Archive for the ‘Prayers’ Category

Reichwing Watch: Trump Spokesman Cites Japanese Internment to Justify Muslim Registry

November 18, 2016

This is terrifying. It’s another clip from Reichwing Watch, from a news programme in which a spokesman for Trump tells Megan Kelly, the news anchor, to her face that Japanese internment during World War II has set a precedent for Trump’s proposal to have all Muslims entered in an official register. To her credit, Kelly tells him that he cannot use this as a precedent, and reproaches him for using it to get people frightened. The Trump surrogate laughs this off, but says that the president still needs to protect America. She argues back that the protection extends the moment you enter America.

This should terrify everyone, who is sincerely worried about the march of Fascism, including anyone with a knowledge of Roman civilisation. Firstly, the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II as enemy aliens led to horrendous suffering and deprivation, and is still naturally resented by Americans of Japanese heritage decades later. George Takei, I understand, the actor who played Mr Sulu in Star Trek, was particularly active in Japanese-American civil rights organisations. American politicos have denounced the internment, and I think the government has paid the victims reparations. And it certainly was deeply unjust that when many Japanese-American servicemen were giving their lives for America, their families, friends and other members of their community were being herded into camps. It is repulsive that Trump’s spokesman should cite this as a precedent, and it does raise the issue of what Trump will do next. If he’s prepared to cite Japanese-American internment as a precedent, is he also considering interning Muslims as well, despite his mouthpiece’s smiling denials?

The American Constitution famously promises Americans freedom of religion. And religious freedom has been at the heart of American democracy, ever since Richard Baxter argued for it, including not just Christians, but also Jews, during the British Civil War. Baxter afterwards emigrated to the nascent US, and the proud, American tradition of religious toleration begins with him in the 17th century. Now Trump’s threatening to reverse this.

Trump’s proposal for Muslims to be officially registered reminds me very strongly of the ancient Roman attitude to religion. The Roman Empire was religious pluralistic, but retained a system of religious suppression. Because the Romans were afraid of the threat of insurrection and rebellion from clubs and other associations, including religious gatherings, they operated a system in which only those religions, which were not considered dangerous to the state, were officially tolerated. The Romans persecuted Christianity because it was not one of the religio licitas – permitted religions. Christians were seen as subversive, because they worshipped Christ as God, instead of the Roman Emperor. Hence the determination to make Christians sacrifice to the Emperor’s numen, his divine spirit, and the statements in the early Christian apologists that, although Christians didn’t worship the emperor, they nevertheless were good citizens, who prayed for him and the other authorities in their services.

Trump is threatening to inflict on American Muslims the type of system that led to the terrible persecution of Christians in ancient Rome.

And where America goes today, Britain and other nations follow tomorrow. I’m not a secularist, but this threatens religious tolerance and freedom right across the modern, democratic West.

And apart from the real danger it poses to Muslims, it also threatens to give the radicals a weapon to use against us. The Islamist bigots, going all the way back to the radicals demanding the suppression of the Satanic Verses and Rushdie’s death, whipped up opposition and hatred towards non-Muslims and the secular state by telling them that they were in danger from White and non-Muslim persecution. Way back in the 1990s the Beeb filmed one of these preachers of hate, Kalim Siddiqui, in his mosque, telling his congregation that ‘British society is a monstrous killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them’. When the team questioned Siddiqui about his words, he started ranting about how the Satanic Verses was the first step towards a ‘holocaust of Muslims.’ This is sheer, poisonous bilge. The book wasn’t blasphemous, and it certainly wasn’t published in preparation for such an monstrous atrocity.

But accusations like this were used to motivate British Muslims, or some British Muslims, into political involvement and opposition to British secularism. And you can bet that ISIS and al-Qaeda will use Trump’s wretched registry to whip up support amongst Muslims by citing it as proof that western society really is intolerant and that we really do have a genocidal hatred of Muslims.

We don’t. Regardless of individual religious affiliation or lack thereof, we need to stand united against this. We can’t let Trump divide us and make the denial of our collective freedoms seem respectable policies. Because it won’t just be Muslims. After them, it’ll be other groups. No-one will be safe from this type of intolerance.

Trump’s Election and the Curious Relevance of Today’s Prayers

November 9, 2016

Some of the prayers used in last Sunday’s service, and which were used again today in the mid-week service at our local Anglican church were strangely relevant, coming today after Trump’s election victory last night. They were set down in the prayer sheets used by some Anglican churches for services where there is no Holy Communion.

The theme for today’s service was ‘Govern the Hearts and Minds of Those in Authority’. There was the reminder that political leaders owe their positions to God, and then prayers for the Almighty’s grace and intervention in cases

‘where leaders are corrupt and freedom is crushed’;

‘where minorities are blamed and persecuted’;

and ‘where nations go to war against each other’.

I realise that this is probably just coincidence, and that many of these themes are quite common in the prayers offered by the mainstream Christian churches. But they are very relevant to the recent American election. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are massively corrupt. Trump was siphoning some of the donations, which were supposed to go to his campaign fund into his private account. The WikiLeaks material also shows that Hillary Clinton also regarded her campaign funding and donations to the Clinton Foundation as a for-profit, business enterprise.

As for the blaming of minorities, Trump’s campaign is based, like that of the Republicans generally since the start of their vile ‘Southern Strategy’ on stoking up the fears of White Americans against Blacks and other non-White minorities. There’s also a very strong element of anti-feminism in Republican ideology. Much Republican rhetoric is against women working outside the home, and in the most extreme cases very hostile against women’s political activism. Ann Coulter, one of the most extreme and bonkers of the Repugs, has said that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. The Young Turks also showed a segment on their show, of a woman telling one of their reports that the Almighty didn’t want a woman as president. Trump’s a misogynist, and his stance has been consistently anti-immigration, and specifically against Mexican and Muslim immigration to the US.

This has drawn the usual Nazis, the KKK and the Alt Right out of the stones underneath which they’ve been hiding. The Klan endorsed Trump last week in their newsletter. It must be said to Trump’s credit that he denounced their endorsement, stating that he didn’t want it. Despite this, there is a very strong Fascistic element at his rallies. And one Nazi group came out last week to state that they were going to act as poll observers, to make sure there was no electoral fraud. They were going to target Black and other ethnic minority neighbourhoods. This looked very much like an attempt to intimidate Black voters from exercising their democratic rights, as these nutters were threatening to turn up to the stations carrying guns. The election has also been Democrats and Republicans conspiring to wipe voters off the polls, who might happen to vote further left than they wanted. 121,050 voters in New York City, who would otherwise probably have voted for Bernie Sanders, were deliberately omitted by two of the parties’ apparatchiks, one of them a Republican, and one of them a member of Hillary’s team. Quite apart from other attempts, up and down America, to stop the poor, students and Blacks from voting by fixing the polls so that they were also excluded from the electoral rolls.

As for nations making wars on each other, the rhetoric at this election has been increasingly belligerent. Trump couldn’t work out why America doesn’t use its nuclear arsenal, which shows that he really shouldn’t have his hand on the nuclear button. And Shrillary seemed all set to start another war with Russia, not just over the Ukraine and Syria, but because she personally blamed them for the embarrassing leaked emails. Plus the fact that we’re still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the American military wishing to extend the wars and chaos further.

Atheists and religious sceptics will have to indulge me, but I think today’s prayers were a very clear message from the Almighty about the corruption, persecution and warmongering in today’s politics, and both of the candidates in the US election. But particularly Trump.

Video of Mass Meeting of Orthodox Jews against Israel in New York 2013

October 9, 2016

I’ve also mentioned several times in my blog posts about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the anti-Semitism smears, that some Orthodox Jews strongly reject Zionism and the state of Israel from religious reasons. As Sam Seder explained in a clip from the Majority Report I put up about a week ago, and a young Jewish woman, who was brutalised for heckling Binyamin Netanyahu when he addressed Congress, traditional Jewish theology considers it a sin to try to establish a Jewish state in Palestine before the coming of the Messiah.

I found this clip on YouTube of a mass meeting of 10,000 plus Orthodox Jews in New York in 2013 to condemn the state of Israel, and in particular a law by the Knesset that would force Yeshiva students – that it is, students at the Jewish religious schools and seminaries – to join the army. The speakers not only make it plain that they see the state of Israel as a blasphemy, they also bitterly resent what they see as the Israeli military’s attempt to make their young men complicit in the military’s crimes. One speaker denounces the Israel government for trying to turn Jews, a traditionally peaceful people, into a militaristic and aggressive nation – ‘the hands of Esau’.

The clip is also interesting as they quote a former Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Sonnenfeld, who refused Zionist aid for his people during a terrible famine in the 1920s. Despite the fact that his people were dying of starvation, Rabbi Sonnenfeld refused the money, as he felt it was an attempt by the Zionists to buy influence in his community. As pious, Orthodox Jews, they also pray for God to return to His people quickly, and come to dwell with them in the Holy City of Zion, as prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Old Testament.

The speeches are in Yiddish, but there is a English voiceover and subtitles.

Trump Ramps the Stupid Up To 11: Snowstorm Caused by Muslims

January 24, 2016

This apparently was announced on the Andrew Marr show here in Britain. A massive snowstorm has hit the eastern US, and Donald Trump has blamed it on the Muslims.

Yes, it’s Muslim snow.

This has to be one of the most stupid things a presidential candidate has ever said. The rants against immigrants and blocking Muslim immigration just follow the usual right-wing logic of xenophobia and the fear of being overrun by the Other. But this is paranoia taken to a new height. Or depth. What makes him think it’s caused by Muslims. Did someone analyse its crystalline structure, and find ‘Allah’ written inside, like there was a spate of people allegedly finding the word written in Arabic letters in fruit not so long ago? Or did someone in the State Department or CIA tell him, ‘Watch yourself, Donald. The Muslims are all going to be praying for snow this weekend, so we’ve got a major meteorological crisis coming’. And if the Muslims have got such exquisite control over the weather, how is it that most of the Middle East is still parched desert, and we’ve still got global warming.

There was a sociological survey done a little while ago, which found that people were inclined to blame the government or authorities even for things over which they generally had absolutely no control, like the weather. I don’t know about the general population and its attitudes, though I’m inclined to believe it. But it certainly seems true of Trump. I’m surprised he hasn’t blamed it on Obama. Obama gets blamed for everything by Conservatives, even when its something they themselves are responsible. Track Palin, Sarah Palin’s son, was arrested for punching his girlfriend in the face. So his mother actually stood up and gave a speech, claiming that his violence was all the fault of Obama, because army veterans like Track weren’t getting the respect they deserved.

But more on that story later.

Trump’s splutterings on the weather remind me of the pronouncement by the Iranian government a few years ago claiming that topless women cause earthquakes. Allah was so angered by godless, immodest females prancing about unclad that He was hitting the world with powerful earthquakes. This provoked a mixture of rage and incredulous hilarity around the world. Women across the globe staged topless demonstrations against the bizarre pronouncement. And as it transpired, there was indeed another earthquakes. But this was probably coincidence, or aftershocks or something, rather than God’s rage.

The Iranian’s pronouncement at least had a certain logic behind it, according to the norms of their society. Their religion requires that women be covered up from head to foot when they appear in public. Violation of these norms anger God, and so when women transgress the enforced standards of modest clothing, God takes revenge. But this is just sheer paranoia, based on the idea that Muslims are some terrible, malign force. There is, according to Trump’s pronouncement, no reason why they should send a snowstorm on America. They just hate America. And, unfortunately, this is basically how many Americans do see Muslims and the problems of the Middle East. They don’t connect it to the US – and indeed, the West in general – interfering in their internal politics, and their invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. They just see it as a simple case of evil Muslims hating righteous America. There’s no reason for it. Muslims are simply like that. And Trump, unfortunately, reflects that na├»ve, stupid and dangerous view.

Apart from the sheer bigotry and absolute lack of any kind of sophisticated understanding of the Middle East and Islamic world on display here, it also shows how close modern American politics is becoming to the weird, twisted world of South Park. I wonder how long it’ll be before Trump takes his place up there with the other maniacs, nutters, and bonkers, out of control celebs the show has ruthlessly pilloried over the years. After all, he’s as racist as Mel Gibson, although it’s directed against Muslims rather than the Jews.

A Prayer for Peace

December 25, 2015

Christmas is the time of peace and goodwill. Unfortunately, our world is still riven by war, so this prayer from the Apostolic Constitutions of the early Christian church is tragically still relevant.

Let us pray for the peace and happy settlement of the world, and of the holy churches; that the God of the whole world may afford us his everlasting peace, and such as may not be taken away from us; that he may preserve us in a full prosecution of such virtue as is according to godliness.

Let us pray for our enemies, and those that hate us. Let us pray for those that persecute us for the name of the Lord, that the Lord may pacify their anger, and scatter their wrath against us.

Save us, and raise us up, O God, by thy mercy. Let us rise up, and let us pray earnestly, and dedicate ourselves and one another to the living God, through His Christ.

I wish all the readers of this blog, whether they’re Christians or not, a very happy, and peaceful Christmas. And may you also enjoy a happy and prosperous New Year (the present wretched government notwithstanding).

News Report on ISIS’ Murder of Muslims as Well as Christians in Syria

April 6, 2015

In my last post, I put up two videos by the American internet news programme, The Young Turks, on American girls trying to run away to Syria to join ISIS, and the situation for women in the areas occupied by the Islamic State. They made the point that those joining ISIS would mostly kill other Muslims, who don’t share ISIS’ extremist beliefs.
The video report below by RT shows how terribly true this is.

Along with general reports on the fighting in Syria, it also covers the murder of Muslim clergy and the closure of mosques by ISIS for their refusal to collaborate with them. About 800 mosques have been closed, and 20 Muslim clerics killed. One of the people interviewed is the son of an imam, who was offered $100,000 for preaching a Friday sermon urging his congregation to join ISIS’ jihad. Apart from the money, the Islamic State also promised to take him and his family to Turkey, where they would be looked after.

This would, obviously, have made him a hypocrite as well as a collaborator.

To his eternal credit, the mullah refused. He paid for his integrity and honour with his life. He was kidnapped and shot through the eyeball.

ISIS declared him to be an enemy of Islam, despite the fact that the man’s whole professional life was devoted to teaching Islam and leading its prayers.

The programme also interviews a priest with the Arab Evangelical Church in Aleppo. The church has been forced to close, and services are now held in private homes. The priest, Ibrahim Nseir, states that Christians are under threat, as their bonds with their Muslim compatriots show their common humanity, and that it is possible for people to live together in peace.

And that’s a situation that the Islamic State does not want and cannot tolerate. Hence the attacks on ordinary Muslims as well as non-Muslims.

Vox Political: Mail Lies about Benefit Claimants Again?

January 28, 2015

Tory Lies Drawing

Mike over at Vox Political has the story about the Daily Mail possibly fabricating another piece in order to smear benefit claimants. The Heil claims to have exposed one claimant, Kamram Kam, as a fitness fanatic, who makes no secret that he does not intend to find a job. Except that Mr Kam is an actor, who has appeared in nine films. the article’s Daily Mail caught stirring up hate against benefit claimants with fake story? and it’s athttp://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/01/28/daily-mail-caught-stirring-up-hate-against-benefit-claimants-with-fake-story/.

This is, of course, another piece of massive hypocrisy coming from Lord Rothermere’s mighty organ, after the Lord himself claimed nom dom status in order to save on taxes that would be owed when building his mighty mansion at Ferne Park in Wiltshire. Never mind the unemployed, Jonathan Harmsworth’s the real scrounger. And as he’s a nom dom, I strongly recommend him for deportation.

A Prayer for the Persecuted Church from Ancient Iran

June 4, 2013

I was saddened and disgusted by recent reports of the persecution of Christians in Iran. The Iranian regime is cracking down on evangelical Christianity. Worship, preaching and Christian literature in Farsi is forbidden, churches have been closed and their pastors arrested. The most notable of these are Pastors Youcef Naderkhani and Abedini. They have been imprisoned and sent to the notoriously brutal Evin prison, where their captors are placing them under considerable pressure to convert to Islam. This is not the first time by any means that the Revolutionary regime has persecuted Christians. The Ayatollah Khomeini promised freedom for all religions in Iran, not just Islam. Despite this, the son of the Anglican bishop of Tehran was murdered in the 1980s, apparently by agents of the regime. Several Armenian clergy have also been killed.

Persecution of Christians in Iran down the Centuries

The persecution of Christians in Iran goes back centuries. The church was persecuted under the Sassanid emperors. The Mongols, after their conversion to Islam in the 12th/13th centuries persecuted and destroyed a flourishing Nestorian church that had spread across central Asia to China. Then in the 20th century there was the Armenian massacres. Although this was launched by the Ottoman Turks, it extended into Iran, where members of the Armenian minority were butchered by the Kurds. The massacres were not an isolated event, but part of a ‘Day of the Sword’ that also saw other Christian minorities attacked and murdered across the Middle East. The British traveller, Robert Byron, records an appeal by a Syriac mar in Iraq for help against the jihad declared against his people.

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran

Christians are certainly not alone in being persecuted in Iran. The most severe persecution has been inflicted on the Baha’is. These are, like the Admadis, considered an Islamic heresy, and are therefore regarded as outside the dhimmi designation that provides a limited tolerance for Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians. Because one of the religion’s foundes, Bahaullah, was exiled by the Turkish authorities to Haifa, there is now a large body of conspiracist theorising that falsely accuses them of being an Israeli plot to undermine Islam. In Iran there have been a series of pogroms that have killed an estimated 50,000 Baha’is. Baha’is have been imprisoned, tortured and female believers gang-raped in order to force them to renouce their beliefs. Baha’is travelling to Iran have been forced to sign documents stating they have left the faith in order to enter the country. Any mention of this persecution inside Iran is also strictly forbidden. A Western businessman with dealings in Iran and Iranian friends and business partners was arrested when he returned to the country after writing a book on the pogrom against the Baha’is.

Muslim Iranians Outraged against Khomeinist Regime’s Violence and Persecution

This intolerance and persecution is not shared by many Iranian Muslims. John Simpson in his book on Iran records that the congregation for the funeral of the Anglican bishop’s son included the Christians’ Muslim friends and colleagues. The Shah was a thug and a tyrant, but older Iranians who lived under his rule state that they all considered themselves Iranians, regardless of individual faith. Iranian Muslims did have Baha’is and Zoroastrians amongst their friends. The rioting and demonstrations against the cartoons of Mohammed published in Denmark outraged many genuinely liberal and tolerant Iranians. The Iranian correspondent for the British magazine, Private Eye, reported a counter-demonstration against the riots at the remains of the Danish embassy the day after it was razed by a mob. Their members included many whose patriotism and love for their country cannot be denied. One of these was the quadroplegica veteran of the Iran-Iraq. This man was a mouth-painter, and painted a picture of Our Lady, who is also a revered figure in Islam. The magazine also noted that the blog of one of the Basiji commanders, who helped organise the riots and destruction, was flooded with comments from Iranians denouncing his actions. One even said that it was people like him, who were responsible for the suspicion and hatred of Islam in the West.

Life and Prayer of Simeon of Persia

The prayer is by Simeon of Persia, alias Simeon Barsabba’e. He was bishop of Ctesiphon, and was martyred there in 341 during the campaign against Christianity by the Persian Emperor, Shapur II. Just as the contemporary Iranian regime accuses Christians of treachery and disloyalty, so Simeon and his fellows were then. Amongst other crimes, he was accused of plotting treason in correspondence to the Roman emperor, Constatius II. He was ordered to convert to Zoroastrianism, but refused. He and a large number of other Christians were thus executed on Good Friday, 341. After his death, his sister, the virgin St. Pherbutha, was accused of witchcraft and martyred with her sister and another woman. The two bishops, St. Shahdost, and St. Barba’shmin, who succeeded Simeon to the see were also martyred in 342 and 346 respectively. The prayer by Simeon of Persia describes his despair at seeing his church destroyed and its people turned against him. Yet he is determined to continue in his faith so that he will win the crown of glory in heaven, where there will be no earthly persecutors.

‘Give me this crown, Lord; you know how I long for it,
for I have loved you with all my heart and all my being.
When I see you, I shall be filled iwth joy and you will give
me rest. I shall no longer have to live in this world and see
my people suffering, your churches destroyed, your altars
overthown, your devoted clergy everywhere persecuted,
the weak defiled, the lukewarm turned from the truth, and
my flock, that was so large reduced at the time of testing to
a handful.

I shall not see the many that seemed to be my friends
undergo an inward change, become hostile and seek my
death; or find those that were my friends for a while taken
from me by persecution, at the very time when the killers
are snapping their fingers at our people and lording it over
them.

Yet I mean to persevere in my vocation like a hero and
to walk bravely along the parth marked out for me, so that I
shall be an example to all your people in the East. I have
had the first place at table, I will have the first place too
whien it comes to dying; I will be the first to give my
blood. Then with my brethren I shall enter on that life in
which there are no cares, no anxiety, no solicitude, a life
where there is neither persecutor nor persecuted, neither
oppressor nor oppressed, neither tyrant nor victim of
tyranny. No threatening kings, no blustering prefects shall I
see there. No one there will cite me before his tribunal or
upset me with repeated menaces; there will be no on eto do
me violence or bully me.

I shall stumble no more, when once I have gained a
firm footing in you, the Way we all must walk in. My
weary limbs will find their rest in you, for you, Anointed,
are the Oil that is to anoint us. The grief in my heart will
be forgotten when I drink of you, the Chalice of our
salvation. The trears in my eyes you will wipe away, OJoy, O
Consolation’.

We pray that this current persecution will soon cease without the deaths of pastors Naderkhani, Abedini, and the other clergy and worshippers, as will the attacks on other religious minorities, such as the Baha’is and liberal Muslims. We pray that the pastors and other Christians and prisoners of conscience will soon be freed from jail, to live freely. We pray that God will sustain the pastors and their community in their faith, and that soon all Iranians will live in peace and friendship, regardless of their faith.

World without end, Amen.

A Medieval Prayer for Peace

May 2, 2013

Going through a volume of medieval music, I found this hymn, Stella Celi, written by the English composer Cooke. It’s a prayer for peace to the Virgin Mary. It asks her to bring this about by combatting the malign astrological forces that are causing wars on Earth.

‘Star of heaven who suckled the Lord and rooted out the plague of death that first parent of mankind planted, may the same star now deign to curb the constellations whose wars are killing people by the sore of dreadful death.’

It’s a medieval prayer, written in the fourteenth century at the height of the wars that then raged, that nevertheless speaks to us across the gulf of centuries. Our modern world is also torn by war and violence. Now I don’t believe in or wish to promote astrology. Nevertheless the Bible reminds us that we also strive against the invisible powers of the fallen angels.In that respect its message is both ageless and particularly contemporary. So, let us pray that our Lady and all the saints will join with us in asking her Son, to bring an end to these present wars and guide the nations in the ways of justice and peace.