Presiding Bishop Ignores Persecution of Christians by Muslims in Opening Sermon
By Michael Heidt in Salt Lake City
VOL Special Correspondent
June 25, 2015
In her sermon at the opening Eucharist at this year's 78th General Convention, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, drew attention to murder, oppression, and suffering in the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, and elsewhere. She ignored the brutal and, in modern times, unprecedented persecution of Christians by Muslims, which some commentators believe amounts to genocide.
After referring to John the Baptist as an "edgy dude," the Presiding Bishop stated that Episcopalians, like him, were on the edge of a desert, a desert of death, in which pioneers in the last century died on their journey westwards.
"We are sitting here on the edge of a desert where death is ever present," she said, "Many died by violence before the trek to this oasis began, and others were murdered or died of disease and exposure as they sought their destiny even farther west."
Jefferts Schori then gave examples of suffering and death in the today's world, beginning with the recent killings in Charleston, South Carolina, and ending with a 90-year-old Brazilian priestess who died of a heart attack.
"We are grieving nine African-American Christians murdered while at Bible study. Women and girls are being raped and kidnapped as spoils of war in Central Africa. The Dominican Republic is expelling people of Haitian descent some of whose ancestors have been there for generations. Brazil has seen vicious attacks on Candomble communities recently. An 11-year old girl was stoned by militant Christians as she left a worship gathering last week, and a 90-year old priestess died of a heart attack when her worship space was invaded."
In the face of these tragedies, the outgoing Presiding Bishop urged her listeners to be, "One with light bearers rather than death dealers," and she saw evidence of this in "all places of the world's conflict and hate."
"The good news," stated Jefferts Schori, "Is there are forerunners at work in all the places of the world's conflict and hate -- forerunners pointing to the Prince of Peace. Members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston made their light-filled witness at the arraignment of the young man charged with shooting their fellow parishioners. They stood up and said, 'we forgive you, even in the midst of our nearly boundless pain; hate must not win.'"
Jefferts Schori continued, "Their statements echoed the forgiveness offered by the Amish community whose daughters were slaughtered at school in 2006. The Anglican Church in DR Congo is leading the work of healing and reintegrating women struck down in war. In the Dominican Republic, Bishop Holguin and other religious and civic leaders are moving mountains to address the growing injustices meted out to people with darker skins. In Porto Alegre, Brazil, an interreligious group of leaders stands in solidarity with all."
In all of this moving testimony, the recent and ongoing persecution of Christians by Muslims was not mentioned once, despite the fact that it involves suffering in orders of magnitude greater than the examples given by the Presiding Bishop, tragic as those were.
To name several instances, the Presiding Bishop did not mention the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a Libyan beach this April, many of whom died uttering the name of Christ. Neither did she mention the murder of 147 Christian students in Kenya, in the same month, or the rape, enslavement, crucifixion, torture and murder of Christians in Syria and Iraq. According to the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, this has displaced over 125,000 persons in Iraq alone, emptying cities such as Mosul of their Christian populations. All of these attacks were carried out by Muslims in the name of their religion, and their Jihad, or Holy War, isn't confined to the Middle East.
In Uganda, for example, a Pastor's 17 year old daughter was gang-raped earlier this year by five Muslim men because her Father refused to stop holding Christian services. In her own words:
"The five Muslims took hold of me, and they raped me there. I tried to scream, but they threatened to kill me. One of them said, 'Your father should stop this prayer meeting of trying to change Muslims to become Christians and close the church building--we have warned him several times.'"
According to her Father, the young woman "still has problems communicating." Jefferts Schori also has problems communicating, communicating the all too real slaughter of Christians by Muslims in the name of their religion. Unlike the occultist pagan Candomble priestess, or witch, these don't get a look-in but were passed by, ignored.
The Presiding Bishop concluded her sermon with an appeal to the Episcopal Church and its members to build a "road home into the Kingdom of God" and to do so in "solidarity" with others. We should "travel light" on this journey, she suggested, and if the evidence of this morning's sermon is anything to go by, Jefferts Schori most certainly does, when it comes to the persecution of Christians by the followers of Mohammed.
Michael Heidt is Editor of Forward in Christ Magazine and a priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth
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