Religion

America Can’t Continue to Ignore Middle East Christians

By on 7.23.14 | 10:57AM

The cause of religious liberty galvanizes Americans of faith, yet America's foreign policy has ignored religion to the point of harming her interests and moderate allies in the Middle East.

"America is really, by virtue of its foreign policy, distanced from our natural allies," Andrew Doran, one of the founders of the group In Defense of Christians, told TAS. "They've actually been marginalized over the last several years [by our] commitment to procedural democracy." 

Doran described meeting a Christian man in Lebanon who, having never visited America, asked why Americans do not act when Christians face persecution in the Middle East. Doran told him most Americans do not know that any Christians live in the Middle East. 

"He was dumbfounded," Doran said. "You can tell that any sense of solidarity with the broader Christian world is gone, and they suddenly feel very alone."

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Biblical Treasures on the Chopping Block in Iraq

By on 7.7.14 | 3:28PM

Arguably the Bible's most successful evangelizer was the prophet Jonah, whose story is told in the biblical book of the same name. Despite a brief bout of cowardice and disobedience that ended in repentance thanks to the belly of a large she-fish, Jonah preached to the wicked people of Ninevah. Every inhabitant of Ninevah heeded Jonah's warning of certain destruction within forty days, and "that great city" was spared (Jonah 3:2).

Whether the city of Ninevah, located in what we now call Iraq, will find similar salvation today is questionable.

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Hobby Lobby and the War on Nuns

By on 6.19.14 | 5:51PM

The "war on women" continues, but not in the way you might think; in fact, the HHS mandate of Obamacare might be more of a "war on nuns."

This mandate, which wasn't passed by Congress, is the "Thou shalt provide birth control for thy employees" aspect of Obamacare. Among its victims are the Little Sisters of the Poor, a congregation of nuns who serve the elderly, and Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network. Other women are also concerned that this new commandment interferes with the original ten, including Barbara Green and her daughter Darcy Lett, who are part of the family that owns Hobby Lobby. Green's and Lett's case will be decided by the Supreme Court by the end of the month.

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The Nation's Pulse

Bishops Migrate to Washington

By 6.11.14

The rise of “nones“ has left churchmen reeling. Surveys find that a growing number Americans are religiously unaffiliated — that means empty pews and empty offering plates. Catholic bishops recently took to Capitol Hill with a peculiar effort to reverse the decline.

Six bishops held a Mass in a D.C. church and met with lawmakers to urge the House of Representatives to pass immigration reform. Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami preached in a May 29 homily that the United States immigration system is “a stain on the soul of our nation.” Laws “need to be changed” and “solutions proposed should not make the situation worse.”

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The Re-Unification of Christianity?

By on 6.2.14 | 4:30PM

Are we witnessing the beginning of Christian re-unification with the Roman Catholic Church? 

In the era of the “New Evangelization,” as described by George Weigel and other Catholic commentators, the Church is undergoing a transformation. As a result of Vatican II, Catholics like myself have realized the need to evangelize in a world controlled by the dictatorship of relativism.

Indeed, the Catholic Church is the greatest warrior for God’s objective truth in the world today.

But what about Orthodox Christians, Anglicans, Protestants, and Evangelicals? Where do they fit in this global struggle for the truth?  

Just last week, Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople agreed to schedule an “ecumenical meeting” in Nicaea in the year 2025.

Patriarch Bartholomew revealed that he and the Roman Pontiff had "agreed to leave as a legacy to ourselves and our successors a gathering in Nicaea in 2025, where the Creed was first promulgated."

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The Nation's Pulse

America’s Appalling Ignorance of Christianity

By 5.2.14

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about the lack of religious knowledge in America today and argued that a person cannot understand the world without knowing something about the world’s religions, including Pentecostals and Evangelicals. Kristof admitted that when he was covering the presidential campaign of George W. Bush, he was surprised at how the candidate connected with Americans because of his evangelical faith; more surprisingly, Kristof admitted that he had “only the vaguest idea at the time what an evangelical was.” Kristof’s column includes a four-paragraph litany of Biblical “facts” and asks readers to find the mistakes — 20 of them — that “reflect the general muddling in our society about religious knowledge.” Kristof notes that it’s not just secular Americans, but a large swath of those Americans who profess a belief in God are “largely ignorant about religion.”

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Special Report

David Cameron’s Christian Britain

By 4.24.14

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron is enjoying some controversy for again hailing Britain as a Christian nation.

It came most recently after a Downing Street Easter reception for church leaders, similar to receptions Cameron’s held for Muslim and Hindu holidays, where Cameron said “we should be proud of the fact that we are a Christian country, and I am proud of the fact we’re a Christian country and we shouldn’t be ashamed to say so.” He recalled his own recent “small pilgrimage” to “where our Saviour was both crucified and born.”

Cameron cited global persecution of Christians and said “our religion is now the most persecuted religion around the world.” And he emphasized, “We should stand up against persecution of Christians and other religious groups wherever and whenever we can, and should be unashamed in doing so.”

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Another Perspective

A Telling Moment

By 4.15.14

The last month has been a blur, as I have been touring Jewish communities to sell my new commentary on the Passover recital of the Exodus, known as Haggadah. At the very least, with the Passover Seder gatherings on Monday and Tuesday night of this week, I can weigh in with these words, culled from the preface of my book.

*****

“So how is the new job working out?”
“Don’t ask!”

“Honey, will you marry me?”
“I thought you would never ask!”

Some questions are welcomed in life; others are dismissed or ignored or belittled or answered half-heartedly.

Or how about these questions? “Daddy, why is the sky blue? Mommy, why is the grass green? Did God paint the grass with a brush? Why don’t the birds come falling out of the sky? How does the car go so fast? How can Grandma talk to me through the telephone if she does not even live in this city?”

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A Further Perspective

The Religion of Liberalism

By 3.27.14

Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor are concerned. They should be. The religion of liberalism is under attack. The Hobby Lobby fight in the high court? The tussle with the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue over gays pushing their agenda in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade? The latest skirmish over global warming, aka climate change? The controversy about government funding of Planned Parenthood and the group’s abortion stances? Common Core? The business of turning NASA from a space agency to an outreach group to Muslims?

All of these and more are different parts of a wholly formed universe of beliefs that meets the dictionary definition of religion (Webster’s being the one) that reads:

…the service and worship of God or the supernatural…..commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance….a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.

It is the religion of liberalism.

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How “Catholic” Can Still Mean Universal

By on 3.26.14 | 3:57PM

On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated as he performed mass. His martyrdom broadcast his message of solidarity with the poor around the globe. I recently learned a bit more about this incredible man at a Catholic young adult’s speaker series.

During the talk, as the heating pipes groaned against a polar wind, vicar Rev. Patrick Riffle explained the division of the Church in El Salvador during its civil war. Some priests linked themselves to the ruthless families that ruled El Salvador. Some picked up AK-47s to protect the poor against both the Marxists and the government.

It affected the image of the regional Church for decades. Yet Romero was able to find the truly Catholic message amidst the firearm cacophony: stop the violence and treat your fellow citizens as brothers and sisters. No handgun required.

The global Church finds itself in a similar divisive crisis after Vatican II, especially in America. The “Orthodox” or “conservative” Catholics judge the “Catholic liberals.” Yet “Catholic” is supposed to mean “universal.”  

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