Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blind to true suffering

One of the things that we have noticed throughout our 40 years of ministry is the hesitation or neglect by some Christians or churches of certain political or theological persuasions to come to the aid of their persecuted brethren worldwide. During the Cold War, persecution in communist countries was even denied and communist sympathizers supported and hailed by those from the political and theological left.  We find that the same continues today, but now it is Islamist-motivate persecution that is either ignored or denied. Or, astonishingly, the Christians who are being persecuted are blamed for bringing the troubles upon themselves through their evangelistic actions. 

Lorne Gunter in his opinion piece Blind to true suffering in today’s National Post brings this clearly in focus as he suggests, concerning the recent national conference of the United Church of Canada, “If Christians or Jews were alleged to have carried out such barbarism, the social justice councils of the United Church would undoubtedly have condemned them. Why then so silent when the victims are fellow Christians and their murderers Muslims?” Below is the full text of this excellent article. 

Blind to true suffering

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lorne Gunter,  National Post 

On June 16, North Korean Christian Ri Hyon-ok was publicly executed for the crime of distributing Bibles. As her parents, husband and children were forced to look on, the 33-year-old mother was shot in front of a crowd in the northwestern city of Ryongchon. Her grieving and distraught family were then packed off to a prison camp.

Curiously, the United Church of Canada (UCC) -- a nominally Christian organization -- failed even to mention the Pyongyang regime's systematic persecution of its co-religionists, including the murder of Ms. Ri, during its national conference last week. Instead, the UCC devoted hours to discussing of alleged crimes by the Jewish state of Israel against Palestinians.

Last month, a Muslim mob in the northeastern Pakistan town of Gorja heard rumours that a Koran had been defaced during a Christian wedding ceremony. Officials investigating that subsequent riots could find no evidence of such a blasphemy, but that did not stop a mob of thousands of Muslims from burning more than 50 homes and a church in the Christian section of Gorja. At least 14 Christians were killed in the rampage, including one woman and three children who were burned alive in their homes.

Did the UCC pass a resolution (or even just introduce one) condemning such medieval attitudes and behaviours? After all, the Gorja riot amounted to an angry crowd branding a woman a witch and burning her at the stake in pre-Renaissance Europe -- 14 times over. If Christians or Jews were alleged to have carried out such barbarism, the social justice councils of the United Church would undoubtedly have condemned them. Why then so silent when the victims are fellow Christians and their murderers Muslims?

The short answer, of course, is that the UCC is more concerned with fashionably left-wing causes such as multiculturalism than it is about ending persecution per se. It is far more concerned for advancing political correctness than spreading or even defending its own faith.

Lefty intellectual fashion is always one-sided to the point of being blind.

If condemning all violent oppression were the UCC's goal; if ending the cruel treatment of all people regardless of their race or creed were the church's objective -- rather than merely mounting, once again, a high horse from which to spit on Israel -- then it would have been equally quick to condemn Hamas, who are, as many in the UCC see it, Israel's victims in Gaza.

Not only did Hamas provoke Israel's self-defensive invasion last winter by lobbing thousands of rockets and crude missiles into civilian communities within Israel -- killing 17 people over the past eight years -- it also routinely tortures and executes without trial any of its own people it suspects of collaborating with the Israelis. Human rights within Hamas's bailiwick are a farce. They don't exist.

But it never occurred to the UCC to be equally judgmental of Hamas. That's because in the bizarro world of politically correct logic (if any such school of reasoning can even be said to exist), atrocities committed by people of colour and the economically disadvantaged are not considered as outrageous as those committed by the white, the Western and the affluent.

Hundreds of Christians are prisoners of conscience in Cuba as a result of their proselytizing, or even just their praying. Around the world, dictatorial regimes -- particularly communist ones -- see practising Christians as threats. Christianity is a powerful counterbalance to the worship of the state and the cult of personality that dictators prefer.

Last December, Gilianys Rodriguez, wife of a popular evangelical pastor in Cuba, was beaten in the street. Her baby miscarried as a result. The attack was believed to have been carried out with the sanction of Cuban authorities because Ms. Rodriguez's husband had helped form a new interdenominational network of preachers and congregations dissatisfied with having to operate through the government-approved Cuban Council of Churches.

But the UCC has never, as far as I can see, ever made mention of the persecution of the Rodriguez family. Its policies toward Cuba mostly consist of angry tirades against the Americans for their trade embargo against the island nation.

It used to be said the Church of England was the British Tory party at prayer. It that's the case, then the UCC is mostly the New Democrats in meditation.

Please note, this is not intended to be a criticism of the UCC. Sadly, the same criticism could be levelled at most mainline churches in Canada today. And before we evangelicals get too high and mighty, let’s also ask ourselves why we also tend to be so silent in the face of true suffering? Yes, we may not excuse or inappropriately shift the blame the persecution of Christians to the victims. But are we guilty of ignoring the cries of our brothers and sisters around the world? Can it honestly be said that we are remembering them (Hebrews 13:3) in any meaningful way from Sunday to Sunday?

Take a look at a couple of my previous blogs on this subject dating back to May 2007:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article is entirely true. The United Church of Canada is entirely guilty as charged. Petition after petition against the Americans and Israels go out, but NEVER a word about persecuted Christians, especially not those in Muslim lands. It is a disgrace to that church. They have a creepy bond with Islamic nations and would rather support Hamas than fellow Christians suffering persecution. It is most sad and hard to understand.