It’s Official: Christianity Most Persecuted Religion in the World

coptic-crossAssorted Lefties: call your office. It seems that the Religion of Peace didn’t get your memo that Muslims are more tolerant than Christians. (I wonder how Stan Drezhlo is going to spin this one?)

Source: USA Today | Kirsten Powers

“Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.” So asserted German Chancellor Angela Merkel late last year, causing a stir. Merkel echoed a concern expressed by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who warned in a 2011 speech that Christians face a “particularly wicked program of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing.”

Not ‘War on Christmas’

Now, this is not about clerks who say “Happy Holidays” or bans of nativity scenes in public schools. Merkel spoke of real persecution of hundreds of millions of Christians around the world. Indeed, a 2011 Pew Forum study found that Christians are harassed in 130 countries, more than any of the world’s other religions.

The just-released book Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians provides the gory details behind these statistics. Persecuted is a collaboration of the Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea, Paul Marshall and Lela Gilbert to catalog the human rights abuses visited upon Christian believers from North Korea to Mali. They define this persecution as Christians “who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, or killed for their faith.” It’s a worldwide phenomenon, but Shea points out a troubling acceleration in the cradle of Christianity’s birth: the Middle East and North Africa. As London Guardian columnist Rupert Shortt wrote in January, “The religious ecology of the Middle East looks more fragile than ever, as the Arab Spring gives way to Christian Winter.”

Tragically, Christians have been forced to abandon homelands they have occupied for thousands of years. Up to two-thirds of Christians have fled Iraq in the past ten years to escape massacres, church burnings and constant death threats. Many Christians fled to Syria, where they are experiencing persecution anew. In Iran, U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini has been sentenced to eight years in prison for preaching Christianity.

Violence in Egypt

Last week, Amnesty International blasted Egypt’s government, a major recipient of U.S. aid, for its continued failure to protect Coptic Christians from discrimination and violence. Amnesty’s report comes on the heels of a fresh wave of attacks just before Easter in the town of Wasta, south of Cairo.

Lebanon was once a majority Christian country but no longer, as Christians flee the hostility. CBS News reported in 2011 that the former president of Lebanon, Amin Gemayel complained of a “genocide” against Christians in the Middle East. “Massacres are taking place for no reason and without any justification against Christians. It is only because they are Christians.”

“The future of Christians in the Middle East is very bleak,” Neil Hicks of Human Rights First told me. “What has happened in Iraq and Syria is de facto ethnic cleansing of Christians.” In other words: Christians can leave or be killed.

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, an expert on the region, told me he is shocked that American Christians aren’t regularly protesting outside of embassies drawing attention to this issue. Persecution of Christians in the Middle East is, he says, “one of the most undercovered stories in international news.” Perhaps it’s time for that to change.

Kirsten Powers is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors, a Fox News political analyst and columnist for The Daily Beast.


  1. nit picker says

    Not surprising.

    If anybody out there is looking for some interesting summer reading I would like to make the following recommendation:

    by William Dalrymple

    Please also see:

    William Dalrymple retraces the travels of St. John Moschus. St. John was sent on this pilgrimage by his elder when the Muslims were coming out of the East and realized that there was a distinct possibility that Christianity and the monasteries might be wiped out forever in the face of these invaders. St. John Moschus was charged to make a record of whatever he found because there eventually would be claims that the Christians never existed in that part of the world. William Dalrymple wanted to see if he could find any remnants of the monuments and communities that St. John described in his travels. I think Orthodox Christians will find it especially moving, especially now, what with the current events in Syria, knowing that the little that was still there is being destroyed for good, forever.

    • gail sheppard says

      I scanned the links you posted and they’re definitely worth the read. Thank you.

      There are two points I’d like to add: (1) God will not allow anything that belongs to Him to be “destroyed for good.” It just isn’t possible. The “gates of hell shall not prevail . . .” (2) God’s “monuments” are less important than God’s people. It bothers me, a little, to mourn what’s happening in the Middle East because of the loss of structures. It’s sad, I know, because we treasure our heritage and the artifacts we associate with it, but they’re material. The loss of a Christian presence in the Middle East is of far greater concern.

      • nit picker says

        Thank you Gail. The spirit of your message is well received, understood and appreciated. I don’t disagree with a single iota of it.

        The loss of monuments is sad, but not urgent. Monuments come and go. They fall down and are rebuilt. Populations move. People even forget why the monuments were erected.

        In recent months friends and I have been trying to place Orthodox Christians from Syria who were fortunate enough to escape in homes and jobs. Their villages don’t exist anymore. Their families are spread to the edges of the globe. Many of them lost children, spouses, parents and are suffering severe emotional and spiritual trauma. While being in our churches is a comfort for them, how they long to hear their own language, to see their familiar landscape, to see a familiar horizon. Even the earth feels different under their feet. They are truly strangers in a strange land.

        It is said that home is where the heart is. The people that are destroying their homes which are the monuments that are familiar to them are also destroying their hearts, because those are the things that they love.

  2. Sean Richardson says

    This is a real tragedy, and yet I am wondering how many Americans know this, will report it, and will care about it. We seem to care so much for the downtrodden elsewhere, but when it comes to the USA, suddenly we become a nation of abusers.

  3. gail sheppard says

    There was a kid I knew, through Facebook, who told me that in Egypt, where he lived (as in past tense; he has since dropped off the radar), many Christians were so poor, all they could do was raise pigs. Apparently, pigs really DO eat anything and garbage was all they had. Some radical Muslims, under the auspices of Allah, went through his little community and destroyed all the pigs, leaving poor Christian families destitute. How people can continue to maintain that our God and Allah are the same, is beyond my understanding. Clearly this wasn’t about God or “pork.” This was about persecution. Lives are being lost in increments; day by day, moment by moment. It would be more merciful to kill a man outright than to starve his family. We don’t often hear these stories, but I suspect they are painfully real.

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “How people can continue to maintain that our God and Allah are the same, is beyond my understanding.”

      The god of Islam and his prophet sicken me. Christians should be willingly to die rather to agree to such a blasphemous concept. Any “religious person” who can state that Muslims and Christians worship the same deity is not worthy of the name Christian, and any “Orthodox” who gets seduced by Ecumenism always end groveling at the feet of Rome whose Catechism states:

      841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

      No way I’ll ever accept that our God created another religion with an open ended mission to conquer the world by any means necessary, and whose Mahdi and whose version of “Jesus” (coming to break crosses, etc) match so well with our False Prophet and Antichrist figures.

      • Archpriest John Morris says

        Allah is merely the Arabic word for God. Its use is not confined to Muslims but is also used by all Arabic speaking Orthodox Christians when they pray in the Arabic language. Of course the Allah they worship is the Christian Allah who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and not the Allah of the Muslims.

        • Pravoslavnie says

          We had this conversation with a Syriac priest in Virginia once. He laughed when I asked why his church offered prayers to Allah by telling us that they had been praying to Allah for nearly 2000 years, and for 600 years before the Muslims arrived.

    • nit picker says

      Gail S. wrote:

      We don’t often hear these stories, but I suspect they are painfully real.

      The Egyptians are another group of people that I have met in recent years throughout my travels in the region of the Balkan Peninsula and Mediterranean in growing numbers. Not Muslims, Christians. Coptic Christians. Again, fleeing persecution. Stories of being systematically denied employment, their crops destroyed, over taxed, their children harassed at school (when they were allowed to go to school), their live stock killed or stolen, their wells poisoned, clergy, catechists, monks and nuns tortured, raped and murdered.

      We won’t even get into the Hellenic community in Egypt which has been ultimately decimated and now consists almost entirely of the clergy in the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the monastery of St. Catherine’s.

      Suspect it’s painfully real? I’m willing to bet it’s a sure thing….you can bet the farm…you won’t lose a thing.

  4. Good Christian Initiative says

    8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075-0106 * Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0237 – Email:

    Contact: PRESS OFFICE
    Stavros Papagermanos

    Date: April 11, 2013


    Archbishop Demetrios member of Advisory Council

    NEW YORK – On April 9-10, Archbishop Demetrios participated in the meetings of The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to which he had been appointed by President Barack Obama. The Archbishop is one of the 15 members of this Council.

    The two-day meetings took place at the Eisenhower Executive Building of the White House in Washington, D.C. The purpose was to submit the Council’s Final Report of Recommendations to the President concerning the building of partnerships between the government and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to eradicate modern-day slavery. Comprised by leaders from diverse religious and non-profit backgrounds, the task of the Council was to produce, in the course of several months, a report which addressed issues of human trafficking at home and abroad, that is, the exploitation of children, women and men for compelled labor or sexual exploitation through the use of force, fraud or coercion.

    The Council worked in close cooperation with Joshua DuBois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Office of Faith- Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and his successor in the same Office Melissa Rogers.

    The report contains 10 recommendations which, in partnership with the government, will help to combat and eventually eradicate modern-day slavery and bring healing and dignity in the life of those who have been victimized by it. Among the recommendations are the raising of public awareness to the problem, the appropriate education of the public, the sharing of information, the increasing support from the public, and the collaboration with federal agencies and organizations to combat human trafficking.

    President Obama met privately with the Council members in the West Wing, and thanked them for their dedication and input in the preparation of the report and its recommendations.
    Commenting on the work of the Council, Archbishop Demetrios said: “It has been a great honor indeed to be appointed by President Barack Obama to a Council of such importance, comprised of outstanding religious and civic leaders. The task has been awesome because we had to deal with the tragic condition of slavery in our own times, of human trafficking ruthlessly involving millions of innocent people. Now is the moment of decisive action to eliminate slavery from the face of the earth. Once and for all!”

    The final report was officially presented to the representative of the government, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, for further utilization and incorporation in the policies of the Administration, and it is available at:

    • Michael Bauman says

      Another report ash-canned. To address slavery, one would have to be directly critical of Islam. Anyone think that is going to happen?

  5. Seraphim98 says

    Might as well repost this here. It seems the appropriate place and discussion. The persecution is not just in Egypt and Iraq:

  6. cynthia curran says

    “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world.” So asserted German Chancellor Angela Merkel late last year, causing a stir. Merkel echoed a concern expressed by then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who warned in a 2011 speech that Christians face a “particularly wicked program of cleansing in the Middle East, religious cleansing.”
    Merkel father is or was a Luthean pastor which is why Merkel is interested in the subject.

  7. cynthia curran says

    St. John Moschus, I think he is a 7th century figure.

  8. Johann Sebastian says

    It is worth noting that Christians of the Eastern type (be they Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Nestorian, or even Eastern Catholic) bear the brunt of this persecution.

    Christians of the Western type are quite content to fawn over their pope or sit mesmerized by the “messages” of Reverend Motivational Speaker-in-a-sports-arena. A good many of them even deny that our Eastern Churches are even Christian!

    • Michael Bauman says

      A good many of them even deny that our Eastern Churches are even Christian!

      Yup, some of them would be quite happy to join in if only to bring Armageddon closer to reality.

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “It is worth noting that Christians of the Eastern type (be they Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Nestorian, or even Eastern Catholic) bear the brunt of this persecution.

      “Christians of the Western type are quite content to fawn over their pope or sit mesmerized by the “messages” of Reverend Motivational Speaker-in-a-sports-arena. A good many of them even deny that our Eastern Churches are even Christian!”

      Maybe the persecution will help wake some of “Eastern” Orthodox from fawning over the “Pope” (the focal point of falsely called “Ecumenism”). I pray the persecution helps the Monophsyites (falsely called Oriental Orthodox) and Nestorians and “Eastern Catholics” find the true Church, which is “Eastern” Orthodoxy. There is no “we” or “our Eastern Churches” here in the sense you use it, the logical and unavoidable end result of losing a “One Holy and Apostolic Church” is always all religions are the same.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      This conforms to the historical pattern of the West preferring Islam to Orthodoxy. I was recently schooled by a priestmonk with a PhD in Byzantine history about the 1867 Balkan war where Western powers rushed to the defense of ‘the Sick Man of Europe’ – the tottering Ottoman – in helping the Turk put down the rebellion of Bulgarians. Germans, French, English and Americans all agreed that the deaths of thousands of Bulgarian Orthodox was preferable to a Tsarist incursion in their defense. The Pope even preached Holy War to save the Ottoman from the Tsar. That’s a snap shot of the recent past, and there are many more where that came from.
      My question is, how does Russia begin to effectively function as the self-proclaimed ‘protector of Middle-Eastern Christians’? I’d really like to know. I’d like to help! In the meantime, pray and fast!

  9. Aren’t we to expect this? What’s the surprise. They killed God afterall, why wouldn’t they hate His followers more than anyone else?

    I am not the least bit thrilled. But I am also not the least bit surprised.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Of course I agree with you and my critic in this regard –the persecution of the Church is a given throughout history. One of the major points I have been trying to make over the years is that do our bishops understand this? Especially those who have plighted their troth to the Left end of the political spectrum? Do they understand that since the French Revolution, it is those who believe in “equality” who have murdered millions of Christians? It is they who are going to force the various Christian churches to perform homosexual rites in their naves, otherwise they will be charged with “hate crimes” and eventually lose their tax exemptions? (What will struggling Orthodox parishes who hold food festivals/bake sales do when they are faced with the possible loss of their tax exemption? Will they buckle under the pressure? Time will tell.)

      • George Michalopulos says

        Mr Maliniak, you are correct but I would take your analysis a step further. Your friend’s brief is not merely legalistic and secularistic, his very enthusiasm for going jihad on you is nothing short of demonic.

        • Will Harrington says

          Further, we really should be asking why the government is in the marriage business. This dates back to the feudal age where peasants and serfs getting married owed a fee to the lord of there manor. Why should the United States continue this feudal extortion? If people wish to register a marriage with the government, then fine, but the government should not license marriage. Remove government interference in religion and, poof, the argument goes away. Homosexuals could get married in their local episcopagan church and the government has a potential club removed from its grasp and traditional churches are protected.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Mr Harrington, you may have hit on to something here. However just as there is no such thing as a “temporary tax” so too do I fear is there no such thing as a “temporary function of government.” Our Founding Fathers knew that it was the wont of government to grow, hence their ingenious set-up of Separate Branches of Government and States’ Rights. Unfortunately even with these tremendous obstacles, demagogues have found ways to get around them over the decades.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Its not about homosexuals “marrying” it is about creating an environment that gives a hostile government the opportunity to come after us.

          • The rationale for government involvement in marriage is the fact marriage is not – nor has it ever been – merely about two individuals. It is a communal act that has implications for all of society, most notably (but not exclusively) due to the fact that until very recent times marriage assumed the likelihood of the couple having children. It is primarily this likelihood, and all the societal ramifications associated with it (inheritance, protection of spouses and children in cases of divorce or desertion, etc.), that constitutes society’s (and therefore government’s) right – and indeed obligation – to be involved in marriage. Few Orthodox seem to want to acknowledge this reality because (on the surface) it smacks of Roman Catholicism.

            It is only over the last 65 years or so that marriage has become artificially disassociated from the likelihood of procreation in the minds of most people. And it is this mindset that has created the warped cultural ethos in which we now live – an atmosphere in which the whole concept of marriage is reduced to the rights of the individuals involved, as well as one within which what would otherwise be the obvious impossibility of homosexual ‘marriage’ becomes perfectly logical.

            Until and unless this natural association of marriage with childbearing is restored (a veritable impossibility for a culture that unquestioningly accepts limitless contraception), the rationale for marriage in the traditional sense is completely lost. And whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, our irrational aversion to all things Roman will have been a contributing factor.

            • Michael Bauman says

              There was a time when the marriage laws of the Church were the marriage laws of the state. If you ever have a chance to go through the Rudder on marriage you’ll see that there is scant mention of anything that would separate marriage in the Church from state sanctioned marriage. There is a great many rules that are specificaly designed to protect property and inheritance rights and allow for their expansion of those rights in the sections dealing with who can marry whom: long detailed lists that extend into minute family relationships that we rarely consider today.

              So too, the prohibition against pre-marital sex and monogomy in marriage were at least partially based in inheritance concerns. Using marriage law for the actual protection of children came later (as opposed to inheritance rights). Under the current marriage law of my state, children are essentially treated as property. The financial responsibilities and property rights of the male and the female are recognized as share and share alike. Children are an extension of those rights and responsibilities. There is no requirement in the law itself for any third party to administer marriage vows or promises of any kind: Any male and female of legal age and otherwise unencumbered (like being already married) can declare themselves married. Nor is a marriage license required nor any registration of the marriage. As long as they then hold themsleves out as being married, the couple are legally married and subject to the financial and property resonsibilities and privledges. Kansas was one of the first states to recognize and legally protect the property rights of married women and the law reflects that.

              All Kansas would have to do to legally recognized homosexual marriage would be to remove the legal requirement that the couple be male/female (being human and monogomous is assumed).

              Marriage has always been as much a property contract as a liturgical/sacramental mystery. Let the state regulate property, that seems to be a legitmate function of the state.

              We need to be careful here that we don’t go all gnostic about marriage because of the perversions being recognized as marriage these days.

              Perhaps we will have to do something akin to what we do with Baptisms (by and large): recognize only trinitarian marriages blessed by denominations who only marry men and women. Anyone who has merely contracted a state marriage or were married in a heretical/non-Christian church would have to be married in the Church if they convert.

              Perhaps the lawyers amongst us could opine as to whether it would give the Church more of a legal position to resist the state if we simply declared that we don’t recognize any state sanctioned marriage.

              The overiding shift that allows such stupidity to take hold as “homosexual marriage” is both the de-coupling of procreation and marriage AND in the fact that the state once prohibited and punished gross violations of a person or their property and insured equitable distribution of property and responsibilities once a contract is dissolved.

              Now, it seems, the state cannot prohibit anyone from doing anything as people either have the “right” to do it or were so shaped by their parents/society/disease that they can no longer be held accountable. Any thought or action that is restrictive of these ‘rights’ and victimhood is deemed bigoted and illegal becasue such restraint is a gross violation of a person and their property. To punish those who offend others with their bigotry and restraint has now become the function of law.

              • Michael,

                Not to nit-pick, but this idea…

                “Anyone who has merely contracted a state marriage or were married in a heretical/non-Christian church would have to be married in the Church if they convert.”

                …strikes me as both a denial of existing reality (for converts), as well as a practice that would be contrary to the Tradition. From the very earliest days, the Church recognized married people who converted as being married. St. Paul’s exhortation, “Let everyone remain in that state in which he was called. Were you called having a wife? Seek not to be loosed…” comes immediately to mind. So also is the practice today in the Orthodox Church – at least everywhere I know of – for married converts.

                Of course even pagans in those days had better sense than to consider homosexual ‘marriage’ a possibility, so there was no question of receiving a homosexually ‘married’ couple as converts.

                Christian people marry in the Church in order to realize the icon of marriage in its fullness, to be recognized by the Church community, supported, and to realize the communal nature of marriage in its relation to the communion of the entire Church – much as society’s involvement in marriage referenced in my previous comment. But the idea that only the Church can “legitimately” marry people or that only those married in the Church are “legitimately” married is, I dare say, of Roman Catholic origin, although their official teaching (“the couple is the minister of the sacrament”) doesn’t seem to correspond with their actual practice. Perhaps our Catholic Observer will comment on this apparent contradiction.

                None of this, however, should be taken to imply that Orthodox Christians are free to marry outside the Church, for to do so would be to deny the ecclesial nature of marriage and reduce it (like the world has) to an individual, essentially selfish choice.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  The existing reality, IMO, is that marriage for people outside the Church means little and the meaning will degrade over time. Folks may solve it for us by simply not marrying at all anymore.

                  As it stands now, given the difficulty of marriage outside the Church people who later come to the Church are penalized for getting married rather than for living in sin. The fact is that a great many marriages outside the Church are not really marriages at all. That ought to be recognized in a manner similar to baptism.

                  If someone comes to the Church with an intact marriage, great, bless the marriage and go on, otherwise, they don’t count.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Brian, the fact that the rest of the world denies the eccelsial nature of marriage should be reason enough to find ways to bring folks into the Church in such a way as to model the reality.

                  Case in point: I have a very good friend who has been a God-loving woman all of her life. She had no knowledge of Orthodoxy and no access. She was sexually abused at a young age and here home life was emotionally abusive.

                  She married young and was faithful to her marriage despite the fact that her husband was a philandering, abusive alcoholic. Fourteen years in, he left her with three children and little means to raise them. She married a man who appeared to love God, in Protestant fashion, but turned out to be quite twisted. She remained faithful to that marriage for 17 years depsite the fact that he was not. He ended up planning to murder her and run away with his woman.
                  Financially, he devasted her.

                  She lived unmarried for many years until a man finally came into her life who loved her. Because of the scars they both had from previous failed marriages, they did not marry at first. Finally they did and he died 7 months later.

                  Now she is Orthodox and prohibited from marrying in the Church. Had she merely persisted in living in sin with the last husband, she would not be prohibited.

                  She came into the Church, in part, becasue of her love for an Orthodox man, she stayed because of her love of God (one of those who was Orthodox and didn’t know it). Under your approach, she is forced to choose between fulfilling her love of God in the Church or the blessed companionship of a faithful, loving spouse. What would you do?

                  The man decided on the ‘selfish’ course of marrying her outside the Church, submitting to the penance of a time away from the Cup and going through catechisis classes with her. He was restored to the Cup on the day she was Chrismated and, in effect, their marriage was blessed.

                  It just seems that we need to find away to offer the compassion and healing of the Church to the many such people who are out there instead of heaping heavy burdens on them we ourselves are not willing to bear much of the time. The case I cite is not the norm, nor should it be, but that does not mean there are others who face the same dilemma and turn aside from the Church.

                  O, BTW, the death of her husband left her in deep depression and near suicidal as she felt abandoned once again. The combination of the marriage to the Orthodox man AND life in the Church restored her.

                  • Michael,

                    I’m not quite sure how recognizing those who are married when they convert morphed into the scenario you described. And no, I certainly do not want to put undue burdens on anyone.

                    Would “I don’t know” be a good answer? I do have some thoughts, though.

                    Whatever rules the Church has are for those in the Church. I’m not really sure how what happened to this woman in her life prior to being in the Church applies in the same way it would if she been in the Church throughout. “If any man (or woman) be in Christ he is a new creation.” Moreover, ‘rules’ are subject to the Church. They are the measure of what is normally expedient for the salvation of most people, not rigid ‘laws’ to which we are subject. The ‘rules’ are almost always good (although, again, I do not understand why they would apply in the case you describe) and ought largely to be followed. It is rarely a sign of wisdom to assume we know better. But the ultimate reality of our life in Christ is that there is only one ‘rule’, and that is the rule of love – not a namby-pamby, mushy love, but REAL love, the love of God. If the bishop (and yours is a good one) determines that the ‘rule’ will further her salvation I would not question his judgment, but if another marriage is disallowed based only on the rule, something is amiss in the understanding of the ‘rules’ in my, admittedly ignorant, opinion.

      • Pere LaChaise says

        George, your comments are universally infelicitous. First, you caption the picture at top with “I am glad” – what is there to be glad about? THat you are right and a ‘leftie’ is wrong. Rather you should mourn, but it appears that healthy response is not likely because of your addiction to self-justification and useless politicizing, and worse, prognostication – all ways you, George M., get to maintain control of your world. Why don’t you wake up and smell the coffee? God is in control, not you.

  10. cynthia curan says

    Outside of the middle east, it more likely to be either Protesant or Roman Catholic, China, Vietnam, North Korea, India and so forth are not always Orthodox.

  11. cynthia curan says

    Outside of the middle east, it more likely to be either Protesant or Roman Catholic, China, Vietnam, North Korea, India and so forth are not always Orthodox.

  12. Interesting to note that in the print version the suspect is Muslim but that is not mentioned on the video

  13. Ivan Vasiliev says

    “The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, an expert on the region, told me he is shocked that American Christians aren’t regularly protesting outside of embassies drawing attention to this issue.”

    There are sizable numbers of Orthodox Christians in the Washington DC area and in many of the cities where the offending powers have consulates. There are certainly large numbers of Roman Catholics and other Christian groups in those areas. Perhaps it is time to move out of the whining mode and into the action mode. Get out and organize protests. Don’t stop until the media take notice—they will and, as uncomfortable as it will be for them to admit that one of their favorite targets for disrespect and contempt is the target for massive persecution, they will at least have to acknowledge it. I expect it will be similar to what happened when the godless regime persecuted the Churches in the Soviet time. The media had to acknowledge that it happened whenever protestors made enough noise, and then moved quickly on. The key is to keep making noise. If believers don’t care enough about this to raise a fuss, then who can blame hostile unbelievers if they don’t give a damn?

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

      “There are sizable numbers of Orthodox Christians in the Washington DC area and in many of the cities where the offending powers have consulates. There are certainly large numbers of Roman Catholics and other Christian groups in those areas. Perhaps it is time to move out of the whining mode and into the action mode. Get out and organize protests. Don’t stop until the media take notice—they will and, as uncomfortable as it will be for them to admit that one of their favorite targets for disrespect and contempt is the target for massive persecution, they will at least have to acknowledge it. I expect it will be similar to what happened when the godless regime persecuted the Churches in the Soviet time. The media had to acknowledge that it happened whenever protestors made enough noise, and then moved quickly on. The key is to keep making noise. If believers don’t care enough about this to raise a fuss, then who can blame hostile unbelievers if they don’t give a damn?”

      False “Ecumenical” effort to change the world by worldy means can only lead to fornication with Mystery Babylon. Getting seduced by worldly power is how Rome fell in the first place and how they’ve gotten to the point that they state they worship the same god as the Muslims. And if we all worship the same god (as our own Patriarch of Antioch said), then it is just some ultimately meaningless dispute that the Christians being persecuted probably brought on by themselves. It isn’t worth losing our souls trying to gain a few moments of notice and slightly less biased coverage from people who report the public gang rape of female Christians as “Christians and Muslims clash in Egypt” and “More Sectarian Conflict in Egypt.”

  14. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    The author of this piece, Kirsten Powers, is an Orthodox Christian, married to a doctor from Egypt.

    She is one of the few people that make FOX News worth watching.

    • On the topic of her religion, Kirsten Powers is quoted as saying: “I’m an orthodox Christian. I’d say evangelical but that word is too loaded with cultural baggage, so I say orthodox instead”.

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        It depends on who is quoting her.

        Kirsten is married to a Coptic Orthodox Christian.

        This fact suggests a reason to capitalize the “O,” as in the Wikipedia article on her.

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Merkel should know as the German government persecutes Christians who wish to home school by taking their children away and putting the parents in jail. Even demanding extradition of families who have come to the US.

    God how I loath tyranny clothed in the guise of education.

  16. Francis Frost says

    Dear Friends:

    While we may justifiably protest the very real persecution of Christians by Muslims and atheists, we cannot forget Orthodox Christians have been targeted and persecuted even by those who claim the name of faithful Orthodox Christians.

    You may recall that Mr. Putin personally led the invasion forces during the August 2008 invasion of Georgia. Perhaps you are unaware that Orthodox churches were specifically targeted by the invasion forces.

    Below is the YouTube web address for the “Orthodox Occupation” documentary which shows Mr. Putin’s handiwork. An English translation of the original is attached below. Additional information is included in the Wall Street Journal article also attached below.

    BTW. This documentary also addresses the origins of the non-canonical “Abkhaz Orthodox Eparchy”.

    On a happier note, it now appears that the Moscow Patriarchate is planning to abandon its non-canonical “Eparchy” in occupied Abkhazia. This may be due to the fact that the Apsua clergy are now in open revolt against the Moscow Patriarchate and Vassarion Apliaa the MP’s representative in Abkhazia

    Francis Frost

    English translation by N. Kighuradze and K. Danelia
    First Broadcast in December, 2008. This video begins after the start of the interview, as a portion of the video was lost during storage and retrieval from the Archives

    The interviewee is the spokesman for the Georgian Orthodox patriarchate

    The Russian church is acting according to contradictory standards in this case, since on the one hand, it officially and publicly acknowledges the unity of the Georgian church. It considers the Abkhazian diocese as as an integral part of the Georgian Apostolic Church; but on the other hand The Russian Church is totally ignoring the Apostolic Church Canons, when it carries out religious activities (on the territory of the Abkhazian diocese) .
    Journalist: Georgian church discussed the Russian Patriarchate’s double standards at the meeting of the Holy Synod. There will be talks between two churches about the matter of Abkhazia in the near future. Metropolitan Daniel of Sokhumi and Abkhazia is planning to visit Moscow, The Russian church officially considers the Abkhazian diocese as under Tbilisi’s jurisdiction; however on the occupied territory, Russian bishops have ordained locals as priests and provided them with Russian religious literature.

    Russian priest 1: It’s like filling a void that cannot be adequately controlled by either the Georgian nor by the Russian Orthodox Church in the interim.

    Journalist: The so called leader of Abkhazian Eparchy, Besarion Aplia, was ordained as a Deacon in 1989 by Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia the II. Aplia later became a priest and participated in the Abkhazian war. After mass expulsion of Georgians, the priest Besarion became affiliated with the Russian bishops, and has received several awards from the Patriarch of Moscow. Aplia, as they explain in the Russian Patriarchate, is their spiritual friend. On june 19th (2008) Aplia was awarded with the Order of St. Seraphim of Sarov, third degree. The gift from the Russian Patriarch was brought to Sokhumi by Bishop Panteleimon of Maikopi and Aidgei (Karabadino – North Caucasus) .

    Bishop Panteleion: The Russian Orthodox Church has awarded with its Order of St. Seraphim of Sarov, third degree to father Besarion for his tireless religious activities, for keeping and saving Orthodoxy in Abkhazia within his people.

    Priest Besarion: The award that we were honored with by the most holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is an acknowledgement that raises our and my personal, responsibility to save the Orthodoxy here.
    Journalist: Father Besarion so far has not been defrocked by the Georgian Orthodox Church; and the Russians are taking advantage of the situation, since the APLIA is still recognized as a religious authority.
    Priest 1: He has not been banned from priestly duties; however, if he continues to act in disobedience (to hjios legitimate bishop, Metropolitan Daniel), our Synod will take the appropriate measures.

    Russian Priest 1: We regard Father Besarion as our colleague, who took a legitimate position in Georgian Orthodox Church, who is not under any canonical restrictions and who has not been banned from priestly duties.

    Journalist: Georgian Patriarch Ilia remarked on the current situation in Abkhazia during his sermon on Sunday in the Holy Trinity Cathedral (in Tbilisi).

    Patriarch Ilia the II: The Russian clergy frequently come into Abkhazia and carry out priestly actions without asking permission.

    Journalist: In case of unsuccessful talks with Russian Patriarchate, the Georgian Orthodox Church will ask the other autocephalous churches for help. The so called Apkhaz Eparchy does not allow Georgian clergy to enter on Abkhazian territory. (In April 2009, Aplia led the russian soldiers who expelled the last legitimate Orthodox monastics and clergy from occupied Kodori and Gali in the newly occupied eastern Abkhazia). Besides Abkhazia, Russian bishops are active in Tskhinvali. A frequent visitor is Bishop Theophan of Stavropol, who with Eduard Kokoity (de facto president of S. Ossetia) even attends the Ossetian Military parade.

    Destruction site

    (The 5th century Ghvrtaeba Cathdral and shrine of St. Razhden the Protomartyr was attacked with missile on August 8th, 2008. Bishop Esia escaped moments before the rockets hit his residence. The next day, August 9th, Ossetian militants and Russian soldiers looted the Cathedral and then burned the sanctuary) :

    Journalist: Ecclesiastics who stood with their country in the frontlines during the war have been recognized for their steadfast service.

    Bishop Esaia: We are greatly concerned about our opponents wounds between Ossetians; since we think that in the relationship between the Georgian and Ossetian people problems do not exist. We think that we only did what our duty required.

    Journalist: Bishop Esaia (the diocesan bishops of Nikazi, Tskhinvali and Shida Kartli) did not abandon the Georgian parishes even for one day. The bishop’s residence was destroyed during the first day of bombing. The sacred vessels items did not survive during the fire either. Bishop Esaia used to look at Tskhinvali from the balcony of his home.

    Bishop Esia: Last night there was some sense of security. People from villages started to arrive, some even stayed, others came to see their house and returned for a little bit. I think the situation, meaning the burnt and destroyed homes, can be rebuilt little by little.
    Priest: Be strengthened and put your hope in the Lord who defeated hell, who rose from the dead, and restored us in flesh and spirit, a joyous Resurrection, may the Lord grant you many years.

    Priest 2 : This is one of the most powerful icons of St. George that exist in the Orthodox church and the arrival of the replica in Georgia during these times will be the symbol of suppressing any kind of evil which is trying to undermine the territorial unity of Georgia.

    Patriarch Ilia the II: Today is a day of mourning, but it is also a day of hope. We look to the future with an eye of hope, so that the tense relations that exist between us will get better. I want to as a spiritual father to warn Georgians, Ossetians, Abkhazians , our spiritual children that if they stay outside of Georgia there might come a time, when that there will be an Abkhazia and the region of Tskhinvali; but there might not be Abkhazians or Ossetians (left in those regions). This will happen as a punishment from God because the lands that they seized are ancient Georgian territories. We greatly respect Russia, and the Russian people. We greatly value their culture and spirituality; but I want to say to them that we will not allow the disintegration of Georgia’s territorial unity. In this we are unanimous. I hope that the Russian authorities will show wisdom, and foresight; and this conflict will end in peace. I ask the Lord to bless the nation with peace. Amen.

    SEPTEMBER 24, 2008
    What the Russians Left In Their Wake in Georgia

    Having devastated vast areas of its own lands in the Caucasus, such as Chechnya and Ingushetia, in order to “protect” them from instability, Moscow’s obliterating shadow has settled deep over Georgia — with the usual consequences. The full barbarism of Russian actions in Georgia may not emerge for years; much of the evidence lies behind the lines in terrain newly annexed by Russia. But some details are now beyond dispute. Alongside the various human atrocities, such as the bombing and purging of civilian areas, the invaders looted and destroyed numerous historical sites, some of which were profoundly revered by the Georgians as sacred building blocks in their national identity. This is especially true of the region around South Ossetia that served as a kind of cradle of early Georgian culture. The Georgian Ministry of Culture lists some 500 monuments and archaeological sites now mostly under Russian occupation and out of sight.

    After the interminable Soviet decades, the Georgians from 1990 onward made a special push nationwide to reconsecrate churches and build local museums to revive their own interrupted national narrative. No doubt that in itself acted as a kind of provocation to Russia’s hair-trigger sensitivities over loss of empire. Using satellite imagery and interviews with refugees from the August invasion, the Georgian government is in the process of identifying damage to the most important monuments.

    Thus far the destruction includes severe bomb damage to the Museum of Prince Matchabelli, which housed the personal effects of the Georgian royal family’s famed anti-Russian rebel, who was native to the region; destruction by arson of the church of St. George in Sveri, a rare 19th-century wooden structure; shelling damage to the 12th-century Ikorta church with its graves of revered Georgians; and extensive bomb damage to the monastery complex of Nikozi Church — dating from the 11th century, it is perhaps the most important site of all. This is an extremely selective list, but it gives the reader an idea of why the area matters deeply to Georgians, and in a perverse way to Russian-backed militias allowed to plunder as they drove out residents at gunpoint and, according to eyewitness accounts, began looting buildings. Satellite imagery shows that specifically Georgian villages were extensively torched and in some places are being bulldozed flat.
    Here one should firmly scotch any budding moral equivalency arguments comparing Russian conduct in Georgia with allied conduct in Iraq or Kosovo. Whatever other mistakes have been made, the U.S. has meticulously avoided bomb damage to ancient sites and never has encouraged any allies to attack or obliterate the culture of rivals. To be clear, the U.S. simply does not harbor that kind of targeted animus toward the cultural patrimony of others.

    I was in the Georgian war zone during a chunk of August and with the help of local friends I was able to traverse occupied terrain via country roads and over hills on foot — a highly dodgy undertaking as one moved into South Ossetia without Russian permits. Georgian refugees were still streaming out. Bodies and burned vehicles were left behind. To view the damage to Nikozi, my friends got me to a hillside at dusk for a short spell, before it got dark enough for night-vision lenses to pick us out, making it suicidal for us to move around. One could make out rubble and destruction in the village and the church complex. The church itself seemed unharmed, but the equally historic bishop’s palace nearby appeared roofless and fire-damaged. In the advancing twilight, visibility was bad. But what I saw has now been confirmed by multiple eyewitness and other reports.

    The site of Nikozi Church dates back to the fifth century and is known to Georgians as the Church of the First Martyr. The story goes that St. Rajdeny was a Persian soldier of high rank stationed in the area under the Sassanid empire. He converted to Christianity and was tortured to reconvert to Zoroastrianism. He refused and died under torture, and his grave became a center of pilgrimage around which a church was built by Vakhtang Gorgaseli, the fifth-century Georgian king who founded Tblisi. A bishop’s palace was added and the church rebuilt in the 11th century.

    The Soviets expunged all religious activity there with particular force because Stalin hailed from the nearby town of Gori, where they built the Stalin museum in his lifetime. At the Soviets’ demise, Nikozi became again a center of pilgrimage for Georgians. And as the national church came back to life, Nikozi reacquired a bishop who revived the annual mid-August festivities in honor of St. Rajdeny.

    The fiercest aerial bombardment of the village took place this year on Aug. 12 and 14. Bishop Andrea Gvazava of Gori, who was helping conduct services at the church at the time, later told me that he had organized the evacuation of villagers but the bishop of Nikozi had stayed to face further bombing. There is some confusion over the condition of the church — some say it sustained some fire damage and little else — but the medieval bishop’s palace was gutted and everything inside torched. New outbuildings to house a school were destroyed. Bishop Andrea believes that the complex likely suffered looting, because in Gori and outlying villages he and other priests were later robbed at gunpoint by Ossetian militias.

    In contrast, Stalin’s museum in Gori, which I visited during the occupation, went unmolested except for the Georgian flag flying on the tower above — a sniper had shot out its red St. George crosses. In fact, the museum became a center of pilgrimage for Russian soldiers who daily stood around having their pictures taken. The custodian, a sturdy elderly lady, also had refused to flee. She told me that teary-eyed Russian officers, drunk by evening as most Russian soldiers were, kept turning up and complimenting her for watching the place. They had hugged her and said: “He was a great man. He kept our country unified.”

    Had they mentioned that he’d done so by decimating an entire generation of Georgians and by settling Ossetians in and around Tskhinvali, the source of all the present trouble? “They were alcoholics,” she sniffed. Why hadn’t she fled? “Because it is a piece of history, whatever you think of Stalin,” she said, “and we have a responsibility to preserve it.”

    Mr. Kaylan writes about culture for the Journal.

    • Pere LaChaise says

      Kind of hard for a man like Putin to put on the mantle of ‘protector of Orthodox peoples’ when his army – and the Moscow Patriarchate – act this way. Of course, to question the supervening goodness of Mother Russia, the Central State of the Orthodox world, is tantamount to blessing the Muslims and Western Powers. We are watching the forces of chaos in the manichaean guise of geopolitics, uproot and burn out the traces of spiritual culture. What can make up for that loss? Coming generations will be ever more easily mislead and dehumanized in the vacuum of spiritual culture.

      This is a wake up call: there is no side, left or right, for Christians to run to. The defense of our communities is not a political football, yet all secular powers, and even ecclesiastical, have a history of kicking that ball downfield for short-term gain. Tragedy of a vast scale is before us, the crucifixion of all humanity, and the biosphere with it.
      Pray and fast for salvation!

    • from says

      April 14, 2013
      Metropolitan Tikhon addresses clergy, faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest


      In a pastoral letter dated April 14, 2013, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon addressed the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest with regard to recent events concerning His Grace, Bishop Matthias.

      The complete text as it appears below also is available in PDF format.
      April 14, 2013
      Sunday of Saint John of the Ladder

      To the Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Reverend Deacons, Venerable Monastics, Esteemed Members of the Diocesan and Parish Councils and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest,

      The past eight months have been difficult for the entire Diocese of the Midwest and have seen the clergy and faithful in all of the parishes deeply affected by the matter of the allegations against His Grace, Bishop Matthias. The resolution of this matter has likewise required significant attention and the Holy Synod recognizes the stress that everyone has been under during this time.

      Since Archbishop Nathaniel’s letter to the diocese of November 3, 2012, the Holy Synod has been carefully reviewing all aspects of this matter, including the Report of the Response Team that investigated the complaint, the Report of the Institute which offered the week-long evaluation and the discussions held at the Assembly and Diocesan Council of the Diocese of the Midwest.

      At the Spring Session of the Holy Synod, held on March 11-14, 2013, the members of the Holy Synod met with His Grace, Bishop Matthias, and came to a consensus on this matter. After much prayer and deliberation, the Holy Synod regretfully determined to recommend to their brother, Bishop Matthias, that he retire voluntarily from his position as diocesan bishop for the Diocese of the Midwest.

      Although His Grace was obedient to all the directives placed upon him by the Holy Synod, it was the Holy Synod’s considered opinion that the healing of the Diocese and of the complainant, as well as Bishop Matthias’ own healing, would not be possible should he be returned to the Diocese as a ruling hierarch. The Holy Synod offered him some time to reflect upon this action and to plan for his transition.

      Since the time of the Holy Synod meeting, His Grace, Bishop Matthias, the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Diocese of the Midwest have reached a consensus concerning this entire matter. This includes the necessary considerations for the complainant, for His Grace and for the clergy and faithful of the diocese. Bishop Matthias’ retirement will be effective Monday, April 15, 2013.

      Finally, effective April 15, 2013, the Holy Synod has appointed His Grace, Bishop Alexander, Bishop of Toledo, as the Locum Tenens of the Diocese of the Midwest. He is to be commemorated liturgically as “His Grace, Bishop Alexander, Bishop of Toledo, Locum Tenens of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest.”

      May our Lord, through his precious and life-giving Cross, continue to strengthen us all on our journey to the Kingdom.

      Asking God’s blessings upon all, I remain

      Sincerely yours in Christ,

      + Tikhon
      Archbishop of Washington
      Metropolitan of All America and Canada

    • Czech Lands says

      The issue with Metropolitan Kristof is simple. He engaged in behavior with other women that made it impossible for the Czech Church to continue to support him as our Primate. He admitted his weakness and resigned. We still love him. Who is not without weakness? He did so with love, trust and brotherly love from his Synod. And, his brothers provided for him. A place to live, a title with dignity. Yes, we know he was wrong, but we Czech’s take care of our own.