Tag: Islam

Open Doors: 4300 Christians Murdered in 2018

Rafael Augusto B.L. de Oliveira | Brazil

What does it mean to be a Christian? To some, it means finding shelter and strength through our Lord’s word in order to overcome our daily challenges. To others, it means helping those in need. Whatever are your reasons to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, being a Christian isn’t always an easy task; our faith has tests all the time. To be a Christian sometimes means having to face hatred and persecution. During hard times, it’s quite important for we Christians to keep our faith strong and stay united. 

 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 

 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

– John 15:18-19 (KJV) 

Christian Persecution in the World 

When I say persecution, not only do I mean that Christians are being oppressed through violent means, but also through less obvious means such as biased laws and psychological bullying. A good example of this is how in several countries in the Middle East, laws force Christians to restrict their expression of faith. 

Schools commonly teach about past oppression and violence against Christians. Unfortunately, many of these issues still occur today in parts of the world. Without action, it may only get worse. Currently, persecution of Christians happens mostly in theocratic Muslim countries and areas where terrorist cells have control.

For example, extremists in Syria levied a jizya on any non-Muslims. Those who could not comply had to either convert to Islam or face death. where Christians are a minority and are forced to live under strict regulations such as paying special taxes and not being allowed to practice their faith in public. Moreover, Islamic Saudi authorities violently imprisoned 35 Christians in 2012 for holding a prayer circle.

In several other countries, Christians and other minority religions may only practice their faith in private. In fact, nations with Sharia law often ban items and articles from other religions such as Crucifixes and statues. The mistreatment of Christians is not exclusively in Muslim countries. It also occurs in the Jewish state of Israel and dictatorships such as North Korea. According to Open Doors, the totalitarian state holds some 50,000 Christians in forced-labor camps. 

Open Doors: Christians Murdered in 2018

Sometimes the dedication we have for Christ can even lead to murder. In 2018, 4300 Christians were killed across the globe, according to Open Doors, a non-denominational mission with the goal of helping Christians in countries where Christianity is oppressed for cultural or political reasons. Sadly, the number is only going up. In 2017, there were 3066 murders of Christians for religious reasons. This represents a 40% increase from the previous year.  

However, Open Doors is attempting to eventually bring this number to zero. Andrew van der Bijl founded the group as a small operation to illegally smuggle Bibles to Soviet-controlled Poland in the cold war. Later on, they expanded, smuggling Bibles all over the Communist bloc. Nowadays, Open Doors helps Christians exert their rightful will of regularly practicing their faith in over 70 countries where oppressive laws still exist.

An Increased Danger 

As stated above, the murder rate of Christians drastically increased last year. Unfortunately, the coming years may spell out even more danger for the world’s most common religion. Several factors are leading to this. Michel Varton, the current director of Open Doors, stated that ”The number of vandalized Churches in regions where Christianity is a minority, has highly increased in the past few years”. 

Clashes with Christianity 

In the internet age, information is at everyone’s hands. So, it is becoming more difficult for dictatorships to dumb down the masses. But unfortunately, many countries still use religion as a tool by teaching a twisted, radicalized version of Islam. 

Governments of Muslim-majority countries often see the spread of Christianity as a threat to their power. As a result, they tend to discretely marginalize Christianity through Sharia law. For some of them, Christianity is a symbol of Western imperialism. Thus, they perceive it as a sign of disrespect to their local cultures and customs. 

Some oppressive governments in Asia also see the expansion of Christianity as a threat. This has been a notably growing trend in several parts of Asia with Hindu fanaticism and Buddhist radicalism. Both have taken an aggressive stance towards foreign religions in recent years.  

The Spread of Radical Islam

The vast majority of the incoming immigrants and refugees from the Middle East just want to mind their own businesses and have a chance for a fresh start in the Western world. Unfortunately, a small minority are violent radicals. With a recent uptick in radical Islam in Sweden and other countries, persecution of Christians may increase.  

Moreover, radical Islamic movements have been gaining strength in Asia and Africa. Particularly, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Somalia have seen drastic increases.

An End in Sight?

At this time, it does not appear that the next few years will bring an end to these horrific murders. However, groups like Open Doors and others hope to minimize the casualties and enrich religious freedom. We have only scratched the surface about this, but as the internet thrives, it appears that awareness for Christian persecution may also rise. With this, awareness groups may hope to raise more funds and rally more people to their cause to end intolerance.


71 Republic is the Third Voice in media. We pride ourselves on distinctively independent journalism and editorials. Every dollar you give helps us grow our mission of providing reliable coverage. Please consider donating to our Patreon.

Featured Image Source

Advertisements

Stop Making A Big Deal About The Royal Wedding

By Nick Hamilton | United Kingdom

In case you weren’t one of the over 29 million Americans to care enough about the Royal Wedding to tune in, Prince Harry of Wales and Meghan Markle, an American, were officially married in England this weekend, just outside of London. The Royal Wedding is cool and all, but as Americans, why do we care about two public figures getting married?

Keep in mind, Prince Harry isn’t a political figure. He has virtually no political power as of now. He’s not a Prime Minister. Also keep in mind that England spent about $43M on this wedding, which is going to come back to bite the taxpayers across the pond when they can barely afford to keep their healthcare system up and running. You may recall that a few weeks ago, the UK Government mistreated Alfie Evans, a toddler, by barring him from leaving the UK to seek medical assistance in Rome. The hospital made a decision to take Evans off life support, without the consent of his parents. A UK court then agreed with the hospital. And now, this same government is putting on this Royal Wedding, spending a bit less than $43M.

What’s also quite concerning is that the guards were, you guessed it, armed. Yes, a nation that has taken as many weapons as they can from their people is now arming guards who protect the Royal Wedding. But I thought guns weren’t good for defense, England? I have no problem with the Royals being protected the best they can be, but it’s just another example of the hypocrisy of the UK Government. It just further proves that the United Kingdom doesn’t exactly care about their people, but they’ll do anything for the Royal Family.

Also, if you were to criticize Islam at this wedding, you better think again. Remember, criticism of Islam is illegal in the United Kingdom because the United Kingdom doesn’t believe in free speech. Don’t forget that just a couple of months ago, Canadian right-wing journalist Lauren Southern was denied entry into the United Kingdom because of her criticisms of Islam. I happened to enter the UK that same day, and I guess call me lucky that I didn’t get denied access because I’ve criticized Islam many times. Britain has arrested its own citizens on numerous occasions for criticism of Islam but doesn’t seem to care when people criticize Christianity. We should be celebrating acts of freedom and liberty in America, not a country that doesn’t seem to represent American values.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. I honestly hope they do well for this planet, and I hope they’re happy. But honestly, why should so many Americans care. The UK has a past of not advocating for freedom, so why are we jumping all over this?


Featured Image Source.

The Legalization Movement Only Hurts Libertarians

By Ryan Lau | United States

As the beloved 4/20 approaches, legal marijuana advocates will take to the streets and smoke across the country. Many locations, including Burlington, Vermont, even have established “smoke-outs” for protesters to participate in. Yet, their actions, however well-intentioned, only hurt the liberty movement, for a number of key reasons. First of all, the use of marijuana in this recreational setting serves as an inhibitor to change. Also, the specific goals of these movements only harm the future of liberty by restricting further progress.

As it currently stands, government forces us Americans to play into a system of representative government. Those representatives, whether they have a right to do so or not, make decisions about the lives of other people, decisions which come down in the form of laws. I am in no way disputing the notion that the law is unjust, but rather conceding its unfortunate existence. Due to the majority’s belief in it, the law stands. The state is thus able to use this belief to tighten its grip over the citizens. So, what can we do to get our freedoms back efficiently? Certainly not a smoke-out.

Ultimately, libertarianism centers around the principle of self-ownership. In order for a society to function on the principle of self-ownership, individuals must also exhibit personal responsibility. As a free and equal individual, each of us is able to do as we please, provided that we do not restrict any other equal individuals from doing the same. Yet, usage of recreational marijuana does exactly this, not to others, but to ourselves.

Some short term side effects of consuming marijuana include dizziness, shallow breathing, and slowed reaction time. Thinking about this, one realizes that a dizzy and slow activist is probably less likely to bring about real change. Perhaps, rather than getting caught in the crippling hazes of majority and smoke, these activists should save the blaze for others, or at least for their own homes, instead focusing on professionalism in order to make real change.

Allegedly, these activists have a goal of marijuana legalization. Yet, it is the government officials that they need to convince with these movements. By placing a bloc of disoriented fools under public scrutiny, they only push moderate politicians further away from their cause by embodying some of the negative side effects. Of course, the disoriented fools are not representative of the majority of marijuana users. However, when media gives them the most attention, they become the stereotype of the marijuana user. A mob of stoners will garner considerably more views, and become a much more entertaining stereotype, than a businessman eating a brownie after a long week’s work will. Yet, the politician will more likely see the story of the businessman as legitimate. Hence, exemplifying current stereotypes through foolish movements will only continue to hurt the movement.

Despite the clear pitfalls of the marijuana protesters’ images, this is only the beginning. Much more important to discuss is the fact that these people are simply not advocating for liberty. Essentially, they are only calling for more government regulation, and normalizing asking government officials for permission to act. In fact, the biggest qualm for this movement comes in its very name. By using the word “legalize”, marijuana advocates cede all permission to run their own lives.

The word “legalize” has a very dark, underlying connotation that most will not pick up on. Essentially, it implies that the entity doing the legalizing has full control over the people’s lives. By setting legalization as the far boundary for discussion in the direction of liberty, government only gains power.

Furthermore, the term legalization implies a certain degree of state control regarding it. More specifically, it allows for various forms of taxation and regulation on the plant. Though it becomes a legal substance, it is still very much a controlled substance. Thus, this change is not a step towards freedom, it is merely a slight change in the circumstances in which government will take away individual freedoms.

In fact, this change actually makes the situation worse for true liberty advocates by pacifying moderate supporters. This worsened situation comes as soon as legalization advocates begin praising regulations and taxes as valid reasons for the legalization of the substance. By doing so, government has now successfully framed the debate in a way that entirely excludes liberty as an option. Just as the Republican and Democratic parties are framed to represent two opposing sides within a relatively narrow ideological chamber, the same is now done to the marijuana debate. When we use the word legalize, we allow government to control both sides of the debate. We allow authoritarianism to seep into the libertarian viewpoint. When this happens, true freedom is lost.

Without a doubt, asking the government permission to use a substance under certain circumstances is not freedom. If an individual is not directly preventing anyone from acting freely, they may rightfully act freely without permission. Unfortunately, most legalization movements have lost sight of the ideals of liberty that they claim to stand for. As increasing numbers of reports praise marijuana tax revenues and regulations, freedom advocates lose, and governments win. By bringing the substance into the legal scope, they control it far more than they ever did through criminalizing it.

Hence, if legalization is not the answer, then true deregulation is. We must, as a society, resist the bait of legalization, as it only sets back the movement. We must avoid using the substance in scenarios where we need to be at the pinnacle of mental focus and quick reaction. Most importantly, we must not lose sight of liberty, rather than any one particular policy victory, as our end goal. True liberty does not come through taxation or regulation. One cannot become free by asking permission.

Featured Image Source

Bob Marley’s Ganja Vibration

Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

Recently, I awoke with a jolt. The dim moon was hanging low in the morning sky and although I counted sheep, I couldn’t fall back into slumber. As I lay in bed staring out the window, Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain” sprung into my head. Curled up in my sheets, I grabbed my pipe and took a long, smooth hit. There’s just an undeniable communion between Bob Marley, his music and the sweet aroma of cannabis.

In his life, Marley was a passionate advocate of cannabis and the culture that grew from his music reflects that. Countless pictures document the reggae star’s affinity for the cannabis plant and in interviews, Marley was perhaps the greatest defender of the substance as a religious, peaceful, and communal experience. His iconic 1973 album, “Catch A Fire,” featured Marley smoking a joint on its cover.

© Island Records, 2001

In the mid-1960s Bob Marley converted from Christianity to Rastafarianism. In the Rasta’s religion, cannabis is used for meditation & holy insights. Surprisingly, some devout Rastas don’t smoke cannabis at all and contrary to public belief, Marley smoked the plant to help tap into his faith.

Marley’s promotion of the herb collided with the work that he created. For Marley, cannabis opened up a spiritual and creative avenue that allowed him to be the poet and artist that he was.

The more you accept herb, the more you accept Rastafari. Herb is so good for everything. Why, these people who want to do so much “good,” who call themselves government and this and that, why do they say you must not use the herb? They say: “no you must not use it because it makes you rebel.” Against what?

For many, Bob Marley and the country of Jamaica represented a counter-culture ideology fundamentally rooted in anti-state libertarianism. Where Marley led others followed and after his conversion to Rastafarianism thousands in his native Jamaica joined him. Behind a simple message of peace and prosperity, Marley shouldered the new political realities of a war-torn Jamaica.

Marley’s progressive attitude on marijuana helped establish him in college dorm rooms and at major concert venues across the Western world. The transparency in his lyricism and character resonated throughout the globe and he quickly became arguably the most vocal advocate of cannabis in the 20th century.

Today it’s difficult to separate the man from myth and as is often true with pop culture his music and image became so diluted behind corporate ownership that many have forgotten what made Marley so unique. His deep faith in Rastafarianism and the necessity of a spiritual relationship with God is what drove his music and politics to unforeseen heights. It was with this power that he stood on the shoulders of giants and spoke of peace and love in a world of war.

I’m back in my bed and it’s late. The wind is wailing something terrific and as I count the cracks in the wall I can remember the first time I smoked pot. Bob Marley was on the radio.

Featured Image WikiMedia

Radicalization and Terrorism are Mostly Useless Words

By Glenn Verasco | United States

Note: This article was initially published on HowToCureYourLiberalism.com in October, 2017 after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. I am publishing it again with some edits in lieu of the YouTube HQ shooting and new revelations about the Pulse nightclub shooting.

I’ve wanted to write about the abuse of the word terrorism for quite a while. The horrible shooting in Las Vegas provides another opportunity to do so.

Whenever an individual strikes a crowd with a vehicle or mows people down with a gun, I, and I assume many other people, become somewhat preoccupied with the individual’s identity. Is he a Muslim? Is he a reclusive older white man? Is he an immigrant? Is he a young Black man? Is he a sexually-frustrated teen?

Reactions by people and the media seem to depend on the answer to these questions. If he turns out to be Muslim, many assume he is a Radical Islamic Terrorist. If he turns out to be an older white man, many assume he is a right-wing extremist. If he turns out to be an immigrant, many assume he exemplifies rampant criminal activity abroad. If he turns out to be Black, many assume he is an anti-police activist or a gang-banger. If he turns out to be a young man, many assume he used psychotropic drugs, has daddy issues, or was rejected by the opposite sex.

No matter the identity, some blame the World Wide Web and other mediums for being breeding grounds for radicalization. This can lead to the dangerous suggestions that governments ought to police the internet and censor so-called hate speech, having confidence that doing so would prevent future mass murders from taking place.

The idea that someone can become radicalized is silly. Radical simply means ideologically extreme. Someone who believes that all people are equal is a radical. How can you get more extreme than all or equal? Someone who believes in the flat tax is radical. How can you get more extreme than flat? Someone who believes in single-payer healthcare is radical. How can you get more extreme than single? Someone who believes in God is radical. How can you get more extreme than God?

The only way to avoid being radical is to contradict yourself or to waffle between opinions constantly without ever taking a principled stand. And I don’t mean to deride all people who are politically or ideologically inconsistent. Perhaps there are reasons to apply certain principles in certain instances while discounting them in others. Perhaps taking a principled stance across the board is impossible, so attempting to do so is a futile effort. But the fact remains: if you’re not radical, you’re bound to be hypocritical.

What I would like to propose is an end to concerns about motive when a violent act is committed.

Of course, I do not mean that intention should be ignored. If I intend to hit a baseball, and I unintentionally injure a passerby, accusing me of assault would be ridiculous. And motive is also useful when defining the degree of an intolerable act like murder. If one plots for months to take his uncle’s life as a means of inheriting his wealth, he is more sinister than one who lashes out in a moment of rage, such as a husband coming home to his wife in bed with another man.

What I mean is that one’s overall political, religious, or social views should be ignored when one violates the rights of others. By ignoring these views, we will find that radical and terrorism are not useful words, but in fact dangerous words when courts and governments acknowledge them.

So-called Radical Islamic Terrorism is the obvious example to analyze. Outside the incredibly rare, clear instances of calculated mass murder by an established, political organization, most notably the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda, murders committed by “Muslims” in the name of “Islam” are not terrorism. Terrorism is rational (which is not synonymous with good or correct). That means developed ideologies and long-term plans play a central role in its orchestration.

An individual who read something on the internet and decided to commit mass murder does not deserve the presumption of rationality. It is unimaginable for any moderately rational person to conclude that spraying bullets into a crowd without a tremendous deal of support has any chance of winding up in something other than hasty death or imprisonment via law enforcement. Individuals who make these choices are unlikely to consider the consequences of their actions with enough depth to even reach the point of asking these questions.

In short, how can one who is so incompetent as to fail to realize or even care about the inevitable result of their violence be considered radical? They aren’t thoughtful enough to be considered terrorists, let alone radical.

What’s more, at what point does one formally qualify as a Muslim? Or a Conservative? Or an Environmentalist? Or a Communist? Can one speak his political identity into existence? Does some supreme authority govern the criteria one must meet to be legitimately part of a social or ideological movement?

Or is it utterly subjective? And is it wholly possible that two self-proclaimed or linguistically-defined members of the same sociopolitical or religious group have little in common in terms of underlying philosophy and agenda?

Over the past few years, due to the success of populist politics and a handful of small, mainstream-media-hyped demonstrations, a popular question has been posed: is it okay to punch a Nazi?

Nazism and other forms of identity-driven Authoritarianism are certainly radical, and horrible acts of terror and violence have been committed in their names. But what makes a Nazi a Nazi? Auto-designation?

The problem with the German Nazis was not that they believed Aryans were a superior race. That’s silly and annoying, but it’s not that big of a deal. The real problem was that they murdered 6 million Jews (and millions of others) and invaded sovereign nations. Had they committed the same crimes via another ideology, for purely practical reasons, or out of sheer boredom, the death toll and destruction would remain equally abhorrent.

If a Nazi is a person who is preparing to annihilate an ethnic (or random) group of individuals (i.e., an actual Nazi), attempting to physically apprehend him is not only just, but possibly obligatory. An attack on him is an attack on terror.

But if his beliefs and words are extreme, and he has yet to harm a fly, aggression against him is an attack on free thought and free expression, not terrorism. Physically attacking an actual Nazi is not just combatting the ideas of Nazism; it is violence. There is no difference between murdering for the preservation of the White Race and murdering for the preservation of the environment. Murder is murder.

All in all, condemning and combating radicalization accomplishes nothing aside from putting all of our rights to free speech in jeopardy. What says your sincerely-held and innocuous beliefs won’t be deemed radical and unacceptable next?

We’re very lucky to live amongst other human beings, the vast majority of whom are too preoccupied with survival and finding happiness to consider extreme acts of violence. Don’t let rarities like actual terrorism drive our existence further away from perfection.

***

If you enjoyed this post, please follow me at www.howtocureyourliberalism.com. Also check out my podcast on iTunes  and like my Facebook page.

Featured Image Source