Friday, December 10, 2010

Lucia The story of the attack on the Baghdad Church

This is a horrible story. The mother shutting her 5 month old infant in a drawer saved his life. Two of the priests in the church yelled at the jihadists to leave the people alone and to take them instead; they died in the first few minutes. The young men were made to stand; they were all executed.  Children who cried were killed immediately.  The jihadists used the crucifix as target practice, and taunted their victims with, "Come on, tell him to save you!"


OUR LADY OF THE MASSACRE

by Marco Pedersini


Raghada al-Wafi walks quickly through the streets of the Karrada neighborhood, on the shore of the Tigris that overlooks the armored heart of Baghdad, the Green Zone. Her husband is with her, she is content, and smiles. It is Sunday, October 31, and they have good news to share with Fr. Thair Abdallah, the young priest who united them in matrimony: Raghada is expecting a child. They are going to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the big Syriac Catholic church in the neighborhood, its entrance topped by a big cross.

There are two hundred faithful at the Sunday afternoon Mass, including one Chaldean and one Orthodox family. Fr. Wasim is hearing confessions near the entrance, in the shadow of the massive wooden doors. His associate, the elderly Fr. Rafael Qusaimi, is giving the choir its last instructions before the celebration. The singing begins, and Fr. Thair appears to the right of the apse, walking quickly toward the altar. In the Syrian Catholic liturgical year, it is the Sunday of the dedication. A voice echoes with the readings. The letter to the Hebrews 8:1-12, which cites the prophet Jeremiah: "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah . . . I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people." The Gospel of Matthew 16: 13-20: "Who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God'. Jesus said to him in reply, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it'."

It is 5:15, and Fr. Thair is about to finish the homily, when outside of the church a burst of automatic weapon fire breaks the silence. The priest tries to calm the faithful, the shots have to be aimed somewhere else, he says, there is nothing to be afraid of, it is normal in a country that for years has had ears for nothing but the noises of the war. But the shooting continues, and then comes a loud explosion, near the church door. The faithful are terrorized, they want to escape but there's nowhere to run. "Let's get up, let's pray together," Fr. Thair insists. He has no way of knowing it, but a few steps from the church an armed brigade is attacking the headquarters of the stock exchange. A hand grenade has killed two of the guards watching the building. The other guards have fired back, wounding one of the attackers, who is dragged away by his companions across the square outside of the church. The terrorists retreat with rifles leveled, backs facing the facade, and one of them sets off the explosives that they have loaded into the black Jeep Cherokee parked in front of the church. The Jeep erupts into a cloud of dust, and the security guards are disoriented. They believe that they have just fought off an attack on the stock exchange, and instead this was only a diversion, for an attack on a much larger scale.

Fr. Wasim tries to hold the church's wooden door closed, but it is thrown backward by the brigade of armed men, who burst in with faces uncovered, wearing the uniform of the Iraqi army: a classic trick in the jihadist repertoire. At the back of the church, behind the altar, the other two priests are pushing as many of the faithful as possible toward the sacristy, to shield them from the attack. "Leave them alone, take me!" shouts Fr. Wasim, and is immediately hit with a bullet square in the chest. The one who hits him doesn't even know who it is he is shooting. The priest clasps his hands to his chest, and the man turns to the companion beside him: "Who is this?" "He is a priest," the other replies, and unleashes a burst of gunfire on the dying Fr. Wasim.

"Leave them alone, take me!" Fr. Thair also shouts from the altar. He too is dispatched in an instant, and dies in the arms of his dumbfounded mother.

Fr. Rafael succeeds in pushing about seventy of the faithful into the sacristy, to the right of the altar, before the terrorists throw themselves against the door. It holds, but the attackers find an alternative: the room has a little window at the top without any windowpanes, and tossing a few hand grenades inside is a game for the young butchers. The shrapnel from one of the grenades hits Fr. Rafael, wounding him seriously in the abdomen. Others are hit by the bullets that come through the door. A woman shuts her five-month-old son in a drawer, saving him from the attack.

Fr. Thair's mother cannot know this, but she is about to lose her other son, who had gone with her to Mass. The terrorists make everyone lie down on the floor, except for the young men. These must remain standing. One by one, they shoot them down.

*

If it weren't for its sandy color, the graceful architecture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help would seem like an alien installation compared to the monotonous buildings around it. The imposing cross above the facade stands out among the low houses, a reminder of a time when Baghdad was a multicultural city that welcomed people from all over Iraq. The Tigris surrounds the Karrada neighborhood on three sides, making it a Shiite Muslim peninsula with a strong Christian presence, in the heart of the city. Getting here from the Green Zone is as simple as crossing the river, but the Iraqi special forces don't get to the church until six in the evening, forty-five minutes after the attack.

In the meantime, inside, the armed brigade is holding the survivors hostage, and imposing silence by firing at the first sign of movement. At least three of the jihadists are kids, between fourteen and fifteen years old. Each of them wears an explosive belt – with metal ball bearings to increase the killing power – and has an automatic weapon and hand grenades. The government will say afterward that there were five of them, not from Iraq, and that they died during the attack. The overwhelming proof of their foreign origin is held to be the five passports (three Yemeni and two Egyptian) found in the rubble, which was cleaned up hastily the next day while the army blocked the entrance to the church so that no one could see the devastation. The witnesses confirm that the attackers did not speak Iraqi dialects, but the classical Arabic that is used among Arabs of different nationalities. Going by their accents, there were definitely Egyptians, and also a Syrian. This is a relevant detail, seeing that the strategy of Al-Qaeda in Iraq is controlled from areas on the Syrian border, where terrorist leaders operate, like Abu Khalaf, the military commander who was killed recently, and their great ideologue, the seventy-year-old "sheik" Issa al Masri. Issa, which means "Jesus" in Arabic.

The witness accounts, however, tell of eight persons and at least one other who commanded the operations from the terrace around the roof of the church. There may have been even more, to judge by the operation in which almost one month later, on Saturday, November 27, the Iraqi security forces arrested members of an Al-Qaeda cell in the al Mansour neighborhood in Baghdad: twelve men, with toxic material and six tons of explosives, who confessed to taking part in the attack on the church. The initial plan must have been different: bursting in, the jihadist brigade had with it four cases of explosives, which were supposed to explode around the perimeter of the church, collapsing it and killing all of the two hundred faithful present at the Sunday Mass. Why this did not happen is a secret that the five terrorists have taken with them to the grave, or perhaps it is buried in the mind of the unidentified person in civilian clothes whom a guard swears he saw leaving the school next to the church. The survivors recount that about halfway through the attack, one of the terrorists called someone outside with a walkie-talkie. "We're out of bullets, what should we do?" A quick order, with a sinister result: "Okay, now we'll start using the bombs."

Inside the church, while they are keeping the faithful hostage, the terrorists seem strangely relaxed, in spite of the siege by the Iraqi army and the muffled droning of the American helicopters watching the situation from the air. They are so comfortable that they first permit themselves the maghrib, the afternoon prayer, and then the ishà, the evening prayer, among the corpses of their victims.

Outside, the armed forces are waiting for who knows what, because it is clear to everyone that there will be no offer of mediation, from either side. A lay employee of the Baghdad curia who has rushed to the site of the siege tries to make himself useful. He is determined, he wants to make use of his detailed knowledge of the building layout to unblock the situation. But as soon as he tries to offer his help to the soldiers, he is told bluntly "this is our business, get out of here." The soldiers also brusquely push away a man who is begging them to do something to save his wife and two children, a boy and a girl, held hostage in the church. The standoff lasts almost three hours.

*

Night falls. The walls of Our Lady of Perpetual Help turn red, then fade to black. The siege is suspended in an unreal sunset, muddied by the mist, for the entire time from the arrival of the Iraqi army to the final blitz to try to free the hostages. Intermittent gunfire breaks the silence, marking the rhythm of the confrontation into the distance. Neither side studies the other: the wait is on to enact an ending already written.

The terrorists shoot anyone who pulls out a cell phone, as demonstrated by the wounds of two girls hit in the hand and arm when their phones started to ring. They shoot at the first suspicious sound, and the children who cry are killed instantly. Among the splayed bodies, the dead and living are piled up together. One girl recounts: "A chandelier had fallen on me, pinning me down by my side. I had shards of glass stuck in my skin, a man's foot on my head and a girl's body pushing down on my chest, covering me with the blood that was pouring from her wounds." As she heard the bullets whizzing past her, she was able to call her family waiting for her at home: "I was sure that I was going to die, and I wanted to say goodbye to them for the last time: I love you." A member of the brigade shoots the furnace, so the gas will asphyxiate anyone nearby.

The crucifix becomes a shooting target. The terrorists riddle it with gunfire – the survivors recount – shouting mockingly: "Come on, tell him to save you!" And again: "You are infidels. We are here to avenge the burning of the Qur'an and the Muslim women imprisoned in Egypt." They are alluding to the false news, denied even by the Muslim Brotherhood but used as a pretext by Al-Qaeda in the offensive against the Christians, according to which the Egyptian Coptic Church locked up in a convent Camilia Chehata and Wafa Constantine, the wives of two Coptic priests, as punishment for their conversion to Islam.

When the bullets stop flying, the grenade thrown by a terrorist also ends the life of Raghada and of the child she is carrying in her womb. According to some witnesses, the woman met her death while being clutched by one of the terrorists, who had grabbed her and then blown himself up. Nor would her husband be alive to see the raid by the Iraqi army, which starts piling in through the main entrance of the church in a single clump, the umpteenth proof of the stupidity of unprepared and poorly led soldiers. "The Marines are more intelligent," notes Fr. Giorgio Jahola, a priest from Mosul who has come to Rome to have his injuries tended to at the Policlinico Gemelli. "The whole perimeter of the church is surrounded by windows, which can easily be reached from the terrace. The side entrances were usually blocked by cement barriers, but the authorities had had them removed during the two days before the attack. So other passageways were available."

The terrorists were ready: they had already recited the prayer of martyrdom: "Allah is most great, Allah is most great, there is no God but Allah." And they were determined to blow themselves up. Two of them succeeded, a third was stopped by the Iraqi soldiers when, at 9:05, they disconnected the electricity and a voice shouted: "We are the Iraqi forces, get up and be calm: we will save you."

The blitz will not be remembered among the most dazzling in history: the exchange of gunfire lasted for twenty minutes, until 9:25, when the nave and sacristy of the church were liberated. The entrance to the church was then unblocked, and, amid the disorder of the emergency workers, relatives started to run frantically from one hospital to another, in the hope of finding their loved ones still alive somewhere. Inside and around the church, 58 dead were counted, not including the attackers.

*

Three days later, on Tuesday, women dressed in black accompany seven coffins wrapped in the Iraqi flag. The human rights minister, Wijdan Mikheil, is at the ceremony together with the Shiite political leader Ammar al Hakimm, whose face is streaming with tears. The smoke of the incense fills the air, while more than seven hundred people greet the caskets covered with flowers that advance slowly toward the altar. Two of them hold the bodies of Fr. Thair Fr. Wasim. One moment more and they will be buried together in the cemetery under their church, poor and ravaged.

Related link: In Baghdad, an Encore of "Murder in the Cathedral" ~ Chiesa

24 comment(s):

leftrightout said...

Indeed a terrible story, but for this to have happened, religion was an essential component.

In reality, no different at all to the violence inflicted by catholics and orthodox against muslims in Bosnia.

Again,something that required religion as a pre-requisite.

Imagine a world with no religion.

William Stout said...

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me are the people who blame religion for the evil of men. Regardless of whether you are speaking of the Crusades, the horrors inflicted by Islam, or as the commenter put it the poor Muslims murdered by the Catholics, and then goes on to say imagine a world without religion.

Such a world may appeal to the writer, but it would be a desolate and dark place indeed. A world without hope of redemption and without hope for the future. We have seen this world in fact. The U.S.S.R. was such a world and no religion was permitted because the State was supreme and man would have no master before the State. Churches fell into ruin. Those caught in prayer were liable to find themselves sent to a gulag to die at hard labor. Those who actually preached the word of God were liable to be executed forthwith. The result of this world? Millions dead due to State sponsored terrorism. Oh yes, what a wonderful world man had created without religion. I am sure that the twenty-seven million who starved to death in the Ukraine were at least happy about not having to listen to a sermon while they perished secondary to the cruelty of man. The truth of the matter is that atheism gives poor succor.

Where the commenter also errs is in his assertion of Islam and Christianity being equal faiths. They are not. Christianity does not advocate the wanton slaughter of the innocent, Islam does. Christianity no longer holds a blade to your throat and forces you to become a Christian, not true for Islam. Christianity does not advocate death for apostates, Islam does. Christianity does not approve of women being second class citizens and chattel to their husbands, Islam does. In fact, Islam has never and will never be a religion of peace unless it is fundamentally changed. That is because Islam is a tool of conquest and for maintaining power.

So while Catholics may have taken matters into their own hands, God does not and would not sanction the murder of people because they profess a different faith from yourself. Those of the Muslim faith cannot say the same. You do not see the Presbyterians murdering the Baptists as infidels do you? How about the Copts butchering the Unitarians as infidels? That is not true of Islam. Each sect of Islam will gladly murder any other sect as an infidel because they do not adhere to the strict tenets of their brand of Islam. They are infidels. Islam even despises free thought and liberty.

So the next time that you wish to join John Lennon in his dream of a world without religion, I suggest that you recall what happened to the nations that did just that. When man is freed from all moral inhibitions he releases the darkness that resides in his soul and the world bleeds. This is a lesson that history has taught again and again.

Kris K said...

William Stout 8:46 AM,

"Where the commenter also errs is in his assertion of Islam and Christianity being equal faiths. They are not. Christianity does not advocate the wanton slaughter of the innocent, Islam does. Christianity no longer holds a blade to your throat and forces you to become a Christian, not true for Islam. Christianity does not advocate death for apostates, Islam does. Christianity does not approve of women being second class citizens and chattel to their husbands, Islam does. In fact, Islam has never and will never be a religion of peace unless it is fundamentally changed. That is because Islam is a tool of conquest and for maintaining power.

So while Catholics may have taken matters into their own hands, God does not and would not sanction the murder of people because they profess a different faith from yourself."


In fact the Roman Catholic Crusades persecuted and murdered not only Muslims and Jews, but Bible-believing Christians as well. Followers of Biblical Christianity have NEVER held a blade to anyones throat to force conversion, or for ANY reason.

The Bible is clear that we are to "love [y]our enemies ... and pray for them". And while we are to share the gospel with non-believers, it is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction, and the individual who MUST come to their own point of free-will choice as to whether they will receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The greatest "compulsion" a Christian is to place upon a non-believer is that of sharing God's word with conviction, and the reality of God working in our lives since our own conversion and receiving of Christ. That's it; their is NO SENSE in God's word of any kind of "forcing the issue", let alone physical intimidation or worse.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

William Stout said...

"Followers of Biblical Christianity have NEVER held a blade to anyones throat to force conversion, or for ANY reason."

I am afraid that you will have to define the term "Biblical Christianity" before I can either affirm or deny your assertion. If you mean the Christian faith as espoused by St. Peter then the Roman Catholic Church would be such a faith and you are mistaken. If not, then I am unsure what you mean.

Kris K said...

"If you mean the Christian faith as espoused by St. Peter then the Roman Catholic Church would be such a faith and you are mistaken."

Are you Roman Catholic, William?

And do you accept that the Roman Catholic crusades and inquisition (which persecuted Muslims, Jews, and Bible-believing Christians) had absolutely no New Testament mandate? And on that basis the RC church & papacy could not claim to represent biblical Christianity, and certainly not the Christ of the New Testament?

I.M Fletcher said...

Kris, I've been wanting to ask...

What denomination of church do you go to? And do you consider yours is the church Jesus mentions when he says, "upon this rock I will build my church". And, if so, why? How do you connect the church you go to today with the first church of the Apostles and disciples of Jesus' time?

I.M Fletcher said...

ps, Kris, I really can't believe you bringing up that old canard about 'The Crusades'. Yes, some bad things were done on both sides, but if not for them, Islam would have conquered the whole world centuries ago.

As one writer puts it -

"But there is a question we must ask ourselves. In the context of more than a thousand years of Christian-Islamic relations, who has been the victim and who the aggressor?" asked the journalist who interviewed the Pope in "Crossing the Threshold of Hope." When Caliph Omar conquered Jerusalem in 638, the city had been Christian for over three centuries. Soon after, the Prophet's disciples invaded and destroyed the glorious churches of Egypt, first, and then of North Africa, causing the extinction of Christianity in places that had had Bishops like St. Augustine. Later it was the turn of Spain, Sicily and Greece, and the land that would eventually become Turkey, where the communities founded by St. Paul himself were turned into ruins. In 1453, after seven centuries of siege, Constantinople, the second Rome, capitulated and became Islamic. The Islamic threat reached the Balkans but, miraculously, the onslaught was stopped and forced to turn back at Vienna's walls. If the Jerusalem massacre of 1099 is execrated, Mohammed II's action in Otranto [Italy] in 1480 must not be forgotten, a raw example of a bloody funeral procession of sufferings," Messori stated.

Messori concluded by asking a number of questions: "At present, what Moslem country respects the civil rights and freedom of worship of any other than their own? Who is angered by the genocide of Armenians in the past, and of Sudanese Christians at present? According to the devotees of the Koran, is the world not divided between the 'Islamic territory' and the 'war territory' -- all those areas that must be converted to Islam, whether they like it or not?"

The Italian journalist provided his answers to these questions in his final remarks. "A simple review of history, along very general lines, confirms an obvious truth: Christianity is constantly on the defensive when it comes to Moslem aggression; this has been the case from the beginning until now

I.M Fletcher said...

You can read more answers to popular Crusade myths HERE

WAKE UP said...

The words "Islam" and "violence" are synmnymous.

Lucia Maria said...

Oh wow, things have been busy here. Will come back later tonight.

I.M Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucia Maria said...

LRO,

Let's start with you.

In reality, no different at all to the violence inflicted by catholics and orthodox against muslims in Bosnia.

Really?

This particular post is about an attack by radical Muslims whose sole aim was to attack and kill Christians (Catholics to be more exact) while they were participating in the Holy Mass. Those radical Muslims prayed to their god before they prepared to commit suicide, taking as many as they could with them.

Show me an equivalent massacre perpetuated by any Christians in Bosnia where a prayer was made to God before the commencement of violence against Muslims while in their mosque, followed by suicide of the perpetrators. Where rather than the violence being between ethnic groups who just happened to be a difference religion, where the violence was specifically directed against those of a different religion because of their religion.

Show me. I dare you.

Lucia Maria said...

Except, you won't be able to. You rely on a scatter-gun approach to cast your aspersions, relying on blogger fatigue to get away with the false accusations. Knowing that most people are so ignorant, they will believe the worst.

leftrightout said...

Lucia, I neither know nor care if prayers were said before, during or after the massacres of Mslims in Bosnia.

I stand by my original comment that in both Bosnia nd the case you describe, religion was the prime motivator. Not ethnicity. Religion.

I find it very sad that religious believers only shed a tear when fellow religionists are victims of religious violence. As a rational humanist, I shed a tear for all the victims of all the wars, pogroms, crusades, the death and destruction in the name of a belief!

A challenge to you -

Name me a single war, or even a massacre, at any place, in any time, perpetrated by rational humanists in the name of humanism.

Lucia Maria said...

LRO,

Thought so.

Lucia Maria said...

Kris,

In fact the Roman Catholic Crusades persecuted and murdered not only Muslims and Jews, but Bible-believing Christians as well.

The Crusades were, in the main, defensive wars fought against an enemy that had been systematically invading, looting and pillaging Christian lands for centuries. Bad things happen in wars, and people get killed. But to say that the Crusades "persecuted and murdered Muslims and Jews Bible-believing Christians" is like saying the allied attacks on the Nazis "persecuted" Muslims and Jews and Bible-believing Christians. The Crusades' prime aim, like the allied attacks on the Nazis, were not persecution and murder, they were attacks against a very strong enemy at the request of Eastern Christendom. Which did fall eventually, maybe because not enough help was given. Western powers were far more interested in fighting amongst themselves than their ever growing enemy called Islam.

I.M Fletcher said...

Name me [...] a massacre, at any place, in any time, perpetrated by rational humanists in the name of humanism

Abortion.

leftrightout said...

Abortion - no, doesn't fit the criteria I outlined.

Lucia, I stand by my remarks above. Your appeal to ethnicity as the cause is demonstrably false.

I.M Fletcher said...

Here's what author Brian Schwertley says about Secular Humanism Part I-

Do you believe that murder is wrong? Do you believe that child molestation and bestiality are wrong? Most people do. The question that must be answered, then, is "Why?" The secular-humanistic worldview presupposes that nothing can exist above and beyond the universe. The idea of an infinite, personal God who is transcendent, who reveals ethical absolutes to man (e.g., "Thou shalt not kill," "Thou shalt not steal," etc.) is anathema to an atheistic naturalist. With no higher power, the secular humanist must derive an ethical system from this world alone.

But what is the modern view of the universe, of reality? The universe is evolving. It is a product of chance. It is impersonal. It is in a state of flux. Man himself is a product of chance and is in a state of flux. Thus, the secular humanist teaches that ethics are evolving, arbitrary, subjective, relative and changing. There is no "out-thereness" to ethics; there is no absolute right or wrong.

For the secular humanist, the source of ethics, morality and law is not God but man. The secular humanist says that ethics are whatever man happens to say they are at a given point in time. In such a system moral law is merely opinion, custom, "community standards," what the state says (or the supreme court, or an intellectual elite like hospital ethics boards). Man determines what is right and wrong

for himself, and if man changes his mind, then what used to be wrong is now permissible—even virtuous.

The secular humanist who seeks to establish ethical norms apart from the triune God of the Bible actually perverts and destroys moral imperatives. Ethics cannot exist and operate in a void. If the universe is a product of chance and impersonal, then people have no real reason not to lie, cheat, murder and steal, other than the coercive power of the state (e.g., the police, prisons, etc.).

Young people are not stupid. Do you really think that young people are going to be honest, chaste and moral because their parents or some celebrity or the state says it’s a good idea? All talk of virtue is utter nonsense. To the Nazi, exterminating Jews was virtuous. Stalin and the communists murdered 20 million farmers for humanity. To the radical feminist, murdering unborn babies is a virtue. To the gang member, torturing and murdering one’s opponent are virtuous. If morality is constantly changing, evolving, and if it is only what man happens to believe at any given moment, then the modern ethical maxim is, "Do whatever you want—just don’t get caught. And if you do get caught, blame it on someone else."

I.M Fletcher said...

Part II

There was a time when children were told not to lie, cheat, swear, fornicate and steal because such things were against God’s moral law (the Ten Commandments). People were told that such activities offended a holy, righteous God. They were told that good was good because God said so in His Word, and likewise bad was bad because God said so. People were warned that a day was coming in which God would judge all men according to their deeds.

Ethical absolutes are transcendent; they come from outside the universe and are revealed to man by an unchanging, all-powerful God. These ethical commands are objective and unchanging; they are backed up by a morally perfect God who will punish every wicked act committed by man. In a personalistic universe where an absolute, infinite, perfect, moral God (who is the creator of meaning, the revealer and enforcer of ethical absolutes and the judge of wickedness) stands behind all created reality, people have a very real reason for self-government and personal responsibility.

In the area of ethics (as in the area of meaning itself) the Christian worldview is coherent, rational and self-consistent, while the supposedly "scientific" secular-humanistic worldview is irrational, arbitrary and absurd. When the secular humanist speaks of compassion, humility, virtue, helping the poor, the evil of murder, and so on, he is stealing concepts from the Christian worldview. It is one thing to assert that murder is wrong and quite another to explain why it is wrong. Anyone can assert that something is good or evil, but only the Christian can consistently say why. In the secular-humanistic worldview, chance not God is ultimate; therefore "it is meaningless to speak of imposing the formalizing activity of the universal mind of man, itself a product of chance, on a bottomless and shoreless ocean of chance. The only possible foundation for science and philosophy as well as for theology is the presupposition that God as all-controlling and Christ as actually redeeming does actually exist and is actually known by man. But to hold this position requires us to give up the idea that man himself is the source of unity in human experience. In seeking such unity as only God can have, apostate man cuts himself loose from the possibility of having any unity in experience at all."

The secular humanist, if honest and consistent, would simply assert that "in the end we’re all dead"; the injustice and evils of life are never resolved. Hitler, Stalin and Mother Teresa all turn to dust. The universe expands to an icy death. In such a system your life and supposed good deeds have no real meaning or lasting significance at all. "What advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die!" (1 Cor. 15:32).

I.M Fletcher said...

LRO, it should also be noted that the biggest mass murders in history where by regimes that had nothing to do with religion - and that is even taking into account the Crusades, The Inqusition, witch trials etc

Gregory Koukl writes -

My point is not that Christians or religious people aren't vulnerable to committing terrible crimes. Certainly they are. But it is not religion that produces these things; it is the denial of Biblical religion that generally leads to these kinds of things. The statistics that are the result of irreligious genocide stagger the imagination.

My source is The Guinness Book of World Records . Look up the category "Judicial" and under the subject of "Crimes: Mass Killings," the greatest massacre ever imputed by the government of one sovereign against the government of another is 26.3 million Chinese during the regime of Mao Tse Tung between the years of 1949 and May 1965. The Walker Report published by the U.S. Senate Committee of the Judiciary in July 1971 placed the parameters of the total death toll in China since 1949 between 32 and 61.7 million people. An estimate of 63.7 million was published by Figaro magazine on November 5, 1978.

In the U.S.S.R. the Nobel Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn estimates the loss of life from state repression and terrorism from October 1917 to December 1959 under Lenin and Stalin and Khrushchev at 66.7 million.

Finally, in Cambodia (and this was close to me because I lived in Thailand in 1982 working with the broken pieces of the Cambodian holocaust from 1975 to 1979) "as a percentage of a nation's total population, the worst genocide appears to be that in Cambodia, formerly Kampuchea. According to the Khmer Rouge foreign minister, more than one third of the eight million Khmer were killed between April 17, 1975 and January 1979. One third of the entire country was put to death under the rule of Pol Pot, the founder of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. During that time towns, money and property were abolished. Economic execution by bayonet and club was introduced for such offenses as falling asleep during the day, asking too many questions, playing non-communist music, being old and feeble, being the offspring of an undesirable, or being too well educated. In fact, deaths in the Tuol Sleng interrogation center in Phnom Penh, which is the capitol of Kampuchea, reached 582 in a day."

Then in Chinese history of the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries there were three periods of wholesale massacre. The numbers of victims attributed to these events are assertions rather than reliable estimates. The figures put on the Mongolian invasion of northern China form 1210 to 1219 and from 1311 to 1340 are both on the order of 35 million people. While the number of victims of bandit leader Chang Hsien-Chung, known as the Yellow Tiger, from 1643 to 1647 in the Szechwan province has been put at 40 million people.

China under Mao Tse Tung, 26.3 million Chinese. According the Walker Report, 63.7 million over the whole period of time of the Communist revolution in China. Solzhenitsyn says the Soviet Union put to death 66.7 million people. Kampuchea destroyed one third of their entire population of eight million Cambodians. The Chinese at two different times in medieval history, somewhere in the vicinity of 35 million and 40 million people. Ladies and gentlemen, make note that these deaths were the result of organizations or points of view or ideologies that had left God out of the equation. None of these involve religion. And all but the very last actually assert atheism.

ZenTiger said...

LRO, your statement is appalling. Let's break it down:

I find it very sad that religious believers only shed a tear when fellow religionists are victims of religious violence.

What ignorance. By this statement you infer no religious believers shed a tear or are moved by other situations, which is patently false. The Pike River Mining Disaster, for example, and countless situations where sympathy and dismay have been expressed towards people have been harmed or injured by the evil actions of others, irrespective of the reason.

Which leads me to the second part of your statement, which strikes me as arrogant:

As a rational humanist, I shed a tear for all the victims of all the wars, pogroms, crusades, the death and destruction in the name of a belief!

You set yourself up as morally superior, then blow it by qualifying it with your selectivity of people being killed in the name of a belief.

And perhaps you are also a little hypocritical, because you would probably refuse to admit that abortion is conducted in the name of a belief that a foetus isn't deserving of being included in the "universal right to life" statements most agree are important foundation to human rights.

The biggest flaw though in your assertions is the belief that, as rational humanism solidifies into a distinct political movement, should it gain political power, that people will not abuse that and do what they will "in its name".

Until such time, we have plenty examples of humans rationalising evil, and they will abuse any name to do it. As Fletch rightly points out, societies that treat religion as a threat have perpetrated some of the biggest evils in history.

Kris K said...

Lucia Maria 9:38 AM, December 12,

Kris:
In fact the Roman Catholic Crusades persecuted and murdered not only Muslims and Jews, but Bible-believing Christians as well.

Lucia:
The Crusades were, in the main, defensive wars fought against an enemy that had been systematically invading, looting and pillaging Christian lands for centuries. Bad things happen in wars, and people get killed. But to say that the Crusades "persecuted and murdered Muslims and Jews Bible-believing Christians" is like saying the allied attacks on the Nazis "persecuted" Muslims and Jews and Bible-believing Christians.

I hope you're not forgetting the following, Lucia:

THE CATHARS
At first the Cathars or Albigensians in Southern France were protected by powerful anti-clerical nobles. However in 1208 Pope Innocent III called for a crusade against them. Crusaders from Northern France rushed to obey and they fought a bloodthirsty crusade. The Albigensians were finally defeated with the fall of their stronghold at Montsegur in 1244.

THE WALDENSIANS
In 1179 Pope Alexander III forbade them to preach without the permission of the bishops. Waldo replied that he must obey God rather than man So he was excommunicated by Pope Lucius III in 1184. The Waldensians came to be seen as heretics by the Catholic Church.

Waldensians denied the doctine of purgatory (the idea that people are 'purified' of their sins after death before they enter Heaven) and prayers for the dead. They also forbade taking oaths and capital punishment. They also denied the authority of the Catholic Church.

In the 13th century the Waldensians spread to Italy, Germany, Austria, Bohemia (Czech Republic) Poland and Hungary. (In Bohemia they merged with the Hussites in the 14th century). They soon became a sect with its own clergy of bishops and priests.

Not surprisingly the Catholic Church responded with persecution but they failed to destroy the Waldensians. In 1488 a crusade was launched against the Waldensians but it failed to destroy them.

THE LOLLARDS
John Wycliffe was one of the great Christians of the Middle Ages. He was born in the North of England but we do not know the exact year (it was around 1328). John Wycliffe was educated at Oxford University and he soon became famous there for his learning and his skill in debate.

In the Middle Ages the Church was immensely wealthy and powerful. John Wycliffe was concerned by the situation and he taught that the state had the right to confiscate the property of corrupt clergymen. Not surprisingly many in the Church did not welcome his views! In 1377 the Pope condemned Wycliffe but he was never arrested or tried for heresy. (He was protected by powerful friends).

At first Lollards were left alone but when Henry IV became king the situation changed. From 1401 Lollards could be burned to death for heresy. However the Lollards continued and even increased in number and in the 16th century they merged with the Protestants.

THE HUSSITES
Jan Hus was one of the great Christians of the Middle Ages. He was also a martyr. Hus was born in Bohemia (what is now the Czech Republic) in about 1374 and he was educated at the university of Prague. In 1401 he was ordained a priest.

Hus was heavily influenced by the English reformer John Wycliffe and he soon proved to be a popular preacher. Hus preached against forged miracles and avarice in the church. He also emphasised the importance of the Bible. However his strong preaching against abuses in the church alienated some of the clergy.

In 1414 Hus was ordered to attend the Council of Constance to defend his beliefs. As a result he was sentenced to death and burned in 1415.

However in 1620 the Austrians conquered Bohemia (Czech Republic) and reimposed the Roman Catholic Church.

Link:
http://www.localhistories.org/heresy.html

Lucia Maria said...

All comments to do with the argument over Peter being the Rock have been moved to here.

Any more comments of that nature will be deleted from this thread, as they are highly inappropriate for a post about a MASSACRE in a CHURCH of CATHOLICS.

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. Foul language and personal attacks may get your comment deleted without warning. Contact us if your comment doesn't appear - the spam filter may have grabbed it.