Since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) denied their asylum applications en masse in February, the group has been left in limbo in Vienna, unable either to return to Iran out of fear of further persecution and possible death or to reunite with family members or other sponsors in the U.S.

“It’s a step in the right direction, and we’re happy that the court recognizes that the government can’t just use whatever terms it wants [to deny these applicants]. It has to follow what Congress intended this program to be—to give heightened protections to these Iranian Christians and Mandaeans and other religious minorities,” Mariko Hirose, who serves as the litigation director for International Refugee Assistance Project in New York, told the Washington Free Beacon.

The Iranian individuals and their family members applied for refugee resettlement in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment, a law Congress first passed in 1989 to facilitate refugee admission of Jews fleeing the former Soviet Union. Lawmakers expanded the program in 2004 to include religious minorities in Iran.

The Iranians had traveled to Vienna from Tehran at the invitation of the U.S. government to complete their applications as part of this unique Lautenberg refugee program.

The program has quietly admitted an estimated 30,000 persecuted Iranians, mainly Jews and Christians, but also Mandaeans, Zoroastrians, and Baha’is, over the last decade at a near 100 percent acceptance rate without incident, according to U.S. lawmakers familiar with the acceptance record.

However, the Obama administration first started imposing a new vetting process for all asylum applicants in 2016, the first roadblocks for the group of nearly 90 Iranians.

Then in February, after the individuals had already spent nearly a year waiting at an intermediary vetting facility in Vienna—the same facility used for years for the Lautenberg program without incident—the DHS flatly denied the group without providing the reasons behind the decision.

The DHS denials said only that the applicants were being barred from resettling in the U.S. as “a matter of discretion.”

A State Department spokeswoman earlier this year did not elaborate on why DHS had denied the group of Iranians, saying only the “safety and security of the American people are paramount,” and that “Iranian refugee applicants under this program are subject to the same security vetting processes that apply to refugee applicants of other nationalities considered for admission to the United States of America.”

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman on Tuesday ordered DHS to disclose individual reasons for the denials within 14 days of her ruling, which allows the claimants to appeal. The refugees have 90 days to file their appeals, which could reopen their cases.

If they are once again denied, DHS would have to follow their own regulations and provide a substantive reason for the denials, according to Hirose.

In addressing the unique aspects of the Lautenberg Amendment, which governs this group’s applications, Freeman wrote that DHS “retains an enormous amount of authority and discretion to adjudicate refugee applications, but they do not have the discretion to violate the law.”

The vague DHS denial notices, the judge said, leaves the applicants in an untenable position.

“Without a reason for the denial, the applicants are left to guess at which factors and circumstances DHS considered,” she said. “Any meaningful review of the denials becomes impossible because plaintiffs are effectively shadowboxing against themselves.”

Evidence that applications of at least 38 of the individuals denied admission in February received “identical notices of ineligibility raises the inference that the denials were not, in fact, individualized,” she continued.

Hirose says Congress was very clear when it passed the Lautenberg Amendment that if the U.S. government denies an asylum claim, it must provide a reason “to the maximum extent feasible.”

The mass denials were such a devastating blow because the group of Iranians had already uprooted from their home country, leaving jobs and selling possessions and expected a smooth transition to the United States.

After previous asylum seekers left Iran, they were able to travel onward to the United States in just a few months, Hirose said.

“That’s how this program used to be, and it was really a surprise and completely unprecedented when these mass denials happened in February,” she said.

The group’s plight has attracted the attention and support of key lawmakers in Congress who called on Vice President Pence to intervene on their behalf in late January.

Reps. Randy Hultgren (R., Ill.) and James McGovern (D., Mass.), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress, sent a letter to Pence arguing that the Lautenberg Amendment requires DHS to presume that all Iranian religious minorities are eligible for refugee status in the United States.

“DHS and State must make every effort to continue to accept thousands of Iranian religious minorities currently waiting in Iran and take steps to prioritize and expedite any relevant security checks,” they added.

They also highlighted Pence’s and other Trump administration officials’ repeated promises to come to the defense of persecuted Christians in Iran and throughout the Middle East.

“You have made clear that the Trump administration will take the lead in helping to end these persecutions,” they wrote. “In Vienna, Austria, there are 100 victims of persecution waiting for the United States to act. Thank you for doing what you can to move DHS and State to accept these refugees.”

A White House official told the Free Beacon in January that the administration is paying “careful attention to the issue” and was working to find a solution.

“High-level administration officials are monitoring the progress,” the official said. “Certain complexities exist that the administration has to work through, including human-rights concerns and national security. But the administration is certainly engaged.”/The Washington free beacon

Employees Resign After The American Bible Society Affirms Biblical Marriage

 

The American Bible Society has been distributing Bibles for over 200 years. The organization’s mission is to share the Gospel with a goal to translate the Bible in every language by 2025. ABS has recently asked their employees to sign a statement of faith by January 2019. Those who don’t will be asked to hand in their resignation.

The new policy asks employees to conduct themselves according to biblical principles, and includes the affirmation of traditional marriage. read document below.

Some employees resigned when they disagreed with the organizations views about biblical marriage. Others are said to be looking for new employment. American Bible Society President and CEO Roy Peterson believes the organization did the right thing.

According to the Religious News Service, nine of the company’s 200 employees have resigned.

Read full article

 

Catholic Therapist Fired Because Of Her Religious Beliefs On Marriage

ANN ARBOR, MI –The Thomas More Law Center reports Kathleen Lorentzen, a Catholic and licensed clinical social worker was told by her supervisor that she had to be “a social worker first and a Catholic second,” and was fired because she refused to compromise her faith which teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. Mrs. Lorentzen had an exemplary employment record of providing psychological counseling for over 20 years to a diverse group of patients. But despite her outstanding record, her former employer, HealthSource Saginaw (“HealthSource”), located in Michigan, terminated her.

The Thomas More Law Center  (“TMLC”), a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed a federal lawsuit on Friday, May 11, against HealthSource on behalf of Mrs. Lorentzen for violation of civil rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as Michigan state law.

TMLC Senior Trial Counsel Tyler Brooks said, “This case shows that people of faith are under assault in the workplace. The fact is, however, that Christians need not choose between their faith and their jobs. Despite what many would have us believe, discrimination against Christians is a civil rights violation that will subject employers to legal liability.”

   The events that led to Mrs. Lorentzen’s termination began after she was referred a gay couple seeking marriage counseling, whom she saw on two occasions last summer. Though Mrs. Lorentzen has counseled many gay patients in her career, she felt that she could not see this couple any further for marriage counseling because doing so would violate her religious beliefs and practices regarding the sanctity of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

Mrs. Lorentzen’s supervisor, though, became angry with her when she asked to refer the couple to another therapist, as was her right under Title VII. Federal civil rights law generally requires employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs so long as doing so would not impose an undue hardship. In this case, the couple could have easily been referred to another therapist.

After this initial meeting, Mrs. Lorentzen was called into a second meeting with the same supervisor as well as HealthSource’s outpatient manager. In this meeting, Mrs. Lorentzen was aggressively interrogated about her faith and her work at HealthSource. At one point, one of the men dismissively referred to the teachings of the Catholic Church by saying, “They are just priests.”

Soon thereafter, Mrs. Lorentzen received a letter in the mail informing her that she was being terminated in 30 days. As described in the complaint, the decision to terminate Mrs. Lorentzen was based on her religion as well as her request for an accommodation under the law and her opposition to being discriminated against on the basis of her religion.

Click here to read the full complaint.

REMINDER: Invitation to pray united for Andrew Brunson on 24 hour prayer conference call begins Saturday evening

Brunson prison-turkey-1

via Ministries invite believers to unite on 24 hour prayer conference call for Andrew Brunson see link for full report 

8 Christian ministries have joined together to initiate and invite Christians to join on a 24 hour prayer conference call for an American pastor imprisoned for his faith in Turkey. “We feel an urgency to cover and lift Andrew in prayer before court proceedings continue in his trial next Monday, May 7th”, the ministry leaders said. The call will begin Saturday, May 5 at 9pm and will continue uninterrupted through Sunday, May 6 at 9pm (Call access information and details below). International callers are also encouraged to join.

UPDATE from the Brunson’s Facebook page (May 4, 2018):

Many important prayers have gone up, thank you so much! But…

THIS weekend is a time to simply worship at his footstool and call on the LORD MOST HIGH to come with his glory and to do spiritual battle for us. (There is a Friday evening through Monday evening fast – join in any way)

The Brunson’s are aware of the prayer call and thank you. Please share this call with your church and all those who will pray! 

 

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Location: Any location from your phone

When: Begins May 5, 2018 – May 6, 2018

Length of call: 24 Hours (Note: You’re not required to commit to 24 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.)

Time of the Call:

9 p.m.- 9 p.m. Eastern time

8 p.m.-8 p.m.  Central time

7 p.m.-7 p.m.  Mountain time

6 p.m.-6 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#

PRINT PRAYER CALL FLYER: View and download printable PDF flyer here

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier.Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International Conference Call Numbers

(Note: If you will be using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

(Though not expected, due to circumstances beyond our control, connection may be lost. Simply call again to rejoin the call. Please let us know if you were unsuccessful getting on the call so we can address the issue with technical support.)

Global ministries initiate 24hr Prayer Conference Call for Andrew Brunson

(Voice of the Persecuted) American Pastor Andrew Brunson critically needs our prayers. Brunson has lived in Turkey for over 23 years and served as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church. He loves the Turkish people and along with his wife, raised 3 children in the country. But he’s been wrongfully accused and facing a 35 yr. prison term if he’s found guilty. 35 years would be a life sentence for the 50 yr. old pastor.

After what has been described as a historically long day of trial of nearly 13 hours, on April 16th, Pastor Brunson clearly answered questions and gave 6 hours of testimony in his defense. It was reported at one point during the trial he broke down in tears. His wife says it was a crushing blow for Andrew when he learned that he would be taken back to the harsh prison where he had lost 50 lbs. They had hoped Andrew would be released to go home under house arrest. His trial is scheduled to continue on May 7, 2018.

A prayer request was sent yesterday by his wife,

“PLEASE PRAY THAT HE BE MOVED BACK [to less harsh prison] UNTIL THE NEXT HEARING, AND PRAY FOR MUCH NEEDED GRACE. I SAW HIM TODAY AND HE IS NOT DOING WELL AT ALL. THIS IS A PRESSING NEED!”

Praise God, that prayer has been answer! Early this morning, we received news that Andrew has been moved to the Buca prison.

Brothers and Sisters,

The Apostle Peter, like Andrew Brunson, was kept in prison as the early church was fervently praying to God for him….Acts 12:5

Peter’s imprisonment by King Herod seemed like a pretty impossible situation for the first century church.  After the martyrdom of James, Herod arrested Peter and had him bound with chains. He also ordered 4 squads of 4 soldiers each to guard Peter’s cell. Sixteen soldiers to watch one unarmed man.

The early church had no political leverage with the Roman or Jewish government. There were no advocacy groups that they could appeal to for Peter’s release. It was pactically a given fact that Peter would surely be executed just as James was.

But the early church had one powerful weapon at its disposal. A weapon that they consistently used to see miracles and signs and wonders go forth. A weapon that won much of the Western Mediterranean to the Lord Jesus Christ in the first century. That weapon was prayer.

The first century Christians realized the imprisonment of Peter was a spiritual battle. As such, they employed spiritual weapons that were powerful against Satan.  The enemy who is spiritual can only be defeated by spiritual weapons.

Paul speaks of the weapons that are at our disposal in 1 Corinthians 10:3-4,

For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are divinely powerful through God for the destruction of strongholds.

The first century Church realized they were in a spiritual war. Consequently, they employed their most powerful weapon to secure the release of Peter. As you read the story, you will see how Peter was released through an angel. When Peter was knocking at the door the praying saints could not believe that he had been released from prison.  Though they were no doubt praying for it.

Today we are in that same spiritual battle regarding our brother Andrew Brunson.  Advocates are saying that it would take an intervention of God to release Andrew Brunson. It seems likely that the Turkish Court will put this brother in prison and throw away the key. But we believe our God is still in the miracle-working business. We do believe that God hear our prayers. James writing in his letter says,

The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful and can accomplish much….James 5:16

The outcome of our brother’s trial is not in the hands of the Turkish government. The outcome is in the hands of God.

We, along with other global ministries have initiated an 24-hour Prayer Conference Call at this critical time for Pastor Brunson. We invite you to join with us the weekend of May 5th – May 6th to cry out the victory of Jesus Christ for Andrew Brunson, for God to be glorified and His will to be done in this trial and the life of Pastor Brunson. Please consider joining us as we pray for his forthcoming release. Call details below

We believe prayer works. Stay on the call 5 minutes, 5 hours, or as long as you feel led. Your prayers make a huge difference in the lives of our  brother, Andrew and the persecuted around the world.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Location: Any location from your phone

When: Begins May 5, 2018 – May 6, 2018

Length of call: 24 Hours (Note: You’re not required to commit to 24 hours. Come on the call and pray as your time allows.)

Time of the Call:

9 p.m.- 9 p.m. Eastern time

8 p.m.-8 p.m.  Central time

7 p.m.-7 p.m.  Mountain time

6 p.m.-6 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#

PRINT PRAYER CALL FLYER: View and download printable PDF flyer here

MOBILE APP: Free Conference Call HD also provides a quick and easy way for you to dial into conference calls without having to remember the dial-in credentials. Save all of your conference call dial-in numbers and access codes using this free app. With the Free Conference Call HD you can instantly dial into a conference call via 3G/4G data network and or regular mobile carrier.Google Play link  or App Store – iTunes

Available International Conference Call Numbers

(Note: If you will be using one of the call numbers below, you may experience issues in your country. If you are unable to connect, try using the VoIP dialer available at this link. Click on VoIP dialer, go to this number 712-775-7035 in the drop down menu—enter access code 281207 (do not add the # symbol)—enter your name and click on the ‘Place Call’ button.

Australia                                              +61 (0) 3 8672 0185

Austria                                                  +43 (0) 732 2781155

Belgium                                                +32 (0) 9 324 29 17

Brazil                                                     +55 61 4040-4314

Bulgaria                                                +359 (0) 2 495 1527

Canada                                                 (712) 775-7060

Chile                                                      +56 (0) 44 890 9161

China                                                     +86 (0) 510 6801 0117

Costa Rica                                            +506 4000 3885

Croatia                                                  +385 (0) 1 8000 065

Cyprus                                                  +357 77 788854

Czech                                                    +420 225 852 060

Denmark                                               +45 78 77 36 35

Dominican Republic                             (829) 999-2585

Estonia                                                 +372 614 8061

Finland                                                 +358 (0) 9 74790032

France                                                  +33 (0) 1 80 14 00 56

GCC/Arabian Peninsula                       +973 1656 8325

Georgia                                                +995 (0) 706 777 110

Germany                                             +49 (0) 89 143772955

Guatemala                                          +502 2458 1416

Hungary                                               +36 1 987 6821

Iceland                                                 +354 539 0323

Indonesia                                            +62 (0) 21 51388813

Ireland                                                  +353 (0) 1 437 0318

Israel                                                     +972 (0) 76-599-0026

Italy                                                       +39 06 8997 2187

Japan                                                    +81 (0) 3-5050-5075

Kenya                                                   +254 (0) 20 5231033

Latvia                                                    +371 67 881 516

Lithuania                                              +370 (8) 37 248962

Luxembourg                                        +352 20 30 10 03

Malaysia                                              +60 (0) 11-1146 0070

Mexico                                                 +52 (01) 899 274 5015

Netherlands                                       +31 (0) 6 35205061

Nigeria                                                  +234 (0) 1 440 5221

Norway                                                +47 21 93 53 35

Pakistan                                               +92 (0) 21 37130640

Panama                                                +507 838-7821

Poland                                                  +48 32 739 96 40

Portugal                                               +351 21 114 3145

Romania                                              +40 (0) 31 780 7760

Slovakia                                                +421 2 333 255 32

Slovenia                                               +386 (0) 1 828 03 25

South Africa                                         +27 (0) 87 825 0107

South Korea                                       +82 (0) 70-7686-0015

Spain                                                     +34 931 98 23 70

Sri Lanka                                              +94 (0) 11 5 322961

Sweden                                               +46 (0) 31 781 06 26

Switzerland                                        +41 (0) 43 550 70 55

Taiwan                                                  +886 (0) 985 646 917

Turkey                                                  +90 (0) 212 988 1713

Ukraine                                                +380 (0) 89 323 9978

United Kingdom                                 +44 (0) 330 606 0527

United States                                                (712) 775-7035

Vietnam                                                 +84 (0) 4 7108 0080

(Though not expected, due to circumstances beyond our control, connection may be lost. Simply call again to rejoin the call. Please let us know if you were unsuccessful getting on the call so we can address the issue with technical support.)

 

American Atheists’ attacks on Christmas, what Would Santa Do?

In honor of the Feast Day of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, 326 A.D., we are posting once again this commentary on the defender of faith against Arianism with an update on this year’s aggressive American Atheists’ attacks on Christmas.

The following article contains a section that originally appeared on the American Spectator in 2008, and is reproduced with permission.

December 6 by Faith McDonnell  Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus…Oh wait, it’s not Santa, it’s the American Atheists with yet another attack on Christmas.

It is Christmas, the holiday that dares not speak its name, that may alienate the American Atheists. But unlike the angry atheists, somehow hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who are not Christians, and may or may not have their own exclusive holidays to celebrate, manage to slog through the Christmas season with their feelings unscathed and even enjoying Christmas festivities along with their Christian neighbors!

This year’s attack comes in the form of telling people to skip church and calling the birth of Christ “fake news.” They also go after President Trump, naturally.

“When people are brought down to being just equal after occupying a position of privilege in the country, when they’re made to be equal or just another one of the multitude of religions, I can understand how they think it’s an attack,” the uber-defensive Nick Fish, National Program Director for the American Atheists, told Newsweek. “But it’s not. It’s equality. The government not giving special treatment to you is not an assault on your rights.” Wow! I can’t wait to see the billboard going after Muslims for “fake news” and telling Sharia-pushers that they do not deserve special treatment.

Newsweek said, “The organization is wary of increasingly partisan divides in the government — like Trump’s vow to end the “War on Christmas” during his term — but Fish said it made the group ‘even more excited to sound off’ this year.” Because of course there were no partisan divides in Obama’s administration.

The militant atheist groups — the ones that are really mad at God — have been at it for a while now. Here are some examples:

Christmas 2013: The non-believers launched a 40′ x 40′ digital billboard in New York’s Time Square on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, according to their press release. “Who Needs Christ During Christmas?” the billboard demands. Next, a hand appears and draws an “X” through Christ and the billboard purports to answer its own arrogant question, “Nobody.” Then the display advises, “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas” and offers its own reasons for the season: charity, family, fun, lights, food, hot chocolate, snow, Rockettes, Chinese food.

The American Atheists seem to believe, as some non-liturgical Christians do, that “Xmas” is taking the “Christ” out of Christmas! In reality, the X in “Xmas” comes from the Greek letter Chi, the first letter in the Greek word Χριστός, or Christ. It is combined with P, the Greek letter Rho, as a symbol of Christ both in artistic treasures such as the Book of Kells as well as in the gold glitter-covered Styrofoam Chrismon ornaments for Christmas trees.

But before the Atheists were on billboards urging people not to go to church on Christmas, saying “you hate it, it’s boring; you probably only go because you feel guilty or obligated” (obviously the American Atheists have never visited my church!), the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the American Humanist Association were peppering the skies with secular tidings.

In the Christmas season of 2010, the FFRF, more recently known for its atheists “out of the closet” campaign, littered the greater Albuquerque area with such pithy sayings as Imagine No Religion, Praise Darwin, Reason’s Greetings, and Yes, Virginia, There is No God.

Wow! Albuquerque gets hammered with heresy a lot! This year’s American Atheists’ billboard design about skipping church and fake news appeared in the Albuquerque and Dallas “markets.”

In 2009, the American Humanist Association (AHA) launched a National Godless Holiday Campaign. Ads that ran in five major American cities (but not Albuquerque!) declared, “No God? No Problem!” AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt explained, “Religion does not have a monopoly on morality–millions of people are good without believing in God.”

The AHA has also maligned Santa. In mid-November 2008, ads began appearing on Washington, D.C. area Metro buses and ran through December. The ads featured a strange Santa-garbed person with Rastafarian braids. They also included the admonition from the familiar Christmas song “Here Comes Santa Claus” to be “good for goodness’ sake.” The American Humanist Association spokesman, Fred Edwards, said that there were “an awful lot of agnostics, atheists, and other types of non-theists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion.”

AHA’s second reason to deck the halls and Metro buses with posters of apostasy was to declare that “humanists have always understood that you don’t need a god to be good.” According to Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA, “Morality doesn’t come from religion. It’s a set of values embraced by individuals and society based on empathy, fairness, and experience.”

Morality definitely does not come from “religion.” In fact, sometimes immorality, downright evil, comes from religion. It all depends upon the object of worship. The Swiss philosopher/poet Henri Frederic Amiel confirmed this when he said, “The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man which it forms. If a system injures the intelligence it is bad. If it injures the character it is vicious. If it injures the conscience it is criminal.”

Mr. Speckhardt did not explain from where the empathy and fairness originate. What is the source of that sense of fairness, the sense of right and wrong? Does it just spring from nowhere? C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity gives a reasonable answer to this question. It begins with a brilliant exposition on “Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.” And Christian apologists such as Frank Turek follow in Lewis’ footsteps, debating regularly this moral conundrum, even with the likes of the late Christopher Hitchens.

So what would Santa think of AHA’s attempt to identify him with their Advent attack? Even the Santa portrayed in the lyrics of Gene Autry, who is not exactly remembered for his theological prowess, is said to “know that we are all God’s children.”

But would the real Santa Claus have a stronger reaction to AHA? (Yes, FFRF, there is a Santa Claus.) St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, in 4th century Asia Minor, now Turkey. In addition to being remembered for his generosity and compassion to the poor and to children, Bishop Nicholas was the kind of “muscular Christian” that makes the folks at the National Council of Churches shudder. He was a staunch defender of Christian orthodoxy and would not be too pleased with the “Why believe in a god?” mentality.

During his tenure [as] bishop, he attended the first ecumenical council of the Church, which had been called to deal with the growing heresy of Arianism. Arianism, named after Arius, a North African priest who was its key proponent, denied the full deity of Jesus Christ and said that he was a created being. Nicholas struck a blow for orthodoxy, slapping Arius in the face after he spoke. My former colleague, Bart Gingerich, has written about this, as well.

Nicholas might well deal with the American Humanist Association in the same manner in which he dispatched poor Arius, but probably, being older and wiser, and “good, for goodness sake,” he would refrain from physical violence and just urge those who believe in God to assert their right to believe, and to flaunt their belief as publicly as AHA flaunts its unbelief. That’s good advice from St. Nick.

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