A Call to Prayer for the Persecuted Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Believers Everywhere

My cousin sent me this call to prayer for the persecution of Christians in Egypt and as I post this, I will be joining millions of believers in intercession. I invite you to pray for the Christians of Egypt, in Iraq (NY Times article yesterday), throughout the Middle-East and in all places of persecution around the globe.  Also, as Jesus taught us, we ought to pray for our persecutors as well.

From the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles site

Ecumenical Day of Prayer and Solidarity for Christians Suffering in Egypt

As the world follows the unfortunate events affecting Christians in Egypt and experiences the pain and injustice they face because of their faith, the Coptic Orthodox bishops of the United States, including Their Graces Bishop Serapion, Bishop Youssef, Bishop Macarious, Bishop David, and Bishop Michael have called for a Day of Prayer and Solidarity on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.

Confident in the promise of God that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [the Church]” (Matt. 16:18), all of the bishops, priests and people will celebrate Divine Liturgy on this day to express solidarity with Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt who are undergoing painful circumstances because of their faith.

This Day of Prayer and Solidarity is an ecumenical one, reflecting the words of St. Paul the Apostle “that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor.12:25–26).

On this day, there will be a joint prayer at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral (Corner of 34th St. & 2nd Avenue, New York, ny). In addition, all Coptic Orthodox churches in America will celebrate Divine Liturgies on the morning of Tuesday, December 14.

We call upon all members of the Church to pray for Christians in Egypt. We call upon anyone who wishes to express feelings of outrage and solidarity with our brethren in Egypt to be objective and do so in a manner worthy of the Christian teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. We call upon everyone to pray for the following:

Pray for the peace of the Church and for our beloved father and shepherd, Holiness Pope Shenouda iii.
We pray for the souls of the martyrs and their families, and those who are unjustly imprisoned, injured and all who are suffering.
Pray for peace and security in Egypt, and for our beloved President, and all officials.
Pray for those who mistreat us and persecute us, as our Lord taught, that they may see the beauty of God in justice and equality.

Reflecting on President Obama's Speech From Cairo University

This blog is not intended to be political but politics have certainly captured my attention lately.  Nor did I think I’d be talking about Obama as much as I am but you cannot ignore what he’s saying and doing. So when President Obama addresses the world from the University of Cairo, people take notice, especially a first-generation Egyptian born in the States whose parents graduated from the university.  I am proud of my Egyptian heritage, extremely grateful that my parents immigrated here, and I love the fact that I’m in NJ (we tell everyone that it sucks here and jack up the housing prices to keep the southerners out ;-) but truth be told, it’s a great part of the country to live in).

America has an image problem.  It’s almost as bad as the Western Church’s.  Some had the idea that by combining the two, we could help the world and whether the world was truly helped or not is another discussion; many throughout the world have a terrible perception of America. As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, my friends’ blogs, through countless great theological works of theology and most importantly, the New Testament, we as Christians are called to serve a different Kingdom first.  That said, I believe the problems in and out of American are of great importance.  

It’s in this light that Obama’s speech is extremely important.  Taking on topics such as Islam, fanaticism, terrorism, Israel, Palestine, and others is a bold task when you are perceived as the representative of a nation of hateful manipulators and greedy instigators of these topics.  While I have profound differences with that perception, I do understand how and why many believe it to be. 

He proclaimed that he was a Christian, spoke of his Muslim father and quoted various holy books.  From the Koran he said, “Whoever kills an innocent person kills all mankind.  Whoever saves a person saves all mankind.”  He spoke against hate and terrorism.  He promoted safety for all, American and those throughout the Middle East.  He spoke about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.  He called for nuclear disarmament, spoke on the greatness and limits of democracy, women’s rights and all basic human rights, including religious freedom. Everyone was called out for we are all part of the problem and responsibility calls us all to resolve and peace. 

To my conservative brother and sisters who are convinced that he played to the Muslim crowd, you must not have heard the speech.  Please listen to it first (you can watch it here or read the full transcript here). Had George W gave it (and he could have), I suspect that it would have been praised by conservatives.  I’m sure W has said similar things, but he said so many other things that I doubt many heard it and frankly he wasn’t eloquent enough to remember.  Still, there’s a probably a posting by National Review or Human Events or somewhere outlining the similarities that W had said with today’s speech. To me, that discussion is a waste of time and I only mention it to head it off. If we as Christians truly believe that we are of a greater Kingdom, one concerned with the other, one that loves, one that preaches Christ, then I’m not sure how we cannot champion the words of today.

But as we all know, you can say all the right things but the key is in the follow up.  My hope is that Obama can put these noble words into action in the capacity afforded to him.  My hope is also that the Muslim world will do the same.  And this goes the same for the Christian world, the non-Christian, you and me. I say it again -everyone has been called out.  We are all part of the problem, may we also be a part of the solution – for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

For more reading, here are some worthy links:

Arab Students Respond to Obama 

Commentary: Amen, Mr. President – Editor’s Note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, and contributing editor for Islamica magazine in Washington.

Obama Calls for Fresh Start With Muslims 

Video reaction – Muslims Wants Deeds, Not Just Words from Obama

Drawing on Islam, Speech in Cairo Electrifies Many In Arab Mideast 

Muslims Seem Won Over by President; U.S. Adversaries Unmoved

Full Video Here 

Full Text Here 


NFL rules keep church football gathering from being ‘super’ parties

By A.J. Nelson
Friday February 2, 2007

“Churches all across the county and state may inadvertently be in violation of copywright laws when they gather together at church to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday.

A handful of churches have planned Super Bowl viewing parties for Sunday, but those may be in trouble. According to the Indianapolis Star, one Indianapolis church was banned by the National Football League from hosting a Super Bowl party and service, because doing so would violate league rules.

Fall Creek Baptist Church senior Pastor John Newland on the church’s Web site, said the decision to cancel the event was not an easy choice.

“While we have argued that we only intend to provide a family-oriented environment that will make no profit from the showing, the NFL claims that our event cannont proceed by law,” Newland wrote.”
(full article linked to title)

I wish this copyright law would be challenged for events like these. It’s just lame. They are not charging admission, and if anything the NFL would be making more money and so will it’s advertisers. It would become a tradition and people would not normally watch or appreciate football might enjoy the event.

British Airways allows employees' religious wear

British Airways allows employees’ religious wear
Check-in worker Nadia Eweida can now wear her cross.

This is part of a longer story that started last fall when Nadia was sent home for wearing her crucifix. (British Airlines Sends Employee Home for Wearing Crucifix).

A Christian employee of British Airways (BA) has lost her suit against the airline for telling her she cannot wear her crucifix, while allowing Muslim and Sikh employees to don their religious scarves and turbans.

Nadia Ewedia, a check-in worker at London’s Heathrow Airport, claims she was told in a letter from the company that her cross breached its uniform rules. “British Airways permits Muslims to wear a headscarf, Sikhs to wear a turban, and other faiths [to wear] religious apparel,” said Ewedia, a seven-year employee of the airline. “Only Christians are forbidden to express their faith.”

Nice job British Airways, thanks for being consistent.

Breakpoint – Save Us From the Time of Trial

* Although I hate to sound like a doomsday prophet, religious freedom in our country is becoming less and less.

Save Us from the Time of Trial by Mark Early of Breakpoint
Religious Persecution

October 16, 2006

Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.

When Americans go to the polls in November, their voting decisions will be based on many different factors: the war in Iraq, the economy, and, perhaps, some recent revelations about former Congressman Foley (R-Fla.).

But there’s another issue that should weigh into the decision of voters, especially Christians: religious freedom, at home and abroad.

If what I just said is news to you, you’re hardly alone. Religious freedom is something that nearly all Americans, including Christians, take for granted. Unfortunately, many of our brethren around the world know better.

A recent article in Time magazine described the precarious relationship of Chinese Christians to their government. As Time put it, “openly religious” Chinese, by which Time meant Christians, live under the “constant threat” of a “brutal government response” to the practice of their faith.

The situation is even worse in the Islamic world: From Indonesia to Nigeria, the rise of radical Islam has been accompanied by the end of any pretense of tolerance toward Christians.

A few months ago, Chuck told “BreakPoint” listeners about Abdul Rahman, the Afghan Christian convert who faced the death penalty for converting. While he was eventually freed, it was only because of U.S. pressure, resulting in the court deciding that he was mentally ill—hardly a ringing endorsement for religious freedom.

In Iraq, just about the only thing the Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds can agree on is their dislike for the Assyrians, Iraq’s indigenous Christian population. As a result, many members of what is arguably the oldest Christian community in the world are leaving their ancient homeland. A similar exodus is underway among Christian Palestinians.

In Egypt, the Copts, while nominally allowed to practice their faith, must overcome legalized harassment almost every step of the way. Sometimes, the harassment turns to murder: Last year, three Copts were killed, and a nun was stabbed in anti-Copt riots.

It isn’t only one-party states and Islamic countries that violate religious freedom: Earlier this month (October 4), Hindu extremists kidnapped and tortured a Christian convert. This is part of larger pattern that includes forced “re-conversions” to Hinduism. What’s even more outrageous is that perpetrators include members of India’s former ruling party, the BJP.

Here in the United States, infringement of religious freedom takes on many forms. We’ve told you about the attempt to remove the InnerChange Freedom Initiative® launched by Prison Fellowship from prisons because they are, in effect, “too Christian.”

Other ministries are experiencing similar difficulties: For instance, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has been banned from several campuses while other, shall we say, less wholesome groups are fully allowed to operate.

We will tell you more about these difficulties over the next few days. What you need to understand now is that we can no longer take religious freedom for granted, at home or abroad.

We must make the loss of religious freedom an issue in the upcoming elections. Public officials need to be informed and accountable on this issue, not just for our sake but for our brethren around the world. We need to let them know that they are hardly alone in their hour of trial.

Hurricane Memorial Worries ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana is unhappy with plans for a memorial to be located in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, honoring the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The memorial would be a well-lit 13-foot by 7-foot stainless-steel cross strategically mounted near the shoreline of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet at Shell Beach. The cross and accompanying stone monument, listing the names of the 129 parish residents who died in the hurricane, are earmarked for what the parish says is private land and are to be financed with donations, according to parish president Henry “Junior” Rodriguez.

A letter was sent in July by the Louisiana ACLU executive director Joe Cook explaining that the government promotion of a patently religious symbol on a public waterway is a violation of the Constitution’s call for the separation of church and state, reports the Associated Press.

Rodriguez said, however, that he sees nothing improper about the memorial. “The memorial is being coordinated by a group of volunteers on their own time, and no public money is going to the project that will be on private land,” stated Charlie Reppel, Rodriguez’s chief of staff. “The committee members are all volunteers, including me. We are putting in a lot of unpaid overtime.”

While the ACLU thinks a memorial to the storm and its victims is “clearly appropriate,” said Cook, St. Bernard’s is “still all very questionable. I think there is official government involvement with the endorsement and advancement of this clearly religious symbol.”

University Blocks Christian Groups University of …

University Blocks Christian Groups

University of Wisconsin officials are being warned that their refusal to recognize Christian student groups is illegal, according to WorldNetDaily. In recent weeks, the University of Wisconsin-Superior has denied recognition of the school’s InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has derecognized the Knights of Columbus. The university claims the groups violate the school’s “anti-discrimination policy” by not allowing non-Christians to serve in leadership positions, according to the Alliance Defense Fund. The school’s ruling denies these groups access to campus facilities and student funding.

David French, director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom, sent a letter to school officials with the warning.

“Christian student groups shouldn’t be treated differently from other student organizations,” he said. “The University of Wisconsin has decided to force campus student organizations to violate their core beliefs, even in the face of controlling federal case law that bars them from doing so. … This is just another example of the university’s position of ‘free speech for me, but not for thee.’ To the University of Wisconsin, Christian speech must be marginalized or censored.”