Ireland’s defense of marriage leaders speak up for mothers, fathers, children

April 29, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Ireland's defense of marriage leadersIreland, April 26, 2015: Opponents of a referendum that would recognize “gay marriage” in Ireland face an uphill fight, but one commentator says they can win if people are willing to speak up and focus on the need for children to have a mother and a father.

“I think civil marriage is a really critical institution for upholding the common good – specifically the good of children being raised by their own mother and father in a lifelong committed relationship,” said Ben Conroy, a spokesperson for the Iona Institute, an Irish NGO focused on civil society and religion.

He said redefining marriage would remove from the Republic of Ireland’s constitution “any idea that there’s anything special, or unique, or worth protecting about a child being raised by their mother and father.”

“In fact, it’ll abolish the notion that there’s anything particularly special about motherhood and fatherhood at all, only ‘parenthood’,” he continued.

The referendum would amend the Republic of Ireland’s constitution to read, “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”

The vote on the referendum will be held on May 22, with voter registration closing on May 5.

Conroy told CNA that opponents of the referendum are “definitely the underdogs,” according to opinion polls.

However, he characterized referendum support as “very soft.” He said most voters who currently favor the referendum have reservations about it, and almost all voters still appear to believe that a child is best adopted by a man and a woman in preference to other situations.

He noted that a marriage referendum in Slovenia showed a large majority in favor of redefining marriage in the campaigns ahead of the election, only to lose on Election Day.

“The question is whether or not we can get the message about the connection between marriage and the family across, in the face of a ‘Yes’ campaign that has overwhelming support in the media and elite Ireland,” Conroy said. “They’re determined to argue that this is just about love and equality, but I think that’s completely wrong, not to mention quite short-sighted.”

Conroy said voters in the Republic Ireland should consider Article 41 of the Constitution, which the referendum would change, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which considers marriage as part of the right to “found a family.”

“Marriage in Irish and international law has never just been about two people who love each other: it’s always been a child-centered institution,” Conroy explained.

“I think a lot of Irish people would prefer to see a better way of recognizing the legal equality of gay people without obliterating a child’s right to a mother and father.”

Conroy said many referendum opponents suffer social pressure and even a “climate of fear,” given that an Irish Times writer has called for the creation of a “homophobia watchdog” to monitor rhetoric surrounding the referendum. What Conroy characterized as “social media mobs” can also target those who do not agree with the referendum.

However, he noted that there are situations where opponents of the referendum are in the majority but in fact believe themselves to be alone until someone speaks up.

“Talk to people!” Conroy advised referendum opponents. “Tell them you think every child, gay or straight, deserves the love of a mother and father where possible.”

Conroy warned that there is no conscience clause in the referendum to allow bakers, florists, printers and others to avoid participating in ceremonies to which they object. He believes that legal cases involving these businesses will become more common, as they have in other places.

In Northern Ireland, a baker who declined to make a cake saying “Support Gay Marriage” was sued by the country’s Equality Commission, even though the U.K. country does not recognize same-sex civil marriage.

“I think that’s a harbinger of things to come if this passes,” Conroy said.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said that Catholic schools will be expected to teach children that in Ireland people “will have the right to get married irrespective of their sexual orientation.”

For Conroy, that was “a pretty huge step” that he doesn’t think people have adequately considered.

“We’ve come a very long way in the level of love we show our brothers and sisters who are gay, and it’s only a very tiny number of people who don’t welcome that wholeheartedly,” he added.

“But marriage is a particular institution, with particular purposes, and children – gay and straight – do have a right to a mother and father where possible. There shouldn’t be a contradiction there, and I don’t think there is.”

The Republic of Ireland’s four main political parties all support the referendum. They and campaign groups like Yes Equality intend to spend almost $750,000 to promote it, the Irish Times reports. The main opponent of the referendum, Mothers and Fathers Matter, hopes to spend about $160,000.

In a March 10 statement, the Republic of Ireland’s Catholic bishops said they could not support the referendum.

“The effects of this proposed amendment will be far-reaching for this and for future generations,” they said. “We say to all voters: Marriage is important – Reflect before you change it.”

They voiced concern that if the Constitution is amended, “it will become increasingly difficult to speak any longer in public about marriage as being between a man and a woman.”

“What will we be expected to teach children in school about marriage? Will those who sincerely continue to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman be forced to act against their conscience?” they asked.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops could consider withdrawing from registering civil marriages if the referendum passes, given that the Church’s view of marriage and the state’s view will be “radically different,” Martin Long, a bishops’ spokesman, said April 13, according to the Irish Times. Almost 60 percent of registered Irish marriages in 2014 resulted from Catholic Church ceremonies.

- cna

Islam’s growth rate outpacing Christianity’s: Pew study

April 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Islamic YouthInternational, April 8, 2015: Youthfulness and fertility are two factors that will help Islam come close to becoming the world’s dominant religion in just a few short decades.?

That prediction is the heart of a new study by the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life. ?

“Between 2010 and 2050, the world’s total population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35 percent increase,” the study says.

“Over that same period, Muslims — a comparatively youthful population with high fertility rates — are projected to increase by 73 percent.

The number of Christians also is projected to rise, but more slowly, at about the same rate (35 percent) as the global population overall.”?

That means that by mid-century, there may be 2.92 billion Christians on the planet Earth, as opposed to the 2.17 billion there are now, and 2.76 billion Muslims, over a billion more than there are now. ?

The closing gap between the two religions is more dramatic when considered according to the percentage of the world’s population.

While the percentage of Earth’s inhabitants who follow Christ is expected to remain fairly constant, at the 31.4 percent it is now, the percentage of Muslims will shoot up from its current 23.2 percent to 29.7 percent.?

Muslims and Christians are the two leading groups in fertility, the report says: “Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman — well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population. Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman.”?

The fact that 34 percent of Muslims in the world are under the age of 15 also helps ensure that Islam will grow faster than other religions. The share of Christians under that age is about the same as the world average, 27 percent. ?

The Pew study also projects that religious conversion will benefit Islam over the next three and a half decades, while Christianity will suffer a net loss due to religious switching.

Acknowledging that “conversion patters are complex and varied,” Pew predicts a net gain of 3.2 million Muslims and a loss of 66 million Christians.?Some of the other conclusions of the Pew study include:

Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion — though increasing in countries such as the United States and France — will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.

In Europe, Muslims will make up 10 percent of the overall population.

India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.

In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.

Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

- aleteia

A lesson from Japan’s ‘hidden Christians’

April 6, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Christians praying in JapanTokyo, March 22, 2015: One hundred and fifty years ago, on March 17, 1865, Fr Bernard Petitjean found 15 Japanese outside the door of a new church that had been constructed to serve the European community in Nagasaki. Three of the women among the group knelt and said to the priest, “The heart of all of us here is the same as yours.”

There had been rumors that in spite of more than two centuries of persecution, there were still Christians in Japan, the kakure kirishitan, or “hidden Christians” who had secretly passed their faith from generation to generation.

Those people who risked their lives to visit Nagasaki’s Oura Church were proof that the rumors were true. Their visit to the church sparked the last spate of persecution in Japan.

Christianity had been outlawed in 1587 and persecution had begun 10 years later with the execution of 26 Christians in Nagasaki. It was possibly the most brutal and systematic persecution of Christians until modern times were underway.

The evangelization of Japan began with the arrival of St Francis Xavier in 1549, and aimed, like much of the Church’s missionary work at that time, at the baptism of as many people as possible. Many missioners saw their work as a rescue operation, saving souls that were otherwise bound for damnation.

One result was that catechesis was not stressed. Even today, we see the influence of this style of mission in Latin America and the Philippines where the Church has a broad, but not always deep presence. People were baptized, often under coercion, while having only a very rudimentary understanding of the faith. They knew some prayers (often in Latin) and some devotions to Mary and the saints who were often amalgamated with local divinities.

In Japan, some Christians went on to learn more about their faith and set up a system of lay leadership. When Catholics were driven into hiding, some communities were better equipped than others to remember and pass on their faith.

But over the course of two and a half centuries, people forgot doctrines that the missioners had taught their ancestors. They had no Scriptures or catechisms since books would be evidence of their religion. In addition, most of the kirishitan were illiterate.

They gathered in secret to recite prayers directed at bundles of cloth that were hidden inside Buddhist altars. The bundles contained medals, statues or crucifixes that had been passed down to them. Their religion became a mix of Buddhism, Shinto and half-remembered Catholicism.

Fathers taught the traditions of the community to their children. Village elders led worship services. If they were discovered, death was sure, yet these small bands held to a sense of identity as Christians even though almost all the theology of Catholicism disappeared from their religion. Loyalty to their ancestors and to each other bound them.

When missioners like Fr Petitjean came to Japan and met the kirishitan, they faced a dilemma. The people considered themselves Christian, but their practices and beliefs varied so much from the teaching of the Church that it was hard to see how they could be accepted as any kind of Christians.

The response was to call upon the kirishitan to renounce the traditions of their ancestors and enter the Church anew. About half of the estimated 30,000 kakure kirishitan did so. The rest refused to abandon the faith they had protected through centuries of persecution. In some places the differences between their beliefs and orthodox Christianity had become so great that the people could not recognize the original connection.

For those kirishitan who became Catholics, missioners built churches in their villages and began the work of teaching them the actual faith of their ancestors.

Today, the descendants of the kakure kirishitan still form the core of the Catholic Church in Nagasaki. They are proud to be descendants of men and women who remained faithful in spite of persecution, even though their beliefs had strayed from true Catholicism.

Because of that history of persecution, their Catholicism has had a different emphasis from that of people in other parts of Japan. Until recently, it has been more traditional than the Church in the rest of the country, with an emphasis upon keeping the faith and passing it on to the next generation, a legacy of their ancestors’ faithfulness.

However, lately the Church descended from the kakure kirishitan has changed. From a Church that keeps the faith it is becoming one that shares the faith. These Catholics revere their ancestors who kept at least some memory of the faith but they are dedicated to deepening their understanding of that faith for the sake of mission today. They have come out of hiding.

The Church at large has something to learn from the Nagasaki Catholics. We have come out of a period of decades in which “keeping the faith” was given priority over sharing our faith. We were in danger of becoming a closed community of the elect, protected from the ways of the world.

Now, Pope Francis is calling us to proclaim Evangelii Gaudium, the Joy of the Gospel. And that proclamation is not simply the name of a papal document. It is the definition of the Church. We, like the Catholics of Nagasaki, must now focus on the proclamation of the fact that God’s love is stronger than sin, stronger than persecution, stronger than death.

It is time to come out of hiding and into the open with faithfulness to each other and to the Lord.

Maryknoll Fr William Grimm is publisher of ucanews.com, based in Tokyo.

- ucan

Cardinal rebukes 500 priests for going to the press with call to resist change to church teaching

March 26, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Synod on the FamilyEngland, March 24, 2015: Cardinal Vincent Nichols has rebuked the almost 500 priests in England and Wales who have signed a letter resisting any change to church teaching at the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family in October, saying that discussions between priests and bishops ahead of the gathering are “not best conducted through the press”.

Almost 500 priests in England and Wales have signed a letter calling on the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family to proclaim the Church’s “unchanging” moral teaching and resist any move allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The 461 priests endorsed a letter, reported earlier this month by The Tablet and published in the Catholic Herald, that was initiated by a group of a dozen conservative-minded clergy. The 12 had circulated a letter and a covering note to priests in England and Wales. The note invited priests to sign the letter that was composed for publication in the press.

The letter expresses fidelity to the Church’s traditional doctrines of marriage and sexuality, and affirms the traditional discipline “regarding the reception of the sacraments” (which bars Communion for the divorced and remarried).

The covering note to the letter contended that the media’s reporting of the 2014 synod had left a “distorted sense” that the Church’s moral teaching could be changed.

The letter with 461 signatories appeared on the Catholic Herald website on Tuesday. One signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Catholic Herald there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Nichols issued a statement saying every priest in England and Wales has been asked to reflect on the synod discussion and that their pastoral experience and concern are of “great importance”. He added, however, that the “dialogue between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”

The number of signatories to the letter totals around 12 per cent of priests in England and Wales. There are currently around 3,000 active diocesan priests and 1,000 religious priests. The signatories include religious but do not say whether priests are retired or not. There are around 800 retired clergy.

The 12 priests who initiated the letter include the Dominican theologian Fr Aidan Nichols, who in a letter to The Tablet this week writes: “[The] nuptial relation between husband and wife embodies in sacramental form the bond between Christ and his Church-Bride. How, then, in the lifetime of a still recognised spouse can a household with a second (or third, etc.) partner present itself, in a “domestic church’ manner, at the Table of the Lord?”

Other priests supporting the letter are: Fr Julian Large, provost of the London Oratory, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke of St Patrick’s, Soho Square in London, Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest in Margate, Kent; Mgr Edwin Barnes, former Church of England bishop and a priest of the ordinariate; Mgr Gordon Read, chancellor of the Diocese of Brentwood; Fr Andrew Pinsent, research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford; Fr John Saward, a theologian who is priest-in-charge of an Oxford parish; Fr Robert Billing, spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster, Fr Roger Nesbitt, parish priest of St Bede’s in Clapham, south London, where the old rite is regularly celebrated, and Fr Neil Brett of the Diocese of Brentwood.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who attended the last synod and will be at the next one in October, has said divorced and remarried people could be readmitted to Communion under certain conditions.

- the tablet

Who is to blame for the rise of ISIS — Bush or Obama?

March 20, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Obama and BushU.S., March 19, 2015: President Barack Obama indirectly blamed the foreign policy of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, for the rise of the barbaric and brutal Islamic State terrorist organization in Iraq.

In an interview with Vice News founder Shane Smith released on Tuesday, Obama was asked how the ISIS terrorist group, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, which has seized large chunks of Syria and Iraq, was able to become “so popular so fast.”

Obama responded saying that the group’s rise was aided by the U.S. invasion of Iraq that began in 2003 during Bush’s presidency.

“Two things,” Obama said. “One is ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion, which is an example of unintended consequences, which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who served as U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under Bush from 2002 to 2007, told The Christian Post in a Thursday interview that the president is simply looking to find somewhere else to lay the blame.

“I find that an incredible statement,” Boykin, who is the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, asserted. “Al Qaeda existed before 9/11. Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden were responsible for 9/11. The fact that Al Qaeda in Iraq, under the leadership of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi emerged as a major force there is, I think, a ridiculous statement to say that they emerged there because of the invasion or that we created them.”

“The reality is that is an Al Qaeda affiliate in Nigeria that is capturing young girls and is killing people. The events in Tunisia were perpetrated by an Al Qaeda affiliate. Did we create that?” Boykin asked. “The answer is no. I think that the president is scrambling for somebody to blame.”

Boykin went on to explain that the reason ISIS has gained so much momentum is because of Obama’s own “failed foreign policy.”

“I think that one of the reasons that we are seeing them gain strength and momentum is because of failed foreign policy that has done nothing to stop them,” Boykin argued. “I think [Obama] needs to look internally at the very poor decisions that he has made and the fact that he hasn’t had a policy that in anyway has impeded their growth.”

In the Vice News interview, Obama offered assurance of his current plan to defeat ISIS with limited U.S involvement and stated that the international U.S.-led coalition will eventually defeat ISIS in Iraq.

“We got a 60-country coalition. We will slowly push back ISIL out of Iraq,” Obama contended. “I am confident that will happen.”

Although Obama is “confident” in the coalition efforts to defeat ISIS, Boykin feels there is no way ISIS will be defeated under Obama’s current strategy.

“It is definitely not going to in any amount of time destroy ISIS, no matter what he says. The pace at which we are pursuing this so-called strategy, we are not going to destroy ISIS,” Boykin argued. “The question is, could we destroy ISIS? And the answer is, it is questionable. Could we destroy them if we had an all-out campaign against them? It is questionable. But, it is for certain that at the current pace, with the current strategy, we are not going to destroy ISIS.”

Boykin offered his own strategy for defeating ISIS and said first the president needs to admit to the religious nature of the group’s war.

“To begin with, we start by our president acknowledging that ISIS is a component of Islam and that ISIS is fighting in the name of Islam, that ISIS is motivated by the theology of Islam and identifying who the enemy is and what makes them fight,” Boykin stated. “Once we do that, then we engage the Muslim communities around the world, who don’t want to be part of this grand jihad. There are many, many Muslims who don’t but they sit on the sidelines and they watch to see if we are going to take a stand, if we are going to actually recognize who the enemy is. As long as we continue to deny who the enemy is, those components of the Muslim community that also reject jihad, that rejects sharia, they are going to continue to sit on the sidelines.”

Boykin also warned against the United States providing weapons to other Islamic groups and said weapons should only be provided to groups that the United States knows it can trust.

“We [need to] arm our friends, not our enemies,” Boykin said. “We don’t arm these Islamic groups like the Free Syrian Army and the rebel groups in Libya, we arm our friends like the Kurds and the Christian militias that want to fight for themselves.”

Lastly, Boykin said that the United States should equip the U.S. Special Operations Command with everything they need to arm, train and lead trusted militia groups in the fight against ISIS.

- christian post

A box, Abandoned babies & the boy who got saved

March 18, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

The Drop BoxCalifornia, March 12, 2015: Brian Ivie, a 24-year-old filmmaker from Orange County, California, set out three years ago to South Korea to make the film to end all films. Fortunately for him, that didn’t work out. Instead, he encountered the man he now calls his spiritual father — and became a curator of this man’s powerful and profound story of sacrifice and love.

Ivie, eager and working from a script set in his mind of how things would certainly go, set out on Dec. 15, 2011, for Seoul, South Korea, with a crew of 11 (mostly friends and his younger brother, Kevin) after a simple email exchange with Pastor Lee Jong-rak.

The story that catapulted Ivie on his path was a 2011 feature about a South Korean pastor’s drop box for abandoned babies published in the Los Angeles Times:

One is deaf, blind and paralyzed; another has a tiny misshapen head. There’s a baby with Down syndrome, another with cerebral palsy, still another who is quadriplegic, with permanent brain damage.

But to Pastor Lee Jong-rak, they are all perfect. And they have found a home here at the ad hoc orphanage he runs with his wife and small staff. It is the only private center for disabled children in South Korea.

Then there was the “desperate, albeit well-meaning Kickstarter campaign” to crowdfund financing for the film project Ivie was sure would earn him an invitation to the Sundance Film Festival and position him as a film phenom.

Ivie’s Kickstarter campaign remains online, having collected $20,640 from 184 backers by Oct. 30, 2011, just two months before he boarded his first flight to South Korea.

“I remember when I read the article about him, I was instantly inspired: ‘South Korean pastor’s unwanted flock.’ And then I thought, well this is on the front page of the L.A. Times today, but tomorrow nobody’s gonna care. It was a calling. It was a command. In that moment, I knew I had to go to Korea to shoot a documentary film so the story, so the story wouldn’t die,” Ivie says in his video pitch for funding.

In the same video, even before meeting Pastor Lee, Ivie says, “This man changed my life from 6,000 miles away.”

It would turn out that Ivie was telling the truth — although he changed in ways he had not been expecting.

Convinced in the beginning that he was a Christian, because well, he grew up in America, “didn’t smoke cigarettes … went to Mass … and watched Fox News,” in the end Ivie found himself writing three letters to his father and two father figures who taught him the true meaning of the word. There was a Mark Driscoll sermon, too.

Those three letters appear at the end of the book that Ivie wrote with the help of Ted Kluck, The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever.

In the book, Ivie, once a self-described Pharisee of film who worshipped the art form as his idol, delves into the journey that changed his life. In a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process, Ivie tells how witnessing the love of Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, for children born with challenging disabilities prompted him to abandon any pretensions of fame, and compelled him to simply tell an important story.

Here is an excerpt from the letter Ivie addressed to Pastor Lee:

Pastor Lee, thank you for showing me your life before God, so I could finally understand where all the love came from. Where all the courage came from. Thank you for never taking the glory, even when you stay up all night and destroy your own body to save the cold, little ones that might be left outside.

And thank you for continuing to get up every time the bell rings.

In his letter to God, Ivie writes:

Making ‘The Drop Box’ was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I felt inadequate most of the time, like a complete failure other times, and at night wished it could stop.

God, making this thing felt like being dragged behind a chariot. It felt like scales were being ripped off of me … Making this movie went against all the childish things in me. … It force me to grow up. … Yet, I’ve also somehow become a child again. People think that means being naive and dumb, but I think it has a lot more to do with feeling helpless. It has a lot more to do with realizing just how weak and helpless I can be and how I need You even more than those children need pastor Lee.

“The Drop Box” book was released March 1, and adds a few extra layers to the documentary, which focuses fully on the Lees and the volunteers that have helped them care for the hundreds of babies left at their home. Government employees, social workers, law enforcement officials, and members of Pastor Lee’s Jusarang (or “God’s Love”) Community Church also appear on camera. They all try to explain why married couples, unwed teen girls, and others would abandon their babies, usually born with some sort of disability, on other people’s doorsteps, in an alleyway, or in Pastor Lee’s drop box. The answers are complex, honest and sad. There are laws and social services in place that should protect children and provide assistance to parents, but the stigma leveled at unwed mothers and children with disabilities sometimes proves a challenge to doing the more difficult thing — keeping their baby.

Pastor Lee, 60, doesn’t want a reward, he explains in the film.

What God has taught him through caring for his own 20-something son, Eun-man, dubbed the “boy on his back” because a severe disability has kept him bed-ridden for much of his life, has been reward enough. The L.A. Times reports that “when Eun-man was 6, Lee entered theology school to become a Christian minister.”

It was the experience of learning to love and accept a son who needs full-time care as a blessing from God that partly inspired Lee in 2009 to build a baby box, install it on the side of his three-story home, and personally embrace nearly two dozen abandoned children as his own.

“This Book Is a Song for the Suburbs”

“The Drop Box” feature-length documentary earned Ivie and his team a $101,000 cash prize at the 2013 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

Ivie told The Christian Post the week “The Drop Box” debuted nationally for a three-day run (March 3-5) in select theaters that he “immediately” gave half of the prize money to Lee.

The 24-year-old born-again Christian used the remaining half to start Kindred Image in 2013. The nonprofit supports Pastor Lee and his wife’s work with abandoned children, as well as various other causes.

As for his testimony in The Drop Box book, Ivie hopes it speaks to other suburban sinners who God wants to turn into saints.

Ivie explains what he means in the below Q&A. It was conducted via phone and has been edited for clarity.

CP: Today is the final day that “The Drop Box” is screening. Have you paid attention at all to how it’s been doing?

Ivie: Yeah, it’s been doing really really well. I don’t know the numbers from last night but I know we’re definitely heading toward 200,000 tickets sold which is pretty darn good for a [intelligible] release.

CP: What do you make of the responses to the film?

Ivie: The response has been overwhelmingly good. I think for people seeing a movie like this that is able to grapple with a lot of pain, present hope founded in Jesus Christ and yet somehow also create some sort of atmosphere where everybody feels like they can come see this movie and be a part of it, I think is really rare. You know, it’s not a movie that in anyway alienates one particular group of people or another. So I’ve been excited with the response. It just seems like people from all different backgrounds and belief systems have come out and supported the film because it shows us that we all matter and that life is not just blind to [intelligible] indifference and that there’s meaning and value to everyone’s story.

CP: Have you heard from Pastor Lee about his thoughts on the documentary? Do you plan to screen “The Drop Box” in South Korea?

Ivie: Pastor Lee is celebrating right alongside with us. We’re not having a release in Korea until later in the spring. Of course for him, this is hopefully gonna bring in a lot of support for the work that he’s doing on the ground on the frontlines, because he’s the one really in the battle.

- christian post

Brother of slain Coptic Christians thanks ISIS for including their words of faith in murder video

March 14, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Murdered Coptic ChristiansLibya, February 18, 2015: The brother of two of the 21 Coptic Christians murdered in Libya last week has thanked their killers for including the men’s declaration of faith in the video they made of their beheadings.

Speaking on a live prayer and worship programme on Christian channel SAT-7 ARABIC yesterday, Beshir Kamel said that he was proud of his brothers Bishoy Estafanos Kamel (25) and Samuel Estafanos Kamel (23) because they were “a badge of honour to Christianity”.

Harrowing scenes of the murders have been seen around the world. The last words of some of those killed were “Lord Jesus Christ”.

Beshir Kamel thanked ISIS for not editing out the men’s declaration of belief in Christ because he said this had strengthened his own faith. He added that the families of the ex-patriate workers are “congratulating one another” and not in despair: “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he told the programme.

He said: “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.”

The men were captured by Islamic State in December and January. Kamel welcomed the air strikes launched in response by the Egyptian government, saying: “Only the length of the time period when we didn’t know where they were justified the air strikes for us. If they had been martyred on the same day they were kidnapped, we wouldn’t have asked for any retaliation.”

Asked by host Maher Fayez what he would say if he were asked to forgive ISIS, he related what his mother said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son. “My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”

Invited to pray for his brothers’ killers, Beshir prayed: “Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught.”

Within hours of SAT-7 posting the clip on Facebook it had been viewed 96,000 times. Since then it has received over 110,000 views and been shared nearly 5,000 times.

- christian post

Senior UK monk says Religious have become too worldly

March 11, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Religious OrdersUK, March 6, 2015: Religious orders in England have stagnated due to a drift into consumerism and preoccupation with money and finance, according to a leading historian of monastic life, reports The Tablet.

Writing in this week’s Tablet, Dom Aidan Bellenger, former Abbot of Downside, suggested that communities had made “too much accommodation with consumerist ideals of the modern world, too many credit cards, too many expensive holidays.”

He pointed out that many religious congregations have seen a steep decline in numbers and a rising age-profile among members. Among the English Benedictines, he added, the words “fragility” and “precariousness” have been commonly used and that “sustainability” remains the most critical question for all religious.

“A decline in the number of vocations has combined with the ageing of the communities, and a tendency to middle class stagnation, strangulation by comfort and gerontocracy,” Dom Aidan writes.

He said many of the problems were to do with money and finance arguing that the running of schools and parishes have taken Religious away from their foundational ideas.

Traditionally communities have run schools, parishes and other institutions, and seeking to balance the call to be contemplatives with work in the world.

- cns

A pastor’s open letter to Hozier & his ‘Take me to Church’ song

March 10, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

take me to churchMarch 6, 2015:

Dear Andrew Hosier,

I have been meaning to write this for some time but when I saw your performance at The Grammy’s it finally moved me to action. When I first heard about your song “Take Me To Church” I was intrigued. I thought it was good someone would write a song about going to church. I listened to the song, I liked your voice, I liked the arrangement and I liked the song. But then I listened again, I read the lyrics and my thoughts drastically changed. The song sounded good until the words began to sink in.

“I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies, I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife.”

“Every Sunday’s getting more bleak, a fresh poison each week.”

“That’s a fine looking high horse, what you got in the stable? We’ve a lot of starving faithful.”

Why so much hate? Lies, poison, knife. Every Sunday’s getting more bleak for the starving faithful. Really.

I had to find out more about you to understand why someone would write such lyrics. According to interviews you seem to have animus toward the Catholic Church and definitely an issue with Russia’s laws against homosexuals. Still to indict all of Christianity seems quite harsh. It is worth noting you wrote this song when you were only 22-years-old. Your fellow Irish rocker Bono has arrived at a very different view of the Church and Christianity with a few more years of life experience. Maybe given some time and a few more interactions with Christ followers you might have a change of heart.

The line, “I was born sick but I love it, command me to be well,” paraphrases the 17th century British poet Baron Brooke Fulke Greville’s Chorus Sacerdotum. You said you heard that quoted by atheist Christopher Hitchens during a debate. I wonder whom he was debating and who won? Was it a true heavyweight Christian apologist like William Lane Craig? Or did Hitchens further your disenchantment.

I should probably just let this go and trust you will get wiser with time but the popularity of your song makes that impossible. Even you admit the way the song has taken off is totally unexpected. Do people really share your sentiments or do they just like your voice and the song’s arrangement? I don’t know the answer but since the song’s message is so wrong it needs to be addressed. I feel like Julia Kadison, the CEO of the Milk Processor Education Program. After the British Medical Journal published a study suggesting drinking lots of milk could lead to earlier deaths she drew a line. She said, “That’s enough. We can’t have these headlines that ‘Milk Can Kill You’ and not stand up for the truth.”

It may just be a song, you may or may not be a one hit wonder but I can’t let it stand without a response. Your anger with Russia’s anti-homosexuality laws should have nothing to do with the Church. Catholics, evangelicals and other Christians are not supporting Russia’s discrimination against homosexuals. If you are upset with Russia write a song about them.

Your frustration with the Church or Christianity seems to center on sexual morality. The “stay out of the bedroom” line appears to be one of your favorites. Things don’t just stay in the bedroom. Lives get shattered because of adultery, unplanned pregnancy and disease. The Church believes sex is a gift from God. We believe you need to understand human sexuality through the lens of God’s morality.

Christians believe sex is designed for married couples, for a husband and wife to enjoy. Whenever sexual relationships take place outside of marriage there is hurt of some kind. If you don’t agree with this teaching that is your prerogative but to call it poison is absurd. The poison is the damaged relationships, the poison is the divorce, the poison is the porn addiction. The knife you speak of is not one bringing hurt or death it would be a scalpel doing surgery to bring healing and life. There may be initial pain but ultimately the life is saved. The real lies are sex requires no commitment, sex is just the act and relationship is not necessary for true intimacy.

Your high horse line would indicate you think the Church is being judgmental. But expressing the truth about sexuality is necessary. The Bible teaches right and wrong, good and evil, truth and lies. There is a place for appropriate judging since moral direction is the role of the Church. Christians should not be intimidated, marginalized or silenced from speaking the truth. You are free to write and sing your music and I am free to challenge your thinking and lyrics. I hope as time goes by you will be open to learning more about the Church and Christianity. I trust you will come to see the value of Christian morality.

- christian post

Google, FB, Microsoft, Apple, Coca-Cola among 379 companies to file brief supporting of gay marriage

March 9, 2015 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

companyU.S., March 6, 2015: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Coca-Cola are among 379 companies that filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage. The brief asks the high court to overturn a lower court’s ban on gay marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The brief, filed by law firm Morgan Lewis on Thursday, argues that state law that prohibits same-sex marriage hampers the ability of employers to recruit and retain the most talented employees in those states.

USA Today reported that the Supreme Court is due to hear an oral argument on the Obergefell vs. Hodges case concerning whether states can ban gay marriage on April 28.

Back in November, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which includes the four states, became the only federal appeals court to uphold the ban on gay marriage. Gay rights activist groups, including the Human Rights Campaign, have been running campaigns looking to lift the ban, however.

The Washington Post pointed out that the oral arguments on April 28 are scheduled to go on for two and a half hours, and will concentrate on the specific questions: “May states limit marriage to its traditional definition as only between a man and a woman, and must states recognize same-sex marriages performed where it is legal.”

The court revealed that an audio recording of the arguments will be made available.

“The court will post the audio recording and unofficial transcript as soon as the digital files are available for uploading to the website. The audio recording and transcript should be available no later than 2 p.m. on April 28,” the statement noted.

The Supreme Court has backed a number of lower court rulings that have struck down gay marriage bans, allowing same-sex couples in 37 states to get married.

High-tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft, which compete for workers with specialized skills, have publicly backed same-sex unions on a number of occasions. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who revealed that he’s gay, has urged his home state of Alabama to promote gay rights.

The long list of companies that signed the brief also includes consumer products companies, such as General Mills and Kimberley-Clark; and major banks including J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo & Co.

- christian post

Next Page »