Churches Burn, We Go to the Mall

By | August 22, 2013 | 0 Comments


At least 57 churches burned in Egypt and over 500 Christians killed, but President Obama is silent.
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Muslim Brotherhood parades Franciscan nuns in front of Cairo mob as prisoners of war.
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Coptic Christian worshipers in Egypt attacked by Muslims on Palm Sunday.
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Five West Bank churches burned by Palestinian Muslims protesting remark by pope.
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Christian population of Bethlehem continues to decline because of persecution.
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Palestinian gunmen burn down West Bank YMCA, despite YMCA’s pro-Palestinian stance.
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Two U.S. citizens and three others killed when gunmen shoot up church in Pakistan.
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Nigerian student, age 15, suffers brain injury when machete-wielding Muslims attack Christian students.
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Thousands of Chinese Christians begin hunger strike to protest the arrest of over 50 Christians.
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For decades there has been little protest from America, and still less from Europe, when Jews were slaughtered in the Middle East. Most were Israelis, but many others were American and European tourists or students. Do you recall Judith Greenbaum? She, like so many other murdered or injured Americans, vanished down the media’s memory hole.
On August 9, 2001 – a month before 9/11 – a suicide bomber attacked New York-based Sbarro’s pizzeria in Jerusalem, which was frequented by families with children and by tourists, especially pizza-loving Americans. At least 16 people were murdered, including women and children, and over 100 injured. The carnage was seen as so admirable that two groups claimed “credit.” Among the dead was Judith Greenbaum from New Jersey. She was pregnant. That is, two Americans were murdered.
Perhaps, if we had reacted strongly to the murder of American citizens, the planners of 9/11 would have hesitated. Perhaps they wouldn’t. But we did nothing, so we’ll never know.
For decades, the extremist Muslim government of Sudan waged a genocidal war against the black tribes in the South. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of Christians and pagans were slaughtered, and their children enslaved.
Black slavery didn’t end in 1865, as I was taught in school. It survived into the 1960s in Saudi Arabia, and it persists today in parts of Africa. In fact, I heard an interview with an escaped slave on the Dennis Prager radio show. The man was kidnapped and enslaved as a child, and his parents were killed, because they were black Christians. I felt I had been transported back 150 years. But this is now.
What do African American leaders say? Very little. What do American and European Christian leaders say? Not much. Where are anti-slavery activists, who were so effective 150 years ago? Good question.
The persecution of Christians in China is known. One can’t say well known, because the media and many Christian leaders maintain a polite silence. Perhaps we don’t dare to offend a powerful nation of over one billion people, which has nuclear weapons and is developing missiles to deliver them. Perhaps our trade with China is too lucrative. There may be an excuse for our cowardice – not a justification, but at least an excuse.
But Sudan is a weak nation that poses no threat to anyone except its own people. What was our excuse here? There was none. Yet far from being ostracized, Sudan was placed on the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Slavery, religious persecution, and genocide were rewarded, not punished. This immoral action further eroded whatever credibility the U.N. may have.
Lebanon used to be “the Switzerland of the Middle East,” where Christians and Muslims shared power. Perhaps you recall Bashir Gemayel, a Maronite Catholic. He was elected president in 1982 and assassinated shortly thereafter. But now Christians are virtually powerless – that is, those who haven’t fled or been killed in the continual warfare.
In Egypt the Coptic Church, one of the oldest Eastern denominations, is seeing its believers persecuted and its churches destroyed. Yet Egypt is the second largest recipient of American aid. We have leverage. Why are we not using it?
Some time ago, terrorists attacked a Protestant church in Pakistan, and five worshipers including two Americans were killed, while at least 40 were injured. This was not the first attack on Christian churches in Pakistan. What was done about this atrocity? You guessed it – nothing.
Will we remember the names of the murdered Americans, U.S. Embassy employee Barbara Green and her 17-year-old daughter Kristen, any longer than we remembered Judith Greenbaum and her unborn child? Don’t bet on it.
There are many sources of information about the persecution of Christians, among them The Voice of the Martyrs. Ignorance is no excuse. What, then, is the reason that Christians worldwide are doing so little?
● There may be practical reasons that Christian leaders say little. When Dutch Catholic bishops spoke out against the deportation of Jews to concentration camps during World War II, the Nazis responded by also deporting Christians who had Jewish ancestors. The protest made things worse.
There are fears that something similar could happen now. The position of Christians is precarious in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, China, and parts of Africa. Official criticism of these regimes might be counterproductive. But why are there not more protests against the persecutors, or offers of support for their victims, by ordinary people?
These nations have embassies in Washington and missions to the U.N. in New York. Why are there no peaceful demonstrations? Even tyrants are made uncomfortable by hostile demonstrations. Why should tyrants remain comfortable?
● Perhaps some Christians are so used to being at ease and in the majority in America and Europe that they can’t relate to their persecuted coreligionists elsewhere. But if they have little empathy for their own, why would they feel anything for those with different beliefs? Empathy, like charity, begins at home.
● Perhaps some Christians see their history of martyrdom under the Romans as an admirable part of their past. But the Roman Empire is no more, and the Colosseum is a tourist attraction, not a place where Christians are martyred.
Martyrdom is meritorious for the martyred. But standing aside idly while one’s brothers and sisters are being martyred is merely apathy and cowardice cloaked in the mantle of nonviolence. One day we will all have to answer not only for what we did that was wrong, but also for what we didn’t do that was right.
● Perhaps some Christians take seriously the mantra, “Let’s just get on with our lives.” Yes, we should do our best to live normally, but what about those whose lives are being destroyed? By supporting our military, firefighters, and police, we make it more likely that we will indeed be able to get on with our lives. By helping our brothers and sisters overseas, we make it more likely that they will be able to get on with their lives – or even to remain alive.
● Perhaps some Christians see prayer as the only thing to do. This is correct for the very young and the old or infirm. But what of the rest of us? Prayer is admirable, particularly when we ask for the wisdom to know what is right – and the strength to do it. But expecting God to solve the problems of persecuted people, while we sit inert, is treating the Almighty like a waiter: We tell Him what we want, and we expect Him to bring it.
But the world is not like a restaurant – it’s like a cafeteria. We have to get up out of our chairs, consider the many choices, select what we think is good, and then take it and pay the price for it. So we should make our selections wisely.
Unlike Jews, many Christians are unused to being persecuted. But this hard lesson needs to be relearned. If a Jew like me can identify and empathize with persecuted Christians, why can’t many Christians do so?
Christians are being persecuted and killed – just for being Christians. The facts are undeniable. The question is what our government is going to do about it. The question is what American and European Christians and Jews are going to do about it. The question is what we are going to do about it.
Matthew 25:36 says, “I was in prison and you came to visit me.” It does not say, “I was persecuted and you went to the mall.”


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