“Spit on the Cross or Die”: Muslim Persecution of Christians, January 2017

Tragic stories of Christian experiences under the Islamic State continued to emerge throughout the month of January. A Christian doctor who forfeited the chance to escape his Syrian village after ISIS had captured it because he wanted to stay and help the sick and needy, both Christian and Muslim, was kidnapped by the Muslim terrorists and ordered to renounce Christ for Muhammad. When he refused, they publicly slaughtered him. Similarly, after ISIS ordered another Christian youth in Syria to embrace Islam, he too refused and was slaughtered for it. His mother — who was prevented from burying her martyred son’s body — recalled that when ISIS first invaded their village, he reminded her of Jesus’ assertion in the New Testament: “If you deny me before men I will deny you before the Father.”

After members of ISIS raided the home of Zarefa, an elderly Christian woman in Iraq, they discovered crucifixes and Christian icons. “They forced me to spit on the Cross,” she recalled.

“I told them that it was not appropriate, that it was a sin. He said that I must spit. ‘Don’t you see that I have a gun?’ he asked me. I said to myself, ‘Oh, the Cross! I am weak, I will spit on you. But Lord, I ask you to take revenge for me. I cannot escape from this.'”

According to the report, “The shame is still visible on Zarefa’s face when she recounts the memory; her town, Qaraqosh, is liberated now, but she is still recovering from the traumatic two years that are only just behind her.”

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The West’s Real Bigotry: Rejecting Persecuted Christians

Finally, after years of apathy and inaction, Washington is extending a much-needed helping hand to Middle Eastern Christians. U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that persecuted Christians will be given priority when it comes to applying for refugee status in the United States.

Christians and Yazidis are being exposed to genocide at the hands of ISIS and other Islamist groups, who have engaged in a massive campaign to enslave the remnant non-Muslim minorities and to destroy their cultural heritage.

The scholar Hannibal Travis wrote in 2006:

“Unfortunately, the West has rejected the idea of solidarity with the Christians of the Middle East, prioritizing diplomacy based on oil interests and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus, the United States, Britain, and France have largely ignored the persecutions of the Christians of Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, and Sudan, while rushing to save the oil-rich Muslim states of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as well as besieged minority Kurds, Bosnians, and Kosovars. To this day, American troops in Iraq reportedly do not always intervene against the persecution of Christians, perhaps not wanting to be seen as ‘siding with the Christians’ and thus provoke retaliation.”

Then, the so-called liberals in the West — and even Christians — started pushing back against the move.

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“Islam Strengthening in Europe with the Blessing of the Church”

Everyone in Italy and the rest of Europe will “soon be Muslim” because of our “stupidity”, warned Monsignor Carlo Liberati, Archbishop Emeritus of Pompei. Liberati claimed that, thanks to the huge number of Muslim migrants alongside the increasing secularism of native Europeans, Islam will soon become the main religion of Europe. “All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam”, Archbishop Liberati explained.

Décadence is also the title of a new book by the French philosopher Michel Onfray, in which he suggests that the Judeo-Christian era may have come to an end. He compares the West and Islam: “We have nihilism, they have fervor; we are exhausted, they have a great health; we have the past for us; they have the future for them”.

Archbishop Liberati belongs to a growing branch of Catholic leaders who refuse to see the future belonging to Islam in Europe. They speak in open opposition to Pope Francis, who does not seem too impressed by the collapse of Christianity due to falling birth rates, accompanied by religious apathy and its replacement by Islam.

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Nomination for Nobel Peace Prize: Reverend Gavin Ashenden

Very occasionally — even in contemporary Britain — some good news arrives. No single piece of news has been more invigorating than the discovery that a member of the clergy of the Church of England has found a vertebra.

In recent years, the British public have become used to a steady succession of bad-news stories from the purveyors of the Good News. This has taken every imaginable form, from the former Bishop of Oxford suggesting in the House of Lords that the Quran could be recited at the next coronation service, to the former Archbishop of Canterbury — Rowan Williams — notoriously suggesting that a place should be found for Islamic sharia in the law of the land.

So the place in the British national comedy reserved for the type of vicar unwilling to take the side of his own faith in any argument has darkly morphed. The failure of the Church of England to defend its own beliefs or its own followers when they are facing persecution around the world, has become an unamusing stain on the reputation of the church. Its representatives increasingly look as though they are willing to defend anything — including the most intolerant expressions of the world’s most intolerant religions — rather than argue for their own faith or the faith of their own congregants.

One example that emerged earlier this month appeared to epitomise the trend. At a service in the Cathedral of St Mary in Glasgow to mark the Feast of the Epiphany, the Cathedral thought it wise to invite a Muslim student to read from the Quran. The aim — according to the leader of the Scottish Anglican church, Bishop David Chillingworth — was to try to improve relations between Muslims and Christians in the city. If that were indeed the intention, it was singularly ill-advised. And as though the decision were not already poorly enough thought through, the section of the Quran the Muslim student recited at the service was the section of the Quran about Jesus. The section in question points out the Islamic belief that Jesus was not the Son of God. Even in today’s Britain, this does not seem quite the view that leaders of the national church are supposed to propagate.

There was a small rumpus when this story broke. During it, the ray of hope came in the form of a letter in The Times of London. Written by the Reverend Gavin Ashenden, it pointed out that:

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The United Church of Christ: Knowingly Silent on Terrorism

  • An organization affiliated to the United Church of Christ (UCC), the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCCPIN) published a guide to Israel-Palestine affairs in August and again in September 2016. Titled “Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel”, and sub-headed “A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders”, this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics. It most certainly does not favour justice or peace in the Holy Land, as its contents show on every page. Legally, UCCPIN operates under the aegis of one of the denomination’s local conferences. Their guide is, therefore, not the direct work of the church’s leadership, but is clearly endorsed by a section of it.
  • The naïvety of the UCC is particularly striking in its choice to take at face value the Palestinian statement that if Israel ended its occupation peace would follow as day follows night. When, after 1949, Gaza was occupied by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan, no one protested, no one attacked Egyptians or Jordanians. In other words, Israel occupied only itself. But Palestinian terrorism against Israelis continued up to 1967, right through the period of Israeli non-occupation. There were no “settlements” then. Rather, the Palestinians have always regarded all of Israel as one big “settlement.” Just look at any Palestinian maps; they cover both the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
  • Unfortunately, the Palestinians have a history of regarding every retreat by Israel as a triumph of aggression over diplomacy, as if to say: We shoot at Israelis and they leave; so let’s keep doing it.
  • In its introduction, the UCC, knowing full well that Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005, still speaks of “the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories: the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.”
  • The UCC Guide states flatly that “Israeli settlements in the West Bank are identified as illegal by the international community” — even though international law says exactly the opposite. The West Bank and Gaza were both occupied as a result of a defensive war against Egypt and Jordan in 1967, in which the Israelis were victorious. It is never illegal to occupy territory obtained in defensive military action.
  • The Palestinians not only reject all offers of peace on that basis but go much farther and call every day for the abolition of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state covering Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank.
  • The UCC Guide states that “Israel has built hundreds of permanent and mobile military checkpoints throughout the West Bank.” This, again, is pure fantasy. In 2015, there were no more than fifteen checkpoints across the West Bank. These checkpoints are not there to target innocent Palestinians. They are there to restrain terrorists from setting out to kill innocent Israelis. The only people to criticize the checkpoints across Northern Ireland during the many years of terrorism there were supporters of the Provisional IRA, who apparently did not like being obstructed from killing people.
  • The UCC boasts that it is “a just peace church”, but instead of supporting peace and justice, it defends mass murderers. It complains about the defensive actions of the Jews and is knowingly silent about the horrors wrought by Palestinian wars and terrorism. It treats Palestinian actions as mere responses to Israeli aggression — a total reversal of historical fact.
  • Is the UCC unaware that Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is far from being a feel-good interfaith movement for peace and warm relations? It is, in fact, notorious for its close ties to Islamic terrorism. Even ten years ago, its true character was well known. Has no-one in the UCC the wit or decency to repudiate this unsuitable connection? Or to raise the fact that many Muslims across the Middle East have been killing, expelling, and humiliating Christians for a very long time, but especially in recent decades? Will they not admit that the expanding exodus of Christians from the West Bank and Gaza has been precipitated by extremist Muslims and the Palestinian authorities? That under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, the number of Christians has plummeted?
  • The UCC cannot continue to assert its association with Jesus Christ, a man of peace, when they so openly espouse the cause of Palestinian “resistance” that embraces violence as a solution above any form of peace-making. Christ said “Blessed be the peace-makers,” yet here is a Christian church that blesses men of violence.

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