Category Archives: Christians

Ten Christians killed, nine churches destroyed in Nigeria

TUDUN WADA DANKADAI, Nigeria, October 5 (Compass Direct News) – A Muslim rampage last week in this town in the northern state of Kano resulted in the killing of 10 Christians and the destruction of nine churches, according to eyewitnesses.

Another 61 people were injured and more than 500 displaced in the September 28 disturbance, touched off when Muslim students of Government College-Tudun Wada Dankadai, a public high school, claimed that a Christian student had drawn a cartoon of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, on the wall of the school’s mosque.

Rabiu Danbawa, pastor of an area Evangelical Church of West Africa congregation, said he stood about 500 meters from his church and parish home as it burned.

“There was nothing I could do,” he said. “I did not know the fate of my wife and my children.”

Danbawa said he went to the police station, only to find the police dispersing the many Christians who had run there to escape the attack.

“We were told to leave, as our safety could not be guaranteed,” he said, in tears. “Women and children all scampered to the bush, only to be attacked by the Muslims who had already hid themselves in the bush awaiting their Christian prey.”

Read the full article at http://www.liturgicalcredo.com/NigerianChristiansKilled.html

Frequent attacks against Turkish Protestants

From Compass Direct News

Turkish Protestants have reported increasing attacks and threats in recent months despite claims by President Abdullah Gul this week that Christians in Turkey are not targeted.

Believers told Compass that threats have increased since two Turkish Christian converts and a German Christian were tortured and killed at Zirve Publishing House in Malatya on April 18. Neighbors have threatened Christian radio station workers in Ankara in recent weeks, and a visitor to Antalya’s Bible Church this summer attacked an elderly member with a chair.

Antalya Bible Church pastor Ramazan Arkan said that he is pursuing four court cases against Rasim Eryildiz, a construction worker who began threatening church members in May.

“He came approximately 15 times to harass us,” Arkan said. “Every time he’d come, we would complain to the police. They would arrest him and then let him go.”

After one such incident on June 22, Eryildiz returned drunk the next morning and began shouting vulgarities at a Christian who was trying to enter the church.

“I will kill you and turn this into a Malatya incident,” Eryildiz said. “I will f— this church’s priest and kill him.”

But at a court hearing on July 31, judge Hakan Sil decided to free Eryildiz. The following week, neighbors warned Arkan that the construction worker had been looking for the pastor in his home. The next hearing is scheduled for November 11.

On August 19, following a Sunday morning service, Altan Gultekin, a visitor who claimed to be a Christian, grabbed a chair in the church garden and leveled an 82-year-old church member.

“[Gultekin] was about to hit the man a second time when our friends jumped on him and subdued him until the police could arrive,” Arkan said.

The blow badly cut the elderly Christian’s arm and head. “There was blood everywhere, but fortunately one of the believers is a doctor and was able to do some emergency treatment right away,” Arkan said.

At a local hospital emergency room, doctors gave the Christian nine stitches in his arm and another 12 in his head.

Gultekin began threatening to murder Arkan when the pastor told police that he wanted to open a court case against the attacker. But later, at the police station, officials told Arkan that only the victim of the attack could press charges. In addition, they claimed that Gultekin had been diagnosed with psychological problems.

“Police told me, ‘Ramazan [Arkan], even if you become a complainant it won’t change anything, because he has a medical report and he’ll be set free,” Arkan said.

The elderly victim of the attack declined to file an official complaint against Gultekin.

On August 24, the week of the attack, Arkan submitted an official request for police protection for his church. Since then, officers have stepped up patrols around the building, and plainclothes officers sit in the church garden during services.

“The interesting thing is that until I went to the police [to request protection], we always suffered from this harassment, whether from Altan Gultekin or Rasim Eryildiz,” Arkan said. “But as soon as I went, the threats ended just like that. It shows they can stop this if they want.”

Media Buzz

Despite the threats, Arkan said that he believes Christians in Antalya, one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations, have an easier situation than believers in other areas of the country.

“The police here have been very helpful, most of the pressure we experience is from the media,” Arkan said.

The pastor has appealed a court case he lost against local newspaper Kitle, which published an article claiming the church was traumatizing children by putting on a passion play.

In February 21 front page article titled, “Scandal in the Church,” the paper cited anonymous psychologists who said that baptizing children could cause lasting trauma. The article printed pictures of a passion play from the church website and claimed that the church was playing on the emotions of youth by making them smear tomato paste on their faces and then “crucifying” them.

“All of these events take place in front of small innocent children who come to the church,” the article stated.

On March 2, an Antalya court ruled against Arkan, saying that the pastor could not sue the newspaper for slander because his name was not used in the article, though it referred several times to the “church pastor.”

“This is a pretty serious thing, because they are trying to destroy our reputation with the people here,” Arkan said.

Threats at the Front Door

Christian radio station staff members in Ankara have also seen an increase in threats from visitors to their front door since the Malatya attacks in April.

“Actually, it was only after Malatya that this started,” Radio Shema Director Soner Tufan said. “Before, they wouldn’t directly contact us. Sometimes they would fax us or e-mail us, but they wouldn’t even call us on the telephone.”

Tufan said that, since May, at least three times a month men have come to the station’s door and threatened workers. One man ran away when a radio staff member opened the door, but he telephoned the office minutes later to say, “We’ll tear this place down on top of you, you’re doing missionary work.”

In order to beef up security, radio staff members installed a video camera outside their front door and now refuse to open up for anyone they don’t know.

Using security camera footage, police managed to arrest four of the culprits on July 24. Several of the men turned out to be members of a local sports association whose offices are located in the apartment across the corridor from the radio station.

After taking their statements, officials released the men. A date has yet to be set for the first hearing.

“Most recently, we had one man come on Thursday last week at 8:10 a.m.,” Tufan said. “He told us over the intercom that he was a policeman who was there to do a routine check.”

Tufan said that radio personnel refused to open the door, and the man eventually left. When the Christians discussed the visit with the local security office later in the day, officials denied that they had sent anyone to the radio station that morning.

A second man rang the bell two hours later, claiming to be a salesman. Using security camera footage, radio staff members watched from inside the apartment as he eventually gave up waiting for the door to open and went into the sports association offices across the hall.

Two months ago, the radio station installed shutters over its windows to prevent them from being broken almost weekly, Tufan said.

President in Denial

“There are no attacks targeting Christians in Turkey,” Turkish President Abdullah Gul told a Council of Europe gathering in Strasbourg, France on Wednesday (October 3).

He claimed that attacks against Christians were “political crimes,” and mentioned the murder of Catholic Priest Andrea Santoro in February 2006, according to an October 4 article in the Turkish Daily News. He said that the murderer, a juvenile, had been quickly captured and tried before independent courts.

An Ankara appeals court yesterday upheld the murderer’s jail sentence of 18 years and 10 months. During initial police interrogations, the killer reportedly confessed that he had murdered the priest as revenge against Danish cartoons of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Gul did not mention the brutal torture and murder in April of the three Christians at Zirve offices in Malatya. The murderers said they had killed the Christians to serve their country and because the Christians were attacking their religion, according to initial press reports.

“In the last year, there have been scores of threats or attacks on congregations and church buildings,” a report by the legal committee of the Turkish Alliance of Protestant Churches said last month.

“It’s not really possible for the government be completely unaware of this,” Tufan said. “There has been an increase of attacks since Malatya.”

 

Address of Archbishop Mouneer Anis to the House of Bishops

Regarding the address of Bishop Mouneer Anis, Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church U.S.A in New Orleans:

Could it have been a genuinely compassionate and humble conservatism? Read the whole address here: http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/6132/

Or read the two following excerpts:

My friends, you may believe you have discovered a very different truth from that of the majority in the Anglican Communion. It is not just about sexuality, but about your views of Christ, the Gospel, and the authority of the Bible. Please forgive me when I relay that some say you are a different church, others even think that you are a different religion….

My friends, if you really believe that the truth revealed to you is different from that shown to the rest of the Communion, then you need to uphold that claim with boldness even at the risk of losing unity. If you think it is right and necessary to ordain and consecrate practicing homosexuals and that you should bless same sex partnerships or even marriages, you should be true to what you believe is right and accept the consequences.

However, if you appreciate being members of the global Anglican family, then you have to walk along side the members of your family. Those who say it is important to stay together around the table, to listen to each other and to continue our dialogue over the difficult issues that are facing us are wise.

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Please visit our Web site, http://www.liturgicalcredo.com .

What’s happening with the Archbishop of Canterbury in New Orleans?

The links we’re watching can all be found on this page: http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/6076/#more 

Meanwhile, here are some excerpts from Boston Globe and Associated Press articles.

From The Boston Globe 

NEW ORLEANS – Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in a last-ditch effort to avoid a schism in the global Anglican Communion, spent seven hours yesterday holed up in a posh New Orleans hotel with most of the nation’s Episcopal bishops, many of whom tried to persuade him that it is a mistake to define the American church solely by its decision four years ago to approve an openly gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire.

The unusual conversation took place just days before a Sept. 30 deadline, set by leaders of Anglican provinces around the world, for the American church to back away from its support for gay rights or face some unspecified form of punishment. US bishops spent yesterday morning telling the archbishop how they see the church in the United States, and the archbishop spent the afternoon asking them questions.

The meetings, which resume today, were closed to reporters, but participants described them as cordial but pointed…..

Despite deep disagreements among the bishops over theology and increasing dissatisfaction among some Episcopalians with the Anglican Communion, none of the 159 bishops in attendance spoke in favor of walking away from the communion, which is a 77-million member global coalition of regional churches that trace their roots to the Reformation and the Church of England. …

 In remarks at the opening worship service, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori decried the increasingly hostile tone of the debate.

“We have lived in this church and in this communion for a number of years with abundant disdain, violent words, and destructive action toward those who hold positions at variance with our own,” she said. “None of us is wholly free of blame in this game, for we have all sought to judge those who oppose us.”

Schori began the meeting by offering an olive branch of sorts to conservatives, naming eight US bishops who could visit dioceses that do not approve of Schori herself, either because she is a woman or because she supported the election of Robinson. Of the 110 Episcopal dioceses in the United States, six have asked for someone other than Schori to oversee them. The bishops of all of six dioceses opposed Robinson’s consecration, and in three the bishops do not ordain women.

Conservatives rejected the Schori overture….

The only woman named by Schori as a possible alternative visitor, Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, said in an interview that she does not expect anyone to ask her to visit because of her gender. Wolf, who supported Robinson’s consecration, said that in the interest of keeping the communion together, she believes that the bishops should issue a clear statement agreeing to the primates’ request that they approve no more noncelibate gay bishops and that they not authorize a national rite for blessing same-sex couples.

From The Associated Press:

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, suggested Thursday that Episcopalians show greater concern about the impact of their decisions on the wider Anglican Communion, according to Canon Jim Naughton, spokesman for the Diocese of Washington.

He asked Episcopal bishops “how far they were willing to go,” Naughton said, to preserve the communion, a 77-million-member group of churches with roots in the Church of England. ….

“He made it clear that he believed the Episcopal Church had acted preemptively in consecrating Bishop Robinson,” Naughton said.

Williams doesn’t have the direct authority to force concessions from the 2.2 million-member Episcopal Church, so he has been struggling to keep the communion from breaking apart. Episcopal bishops implored him to attend their meeting here so they could explain their views in person.

Warriors invert Gospel on CNN

If you saw Christiane Amanpour’s three-part special God’s Warriors, and tuned in for the Christian segment, you might have heard Baptist minister Rick Scarborough declare, “Christians don’t lose until they quit!”

Scarborough is passionate about urging Christians to vote, but regardless of how justified he might be, and how insane our culture can be, he misses two big issues:

1. Sometimes Christians lose. Nowhere are Christians guaranteed victory. Jesus did not accomplish victory in any worldly sense. He washed the feet of His disciples, and extended a second chance to a prostitute. He was arrested, beaten, and killed. When He rose from the dead, He chose to leave the earth rather than to occupy it or establish a government. By any worldly standard, Jesus remains a loser. Only the future holds an expression of victory in a worldly sense — but for now, that is not the example believers have been given. The example was one of sacrifice, not triumph. Surely in a democracy Christians love their neighbors by being civic-minded and by being good citizens. Voting is part of that. Scarborough is onto something. But voting is just part of the good work. Which leads to the next point.

2. The primary mission of the Church is to bear witness to the Gospel. Saint Paul said the weapons of his battle were “not carnal,” which raises the question — why is Scarborough and other Christian activists primarily focused on mobilizing believers to take up carnal weapons? In the Christian faith, a change of the human heart is brought about (rather gradually, it seems) by the work of the Holy Spirit. As Saint Paul stated elsewhere, it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance. God’s kindness is understood when the death of Christ on the cross is explained: love, forgiveness of sins, grace, beauty, and adoption into God’s household are made available. Only this begins the course to real change, regardless of how long that course might be. If Christians truly believe the doctrine of the Fall, and really believe the human heart is depraved, they should be amazed that our culture is not in worse shape. Christians cannot hope to change hearts through voting booths.

Certainly the work of the Gospel is not ethereal and abstract. Of course Christians ought to involve themselves in the issues of the day. Of course believers confront the culture of warped values with the Gospel values of repentance, confession, love, forgiveness, and acceptance into God’s household. As believers reflect the Image of God that each holds in their relationships, rationality, and creativity, we make efforts — within the light of Scripture, Reason, and Tradition — to express the Gospel in numerous ways.

But by putting the emphasis on worldly means rather than the Gospel, Christians are only, as the columnist Cal Thomas once told me, “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

The title of a not-so-recent book by Thomas and Ed Dobson might say it all most succinctly: Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America.

Someone by Scarborough a copy.

-Colin Burch

Professor Philip Jenkins on Global Anglicanism

“Christianity is going south very rapidly in terms of numbers. I’ve give you a quick overview, and I’m going to talk about Africa a lot. Simple reason: back in 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians representing 10 percent of the population; by 2000, that was up 360 million, to 46 percent of the population. That is the largest quantitative change that has ever occurred in the history of religion. A rising tide lifts all boats, and all denominations have been booming. The Anglicans have done very well, and the Anglican Church is going to be overwhelmingly an African body in the near future….

“Another important thing to remember is that most Global North categories do not work in the Global South. A classic example: if you talk to a Nigerian Anglican and you try to pin him down, saying, ‘I cannot figure you out, are you evangelical, are you Catholic, are you charismatic?’ The immediate answer is yes. And they mean it.”

These comments were made by Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of religious studies and history at Pennsylvania State University, during the Pew Forum’s biannual Faith Angle Conference on religion, politics and public life, held earlier this month in Key West, Fla.

The full transcript, well worth reading, is available at: http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=145 .