Canadians must stand against worldwide persecution, says Jewish leader
By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
Canadians must stand together to stop a growing Christian persecution around the world, said religious and political leaders at an event hosted by a prominent Jewish leader.
“There is a crescendo of attacks on the Christian community the world over,” said author and broadcaster Rabbi Reuven Bulka, who hosted the “Standing Together Against Persecution of Christians” at his Congregation Machzikei Hadas that featured keynotes by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
The Jewish community knows the perils and unfortunate results of silence, of looking the other way, of not getting involved, Bulka said. “We decry that. We condemn it.”
Kenny said Jews continue to be persecuted, as are Muslim minorities, Tibetan Buddhists and others. “We stand together for all of these people,” he said.
For some reason it is almost politically incorrect to discuss the persecution of Christians in particular, Kenney said, noting a disturbing trend that blames the actions of Christians in the past for the present persecution. “In our tolerant society, too many are saying that Christians are getting what’s coming to them,” he said. “This is a new form of blood libel. It must be repudiated at every opportunity.”
“There are more Christians persecuted around the world than any other group by orders of magnitude,” he said.
Christians face persecution, including torture and death, in 130 countries, affecting more than two hundred million people. Between 100,000 and 160,000 Christians are martyred for their faith every a year.
The government is aware of the disturbing trend that too often Christians are targeted for their faith, said Baird, who said the promised Office of Religious Freedom will promote religious freedom and human rights around the world.
“Canada will no longer go along to get along,” Baird said. “We stand for what is principled and just regardless of whether it is popular.”
It’s of tremendous importance when people of different faiths gather, he said, to stand up for others who are not free.
Canada has a special vocation to represent freedom of religion to the world and be a champion of human rights, Kenney said. The Office of Religious Freedom is a project that should transcend all faith lines.
We need Muslims, Jews, Christians and people with no religious faith to support the project, he said. “We together stand to say enough is enough.”
Over 200 million Christians are denied their fundament rights to practice their faith; between 100,000 to 160,000 are martyred for their faith every year; 450 every day.
Baird said moral relativism has too often come into play, with some people saying it is hard to tell the white hats from the black hats in the Middle East when clearly there is a difference between a terrorist organization targeting civilians and the liberal, democratic state of Israel.
The Foreign Affairs Minister also objected to a trend that sees religious freedom reduced from rights to practice the faith in public, including teaching it and building institutions.
“Freedom of belief is not enough,” he said. “People have to have the freedom to practice their beliefs.”
There are some who would say you can put your Bible on your bedside table, but don’t take it out, he said. That’s wrong, and Canada will be defending true freedom of religion around the world.
Canada has not always been a country of openness and tolerance, Kenney said, noting that during World War II a policy of disguised anti-Semitism prevailed that was summed up in the view of one official concerning Jews that “none is too many.”
Kenny listed several recent attacks in various countries from a church burning in Sudan, a bombing in Nigeria killing more than 100 Christians, of school girls raped in Pakistan simply for their faith. Every day we see the growing wave of persecution, he said. “It does not have a common source, but it has a common victim, Christians.”
One Free World International founder Majed El Shafie told the group that he had directly experienced persecution as a convert to Christianity from Islam. He said he still has nightmares from the days he was tortured in an Egyptian prison. “I wake up in the night hearing the screaming of the other prisoners being tortured,” he said.
“Our world is an unfair and an unjust place, not because people are doing evil, but because most people remain silent,” El Shafie said.
National House of Prayer founder Rob Parker told the gathering that more Christians were martyred in the 20th Century than in all previous centuries combined. But he warned that Christians in Canada were afraid that a growing trend of relativism here at home would result in persecution of Christians here for not going along with the prevailing view.