Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February Newsletter

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:The Global War on Christians in the Muslim World

Feb 6, 2012 12:00 AM EST NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE From one end of the muslim world to the other, Christians are being murdered for their faith. We hear so often about Muslims as victims of abuse in the West and combatants in the Arab Spring's fight against tyranny. But, in fact, a wholly different kind of war is underway—an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm. The portrayal of Muslims as victims or heroes is at best partially accurate. In recent years the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania. In some countries it is governments and their agents that have burned churches and imprisoned parishioners. In others, rebel groups and vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands, murdering Christians and driving them from regions where their roots go back centuries. The media's reticence on the subject no doubt has several sources. One may be fear of provoking additional violence. Another is most likely the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation—a kind of United Nations of Islam centered in Saudi Arabia—and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called "Islamophobia"—a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia. But a fair-minded assessment of recent events and trends leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the bloody Christophobia currently coursing through Muslim-majority nations from one end of the globe to the other. The conspiracy of silence surrounding this violent expression of religious intolerance has to stop. Nothing less than the fate of Christianity—and ultimately of all religious minorities—in the Islamic world is at stake. From blasphemy laws to brutal murders to bombings to mutilations and the burning of holy sites, Christians in so many nations live in fear. In Nigeria many have suffered all of these forms of persecution. The nation has the largest Christian minority (40 percent) in proportion to its population (160 million) of any majority-Muslim country. For years, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria have lived on the edge of civil war. Islamist radicals provoke much if not most of the tension. The newest such organization is an outfit that calls itself Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sacrilege." Its aim is to establish Sharia in Nigeria. To this end it has stated that it will kill all Christians in the country. In the month of January 2012 alone, Boko Haram was responsible for 54 deaths. In 2011 its members killed at least 510 people and burned down or destroyed more than 350 churches in 10 northern states. They use guns, gasoline bombs, and even machetes, shouting "Allahu akbar" ("God is great") while launching attacks on unsuspecting citizens. They have attacked churches, a Christmas Day gathering (killing 42 Catholics), beer parlors, a town hall, beauty salons, and banks. They have so far focused on killing Christian clerics, politicians, students, policemen, and soldiers, as well as Muslim clerics who condemn their mayhem. While they started out by using crude methods like hit-and-run assassinations from the back of motorbikes in 2009, the latest AP reports indicate that the group's recent attacks show a new level of potency and sophistication. The Christophobia that has plagued Sudan for years takes a very different form. The authoritarian government of the Sunni Muslim north of the country has for decades tormented Christian and animist minorities in the south. What has often been described as a civil war is in practice the Sudanese government's sustained persecution of religious minorities. This persecution culminated in the infamous genocide in Darfur that began in 2003. Even though Sudan's Muslim president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which charged him with three counts of genocide, and despite the euphoria that greeted the semi-independence he grant-ed to South Sudan in July of last year, the violence has not ended. In South Kordofan, Christians are still subject-ed to aerial bombardment, targeted killings, the kidnap-ping of children, and other atrocities. Reports from the United Nations indicate that between 53,000 and 75,000 innocent civilians have been displaced from their resi-dences and that houses and buildings have been looted and destroyed.

Please buy this weeks edition of Newsweek Magazine for the rest of this excellent article-which also mentions the Assyrian Aramaic-speaking Christians of the Middle East.

Why war with Iran may be necessary By Niall Ferguson (Another excellent article in this weeks Newsweek) The eruption of the entire Muslim world. All the crocodiles of Africa could not equal the fake tears that will be shed by the Sunni powers of the region if Iran's nuclear ambitions are checked. The double-dip recession. Oil prices are on the way down thanks to concerted efforts of Europe's leaders to reenact the Great Depression. An Israel-Iran war would push them up, but the Saudis stand ready to pump out additional supplies to limit the size of the spike. The theocracy's new legitimacy. Please send me a list of all the regimes of the past 60 years that have survived such military humiliation. Saddam Hussein's survival of Gulf War I is the only case I can think of—and we got him the second time around. The responsible nuclear Iran. Wait. We're supposed to believe that a revolutionary Shiite theocracy is overnight going to become a sober, calculating disciple of the realist school of diplomacy ... because it has finally acquired weapons of mass destruction? Presumably this would be in the same way that, if German scientists had developed an atomic bomb as quickly as the Manhattan Project, the Second World War would have ended with a negotiated settlement brokered by the League of Nations. The single biggest danger in the Middle East today is not the risk of a six-day Israeli war against Iran. It is the risk that Western wishful nonthinking allows the mullahs of Tehran to get their hands on nuclear weapons. Because I am in no doubt that they would take full advantage of such a lethal lever. We would have acquiesced in the creation of an empire of extortion. War is an evil. But sometimes a preventive war can be a lesser evil than a policy of appeasement. The people who don't yet know that are the ones still in denial about what a nuclear-armed Iran would end up costing us all.


Comic book retelling of Gilgamesh Story

It is very unusual to find references to ancient Mesopotamia in modern culture. Interestingly, a DC comic features a retelling of the story of Gilgamesh. It is the "Vertigo" label "the Unwritten" by Mike Carey and Peter Gross-the Feb 2012 edition. The cover of the comic book features a picture of a Lamassu-a winged bull which was an important and widespread religious symbol among the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Persians.



Archeology Magazine (January-February 2012) features a story on the Ancient Persians

The story features tablets inscribed in different languages including Aramaic. A picture of an Aramaic tablet is depicted. Overall, the Bible portrays the Persians in a positive light. The Persians used Aramaic as a diplomatic language-but their native language was Indo-European, which means that it belongs to the same language family to which English belongs. The article concerns certain Elamite, Aramaic, and Greek inscribed tablets. These tablets could be sold, but certain universities are trying to get them to prevent them from getting into the hands of some private collector.

Ancient Warfare Magazine Volume V Issue 4 dedicated to the Ancient Assyrian Empire

This issue, which contains many beautiful full color illustrations is devoted to the Assyrian empire. The Assyrians are renown as great warriors. They were, but they also built incredible structures and we have also found Assyrian libraries. So they were great builders and great scholars as well as great warriors. This journal has several articles on the Assyrians and two which feature the story of the Bible. Page 20 is an article about the Siege of Jerusalem and the Judean King Hezekiah and the article on page 27 is about the fall of Lachish.

The Barnabas Fund

I highly recommend the "Barnabas Fund" and the Barnabas Fund magazine. The magazine contains very important stories about the persecution (and murders) of Assyrian Christians and Coptic Christians and other believers in Jesus who are persecuted and murdered by Muslims.

Assyrian International News Agency (

This is another great source about important issues facing Assyrian Christians and other Christians in the Middle East.

Aramaic-European Connections-The Assemani family

The name of an illustrious Maronite familyof Mount Lebanon, Syria, four members of which, all ecclesiastics, distinguished themselves during the eighteenth century in the East and in Europe. For their zeal, learning, and unbounded attachment to the Roman See, they were held in great esteem by the Popes, who conferred upon them many well-merited ecclesiastical dignities and offices. Oriental, but especially Syriac, studies owe more to them than to any others; for it was through their researches, collection of manuscripts, and voluminous publications that Syriac studies, and in general the history, hagiography, liturgy, and literature of the Oriental Churches were first introduced into Europe. Therefore they can be justly regarded, if not as the creators, certainly as the most illustrious pioneers, of modern Oriental studies. In this work they were preceded by other Maronite scholars, known to Orientalists under their latinized names of Echellensis, Sciadrensis, Sionita, and Benedictus. To these and to the Assemanis we owe the fact that the characters, vowels, and pronunciation of Syriac, first introduced by them in Europe, were after the so-called Western Syriac, or Jacobite system, and not as would have been more original and correct, of the Eastern Syriac, or Nestorian. This anomaly, however, is easily explained by the fact that, as the Western Syriac system is the one used by the Maronite Church, to which these scholars belonged, it was but natural that they should adopt this in preference to the other. The four Assemanis are the following: Joseph Simeon, Josephus Aloysius, Stephanus Evodius and Simeon.

Giuseppe Simone Assemani (or Yusuf ibn Sim'un as-Sim'ani, English: Joseph Simon Assemani, Latin: Ioseph Simonius Assemanus), 1687–1768, was a Lebanese Maronite orientalist. Giuseppe Simone Assemani was born on 27 August 1687 in Hasroun, Mount Lebanon. When very young he was sent to the Maronite College in Rome, and was transferred thence to the Vatican library. He was ordained priest on 21 September 1710.
In 1717 he was sent to Egypt and Syria to search for valuable manuscripts, and returned with about 150 very choice ones. In 1735 Pope Clement XII sent him again to the East where he presided over the 1736 Maronite Synod of Mount-Lebanon, which laid the foundations for the modern Maronite Church. He returned with a still more valuable collection. On his return he was made, in 1739, First Librarian of the Vatican library. As reward of his activity he was consecrated titular bishop of Tyre on 7 December 1766. He died in Rome on 13 January 1768. His brother and nephew were also noted orientalists. When appointed librarian of the Vatican library he instantly began to carry into execution most extensive plans for editing and publishing the most valuable manuscript treasures of the Vatican. His main work is Bibliotheca. It was published in three parts:

  1. Syrian and allied manuscripts, orthodox, Nestorian and Jacobite
  2. Arabian manuscripts, Christian and Islam
  3. Coptic, Aethiopic, Persian and Turkish manuscripts

For more information see the Catholic Encyclopedia online and Assemani, Maronite Light from the East for the Church and the World The reason I think that this is important is the George Lamsa incorrectly said that no one knew about the Aramaic until he came on the scene. I think Aramaic connections need to be explored and those who made important contributions such as the Aramaic Assemani clan need to be remembered and their works need to be studied. This is also important in that, while Roman Catholics destroyed "Nestorian" books in India and in Iraq, here we have an instance of Roman Catholics preserving and studying "Nestorian" literature. I am not a Catholic-so I will criticize the Catholic Church-but it isn't Christian to spread falsehoods and unfounded and unfair aspersions against anybody. Roman Catholics have made mistakes and done some terrible things-but they also made some positive contributions. (Nestorian means East Syriac or Assyrian Christian. It is a term used in the past but it doesn't adequately define Assyrian Aramaic Christians. Nestorius did not found the Church of the East. It existed over a century before he was born. )

New Books:

The Liberal/Islamic alliance: The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America by Andrew MCCarthy, Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left, and Stealth Jihad by Robert Spencer.

The history of Christians under Islamic rule: The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude and The Dhimmi: Jews and Christianity Under Islam by Bat Yeor. The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims by Andrew Bostom.

This is important before our youth are taught in universities and colleges that Muslims tolerated Christians and that Eastern Christians converted to Islam because they found it to be a much more superior religion than their Christian faith was. This narrative was presented in the National Geographic magazine 2009 article about "Arab Christians."

Army Silences Catholic Chaplains (Fox News, February 5, 2012) By Todd Starne

The Obama administration has been accused of telling Catholic military chaplains what they can and cannot say from their pulpits after the Army ordered Catholic chaplains not to read a letter to parishioners from their archbishop. The Secretary of the Army feared the letter could be viewed as a call for civil disobedience. The letter called on Catholics to resist the policy the Obama Administration's policy that would force institutions affiliated with religious groups to provide coverage for birth control, sterilization and "abortifacients." The Catholic Church believes the mandate represents an unconstitutional violation of freedom of religion. Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum told Fox News Sunday the Army violated its chaplains' constitutional rights by barring them from reading the letter – calling for resistance to the contraceptive coverage mandate. "The Army and the Obama administration said they couldn't even issue the letter to complain about the Obama administration's plan on this policy," Santorum said, calling it a violation of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. "This is the problem when government tells you they can give you things," said Santorum, a Catholic. "They can take it away but even worse they can tell you how they are going to exercise this new right consistent with their values instead of the values guaranteed in the Constitution." On Jan. 26, Archbishop Timothy Broglio emailed a letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit. A portion of the letter was obtained by Business Insider. It reads: "In so ruling, the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics will be compelled to either violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees (and suffer the penalties for doing so). The Obama Administration's sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply."The following day, senior chaplains received an email from the Army's Office of the Chief of Chaplains advising them that the archbishop's letter was not coordinated with their office – and instructed chaplains not to read it from the pulpit. The Chief's office ordered that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel. "Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants," read a statement provided to Fox News from the Archdiocese of the Military Services. According to the AMS, Archbishop Broglio had a telephone conversation with Secretary of the Army John McHugh. "It was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop's letter," the statement read. "Additionally, the line: "We cannot-we will not-comply with this unjust law" was removed by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience. The issue raises a question among critics: did administration official tell the Catholic Church what it could and could not say in the pulpit? The Army confirmed that they asked Catholic chaplains not to read the letter, according to a statement released to National Review Online. "The Army greatly appreciates the Archbishops consideration of the military's perspective and is satisfied with the resolution upon which they agreed," the statement concluded. A source with knowledge of the incident told Fox News that no other branches of the military objected to the letter and to their knowledge was delivered "as-is" by chaplains in the other branches of the military.

This story is troubling for so many levels.

  1. It confirms my fears about Obama-he is waging warfare against religious liberty in the United States of America. And shockingly, he admitted his contempt for the US Constitution to Matt Lauer in an interview shortly before the Superbowl.
  2. The courts have ruled that military chapel sermons are "sacred communication" and that the state cannot determine the content of sermons. So, this censorship of sermons is a horrible precedent and a violation of the law. What will stop Obama from censoring your local churches sermons next? NOTHING!
  3. No one should be forced to violate their conscience by being forced to buy a product they don't want and is in direct opposition to their most sacred beliefs.
  4. A recent court ruling (two weeks ago) involving a Lutheran Church School the Supreme Court made a unanimous ruling regarding religious exemptions and the free exercise of religion. Just two weeks after this Supreme Court ruling, Mr. Obama opposes it and shows his contempt not only for the Court-but for the Constitution.
  5. I agree with the Catholic Church in its teachings concerning abortion. Jesus and the Apostles clearly opposed abortion. My feelings on contraception is similar-but not identical to the Catholic churches. (My opinion is that Birth Control that does not have adverse health effects (such as the pill) or cause the body to reject a fetilized egg (such as a Inter-Uterine device) are not necessarily sinful. However, I believe in religious freedom-in this instance I feel Christians of different denominations must unite to protect religious freedom.


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