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Hate groups, what are the differences? – KWQC-TV6

(KWQC) In a news conference held Monday morning, President Trump commented on the racially motivated violence that took place in Virginia over the weekend. In the statement, he referred to the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups, calling them repugnant. The groups have been lumped together when talking about the recent violence, but what is the difference among them?

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S. On their website, they describe the beliefs of these groups.

The SPLC says that these ‘white nationalist groups’ support white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites. Groups are listed in a variety of other sub categories, including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and Christian Identity, and could also be fairly described as white nationalist.

According to the SPLC; The Ku Klux Klan, has a long history of violence, is the most infamous and oldest of American hate groups. AThe Klan’s primary target has been black Americans but, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics.

The SPLC says Neo-Nazi Neo-Nazigroups share a hatred for Jews and a love for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to the SPLC, they also hate other minorities, gays and lesbians and even sometimes Christians, they perceive “the Jew” as their cardinal enemy.

Christian Identity is defined by the SPLC as a unique anti-Semitic and racist theology. They say that it rose to a position of commanding influence on the racist right in the 1980s. “Christian” in name only, the movement’s relationship with evangelicals and fundamentalists has generally been hostile due to the latter’s belief that the return of Jews to Israel is essential to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy.

Racist Skinheadsform a particularly violent element of the white supremacist movement according to the SPLC, and have often been referred to as the “shock troops” of the hoped-for revolution. The SPLC says the classic Skinhead look is a shaved head, black Doc Martens boots, jeans with suspenders and an array of typically racist tattoos.

Another group associated with the white supremacist movement is the “alt-right”. The SPLC describes the “alt-right” as: a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. “Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value.”

More info on hate groups and what groups are located in Iowa and Illinois can be found at the Southern Poverty Law Centre website here: https://www.splcenter.org/

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Hate groups, what are the differences? – KWQC-TV6

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August 14, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Persecution of Jews – Wikipedia

Persecution of Jewish people has been a major part of Jewish history, prompting shifting waves of refugees throughout the Diaspora communities.

When Judea fell under the authority of the Seleucid Empire, the process of Hellenization was enforced by law.[1] This effectively meant requiring pagan religious practice.[2] In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, sabbaths and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Altars to Greek gods were set up and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Olympian Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offense.

In the Middle Ages Antisemitism in Europe was religious. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus. As stated in the Boston College Guide to Passion Plays, “Over the course of time, Christians began to accept that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the Jews present at Jesus Christ’s death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have committed the sin of deicide, or “god-killing”. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history, the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America.”[3]

During the High Middle Ages in Europe there was full-scale persecution in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. An underlying source of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious. Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed, a prime example being the Rhineland massacres. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and, in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland.[4]

As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than a half of the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by violence in the Black Death persecutions. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by July 6, 1348 papal bull and another 1348 bull, several months later, 900 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg, where the plague hadn’t yet affected the city.[5]

One study finds that Jewish persecutions and expulsions increased with negative economic shocks and climactic variations in Europe over the period 1100-1600.[6] The authors of the study argue that this stems from people blaming Jews for misfortunes and weak rulers going after Jewish wealth in times of fiscal crisis. The authors propose several explanations for why Jewish persecutions significantly declined after 1600:

In the Papal States, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos. Until the 1840s, they were required to regularly attend sermons urging their conversion to Christianity. Only Jews were taxed to support state boarding schools for Jewish converts to Christianity. It was illegal to convert from Christianity to Judaism. Sometimes Jews were baptized involuntarily, and, even when such baptisms were illegal, forced to practice the Christian religion. In many such cases, the state separated them from their families, of which the Edgardo Mortara account is one of the most widely publicized instances of acrimony between Catholics and Jews in the Papal States in the second half of the 19th century.

According to Mark R. Cohen, during the rise of Islam, the first encounters between Muslims and Jews resulted in friendship when the Jews of Medina gave Muhammad refuge. Conflict arose when Muhammad expelled certain Jewish tribes after they refused to swear their allegiance to him and aided the Meccan Pagans. He adds that this encounter was an exception rather than a rule.[7]

Traditionally, Jews living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religion and administer their internal affairs but were subjects to certain conditions.[8] They had to pay the jizya (a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to Muslims.[9] Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims.[10] Contrary to popular belief, the Qur’an did not allow Muslims to force Jews to wear distinctive clothing. Obadiah the Proselyte reported in 1100 AD, that the Caliph had created this rule himself.[11]

Resentment toward Jews perceived as having attained too lofty a position in Islamic society also fueled antisemitism and massacres. In Moorish Spain, ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq focused their anti-Jewish writings on this allegation. This was also the chief motivation behind the 1066 Granada massacre, when “[m]ore than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day”,[12] and in Fez in 1033, when 6,000 Jews were killed.[13] There were further massacres in Fez in 1276 and 1465.[14]

In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.[15]

The Damascus affair occurred in 1840 when a French monk and his servant disappeared in Damascus. Immediately following, a charge of ritual murder was brought against a large number of Jews in the city including children who were tortured. The consuls of England, France and Germany as well as Ottoman authorities, Christians, Muslims and Jews all played a great role in this affair.[16] Following the Damascus affair, Pogroms spread through the Middle East and North Africa. Pogroms occurred in: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jerusalem (1847), Cairo (1844, 1890, 190102), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 190107), Port Said (1903, 1908), Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1891), Istanbul (1870, 1874), Buyukdere (1864), Kuzguncuk (1866), Eyub (1868), Edirne (1872), Izmir (1872, 1874).[17] There was a massacre of Jews in Baghdad in 1828.[13] There was another massacre in Barfurush in 1867.[13]

In 1839, in the eastern Persian city of Meshed, a mob burst into the Jewish Quarter, burned the synagogue, and destroyed the Torah scrolls. This is known as the Allahdad incident. It was only by forcible conversion that a massacre was averted.[18]

In Palestine there were riots and pogroms against Jews in 1920 and 1921. Tensions over the Western Wall in Jerusalem led to the 1929 Palestine riots,[19] whose main victims were the ancient Jewish community at Hebron which came to an end.

In 1941, following Rashid Ali’s pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 180 Jews were killed and about 240 were wounded, 586 Jewish-owned businesses were looted and 99 Jewish houses were destroyed.[20]

During the Holocaust, the Middle East was in turmoil. Britain prohibited Jewish immigration to the British Mandate of Palestine. In Cairo the Jewish Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) assassinated Lord Moyne in 1944 fighting as part of its campaign against British closure of Palestine to Jewish immigration, complicating British-Arab-Jewish relations. While the Allies and the Axis were fighting for the oil-rich region, the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husayni staged a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq and organized the Farhud pogrom which marked the turning point for about 150,000 Iraqi Jews who, following this event and the hostilities generated by the war with Israel in 1948, were targeted for violence, persecution, boycotts, confiscations, and near complete expulsion in 1951. The coup failed and the mufti fled to Berlin, where he actively supported Hitler. In Egypt, with a Jewish population of about 75,000, young Anwar Sadat was imprisoned for conspiring with the Nazis and promised them that “no British soldier would leave Egypt alive” (see Military history of Egypt during World War II) leaving the Jews of that region defenseless. In the French Vichy territories of Algeria and Syria plans had been drawn up for the liquidation of their Jewish populations were the Axis powers to triumph.

The tensions of the ArabIsraeli conflict were also a factor in the rise of animosity to Jews all over the Middle East, as hundreds of thousands of Jews fled as refugees, the main waves being soon after the 1948 and 1956 wars. In reaction to the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Egyptian government expelled almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscated their property, and sent approximately 1,000 more Jews to prisons and detention camps. The population of Jewish communities of Muslim Middle East and North Africa was reduced from about 900,000 in 1948 to less than 8,000 today.

On March 2, 1974, the bodies of four Syrian Jewish girls were discovered by border police in a cave in the Zabdani Mountains northwest of Damascus. Fara Zeibak 24, her sisters Lulu Zeibak 23, Mazal Zeibak 22 and their cousin Eva Saad 18, had contracted with a band of smugglers to flee from Syria to Lebanon and eventually to Israel. The girls bodies were found raped, murdered and mutilated. The police also found the remains of two Jewish boys, Natan Shaya 18 and Kassem Abadi 20, victims of an earlier massacre.[21] Syrian authorities deposited the bodies of all six in sacks before the homes of their parents in the Jewish ghetto in Damascus.[22]

The persecution of Jews reached its most destructive form in the policies of Nazi Germany, which made the destruction of the Jews a priority, culminating in the killing of approximately 6,000,000 Jews during the Holocaust from 1941 to 1945.[23] Originally, the Nazis used death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, to conduct massive open-air killings of Jews in territory that they conquered. By 1942, the Nazi leadership decided to implement the Final Solution, the genocide of the Jews of Europe, and to increase the pace of the Holocaust by establishing extermination camps specifically to kill Jews as well as other undesirables such as people who openly opposed Hitler.[24][25]

This was an industrial method of genocide. Millions of Jews who had been confined to diseased and massively overcrowded ghettos were transported (often by train) to death camps, where some were herded into a specific location (often a gas chamber), then killed with either gassing or shooting. Other prisoners simply committed suicide, unable to go on after witnessing the horrors of camp life. Afterward, their bodies were often searched for any valuable or useful materials, such as gold fillings or hair, and their remains were then buried in mass graves or burned. Others were interned in the camps where they were given little food and disease was common.[26]

Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. The few Auschwitz escapes that succeeded were made possible by the Polish underground inside the camp and local people outside.[27] In 1940, the Auschwitz commandant reported that “the local population is fanatically Polish and prepared to take any action against the hated SS camp personnel. Every prisoner who managed to escape can count on help the moment he reaches the wall of a first Polish farmstead.”[28]

For much of the 19th century, Imperial Russia, which included much of Poland, contained the world’s largest Jewish population. From Alexander III’s reign until the end of Tsarist rule in Russia, many Jews were often restricted to the Jewish Pale of Settlement and they were also banned from many jobs and locations. Jews were subject to racist laws, such as the May Laws, and they were also targeted in hundreds of violent anti-Jewish riots, called pogroms, which received unofficial state support. It was during this period that a hoax document alleging a global Jewish conspiracy, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, was created.

The Czarist government implemented programs which ensured that the Jews would remain isolated. However, the government tolerated their religious and national institutions as well as their right to emigrate. The restrictions and discriminatory laws drove many Russian Jews to embrace liberal and socialist causes. However, following the Russian Revolution many politically active Jews forfeited their Jewish identity.[29] According to Leon Trotsky,

[Jews] considered themselves neither Jews nor Russians but socialists. To them, Jews were not a nation but a class of exploiters whose fate it was to dissolve and assimilate.

In the aftermath of Czarist Russia, Jews found themselves in a tragic predicament. Conservative Russians saw them as a disloyal and subversive element and the radicals viewed the Jews as a doomed social class.[30]

Even though many of the Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya in order to achieve this goal. By the end of the 1940s, the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, with the exception of a few token synagogues. These synagogues were then placed under police surveillance, both openly and through the use of informants[citation needed].

The campaign of 19481953 against so-called “rootless cosmopolitans,” the alleged “Doctors’ plot,” the rise of “Zionology” and subsequent activities of official organizations such as the Anti-Zionist committee of the Soviet public were officially carried out under the banner of “anti-Zionism,”, and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West as well as domestically.

During the 1930s, many Nationalist Party leaders and wide sections of the Afrikaner people came strongly under the influence of the Nazi movement which dominated Germany from 1933 to 1945. There were many reasons for this. Germany was the traditional enemy of Britain, and whoever opposed Britain was seen as a friend of the Nationalists. Many Nationalists, moreover, believed that the opportunity to re-establish their lost republic would come with the defeat of the British Empire in the international arena. The more belligerent Hitler became, the higher hopes rose that a new era of Afrikanerdom was about to dawn.[31]

The National Party of D F Malan closely associated itself with the policies of the Nazis. Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe was controlled under the Aliens Act and it soon came to an end during this period. Although Jews were accorded status as Europeans, they were not accepted into white society. The Kelvin Grove sports club, for example, had an exclusive Europeans Only and No Jews policy until recent times. Some 11 such sports clubs had similar policies. Many Jews lived in mixed race areas such as District Six, from where they were forcibly removed in order to make way for a whites-only development. The grand architect of Apartheid Hendrick Verwoerd had studied in Germany, where he obtained a degree in psychology. Controversy developed over whether South Africa’s academics drew inspiration from Nazism when a box of glass eyes, owned by the German Nazi Eugen Fischer and used to classify differences among human beings, was discovered in Stellenbosch University.[32] Dan Newling wrote that “Fischer tools were used to teach volk Lunde, an Afrikaaner variant of cultural anthropology.”[32]

In 1936, Verwoerd joined a deputation of six professors who were protesting against the admission to South Africa of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Following the demands of the Nationalist Party, Eric Louw, later Foreign Minister, introduced another anti-Semitic bill that strongly resembled Nazi legislation – the Aliens Amendment and Immigration Bill of 1939. His bill was a means of suppressing all Jews. This bill suggested that Jews threatened to overpower Protestants in the business world, that they were innately cunning and manipulative and that they were also a danger to society. To support his claim, Louw maintained that Jews were involved in the Bolshevik Revolution and therefore intended to spread Communism worldwide. This bill defined Jews as anyone with parents who were at least partly Jewish regardless of actual religious faith or practices.” [33]

Another organization with which the Nationalists found much in common during the thirties was the ‘South African Gentile National Socialist Movement’, headed by Johannes von Strauss von Moltke, whose objective was to combat and destroy the alleged ‘perversive influence of the Jews in economics, culture, religion, ethics, and statecraft and to re-establish European Aryan control in South Africa for the welfare of the Christian peoples of South Africa’.[31]

During the 1960s, Oswald Mosley, the British fascist leader, was a frequent visitor to South Africa, where he was received by the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet. At one time, Mosley had two functioning branches of his organization in South Africa, and one of his supporters, Derek Alexander, was stationed in Johannesburg as his main agent.

Upon Verwoerd’s assassination in 1966, BJ Vorster was elected by the National Party to replace him. While Vorster had been a supporter of Hitler during WWII, his policy towards Jews in his own country, however, can best be described as ambivalent.

The 1980s saw the rise of far-right neo-Nazi groups such as the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging under Eugene Terreblanche. The AWB modeled itself after Hitler’s National Socialist Party replete with fascist regalia and an emblem resembling the swastika.

There were numerous similarities between the laws passed by the Nazis against German Jews and the laws passed by the Afrikaner Nationalists against the Blacks. Scholar Mzimela Sipo Elijah observed similarities in theology between the “role of the Deutsche Christen and the Dutch Reformed Church, on the one hand, and that of the Confessing Church and the English-speaking Churches on the other.” This is known as the “apartheid heresy” controversy which became important in the struggle against institutional racism in South Africa.[34]

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After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? – Washington Post

By Jemar Tisby By Jemar Tisby August 12

White nationalists were met by counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, leading Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state emergency. A car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post)

Last night, white supremacists assembled in Charlottesville for a public demonstration of hate. They held torches and chanted phrases such as White lives matter! and Jews will not replace us! Following an event that the citys mayor called an unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation, white pastors have a critical role to play.

There is no greater need to apply the biblical call to speak the truth in love than in the area of white supremacy and the church.

As a Christian, I believe the church remains instrumental in dismantling the racial caste system in America. Black Christians and their allies have been decrying white supremacy as long as it has existed. Too often, though, our warnings and protestations are met with tepid responses.

In the wake of the Charlottesville rally and the countrys ongoing racial tension we look to the church and ask, White pastors, will you now work to end white supremacy?

I know that term white supremacy is unpopular. It tends to shut down conversation because folks think it only refers to racists who wear hoods and burn crosses. They think its too harsh to apply to them, the people they know, or the church. But lets call it what it is. We cant change the white supremacist status quo unless we name it and confront it.

Lets also be clear that we cant really end white supremacy. In the Christian view, racism is a sin, and sin cannot be completely eradicated on this side of eternity. But we are called to fight against sin in all its forms, so we should expect positive change in our churches and society at large as we fight against it.

Black Christians have pointed to the warning signs. Plenty of us said that the current president, based on his rhetoric during the campaign, would energize a new era of bigotry. President Trump has created a context in which white supremacists feel emboldened in their views and have no shame in admitting them publicly and vocally.

Yet at the polls, white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Despite all of their verbal commitments to equality and racial reconciliation, 80 percent of white evangelicals went against the voices of their brothers and sisters of color.

When a black pastor in the largest Protestant denomination in the country presented a resolution condemning the alt-right and white supremacy, a small group of mostly white pastors dismissed it out of hand. It took the protests of other pastors, as well as a swift backlash on social media, for the Southern Baptist Convention to pass a modified resolution at its annual meeting in June.

[Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly to condemn alt-right white supremacy]

The dilemma is all too familiar. More than 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. penned a response to white pastors after they sent a message urging restraint and gradualism in the civil rights movement. In his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King said,

I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be some of our strongest allies. Instead, some few have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

Kings words still resound prophetically today. The time for caution has long passed; we must take courageous action to expel white supremacy from the church.

White Christians will inevitably ask, But what do we do? This question perpetuates the problem. People of color did not create white supremacy; white people did. To ask a racial minority how to solve a problem they didnt create and one under which they suffer only adds to their burdens.

There are no straightforward, plug-and-play solutions. Despite all the unique situations in churches across the country, some general principles for battling white supremacy apply:

Despite all our efforts, some white pastors still remain silent on Sunday. They relegate racism to the status of a social issue and not a gospel issue. Leadership in churches and other Christian organizations remain all or mostly white. Its the same with the boards of directors and trustees of these institutions. Evangelicals who prostitute the faith for political power remain in the pulpit and are given wide latitude to stir up racial resentment in the guise of race neutral language.

Despite their insistence on justice, black Christians who speak boldly about racism and white supremacy often get muted or silenced. We can only infer that the sensitivities of white listeners matter more than the pain of black brothers and sisters.

No one likes to be pressured into speaking out about injustice. You want to do it from your own conviction. I get it. I really do. Just know that the time has never been more urgent for white Christians, pastors in particular, to decry white supremacy in our day.

I appreciate the notable exceptions those white pastors who have spoken up about white supremacy, sometimes in the face of strident opposition. Unfortunately, they are all too few.

We are waiting for the day that the racists in Charlottesville at least feel enough shame to practice their hatred in secret. But black Christians cannot do this alone. White pastors, now is the time for courageous action in the face of white supremacy.

Jemar Tisby writes about religion, race and culture as president of the Reformed African American Network, and he is the co-host of the Pass the Mic podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JemarTisby.

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After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? – Washington Post

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Time for All Christians to Denounce White Supremacy – Daily Beast

A wave of hatred is threatening to crash on this country. It is a seismic crash of historic proportions. And some of the most prominent Christian voices in the nation are standing by, watching their own people drown in the growing flood.

Today in Charlottesville, Virginia White nationalistsmany of whom claim to be Christianssought to define America. They spoke with one voice, with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders and Confederate Flags, Trump signs, and skull insignias on full display. They said that America is not a place for Jews and Blacks. They said Muslims and immigrants are not welcomed here. They also said that their rally “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump”David Duke’s words, not mine. Duke, the Klan leader, continued: “That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trumpbecause he said he was going to take our country back.” Somebody went so far as to drive a car into a crowd, mowing down those who came to protest the nationalists. No muted tweets from the President today can change these stunning facts.

If anyone was unsure before, after Charlottesville we should all now know exactly what “take our country back” means. It means back to a place where whites have continued superiority in every part of American life. Back to a place where Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Asians, and immigrants, Muslims, women, gays and more live in relative subjugation. The haters have spoken and they are clear. What is not clear is the position of many Christian leaders, especially in the white (and even some in the Latino) Evangelical church.

Deafening silence from the pulpits in Orange County. Telling quiet from the mega-churches in Atlanta. Nashville, muted. The folks at Liberty Universitythe president and his activist friendson the careful moral sidelines of this fight. Wheaton and Manhattan and Chicago and more, tentative and couched. Perhaps they’ll echo Trump’s ambiguous condemnation. Perhaps we’ll hear nothing at all.

These evangelical pastors and Christian activists, authors, and leaders are fearful. They are fearful of sanction from congregations where people in the pews may have voted for a morally problematic candidate because they did not like the alternatives. They’re fearful of losing their platforms, book sales, positions if they stray too far. They are fearful of having their club membership revoked. But as they stand in fear they are also slowing ceding moral authority. They stand while the nationeven the worldsimmers and threatens to burn.

My friend LeVar Burton said today that “this moment is but another in a chain of opportunities to choose what you stand for.” It is an opportunity, indeed. Far too many in the Christian church sanctioned slavery. Many purported Christians even owned, bought and sold human beings themselves. Evangelicals took decades to stand against Jim Crow, and only stood when the fight was long over. From Apartheid in South Africa to women’s rights here at home, far too many Christian pastors and leaders moved when it was safe, if at all.

They may have a heart for digging wells in Africa or a passion to end the scourge of human trafficking; these issues are centrally important, but they are also safe, problems that everyone agrees we need to solve. But when it comes to the more complex moral disasters right in front of us, the fire of courage often fails to burn. This is why many evangelicals hold on so dearly to the history of William Wilberforce, the 18th Century Christian abolitionist The tale of Wilberforce makes them feel courageous, although the courage he showed hundreds of years ago is a far cry from what we see today. Today, courage is in short supply. We are grateful for conservative pastors and leaders like Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Joel Hunter, even Erick Erickson and others who speak out at risk to themselves, but they should not have to stand alone.

What would it mean for evangelical Christian leaders to speak out in the age of Trump? It means consistently leveraging public platforms and private leadership to define what is right and wrong. In the case of what we just saw in Charlottesville, it means sermon series on the dangers of white supremacy, the reality of privilege, and the importance of empathy for those who do not look like you. It means using podcasts and books and voices to lift up morality and condemn immorality, whether that immortality is found in the streets of Charlottesville or the Oval Office of the White House. It even means admitting with humility that they don’t know what to do, but know they should do something, and then showing an openness to take action.

The world is watching American Christians. Many who need the Good News of the Gospel are disgusted and pushed away by the bad news of a quiet church. Without question, this past presidential election kicked wide open the floodgates of hatred in this country. All around us, we see the seas rising. Will Evangelical Christian leaders follow the example of Jesus and step, with faith, out onto uncertain waters? Or will they tremble in fear, as the country drowns in the flood?

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Time for All Christians to Denounce White Supremacy – Daily Beast

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Bosnia’s Jews, Muslims, Christians chide politicians – Ynetnews

Bosnia’s religious leaders say politicians are standing in the way of peaceful coexistence between Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities trying to forgive and forget after the atrocities of a devastating 1990s war.

Hundreds of churches, mosques and synagogues bear witness to more than five centuries of Bosnia’s multi-faith past, and the capital Sarajevo is known locally as a “small Jerusalem” with its main ethnic groupsOrthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaksall worshipping within meters of each other.

Rabbi’s assistant Igor Kozemjakin, at Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Reuters)

Friar Zeljko Brkic, at Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Reuters)

Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail, at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Reuters)

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Iran’s Religious Minority Persecution — Christians, Jews … – National Review

The Iranian government continues to persecute religious minorities, including groups supposedly given special recognition by the countrys constitution: Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) annual report for 2017, Irans government engaged in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused. Because of its failure to respect religious minorities, Iran has been considered a country of particular concern by the State Department for close to two decades.

Hundreds of Christians have been arrested since 2010. As of December 2016, approximately 90 Christians were in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities. Over the past year, reports the USCIRF, there were numerous incidents of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly Evangelical Christian converts.

The most recent International Religious Freedom report by the State Department corroborates the information gleaned by the USCIRF. Muslims who convert to Christianity place themselves at severe risk of government retaliation. Armenian and Assyrian Christians, who have deep roots in Iran and the surrounding region, are also subject to persecution at the hands of the government:

The authorities required all churchgoers to register with them and prevented Muslim converts to Christianity from entering Armenian or Assyrian churches, according to UN Special Rapporteur Shaheed. According to Christian community leaders, if the authorities found Armenian or Assyrian churches were baptizing new converts or preaching in Farsi, they closed the churches.

Estimates of the total number of Christians in Iran vary. The USCIRF and State Department suggest there around 300,000, of which most are of Armenian origin. Other estimates place the number closer to half a million, or even one million.

The story of Armenian Christians goes back to the earliest days of the Church. A valuable, though certainly not exhaustive, summary of their history can be found in David Bentley Harts The Story of Christianity.

According to Hart, the Armenian royal family adopted the Christian faith some 13 years before the Christians of the Roman empire were granted the right to practice their faith by the Edict of Milan. The latter was instituted in a.d. 313. Yet Christian tradition traces the roots of Armenian Christianity even farther back in time, to the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, who established the Christian faith there. The acknowledged founder of Armenian Christianity, Hart notes, was St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted King Tiridates III.

It is not only Christians who suffer from persecution in Iran. Members of the Bahai faith face severe repression because they are viewed as heretics from Islam. Since 1979, authorities have killed or executed more than 200 Bahai leaders, according to the USCIRF, and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs. The State Department reports that the government has continued to prevent Bahais from burying their dead in accordance with their religious tradition, and continued demolition of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, where authorities had already destroyed over 400 of the 950 graves.

The USCIRF recommends several ways for the U.S. to respond to Irans persecution of religious minorities. The U.S. should, it suggests, continue to identify Iranian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, freeze those individuals assets, and bar their entry into the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. government should ensure that violations of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights are part of multilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranian government whenever possible.

The latter suggestion is especially important as the U.S. seeks ways to check Iranian aggression in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. As the UCIRF report notes, notwithstanding the JCPOA, the United States continues to keep in place and enforce sanctions for Irans human rights violations, its support for terrorism, and its ballistic missile program.

It is no secret that President Trump dislikes the nuclear deal, having called it the worst deal ever negotiated. Despite his reservations, he recently recertified, albeit reluctantly, that Iran is complying with the provisions of the agreement. Temporarily, at least, the deal is here to stay. As part of a comprehensive strategy to check Irans regional ambitions, Trump could consider applying new sanctions for violating human rights in this case due to the persecution of religious minorities. For these sanctions to be more effective, he should consult with leaders from the other nations who signed on to the nuclear deal to try to get them on board.

New sanctions could have the dual effect of improving the situation of religious minorities and forcing Iran to, at least for a time, rein in its efforts to project power in the Middle East.

Jeff Cimmino is an editorial intern at National Review.

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On Christian Birthright, Israel Reawakens Biblical Faith for Disillusioned Millennials – Breaking Israel News

I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 (The Israel Bible)

Christian students in Israel with Covenant Journey in July 2017 to experience the Holy Land and connect to their Biblical roots. (Facebook)

While young Jews making pilgrimage to Israel in order to reconnect with their religions roots has become a commonplace phenomenon, a new trend has emerged which is anything but: young Christians are traveling to the Holy Land in larger numbers than ever for the very same purpose.

Patterned after Birthright, a not-for-profit educational organization that sponsors ten-day trips to Israel for young Jews, Covenant Journey began bringing groups to Israel in 2014. Every year five groups of 45 Christian students aged 18-25 join the program. According to Mathew Staver, the organizations devout Christian founder, their generation faces specific spiritual challenges. Thats where Israel comes in.

Following an eye-opening 2007 trip with his wife, Staver realized that he had found a unique solution to questions of faith. Like every typical Christian, I wanted to see where Jesus walked, he said of his trip. But very quickly, The dots started to connect. My wife and I realized that we are not just tourists. We are being drawn to Israel, we are being drawn to something greater. God was drawing us back for a greater purpose: to help Israel.

He saw that there was a need for young Christians, who often distance themselves from their religion in their college years, to have this experience. Bringing students to Israel gives them a chance to see and feel their own history, a tactile experience Staver feels will help them be better Christians.

As they disconnect from their faith they disconnect from Israel and can even become anti-Semitic, he explained.

The trip to Israel, he continued, revives and invigorates the students Biblical connection.

It impacts their Christian faith, he said. Oftentimes Christians only look at the New Testament. This trip emphasizes the [Hebrew Bible] roots of Christianity. They realize these are real people, real places, it brings the Bible to life for them.

Staver believes that lack of love for Israel is quickly becoming an existential crisis for Christianity at large.

I think that what we find is the Church denominations that dont side with Israel are exhibiting a symptom of weakening of their faith, Staver said. He quoted the Biblical reward for those who stand with the nation of Israel, a verse that many of the programs participants cite as their motivation.

I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you. Genesis 12:3

For Staver, blessing Israel is not just a friendly gesture, but it is a proven method of survival.

History has clearly shown this to be true, Staver said. Nations that go against Israel tend to disappear.

At first glance, the Covenant Journey trip appears to be like so many other Christian tour groups, taking participants from the Golan in the north to the Negev in the south and focusing on the sites with special significance to Christians. They visit Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, the town of Magdalena, Caesarea Philippi, and are baptized in the Jordan River. The trip culminates in Jerusalem where they visit the Garden Tomb and walk the Via Dolorosa.

But the participants are also introduced to sites with a uniquely Jewish aspect, like Masada and Yad Vashem, two sites which offer somber reminders of how volatile interfaith relations can become and why it is so important to maintain Israel as a protector of the Jewish People.

In addition, the students meet Israeli political leaders, Holocaust survivors, and IDF soldiers who help them understand the reality in a region frequently misrepresented in the media. Staver told Breaking Israel News that these meetings have a major impact on the participants.

The personal touch is essential, Staver said. We want participants to really experience modern Israel, and the only way is to meet real people.

Staver says that though Jewish-Christian relations have not always been positive, he has witnessed a change in this in the few short years of the program. He is optimistic this trend will continue.

The connection between Jews and Christians is strengthening. More and more Christians want to stand with Israel, he said. There is growing atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation from the Jewish world. In both Israel and America I have seen this connection be received with arms wide open.

The Covenant Journey is a step towards strengthening these relations even more. Essentially, it creates Christian advocates for Israel, both spiritually and actively.

It brings to life the geopolitical issue, Staver explained. They go back to campus knowing far more about the reality than the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) people. They see that Israelis are trying to live in peace. They visit the Holocaust museum and speak to a Holocaust survivor.

Suddenly, it is not theoretical and they get very passionate about it.

He pointed to an outstanding example of the programs success in Jennifer Sullivan, the youngest member of the Florida House of Representatives. Sullivan came to Israel on Covenant Journey in 2016. This year, she was a key player in passing anti-BDS legislation in her state.

Sullivan is not the only participant deeply affected by her Israel trip. The most common reaction Staver hears at the end of the nine-day trip is that it was life-changing.

We routinely hear from all of our participants that Israel is so much more than they could ever imagine. They all emphasize that this was the most impactful experience they have ever had in their lives.

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Evangelical leader calls for boycott of Roger Waters’ concert – The Jerusalem Post

ROGER WATERS performs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 20. . (photo credit:MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS)

All Jews, Christians and people of conscience must protest the weekends Roger Waters concert in Nashville, a leading evangelical Christian said Thursday.

Roger Waters is a global symbol of Jew hatred that should not be welcome in Nashville or anywhere else in the United States of America said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a non-profit organization established to educate Christians about their biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel.

Known for his role in the British rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has become one of the global ambassador of the movement to boycott, divest and sanction the State of Israel.

The British musician has paraded on stage in a mock Nazi uniform and hoisted an inflatable pig emblazoned with a Star of David above his stage in concert. In addition to spreading lies about Israel and comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Cardoza-Moore, whose organization is based out of Tennessee, said that there would be no way that he would be welcomed in the state.

Roger Waters is the poster boy for BDS, its time to give him a taste of his own medicine and send a strong message that antisemites arent welcome in Tennessee, she said.

Cardoza-Moore, who is also the World Council of Independent Christian Churches special envoy to the UN, said that BDS is being raised up by those interested in the destruction of the Jewish state.

The BDS movement has been hailed by Hamas, they both seek the total destruction of the Jewish State, she said.

Furthermore, BDS are responsible for an increase in antisemitism and violent attacks on Jewish students on campuses in America and around the world. Tennessee was the first state to pass legislation to publicly condemn the BDS movement. The BDS global brand ambassador should not be able to peddle his lies and conspiracies onstage within the city of Nashville. She said that in accordance with the State Departments guidelines, the BDS movements activities are clearly antisemitic. They seek to delegitimize, demonize and apply a double standard toward Israel, while remaining silent on real atrocities taking place worldwide.

In order to stop the trend, Cardoza-Moore produced a docu-tainment called Boycott This with conservative Christian comedian Brad Stine to show that the Jewish people are not a people who have hatred in their DNA.

These are a people who are constantly creating to make the world a better place, to actually fulfill what it says in the Scriptures, that they would be a light to the nations. And [we want] to present that story to Christians, she told The Jerusalem Post prior to the film’s release last year. sign up to our newsletter

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Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School (Part 16) The Hellenization of Christianity – HuffPost

Another theory which students considered was the Hellenization of Christianity advanced by Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), who revolutionized the understanding of the historical context within which the New Testament developed. This theory maintains that during the first four centuries of the Christian era the original Jewish nature of Jesus and his message was so radically altered by being preached to the Greek-speaking world that the Christianity which emerged at the end of the process had virtually nothing to do with the original Jesus or his teaching.

What had begun as a belief among a small group of Jewish Christians about a Jewish Messiah, a human being who expected the imminent end of the world, was gradually transformed into a divine redeemer, a savior God, whose purpose it was to save all mankind from its sins, a notion completely alien to both Judaism and the original Christian community. According to this theory, the original teaching of Jesus was totally transformed into a Greek mystery religion, the beliefs and practices of which were similar to those of other mystery religions popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean world.

After the Early Church abandoned its efforts at converting the Jews and concentrated its missionary activities on the Gentiles of the Greek-speaking world, the Church encountered difficulty in convincing prospective converts. The two arguments used to persuade Gentiles that Jesus was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah — his miracles and fulfillment of the Old Testament messianic prophecies — proved ineffective.

The miracles of Jesus did not impress the Gentiles because they, too, had miracle workers and exorcists who did the same things as Jesus. The fact that Jesus could perform wondrous deeds and drive out demons was nothing extraordinary since all ancient peoples had such individuals. With respect to the messianic prophecies, the Gentiles were unfamiliar with or dismissed them as either untrustworthy or fraudulent.

What did prove surprising to these Christian missionaries, however, was their encounter with the Greek mystery religions. These religions had been popular for centuries because they addressed the spiritual yearnings of Greek-speaking peoples not satisfied by the official Hellenistic and Roman cults, which were public in nature and invoked the help of the gods in matters of state importance.

These public rituals failed to address the personal needs of their onlookers, who found religious comfort and emotional fulfillment in the mystery religions, which promised the forgiveness of sins, salvation by a savior god who had died to redeem them, and a life of bliss in the world to come. Among the more celebrated of these mystery cults were the Eleusinian (Demeter and Persephone), Orphic (Orpheus and Eurydice), Dionysian (Dionysus), Mithraic (Mithra), and those of Isis-Osiris, Cybele-Attis, and Aphrodite-Adonis.

It is conjectured that the religious expectations induced by these religions determined how the Christian message was understood by this Gentile audience. Preconditioned by centuries in these cults, the Hellenized world could not help but view Jesus as another savior god because this was the only way its population could understand him and the message preached in his name.

However, what is significant is that this understanding of Jesus as a savior god was completely foreign to both Judaism and the way in which Jesus was viewed by the original Jewish Christians who were impatiently awaiting the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. A number of explanations have been offered to account for this altered view of Jesus and his message.

1.) Many of the early Christian missionaries had themselves once been members of these mystery religions and were preconditioned to understand and preach Jesus as a savior god.

2.) Early Christian intellectuals and apologists, as well as the Greek Church Fathers, were themselves steeped in the Greek philosophical tradition, which predisposed them to view the nature of Jesus in Greek philosophical and theological terms similar to those pertaining to other savior gods.

3.) The Early Church may have consciously or unconsciously borrowed features from the mystery religions in order to make its new religion more attractive and competitive with these other cults in attracting converts.

4.) The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE caused the virtual disappearance of the Jewish Christian community, whose understanding of Jesus as a Jewish Messiah was also virtually lost. As a result, the Apostle Pauls Hellenized view of Jesus as a savior god who had redeemed mankind was the only view of Jesus which survived this catastrophe because of the many Hellenized churches Paul had already founded throughout Asia Minor and Greece.

Although a remnant of the original Jewish Christians, the Ebionites, continued to survive a few centuries longer, they were nevertheless viewed as heretical, perhaps even persecuted, by the Greek-speaking Christian Church, only to finally die out. According to this view, the irony is that these Jewish Christians may have been the only community which preserved the original understanding of Jesus and his message intact and remained faithful to it, whereas Pauls Hellenized view was the only view of Jesus which survived and thereby became official church doctrine as a result of an historical accident the destruction of Jerusalem!

This Hellenized understanding of Jesus and his mission continued to develop during the next few centuries until the nature of Jesus with his redemptive role was transformed into the divine Logos, the Word of God, pre-existing from all eternity, consubstantial with the Father, the second person of the Trinity, the divine redeemer, whose purpose it was to save all mankind, as finally delineated in the solemn pronouncements of the Councils of Nicea (325 CE) and Chalcedon (451 CE).

Early Christianity assimilated the legacy of the Hellenized world by expressing the nature and role of Christ as a divine redeemer and savior in Neo-Platonic terms. The various mystery religions that had predated Christianity and continued to evolve during the Christian era were finally suppressed in the late fourth century by the Emperor Theodosius, when Christianity then became the official state religion. Such was the historical understanding of what happened to Christianity as set forth by Harnack in the first volume of his History of Dogma in (1886) and The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (1902).

An alternative explanation of what happened is the theory of Propaedeutic or Preparatory Instruction, advanced by the Christian Apologist, Justin Martyr (c. 100 c. 165 CE), who maintained that God used Greek philosophy and the mystery religions to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the Mediterranean world. According to this view, divine Providence inspired the Greek philosophers and the creators of the mystery religions with partial revelation of what was later to come in the full revelation of Christianity. The doctrines of Greek metaphysics about the nature of God and ultimate reality, the ethical system of the Stoics, and the role of a savior in redeeming an erring humanity in a broken world were already providentially in place for Early Christianity to use in spreading the Gospel message in the ancient world.

This theory explains the similarities between Christian doctrine, Greek metaphysics and the mystery religions, which made the Hellenistic world more responsive to the new Christian religion toward which the mystery religions were unwittingly leading. Moreover, after the glorious century of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and their immediate successors, God let Greek philosophy run its course until conflicting disputes later convulsed its rival schools, causing the philosophical enterprise of the ancient world to self-destruct. The inadequacy of reason was thereby exposed as a faulty way to Divine Truth, for which the ancient world was now ready and yearning to receive with the advent of Christianity.

To the human eye, this version of events may seem like blind chance or accident, as Christianity simply borrowed and adapted Greek philosophy and the mystery religions for its own needs to survive and flourish, but, to the eye of faith, this was all part of Gods mysterious Plan that providentially guided events in bringing the Mediterranean world of that time into the fold of the one and only true Mystery Religion, Christianity.

It goes without saying that the Hellenization of Christianity has generated enormous controversy over the past 130 years, during which time it has been both accepted and rejected either completely or partially in various quarters. It is a classic example of how a theory, whether true or false, can open up new fields of scholarly inquiry. It is also a textbook case that can show students how scholarship works as a continually evolving collective endeavor that uses the critical-historical method to deepen understanding of New Testament times.

A scholar makes his or her case and then defends or modifies it in light of the critical reactions of other scholars who may agree or disagree by pointing out what they see as historical or methodological flaws in the argument. Scholars must also be prepared to defend themselves against scholars who disagree not on historical or methodological grounds, but rather for theological, confessional, or apologetical reasons. The stakes involved, as seen by these guardians of religious tradition, may be so momentous and far-reaching that they see it as their appointed task to defend traditional doctrine threatened either directly or by implication by the new theory.

In such exchanges, the historian and theologian represent two different realms of concern: the historian, for an objective historical understanding of what, how, or why something happened without regard for how the theory might challenge traditional doctrine; the theologian, for safeguarding traditional doctrine as part of divine revelation or for pastoral reasons lest the theory gain currency and unsettle the faithful.

Students learn to see such critical exchanges between scholars as the inevitable process through which theories pass in being refined in the fire of controversy as both sides play their respective parts in the unfolding drama that may lead to a more accurate understanding of the issue in question.

This interplay can perhaps be best understood in terms of Hegels celebrated triad of dialectical development. One starts with the status-quo theory or thesis, which over time generates its own inherent doubts or recognition of its weaknesses. These weaknesses are, in turn, taken up by later scholars who develop them into an opposing position or antithesis, which over time consolidates itself and, in turn, realizes its own weaknesses. Finally, both thesis and antithesis resolve themselves into a higher synthesis, that, in turn, becomes a new thesis, and so forth in a never-ending search for truth.

What works as truth for one generation may be rejected as falsehood for the next as each generation sees things differently as a new paradigm is born that explains what happened in a new way. Each generation or century builds on and critiques the past, feeling entitled to its own way of seeing truth rather than being dictated to by the previous generations or centurys perception of truth, seen as culturally-conditioned by its time or, as the Roman Aulus Gellius succinctly put it, Veritas filia temporis or Truth is the daughter of time.

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Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School (Part 16) The Hellenization of Christianity – HuffPost

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Hate groups, what are the differences? – KWQC-TV6

(KWQC) In a news conference held Monday morning, President Trump commented on the racially motivated violence that took place in Virginia over the weekend. In the statement, he referred to the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups, calling them repugnant. The groups have been lumped together when talking about the recent violence, but what is the difference among them? The Southern Poverty Law Centre, a nonprofit legal advocacy organization, monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S. On their website, they describe the beliefs of these groups. The SPLC says that these ‘white nationalist groups’ support white supremacist or white separatist ideologies, often focusing on the alleged inferiority of nonwhites. Groups are listed in a variety of other sub categories, including the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead, and Christian Identity, and could also be fairly described as white nationalist. According to the SPLC; The Ku Klux Klan, has a long history of violence, is the most infamous and oldest of American hate groups. AThe Klan’s primary target has been black Americans but, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics. The SPLC says Neo-Nazi Neo-Nazigroups share a hatred for Jews and a love for Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to the SPLC, they also hate other minorities, gays and lesbians and even sometimes Christians, they perceive “the Jew” as their cardinal enemy. Christian Identity is defined by the SPLC as a unique anti-Semitic and racist theology. They say that it rose to a position of commanding influence on the racist right in the 1980s. “Christian” in name only, the movement’s relationship with evangelicals and fundamentalists has generally been hostile due to the latter’s belief that the return of Jews to Israel is essential to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy. Racist Skinheadsform a particularly violent element of the white supremacist movement according to the SPLC, and have often been referred to as the “shock troops” of the hoped-for revolution. The SPLC says the classic Skinhead look is a shaved head, black Doc Martens boots, jeans with suspenders and an array of typically racist tattoos. Another group associated with the white supremacist movement is the “alt-right”. The SPLC describes the “alt-right” as: a set of far-right ideologies, groups and individuals whose core belief is that “white identity” is under attack by multicultural forces using “political correctness” and “social justice” to undermine white people and “their” civilization. “Characterized by heavy use of social media and online memes, Alt-Righters eschew “establishment” conservatism, skew young, and embrace white ethno-nationalism as a fundamental value.” More info on hate groups and what groups are located in Iowa and Illinois can be found at the Southern Poverty Law Centre website here: https://www.splcenter.org/

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Persecution of Jews – Wikipedia

Persecution of Jewish people has been a major part of Jewish history, prompting shifting waves of refugees throughout the Diaspora communities. When Judea fell under the authority of the Seleucid Empire, the process of Hellenization was enforced by law.[1] This effectively meant requiring pagan religious practice.[2] In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, sabbaths and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Altars to Greek gods were set up and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Olympian Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offense. In the Middle Ages Antisemitism in Europe was religious. Though not part of Roman Catholic dogma, many Christians, including members of the clergy, have held the Jewish people collectively responsible for killing Jesus. As stated in the Boston College Guide to Passion Plays, “Over the course of time, Christians began to accept that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for killing Jesus. According to this interpretation, both the Jews present at Jesus Christ’s death and the Jewish people collectively and for all time, have committed the sin of deicide, or “god-killing”. For 1900 years of Christian-Jewish history, the charge of deicide has led to hatred, violence against and murder of Jews in Europe and America.”[3] During the High Middle Ages in Europe there was full-scale persecution in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. An underlying source of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious. Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries. The persecution hit its first peak during the Crusades. In the First Crusade (1096) flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were utterly destroyed, a prime example being the Rhineland massacres. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. The Crusades were followed by expulsions, including in 1290, the banishing of all English Jews; in 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France; and, in 1421 thousands were expelled from Austria. Many of the expelled Jews fled to Poland.[4] As the Black Death epidemics devastated Europe in the mid-14th century, annihilating more than a half of the population, Jews were taken as scapegoats. Rumors spread that they caused the disease by deliberately poisoning wells. Hundreds of Jewish communities were destroyed by violence in the Black Death persecutions. Although Pope Clement VI tried to protect them by July 6, 1348 papal bull and another 1348 bull, several months later, 900 Jews were burnt alive in Strasbourg, where the plague hadn’t yet affected the city.[5] One study finds that Jewish persecutions and expulsions increased with negative economic shocks and climactic variations in Europe over the period 1100-1600.[6] The authors of the study argue that this stems from people blaming Jews for misfortunes and weak rulers going after Jewish wealth in times of fiscal crisis. The authors propose several explanations for why Jewish persecutions significantly declined after 1600: In the Papal States, which existed until 1870, Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos. Until the 1840s, they were required to regularly attend sermons urging their conversion to Christianity. Only Jews were taxed to support state boarding schools for Jewish converts to Christianity. It was illegal to convert from Christianity to Judaism. Sometimes Jews were baptized involuntarily, and, even when such baptisms were illegal, forced to practice the Christian religion. In many such cases, the state separated them from their families, of which the Edgardo Mortara account is one of the most widely publicized instances of acrimony between Catholics and Jews in the Papal States in the second half of the 19th century. According to Mark R. Cohen, during the rise of Islam, the first encounters between Muslims and Jews resulted in friendship when the Jews of Medina gave Muhammad refuge. Conflict arose when Muhammad expelled certain Jewish tribes after they refused to swear their allegiance to him and aided the Meccan Pagans. He adds that this encounter was an exception rather than a rule.[7] Traditionally, Jews living in Muslim lands, known as dhimmis, were allowed to practice their religion and administer their internal affairs but were subjects to certain conditions.[8] They had to pay the jizya (a per capita tax imposed on free adult non-Muslim males) to Muslims.[9] Dhimmis had an inferior status under Islamic rule. They had several social and legal disabilities such as prohibitions against bearing arms or giving testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims.[10] Contrary to popular belief, the Qur’an did not allow Muslims to force Jews to wear distinctive clothing. Obadiah the Proselyte reported in 1100 AD, that the Caliph had created this rule himself.[11] Resentment toward Jews perceived as having attained too lofty a position in Islamic society also fueled antisemitism and massacres. In Moorish Spain, ibn Hazm and Abu Ishaq focused their anti-Jewish writings on this allegation. This was also the chief motivation behind the 1066 Granada massacre, when “[m]ore than 1,500 Jewish families, numbering 4,000 persons, fell in one day”,[12] and in Fez in 1033, when 6,000 Jews were killed.[13] There were further massacres in Fez in 1276 and 1465.[14] In the Zaydi imamate of Yemen, Jews were also singled out for discrimination in the 17th century, which culminated in the general expulsion of all Jews from places in Yemen to the arid coastal plain of Tihamah and which became known as the Mawza Exile.[15] The Damascus affair occurred in 1840 when a French monk and his servant disappeared in Damascus. Immediately following, a charge of ritual murder was brought against a large number of Jews in the city including children who were tortured. The consuls of England, France and Germany as well as Ottoman authorities, Christians, Muslims and Jews all played a great role in this affair.[16] Following the Damascus affair, Pogroms spread through the Middle East and North Africa. Pogroms occurred in: Aleppo (1850, 1875), Damascus (1840, 1848, 1890), Beirut (1862, 1874), Dayr al-Qamar (1847), Jerusalem (1847), Cairo (1844, 1890, 190102), Mansura (1877), Alexandria (1870, 1882, 190107), Port Said (1903, 1908), Damanhur (1871, 1873, 1877, 1891), Istanbul (1870, 1874), Buyukdere (1864), Kuzguncuk (1866), Eyub (1868), Edirne (1872), Izmir (1872, 1874).[17] There was a massacre of Jews in Baghdad in 1828.[13] There was another massacre in Barfurush in 1867.[13] In 1839, in the eastern Persian city of Meshed, a mob burst into the Jewish Quarter, burned the synagogue, and destroyed the Torah scrolls. This is known as the Allahdad incident. It was only by forcible conversion that a massacre was averted.[18] In Palestine there were riots and pogroms against Jews in 1920 and 1921. Tensions over the Western Wall in Jerusalem led to the 1929 Palestine riots,[19] whose main victims were the ancient Jewish community at Hebron which came to an end. In 1941, following Rashid Ali’s pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 180 Jews were killed and about 240 were wounded, 586 Jewish-owned businesses were looted and 99 Jewish houses were destroyed.[20] During the Holocaust, the Middle East was in turmoil. Britain prohibited Jewish immigration to the British Mandate of Palestine. In Cairo the Jewish Lehi (also known as the Stern Gang) assassinated Lord Moyne in 1944 fighting as part of its campaign against British closure of Palestine to Jewish immigration, complicating British-Arab-Jewish relations. While the Allies and the Axis were fighting for the oil-rich region, the Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husayni staged a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq and organized the Farhud pogrom which marked the turning point for about 150,000 Iraqi Jews who, following this event and the hostilities generated by the war with Israel in 1948, were targeted for violence, persecution, boycotts, confiscations, and near complete expulsion in 1951. The coup failed and the mufti fled to Berlin, where he actively supported Hitler. In Egypt, with a Jewish population of about 75,000, young Anwar Sadat was imprisoned for conspiring with the Nazis and promised them that “no British soldier would leave Egypt alive” (see Military history of Egypt during World War II) leaving the Jews of that region defenseless. In the French Vichy territories of Algeria and Syria plans had been drawn up for the liquidation of their Jewish populations were the Axis powers to triumph. The tensions of the ArabIsraeli conflict were also a factor in the rise of animosity to Jews all over the Middle East, as hundreds of thousands of Jews fled as refugees, the main waves being soon after the 1948 and 1956 wars. In reaction to the Suez Crisis of 1956, the Egyptian government expelled almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscated their property, and sent approximately 1,000 more Jews to prisons and detention camps. The population of Jewish communities of Muslim Middle East and North Africa was reduced from about 900,000 in 1948 to less than 8,000 today. On March 2, 1974, the bodies of four Syrian Jewish girls were discovered by border police in a cave in the Zabdani Mountains northwest of Damascus. Fara Zeibak 24, her sisters Lulu Zeibak 23, Mazal Zeibak 22 and their cousin Eva Saad 18, had contracted with a band of smugglers to flee from Syria to Lebanon and eventually to Israel. The girls bodies were found raped, murdered and mutilated. The police also found the remains of two Jewish boys, Natan Shaya 18 and Kassem Abadi 20, victims of an earlier massacre.[21] Syrian authorities deposited the bodies of all six in sacks before the homes of their parents in the Jewish ghetto in Damascus.[22] The persecution of Jews reached its most destructive form in the policies of Nazi Germany, which made the destruction of the Jews a priority, culminating in the killing of approximately 6,000,000 Jews during the Holocaust from 1941 to 1945.[23] Originally, the Nazis used death squads, the Einsatzgruppen, to conduct massive open-air killings of Jews in territory that they conquered. By 1942, the Nazi leadership decided to implement the Final Solution, the genocide of the Jews of Europe, and to increase the pace of the Holocaust by establishing extermination camps specifically to kill Jews as well as other undesirables such as people who openly opposed Hitler.[24][25] This was an industrial method of genocide. Millions of Jews who had been confined to diseased and massively overcrowded ghettos were transported (often by train) to death camps, where some were herded into a specific location (often a gas chamber), then killed with either gassing or shooting. Other prisoners simply committed suicide, unable to go on after witnessing the horrors of camp life. Afterward, their bodies were often searched for any valuable or useful materials, such as gold fillings or hair, and their remains were then buried in mass graves or burned. Others were interned in the camps where they were given little food and disease was common.[26] Escapes from the camps were few, but not unknown. The few Auschwitz escapes that succeeded were made possible by the Polish underground inside the camp and local people outside.[27] In 1940, the Auschwitz commandant reported that “the local population is fanatically Polish and prepared to take any action against the hated SS camp personnel. Every prisoner who managed to escape can count on help the moment he reaches the wall of a first Polish farmstead.”[28] For much of the 19th century, Imperial Russia, which included much of Poland, contained the world’s largest Jewish population. From Alexander III’s reign until the end of Tsarist rule in Russia, many Jews were often restricted to the Jewish Pale of Settlement and they were also banned from many jobs and locations. Jews were subject to racist laws, such as the May Laws, and they were also targeted in hundreds of violent anti-Jewish riots, called pogroms, which received unofficial state support. It was during this period that a hoax document alleging a global Jewish conspiracy, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, was created. The Czarist government implemented programs which ensured that the Jews would remain isolated. However, the government tolerated their religious and national institutions as well as their right to emigrate. The restrictions and discriminatory laws drove many Russian Jews to embrace liberal and socialist causes. However, following the Russian Revolution many politically active Jews forfeited their Jewish identity.[29] According to Leon Trotsky, [Jews] considered themselves neither Jews nor Russians but socialists. To them, Jews were not a nation but a class of exploiters whose fate it was to dissolve and assimilate. In the aftermath of Czarist Russia, Jews found themselves in a tragic predicament. Conservative Russians saw them as a disloyal and subversive element and the radicals viewed the Jews as a doomed social class.[30] Even though many of the Old Bolsheviks were ethnically Jewish, they sought to uproot Judaism and Zionism and established the Yevsektsiya in order to achieve this goal. By the end of the 1940s, the Communist leadership of the former USSR had liquidated almost all Jewish organizations, with the exception of a few token synagogues. These synagogues were then placed under police surveillance, both openly and through the use of informants[citation needed]. The campaign of 19481953 against so-called “rootless cosmopolitans,” the alleged “Doctors’ plot,” the rise of “Zionology” and subsequent activities of official organizations such as the Anti-Zionist committee of the Soviet public were officially carried out under the banner of “anti-Zionism,”, and by the mid-1950s the state persecution of Soviet Jews emerged as a major human rights issue in the West as well as domestically. During the 1930s, many Nationalist Party leaders and wide sections of the Afrikaner people came strongly under the influence of the Nazi movement which dominated Germany from 1933 to 1945. There were many reasons for this. Germany was the traditional enemy of Britain, and whoever opposed Britain was seen as a friend of the Nationalists. Many Nationalists, moreover, believed that the opportunity to re-establish their lost republic would come with the defeat of the British Empire in the international arena. The more belligerent Hitler became, the higher hopes rose that a new era of Afrikanerdom was about to dawn.[31] The National Party of D F Malan closely associated itself with the policies of the Nazis. Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe was controlled under the Aliens Act and it soon came to an end during this period. Although Jews were accorded status as Europeans, they were not accepted into white society. The Kelvin Grove sports club, for example, had an exclusive Europeans Only and No Jews policy until recent times. Some 11 such sports clubs had similar policies. Many Jews lived in mixed race areas such as District Six, from where they were forcibly removed in order to make way for a whites-only development. The grand architect of Apartheid Hendrick Verwoerd had studied in Germany, where he obtained a degree in psychology. Controversy developed over whether South Africa’s academics drew inspiration from Nazism when a box of glass eyes, owned by the German Nazi Eugen Fischer and used to classify differences among human beings, was discovered in Stellenbosch University.[32] Dan Newling wrote that “Fischer tools were used to teach volk Lunde, an Afrikaaner variant of cultural anthropology.”[32] In 1936, Verwoerd joined a deputation of six professors who were protesting against the admission to South Africa of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Following the demands of the Nationalist Party, Eric Louw, later Foreign Minister, introduced another anti-Semitic bill that strongly resembled Nazi legislation – the Aliens Amendment and Immigration Bill of 1939. His bill was a means of suppressing all Jews. This bill suggested that Jews threatened to overpower Protestants in the business world, that they were innately cunning and manipulative and that they were also a danger to society. To support his claim, Louw maintained that Jews were involved in the Bolshevik Revolution and therefore intended to spread Communism worldwide. This bill defined Jews as anyone with parents who were at least partly Jewish regardless of actual religious faith or practices.” [33] Another organization with which the Nationalists found much in common during the thirties was the ‘South African Gentile National Socialist Movement’, headed by Johannes von Strauss von Moltke, whose objective was to combat and destroy the alleged ‘perversive influence of the Jews in economics, culture, religion, ethics, and statecraft and to re-establish European Aryan control in South Africa for the welfare of the Christian peoples of South Africa’.[31] During the 1960s, Oswald Mosley, the British fascist leader, was a frequent visitor to South Africa, where he was received by the Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet. At one time, Mosley had two functioning branches of his organization in South Africa, and one of his supporters, Derek Alexander, was stationed in Johannesburg as his main agent. Upon Verwoerd’s assassination in 1966, BJ Vorster was elected by the National Party to replace him. While Vorster had been a supporter of Hitler during WWII, his policy towards Jews in his own country, however, can best be described as ambivalent. The 1980s saw the rise of far-right neo-Nazi groups such as the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging under Eugene Terreblanche. The AWB modeled itself after Hitler’s National Socialist Party replete with fascist regalia and an emblem resembling the swastika. There were numerous similarities between the laws passed by the Nazis against German Jews and the laws passed by the Afrikaner Nationalists against the Blacks. Scholar Mzimela Sipo Elijah observed similarities in theology between the “role of the Deutsche Christen and the Dutch Reformed Church, on the one hand, and that of the Confessing Church and the English-speaking Churches on the other.” This is known as the “apartheid heresy” controversy which became important in the struggle against institutional racism in South Africa.[34]

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August 13, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

After Charlottesville, will white pastors finally take racism seriously? – Washington Post

By Jemar Tisby By Jemar Tisby August 12 White nationalists were met by counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, leading Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state emergency. A car plowed into crowds, killing one person and injuring 19 others. (Zoeann Murphy/The Washington Post) Last night, white supremacists assembled in Charlottesville for a public demonstration of hate. They held torches and chanted phrases such as White lives matter! and Jews will not replace us! Following an event that the citys mayor called an unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation, white pastors have a critical role to play. There is no greater need to apply the biblical call to speak the truth in love than in the area of white supremacy and the church. As a Christian, I believe the church remains instrumental in dismantling the racial caste system in America. Black Christians and their allies have been decrying white supremacy as long as it has existed. Too often, though, our warnings and protestations are met with tepid responses. In the wake of the Charlottesville rally and the countrys ongoing racial tension we look to the church and ask, White pastors, will you now work to end white supremacy? I know that term white supremacy is unpopular. It tends to shut down conversation because folks think it only refers to racists who wear hoods and burn crosses. They think its too harsh to apply to them, the people they know, or the church. But lets call it what it is. We cant change the white supremacist status quo unless we name it and confront it. Lets also be clear that we cant really end white supremacy. In the Christian view, racism is a sin, and sin cannot be completely eradicated on this side of eternity. But we are called to fight against sin in all its forms, so we should expect positive change in our churches and society at large as we fight against it. Black Christians have pointed to the warning signs. Plenty of us said that the current president, based on his rhetoric during the campaign, would energize a new era of bigotry. President Trump has created a context in which white supremacists feel emboldened in their views and have no shame in admitting them publicly and vocally. Yet at the polls, white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Despite all of their verbal commitments to equality and racial reconciliation, 80 percent of white evangelicals went against the voices of their brothers and sisters of color. When a black pastor in the largest Protestant denomination in the country presented a resolution condemning the alt-right and white supremacy, a small group of mostly white pastors dismissed it out of hand. It took the protests of other pastors, as well as a swift backlash on social media, for the Southern Baptist Convention to pass a modified resolution at its annual meeting in June. [Southern Baptists voted overwhelmingly to condemn alt-right white supremacy] The dilemma is all too familiar. More than 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. penned a response to white pastors after they sent a message urging restraint and gradualism in the civil rights movement. In his famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail, King said, I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be some of our strongest allies. Instead, some few have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows. Kings words still resound prophetically today. The time for caution has long passed; we must take courageous action to expel white supremacy from the church. White Christians will inevitably ask, But what do we do? This question perpetuates the problem. People of color did not create white supremacy; white people did. To ask a racial minority how to solve a problem they didnt create and one under which they suffer only adds to their burdens. There are no straightforward, plug-and-play solutions. Despite all the unique situations in churches across the country, some general principles for battling white supremacy apply: Despite all our efforts, some white pastors still remain silent on Sunday. They relegate racism to the status of a social issue and not a gospel issue. Leadership in churches and other Christian organizations remain all or mostly white. Its the same with the boards of directors and trustees of these institutions. Evangelicals who prostitute the faith for political power remain in the pulpit and are given wide latitude to stir up racial resentment in the guise of race neutral language. Despite their insistence on justice, black Christians who speak boldly about racism and white supremacy often get muted or silenced. We can only infer that the sensitivities of white listeners matter more than the pain of black brothers and sisters. No one likes to be pressured into speaking out about injustice. You want to do it from your own conviction. I get it. I really do. Just know that the time has never been more urgent for white Christians, pastors in particular, to decry white supremacy in our day. I appreciate the notable exceptions those white pastors who have spoken up about white supremacy, sometimes in the face of strident opposition. Unfortunately, they are all too few. We are waiting for the day that the racists in Charlottesville at least feel enough shame to practice their hatred in secret. But black Christians cannot do this alone. White pastors, now is the time for courageous action in the face of white supremacy. Jemar Tisby writes about religion, race and culture as president of the Reformed African American Network, and he is the co-host of the Pass the Mic podcast. Follow him on Twitter @JemarTisby.

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Time for All Christians to Denounce White Supremacy – Daily Beast

A wave of hatred is threatening to crash on this country. It is a seismic crash of historic proportions. And some of the most prominent Christian voices in the nation are standing by, watching their own people drown in the growing flood. Today in Charlottesville, Virginia White nationalistsmany of whom claim to be Christianssought to define America. They spoke with one voice, with AR-15 rifles slung over their shoulders and Confederate Flags, Trump signs, and skull insignias on full display. They said that America is not a place for Jews and Blacks. They said Muslims and immigrants are not welcomed here. They also said that their rally “fulfills the promises of Donald Trump”David Duke’s words, not mine. Duke, the Klan leader, continued: “That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trumpbecause he said he was going to take our country back.” Somebody went so far as to drive a car into a crowd, mowing down those who came to protest the nationalists. No muted tweets from the President today can change these stunning facts. If anyone was unsure before, after Charlottesville we should all now know exactly what “take our country back” means. It means back to a place where whites have continued superiority in every part of American life. Back to a place where Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Asians, and immigrants, Muslims, women, gays and more live in relative subjugation. The haters have spoken and they are clear. What is not clear is the position of many Christian leaders, especially in the white (and even some in the Latino) Evangelical church. Deafening silence from the pulpits in Orange County. Telling quiet from the mega-churches in Atlanta. Nashville, muted. The folks at Liberty Universitythe president and his activist friendson the careful moral sidelines of this fight. Wheaton and Manhattan and Chicago and more, tentative and couched. Perhaps they’ll echo Trump’s ambiguous condemnation. Perhaps we’ll hear nothing at all. These evangelical pastors and Christian activists, authors, and leaders are fearful. They are fearful of sanction from congregations where people in the pews may have voted for a morally problematic candidate because they did not like the alternatives. They’re fearful of losing their platforms, book sales, positions if they stray too far. They are fearful of having their club membership revoked. But as they stand in fear they are also slowing ceding moral authority. They stand while the nationeven the worldsimmers and threatens to burn. My friend LeVar Burton said today that “this moment is but another in a chain of opportunities to choose what you stand for.” It is an opportunity, indeed. Far too many in the Christian church sanctioned slavery. Many purported Christians even owned, bought and sold human beings themselves. Evangelicals took decades to stand against Jim Crow, and only stood when the fight was long over. From Apartheid in South Africa to women’s rights here at home, far too many Christian pastors and leaders moved when it was safe, if at all. They may have a heart for digging wells in Africa or a passion to end the scourge of human trafficking; these issues are centrally important, but they are also safe, problems that everyone agrees we need to solve. But when it comes to the more complex moral disasters right in front of us, the fire of courage often fails to burn. This is why many evangelicals hold on so dearly to the history of William Wilberforce, the 18th Century Christian abolitionist The tale of Wilberforce makes them feel courageous, although the courage he showed hundreds of years ago is a far cry from what we see today. Today, courage is in short supply. We are grateful for conservative pastors and leaders like Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Joel Hunter, even Erick Erickson and others who speak out at risk to themselves, but they should not have to stand alone. What would it mean for evangelical Christian leaders to speak out in the age of Trump? It means consistently leveraging public platforms and private leadership to define what is right and wrong. In the case of what we just saw in Charlottesville, it means sermon series on the dangers of white supremacy, the reality of privilege, and the importance of empathy for those who do not look like you. It means using podcasts and books and voices to lift up morality and condemn immorality, whether that immortality is found in the streets of Charlottesville or the Oval Office of the White House. It even means admitting with humility that they don’t know what to do, but know they should do something, and then showing an openness to take action. The world is watching American Christians. Many who need the Good News of the Gospel are disgusted and pushed away by the bad news of a quiet church. Without question, this past presidential election kicked wide open the floodgates of hatred in this country. All around us, we see the seas rising. Will Evangelical Christian leaders follow the example of Jesus and step, with faith, out onto uncertain waters? Or will they tremble in fear, as the country drowns in the flood?

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Bosnia’s Jews, Muslims, Christians chide politicians – Ynetnews

Bosnia’s religious leaders say politicians are standing in the way of peaceful coexistence between Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities trying to forgive and forget after the atrocities of a devastating 1990s war. Hundreds of churches, mosques and synagogues bear witness to more than five centuries of Bosnia’s multi-faith past, and the capital Sarajevo is known locally as a “small Jerusalem” with its main ethnic groupsOrthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosniaksall worshipping within meters of each other. Rabbi’s assistant Igor Kozemjakin, at Sarajevo Ashkenazi Synagogue in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Reuters) Friar Zeljko Brkic, at Kraljeva Sutjeska Franciscan monastery in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Reuters) Effendi Ibranovic Dzemail, at Sulejmanija Mosque in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Reuters)

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Iran’s Religious Minority Persecution — Christians, Jews … – National Review

The Iranian government continues to persecute religious minorities, including groups supposedly given special recognition by the countrys constitution: Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms (USCIRF) annual report for 2017, Irans government engaged in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including prolonged detention, torture, and executions based primarily or entirely upon the religion of the accused. Because of its failure to respect religious minorities, Iran has been considered a country of particular concern by the State Department for close to two decades. Hundreds of Christians have been arrested since 2010. As of December 2016, approximately 90 Christians were in prison, detained, or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities. Over the past year, reports the USCIRF, there were numerous incidents of Iranian authorities raiding church services, threatening church members, and arresting and imprisoning worshipers and church leaders, particularly Evangelical Christian converts. The most recent International Religious Freedom report by the State Department corroborates the information gleaned by the USCIRF. Muslims who convert to Christianity place themselves at severe risk of government retaliation. Armenian and Assyrian Christians, who have deep roots in Iran and the surrounding region, are also subject to persecution at the hands of the government: The authorities required all churchgoers to register with them and prevented Muslim converts to Christianity from entering Armenian or Assyrian churches, according to UN Special Rapporteur Shaheed. According to Christian community leaders, if the authorities found Armenian or Assyrian churches were baptizing new converts or preaching in Farsi, they closed the churches. Estimates of the total number of Christians in Iran vary. The USCIRF and State Department suggest there around 300,000, of which most are of Armenian origin. Other estimates place the number closer to half a million, or even one million. The story of Armenian Christians goes back to the earliest days of the Church. A valuable, though certainly not exhaustive, summary of their history can be found in David Bentley Harts The Story of Christianity. According to Hart, the Armenian royal family adopted the Christian faith some 13 years before the Christians of the Roman empire were granted the right to practice their faith by the Edict of Milan. The latter was instituted in a.d. 313. Yet Christian tradition traces the roots of Armenian Christianity even farther back in time, to the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, who established the Christian faith there. The acknowledged founder of Armenian Christianity, Hart notes, was St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted King Tiridates III. It is not only Christians who suffer from persecution in Iran. Members of the Bahai faith face severe repression because they are viewed as heretics from Islam. Since 1979, authorities have killed or executed more than 200 Bahai leaders, according to the USCIRF, and more than 10,000 have been dismissed from government and university jobs. The State Department reports that the government has continued to prevent Bahais from burying their dead in accordance with their religious tradition, and continued demolition of the Bahai cemetery in Shiraz, where authorities had already destroyed over 400 of the 950 graves. The USCIRF recommends several ways for the U.S. to respond to Irans persecution of religious minorities. The U.S. should, it suggests, continue to identify Iranian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom, freeze those individuals assets, and bar their entry into the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. government should ensure that violations of freedom of religion or belief and related human rights are part of multilateral or bilateral discussions with the Iranian government whenever possible. The latter suggestion is especially important as the U.S. seeks ways to check Iranian aggression in the wake of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. As the UCIRF report notes, notwithstanding the JCPOA, the United States continues to keep in place and enforce sanctions for Irans human rights violations, its support for terrorism, and its ballistic missile program. It is no secret that President Trump dislikes the nuclear deal, having called it the worst deal ever negotiated. Despite his reservations, he recently recertified, albeit reluctantly, that Iran is complying with the provisions of the agreement. Temporarily, at least, the deal is here to stay. As part of a comprehensive strategy to check Irans regional ambitions, Trump could consider applying new sanctions for violating human rights in this case due to the persecution of religious minorities. For these sanctions to be more effective, he should consult with leaders from the other nations who signed on to the nuclear deal to try to get them on board. New sanctions could have the dual effect of improving the situation of religious minorities and forcing Iran to, at least for a time, rein in its efforts to project power in the Middle East. Jeff Cimmino is an editorial intern at National Review.

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

On Christian Birthright, Israel Reawakens Biblical Faith for Disillusioned Millennials – Breaking Israel News

I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing. Genesis 12:2 (The Israel Bible) Christian students in Israel with Covenant Journey in July 2017 to experience the Holy Land and connect to their Biblical roots. (Facebook) While young Jews making pilgrimage to Israel in order to reconnect with their religions roots has become a commonplace phenomenon, a new trend has emerged which is anything but: young Christians are traveling to the Holy Land in larger numbers than ever for the very same purpose. Patterned after Birthright, a not-for-profit educational organization that sponsors ten-day trips to Israel for young Jews, Covenant Journey began bringing groups to Israel in 2014. Every year five groups of 45 Christian students aged 18-25 join the program. According to Mathew Staver, the organizations devout Christian founder, their generation faces specific spiritual challenges. Thats where Israel comes in. Following an eye-opening 2007 trip with his wife, Staver realized that he had found a unique solution to questions of faith. Like every typical Christian, I wanted to see where Jesus walked, he said of his trip. But very quickly, The dots started to connect. My wife and I realized that we are not just tourists. We are being drawn to Israel, we are being drawn to something greater. God was drawing us back for a greater purpose: to help Israel. He saw that there was a need for young Christians, who often distance themselves from their religion in their college years, to have this experience. Bringing students to Israel gives them a chance to see and feel their own history, a tactile experience Staver feels will help them be better Christians. As they disconnect from their faith they disconnect from Israel and can even become anti-Semitic, he explained. The trip to Israel, he continued, revives and invigorates the students Biblical connection. It impacts their Christian faith, he said. Oftentimes Christians only look at the New Testament. This trip emphasizes the [Hebrew Bible] roots of Christianity. They realize these are real people, real places, it brings the Bible to life for them. Staver believes that lack of love for Israel is quickly becoming an existential crisis for Christianity at large. I think that what we find is the Church denominations that dont side with Israel are exhibiting a symptom of weakening of their faith, Staver said. He quoted the Biblical reward for those who stand with the nation of Israel, a verse that many of the programs participants cite as their motivation. I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you. Genesis 12:3 For Staver, blessing Israel is not just a friendly gesture, but it is a proven method of survival. History has clearly shown this to be true, Staver said. Nations that go against Israel tend to disappear. At first glance, the Covenant Journey trip appears to be like so many other Christian tour groups, taking participants from the Golan in the north to the Negev in the south and focusing on the sites with special significance to Christians. They visit Capernaum, the Mount of Beatitudes, the town of Magdalena, Caesarea Philippi, and are baptized in the Jordan River. The trip culminates in Jerusalem where they visit the Garden Tomb and walk the Via Dolorosa. But the participants are also introduced to sites with a uniquely Jewish aspect, like Masada and Yad Vashem, two sites which offer somber reminders of how volatile interfaith relations can become and why it is so important to maintain Israel as a protector of the Jewish People. In addition, the students meet Israeli political leaders, Holocaust survivors, and IDF soldiers who help them understand the reality in a region frequently misrepresented in the media. Staver told Breaking Israel News that these meetings have a major impact on the participants. The personal touch is essential, Staver said. We want participants to really experience modern Israel, and the only way is to meet real people. Staver says that though Jewish-Christian relations have not always been positive, he has witnessed a change in this in the few short years of the program. He is optimistic this trend will continue. The connection between Jews and Christians is strengthening. More and more Christians want to stand with Israel, he said. There is growing atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation from the Jewish world. In both Israel and America I have seen this connection be received with arms wide open. The Covenant Journey is a step towards strengthening these relations even more. Essentially, it creates Christian advocates for Israel, both spiritually and actively. It brings to life the geopolitical issue, Staver explained. They go back to campus knowing far more about the reality than the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) people. They see that Israelis are trying to live in peace. They visit the Holocaust museum and speak to a Holocaust survivor. Suddenly, it is not theoretical and they get very passionate about it. He pointed to an outstanding example of the programs success in Jennifer Sullivan, the youngest member of the Florida House of Representatives. Sullivan came to Israel on Covenant Journey in 2016. This year, she was a key player in passing anti-BDS legislation in her state. Sullivan is not the only participant deeply affected by her Israel trip. The most common reaction Staver hears at the end of the nine-day trip is that it was life-changing. We routinely hear from all of our participants that Israel is so much more than they could ever imagine. They all emphasize that this was the most impactful experience they have ever had in their lives.

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Evangelical leader calls for boycott of Roger Waters’ concert – The Jerusalem Post

ROGER WATERS performs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 20. . (photo credit:MARIO ANZUONI/REUTERS) All Jews, Christians and people of conscience must protest the weekends Roger Waters concert in Nashville, a leading evangelical Christian said Thursday. Roger Waters is a global symbol of Jew hatred that should not be welcome in Nashville or anywhere else in the United States of America said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, a non-profit organization established to educate Christians about their biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and Israel. Known for his role in the British rock band Pink Floyd, Waters has become one of the global ambassador of the movement to boycott, divest and sanction the State of Israel. The British musician has paraded on stage in a mock Nazi uniform and hoisted an inflatable pig emblazoned with a Star of David above his stage in concert. In addition to spreading lies about Israel and comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Cardoza-Moore, whose organization is based out of Tennessee, said that there would be no way that he would be welcomed in the state. Roger Waters is the poster boy for BDS, its time to give him a taste of his own medicine and send a strong message that antisemites arent welcome in Tennessee, she said. Cardoza-Moore, who is also the World Council of Independent Christian Churches special envoy to the UN, said that BDS is being raised up by those interested in the destruction of the Jewish state. The BDS movement has been hailed by Hamas, they both seek the total destruction of the Jewish State, she said. Furthermore, BDS are responsible for an increase in antisemitism and violent attacks on Jewish students on campuses in America and around the world. Tennessee was the first state to pass legislation to publicly condemn the BDS movement. The BDS global brand ambassador should not be able to peddle his lies and conspiracies onstage within the city of Nashville. She said that in accordance with the State Departments guidelines, the BDS movements activities are clearly antisemitic. They seek to delegitimize, demonize and apply a double standard toward Israel, while remaining silent on real atrocities taking place worldwide. In order to stop the trend, Cardoza-Moore produced a docu-tainment called Boycott This with conservative Christian comedian Brad Stine to show that the Jewish people are not a people who have hatred in their DNA. These are a people who are constantly creating to make the world a better place, to actually fulfill what it says in the Scriptures, that they would be a light to the nations. And [we want] to present that story to Christians, she told The Jerusalem Post prior to the film’s release last year. sign up to our newsletter Share on facebook

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed

Teaching the Bible as Literature in Public High School (Part 16) The Hellenization of Christianity – HuffPost

Another theory which students considered was the Hellenization of Christianity advanced by Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), who revolutionized the understanding of the historical context within which the New Testament developed. This theory maintains that during the first four centuries of the Christian era the original Jewish nature of Jesus and his message was so radically altered by being preached to the Greek-speaking world that the Christianity which emerged at the end of the process had virtually nothing to do with the original Jesus or his teaching. What had begun as a belief among a small group of Jewish Christians about a Jewish Messiah, a human being who expected the imminent end of the world, was gradually transformed into a divine redeemer, a savior God, whose purpose it was to save all mankind from its sins, a notion completely alien to both Judaism and the original Christian community. According to this theory, the original teaching of Jesus was totally transformed into a Greek mystery religion, the beliefs and practices of which were similar to those of other mystery religions popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean world. After the Early Church abandoned its efforts at converting the Jews and concentrated its missionary activities on the Gentiles of the Greek-speaking world, the Church encountered difficulty in convincing prospective converts. The two arguments used to persuade Gentiles that Jesus was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah — his miracles and fulfillment of the Old Testament messianic prophecies — proved ineffective. The miracles of Jesus did not impress the Gentiles because they, too, had miracle workers and exorcists who did the same things as Jesus. The fact that Jesus could perform wondrous deeds and drive out demons was nothing extraordinary since all ancient peoples had such individuals. With respect to the messianic prophecies, the Gentiles were unfamiliar with or dismissed them as either untrustworthy or fraudulent. What did prove surprising to these Christian missionaries, however, was their encounter with the Greek mystery religions. These religions had been popular for centuries because they addressed the spiritual yearnings of Greek-speaking peoples not satisfied by the official Hellenistic and Roman cults, which were public in nature and invoked the help of the gods in matters of state importance. These public rituals failed to address the personal needs of their onlookers, who found religious comfort and emotional fulfillment in the mystery religions, which promised the forgiveness of sins, salvation by a savior god who had died to redeem them, and a life of bliss in the world to come. Among the more celebrated of these mystery cults were the Eleusinian (Demeter and Persephone), Orphic (Orpheus and Eurydice), Dionysian (Dionysus), Mithraic (Mithra), and those of Isis-Osiris, Cybele-Attis, and Aphrodite-Adonis. It is conjectured that the religious expectations induced by these religions determined how the Christian message was understood by this Gentile audience. Preconditioned by centuries in these cults, the Hellenized world could not help but view Jesus as another savior god because this was the only way its population could understand him and the message preached in his name. However, what is significant is that this understanding of Jesus as a savior god was completely foreign to both Judaism and the way in which Jesus was viewed by the original Jewish Christians who were impatiently awaiting the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God. A number of explanations have been offered to account for this altered view of Jesus and his message. 1.) Many of the early Christian missionaries had themselves once been members of these mystery religions and were preconditioned to understand and preach Jesus as a savior god. 2.) Early Christian intellectuals and apologists, as well as the Greek Church Fathers, were themselves steeped in the Greek philosophical tradition, which predisposed them to view the nature of Jesus in Greek philosophical and theological terms similar to those pertaining to other savior gods. 3.) The Early Church may have consciously or unconsciously borrowed features from the mystery religions in order to make its new religion more attractive and competitive with these other cults in attracting converts. 4.) The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE caused the virtual disappearance of the Jewish Christian community, whose understanding of Jesus as a Jewish Messiah was also virtually lost. As a result, the Apostle Pauls Hellenized view of Jesus as a savior god who had redeemed mankind was the only view of Jesus which survived this catastrophe because of the many Hellenized churches Paul had already founded throughout Asia Minor and Greece. Although a remnant of the original Jewish Christians, the Ebionites, continued to survive a few centuries longer, they were nevertheless viewed as heretical, perhaps even persecuted, by the Greek-speaking Christian Church, only to finally die out. According to this view, the irony is that these Jewish Christians may have been the only community which preserved the original understanding of Jesus and his message intact and remained faithful to it, whereas Pauls Hellenized view was the only view of Jesus which survived and thereby became official church doctrine as a result of an historical accident the destruction of Jerusalem! This Hellenized understanding of Jesus and his mission continued to develop during the next few centuries until the nature of Jesus with his redemptive role was transformed into the divine Logos, the Word of God, pre-existing from all eternity, consubstantial with the Father, the second person of the Trinity, the divine redeemer, whose purpose it was to save all mankind, as finally delineated in the solemn pronouncements of the Councils of Nicea (325 CE) and Chalcedon (451 CE). Early Christianity assimilated the legacy of the Hellenized world by expressing the nature and role of Christ as a divine redeemer and savior in Neo-Platonic terms. The various mystery religions that had predated Christianity and continued to evolve during the Christian era were finally suppressed in the late fourth century by the Emperor Theodosius, when Christianity then became the official state religion. Such was the historical understanding of what happened to Christianity as set forth by Harnack in the first volume of his History of Dogma in (1886) and The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (1902). An alternative explanation of what happened is the theory of Propaedeutic or Preparatory Instruction, advanced by the Christian Apologist, Justin Martyr (c. 100 c. 165 CE), who maintained that God used Greek philosophy and the mystery religions to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the Mediterranean world. According to this view, divine Providence inspired the Greek philosophers and the creators of the mystery religions with partial revelation of what was later to come in the full revelation of Christianity. The doctrines of Greek metaphysics about the nature of God and ultimate reality, the ethical system of the Stoics, and the role of a savior in redeeming an erring humanity in a broken world were already providentially in place for Early Christianity to use in spreading the Gospel message in the ancient world. This theory explains the similarities between Christian doctrine, Greek metaphysics and the mystery religions, which made the Hellenistic world more responsive to the new Christian religion toward which the mystery religions were unwittingly leading. Moreover, after the glorious century of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and their immediate successors, God let Greek philosophy run its course until conflicting disputes later convulsed its rival schools, causing the philosophical enterprise of the ancient world to self-destruct. The inadequacy of reason was thereby exposed as a faulty way to Divine Truth, for which the ancient world was now ready and yearning to receive with the advent of Christianity. To the human eye, this version of events may seem like blind chance or accident, as Christianity simply borrowed and adapted Greek philosophy and the mystery religions for its own needs to survive and flourish, but, to the eye of faith, this was all part of Gods mysterious Plan that providentially guided events in bringing the Mediterranean world of that time into the fold of the one and only true Mystery Religion, Christianity. It goes without saying that the Hellenization of Christianity has generated enormous controversy over the past 130 years, during which time it has been both accepted and rejected either completely or partially in various quarters. It is a classic example of how a theory, whether true or false, can open up new fields of scholarly inquiry. It is also a textbook case that can show students how scholarship works as a continually evolving collective endeavor that uses the critical-historical method to deepen understanding of New Testament times. A scholar makes his or her case and then defends or modifies it in light of the critical reactions of other scholars who may agree or disagree by pointing out what they see as historical or methodological flaws in the argument. Scholars must also be prepared to defend themselves against scholars who disagree not on historical or methodological grounds, but rather for theological, confessional, or apologetical reasons. The stakes involved, as seen by these guardians of religious tradition, may be so momentous and far-reaching that they see it as their appointed task to defend traditional doctrine threatened either directly or by implication by the new theory. In such exchanges, the historian and theologian represent two different realms of concern: the historian, for an objective historical understanding of what, how, or why something happened without regard for how the theory might challenge traditional doctrine; the theologian, for safeguarding traditional doctrine as part of divine revelation or for pastoral reasons lest the theory gain currency and unsettle the faithful. Students learn to see such critical exchanges between scholars as the inevitable process through which theories pass in being refined in the fire of controversy as both sides play their respective parts in the unfolding drama that may lead to a more accurate understanding of the issue in question. This interplay can perhaps be best understood in terms of Hegels celebrated triad of dialectical development. One starts with the status-quo theory or thesis, which over time generates its own inherent doubts or recognition of its weaknesses. These weaknesses are, in turn, taken up by later scholars who develop them into an opposing position or antithesis, which over time consolidates itself and, in turn, realizes its own weaknesses. Finally, both thesis and antithesis resolve themselves into a higher synthesis, that, in turn, becomes a new thesis, and so forth in a never-ending search for truth. What works as truth for one generation may be rejected as falsehood for the next as each generation sees things differently as a new paradigm is born that explains what happened in a new way. Each generation or century builds on and critiques the past, feeling entitled to its own way of seeing truth rather than being dictated to by the previous generations or centurys perception of truth, seen as culturally-conditioned by its time or, as the Roman Aulus Gellius succinctly put it, Veritas filia temporis or Truth is the daughter of time. The Morning Email Wake up to the day’s most important news.

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Christian  Comments Closed


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