Jewish leader blasts indifference to persecuted Christians

  A young refugee rests after having fled from ISIS and arrived in Ankawa in the northern part of Erbil, Iraq. Credit:

A young refugee rests after having fled from ISIS and arrived in Ankawa in the northern part of Erbil, Iraq. Credit:


New York City, N.Y., Aug 26, 2014 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The leader of the World Jewish Congress slammed global apathy to persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world, saying more countries should be moved to action.

“The general indifference to ISIS, with its mass executions of Christians and its deadly preoccupation with Israel, isn’t just wrong; it’s obscene,” wrote Ronald S. Lauder in an Aug. 19 New York Times editorial.

“The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent,” he said. “This campaign of death must be stopped.”

Lauder stated that while the international community has rallied to defend the persecution of other minorities in other conflicts, as well as to protest Israel’s attacks against Hamas when the organization is known to be using civilians as human shields, “the barbarous slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Christians is met with relative indifference.”

Noting a range of offenses against “Christian communities that have lived in peace for centuries” in the Middle East and parts of Africa, he decried a lack of action.

Lauder also noted that recently, militant groups in Nigeria have “kidnapped and killed hundreds of Christians” in Nigeria, and that half a million “Christian Arabs have been driven out of Syria during the three-plus years of civil war there,” and have faced persecution and murder in Lebanon, Sudan and elsewhere.

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25 Responses to Jewish leader blasts indifference to persecuted Christians

  1. toadspittle says:

    ““The Jewish people understand all too well what can happen when the world is silent,” he said. “This campaign of death must be stopped.””
    So, presumably, can the Palestinian people understand. Or are getting the idea quite quickly.
    Ironic coming from a Rabbi,we might suppose, but not all that much, really.
    Ironic too, that ever since religion was invented, there has been nothing but trouble and slaughter. Starting in the West, at least with the Jews, under God’s instruction, slaughtering their neighbours. And proceeding to Christians slaughtering non Christians, and Muslims slaughtering non-Muslims, Hindus and Muslims slaughtering each other – Catholics and Protestants slaughtering each other, and everybody periodically stopping slaughtering each other to combine and cheerfully slaughter the Jews.
    What can it all mean?
    Maybe it means my God is right and your God is wrong – and my God can – and will – bash your God up, with my help.
    Nothing more. It’s understandable if people might say the hell with all of it.

    …Although, us agnostics are just waiting for the chance to start slaughtering all non-agnostics.


  2. kathleen says:

    Actually Toad, you have ‘missed the bus’. It is ATHEISTS (including no doubt a fair amount of AGNOSTICS, who differ only slightly from atheists) mostly under pagan, communist or revolutionary banners, who have been the biggest murderers with their “campaigns of death” in the whole history of Mankind. (If you are interested, google it and find out for yourself.)

    You might also not realise that four out of five cases of persecution and slaughter nowadays, i.e. 80%, are crimes perpetrated against Christians… mostly (but not all) by the hand of islamic jihadists.


  3. toadspittle says:

    “Nowadays,” is one thing, Kathleen. We are keenly interested in the past, as well as the present. Like with Henry Vlll, and Elizabeth, St. Bart’s Day. And all that.
    Atheists, whom you stubbornly – and highly inaccurately* – insist in cloning with Agnostics (still never mind) have undoubtedly killed a great many believers. Far too many.
    Whether they have killed more believers, than other believers in God have done, is a matter for idle and futile speculation.
    I, for one, suspect they haven’t.
    But I don’t know. And am absolutely open to convincing evidence.
    …But surely in the mere last century, since 1914, Atheist lunatics can’t possibly have killed as many people as all the religious lunatics have killed in the entire course of recorded history – starting with the Jews and the Philistines – and continuing, up until now, with ISIS?

    Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think Catholics are historically any worse than any of the other sects.
    Just the much the same. But, as I keep boringly repeating – I might be wrong, and they might not have such a bad track record when it comes to slaughter as, say, Quakers, or Zoroastrians, or Muggletonians, for all I know.

    * No Agnostic has ever been known to kill a single other human for religious reasons.
    Absurd! Pointless! Nothing to prove!


  4. toadspittle says:

    Another thought on the above: I assume you are talking about Communists in general, Kathleen?
    If I’m wrong,I will be grateful to be corrected
    Granted they killed millions, but I wonder how many of their victims were killed specifically for being Christian (or other any religion, come to that) which is what we are talking about here, and what religions have made a habit of doing to each other since the get-go?
    Most unfortunates in the Soviet Union, I suggest – probably practically all – were killed for being “Kulaks,” “Counter-revolutionaries,” “Fascist hyenas,” “Bourgeois fellow- travellers,” “foreign agents'” or just plain old “traitors to the state.”
    Deplorable, of course.
    But not at all the same as “liquidating” someone for being a Baptist or a Buddhist.


  5. mkenny114 says:


    The idea that most people have been killed (or most wars started) by ‘religious lunatics’ is patently absurd*. That this has been the case sometimes is undoubtedly true, but in the grand scheme of things it is ridiculous to suggest that religious differences have been the primary cause of human conflict. The real reason humans have started wars and killed each other throughout history is because of lust for power, or land, or both – i.e.; primarily a matter of politics. The invocation of religious allegiances has, in the vast majority of cases been either an afterthought added to stoke flames, or a pretext used to justify decisions already made.

    To take the most notable case of ‘wars of religion’ – the Reformation. This was the period of the birth of the modern nation-state, and it was for reasons of asserting national sovereignty, and of freeing the secular state from any ties of allegiance to the Church, the common-weal, and any legal, moral, or sacral bonds that they had previously been bound to. Because of this we find countless occasions where Protestant monarchs had no problem being assisted by the armies of Catholic countries (and vice versa) in order to consolidate national power. In the Thirty Years War for example, the Catholic King Ferdinand of Bohemia had no problem with getting the Lutheran John George I to help him out in consolidating local rule. At the same time, Denmark and Sweden, both Protestant countries, were at war with one another, whilst both entering the fray to attack the Catholic Habsburg Empire at various points. One cannot deny that Catholics and Protestants often did hate each other, and that this hatred was well exploited by various heads of state when it suited them, but there is something inherently ridiculous about referring to the wars of this period as ‘wars of religion’, as if religious differences actually caused them, or they were fought over matters of doctrinal dispute.

    So, instead of the narrative we hear so often today – that the secular nation state rescued Europe from years of religious war – being in any way tenable, it is rather the case that the birth of the modern secular state actually disrupted a previously harmonious Europe, which, although subject to battle within and without throughout its history, never erupted into the large scale sort of conflicts we see being brought about at the dawn of modernity. Assertion of the rights and power of the state, and rejection of its being bound by any moral or religious ties created a nationalism which ultimately answered only to itself and thus had no checks on the perennial human lust for power. This of course reached its peak in the 20th Century, where more blood has been shed by far than in all periods of human history previously. And, despite what you claim, atheist countries have indeed killed far more than all of the ‘religious lunatics’ in history combined.

    An important point needs to be made here as well, for, whilst it is the case that in Communist countries (the predominant examples of atheist states) thousands upon thousands of people were killed for being Christian (because Christianity, apart from being hated for ideological reasons, also represented the greatest threat to state control over the people), it is indeed not the case that those responsible for the huge numbers of people killed under these regimes were motivated purely by their atheism. The real problem is that once God had been taken out of the equation in these countries (e.g.; Russia, China, Cambodia) then, as Dostoevsky put it, ‘anything is permissible’, and as Lenin put it ‘if you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs’. The atheistic states were bound by absolutely no moral standard whatsoever, and were guided only by a sense of ‘progress’ wherein anything was justified as long as it helped create their supposed earthly utopia, a key element of which was its continuing godlessness. So, not only was atheism a genuine motivation for killing in these countries, but the removal of God from common life permitted even greater evils to be perpetrated – and this is the real problem.

    *An exception to this rule is Islam, which from the start has conflated politics with religious ideals, and justified the use of force to achieve its own expansion. Personally I think a great deal of this ‘religion poisons everything’ nonsense is due to the fact that we do not want to deal with the reality that it is this one religion in particular that is the problem, and thus project its failings onto all ‘religion’ in the abstract – this is done both because of an excessive observance of political correctness, and the desire of many in Christian (or ‘post-Christian’) countries to get rid of Christianity for other reasons – the idea that religion in general is a force for evil is just a cover for those who do not want Christian morals holding their progressive ideals back.


  6. kathleen says:

    Michael – thank for that brilliant (and extremely accurate) response to Toad’s found-less claims that most genocides have been caused by ‘wars of religion’. You have given Toad the evidence he asked for… but I expect he will still find a way to wiggle out of accepting it. As usual! 😉

    @ Toad
    When I stated that by far the greatest numbers of genocides have not been perpetrated for motives of religious differences, but by those who march “under pagan, communist or revolutionary banners”, you then asked me: “I assume you are talking about Communists in general, Kathleen?”
    Yes Toad, I was, but the very name “communism” is a relatively recent one. Its atheistic, making-man-the-only-god ideology has nevertheless always been around throughout the history of Mankind to kill and destroy anything that gets in its way, but using different names, or “banners”, e.g., the murdering hordes of Genghis Khan, or the Republicans of the French Revolution.

    And by the way Toad, whether you want to believe it or not, Christians have always been the greatest victims of intolerance, hate, persecution and eventual martyrdom from the very foundation of the Church. That current 80% statistic (and growing!) of all cases of persecution worldwide, is only to point out the very real threat hanging over the heads of Christians these days. Nothing new I’m afraid, but something that should wake us up to greater unity and faithfulness.


  7. toadspittle says:

    “And by the way Toad, whether you want to believe it or not, Christians have always been the greatest victims of intolerance, hate, persecution and eventual martyrdom from the very foundation of the Church.”
    I don’t dispute it, never have. Don’t have the numbers. Maybe you do. Nor have I ever suggested that religious slaughters are more common, or numerous than political ones. They are not.
    I do believe, however, that there have been a great many such incidents over the centuries.
    That’s all.
    And a single murder, over what Montaigne calls “a difference of opinion,” mere quibbling over whether my God is nicer, or stronger, or even nastier – than your God, is one too many.

    “…as Lenin put it ‘if you want to make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs’.”
    And as Orwell (Atheist, unfortunately) pointed out, “Where’s the omelette?”
    See? I agree! ( I also recommend “The Captive Mind,” by Milosz.”)

    I also agree that everything is politics.
    “The idea that most people have been killed (or most wars started) by ‘religious lunatics’ is patently absurd.”
    That’s why I didn’t suggest it. Look again. So if you can tell my where I did so, I will eat humble pie. All wars are political, even ones where religion is involved.
    (Toad wriggles out again, no doubt will be the cry!)


  8. mkenny114 says:

    ‘…But surely in the mere last century, since 1914, Atheist lunatics can’t possibly have killed as many people as all the religious lunatics have killed in the entire course of recorded history – starting with the Jews and the Philistines – and continuing, up until now, with ISIS?’

    ‘Granted they killed millions, but I wonder how many of their victims were killed specifically for being Christian (or other any religion, come to that) which is what we are talking about here, and what religions have made a habit of doing to each other since the get-go?’

    The above (particularly the first excerpt) heavily implies (at the very least) that you did suggest exactly that. Or maybe that was just rhetoric?


  9. mkenny114 says:

    We also have:

    ‘ever since religion was invented, there has been nothing but trouble and slaughter’

    If you haven’t been suggesting that most people have been killed for religious reasons, it might have been wise to have found ways of expressing yourself that don’t very much give that impression.


  10. johnhenrycn says:

    One wonders who will be judged more mercifully: an atheist like Dawkins, an agnostic like Toad, or a terrorist enabler like Galloway (sorry about the jawbone, George). The jawbone of an ass has its uses (according to Samson), and an atheist like Dawkins can be met head-on, but what use is the jawbone of an agnostic? Only to flap his gums without in any way advancing the human project.


  11. toadspittle says:

    Best left to God, I suggest JH.
    After all, it’s his train set.
    Interesting to consider what religious strife has contributed to, “advancing the human project.”
    Zip, I would imagine.
    But what do I, etc., etc. Boring. Pretty girl, though.

    “If you haven’t been suggesting that most people have been killed for religious reasons, it might have been wise to have found ways of expressing yourself that don’t very much give that impression.”
    Well, Michael, we’d surely both agree that the weasel word here is “most,” – wouldn’t we?
    And I can only apologise for my talent for “expression.”

    …But I’m just an ignorant toad, not a clever chap.
    Like you.


  12. toadspittle says:

    Additional apropos of all this absurd apportioning of blame for mankind’s mundane mayhem:
    Pascal whines, “Why do you want to kill me?” and his own answer is, “Because you live on the other side of the river.”
    That’s politics, that is.
    The fact that – on one side of the river they might be Protestants – and on the other side Catholics – is utterly immaterial. Or is it? And, anyway, who cares? Because, in the long run, we are all dead. (Keynes.)


  13. mkenny114 says:

    Nothing to do with talent Toad. I just find it very hard to believe that someone who has written what we see in your comments above (and in similar comments in the past) doesn’t really think that religion is responsible for the majority of our ills.

    And if you don’t, then what point are you actually trying to make? If it is that the world would be a better place if noone had any strongly held beliefs, then I would have to strongly disagree – there will always be people who want to do bad things, and in a world with no convictions, a world without any objectively held beliefs, there will be no justifiable reason for stopping those bad people, and the twin rules of ‘might is right’ and ‘the end justifies the means’ will rule.

    Despite there having been occasions where religious belief has made people worse (and there will always be cases of this kind, according to the rule that whatever is noblest in us, when corrupted, tends to become worse than before), the fact of the matter is that, whether you want to believe it or not, the number of these incidents is very small in comparison with acts of violence or oppression in general. Conversely, given the evidence of what we’ve seen in the 20th Century, when the project of removing God from public life was given free reign, blood was spilled on an unprecedented scale, and the fact that it happened under atheistic regimes was not incidental to this. Also, as I pointed out earlier, this was the logical conclusion of the secular state’s struggle to free itself from being bound by moral and religious obligations that started during the Reformation – modernity, which has in great part been characterised by the attempt to secularise public life (i.e.; to rid state decision making processes of any of those pesky convictions), has been vastly more violent, and more recklessly so, than any of the ages that preceded it, and this is precisely because it has progressively removed itself from a context of obligation to objective ideals, of those strongly held beliefs that you see as being the problem.

    In our own time, which one could perhaps characterise as more agnostic than explicitly atheist, given that most people in the West don’t have enough conviction to believe in anything, even in the absence of something, we see much more subtle effects – widespread abortion, growing claims that the old and infirm should be ‘assisted’ in an early death, the continuing breakdown of family and community, which in turn leads to more disenfranchised youth and greater lawlessness, all of which is underpinned by a general feeling of complete indifference (or, as David Bentley Hart puts it, a ‘pitiless nihilism’), dressed up as tolerance and commitment to pluralism. Societies led by an atheist imperative have shown themselves to be greatly more murderous than anything in Christian Western Europe, and our own agnostic society allows for a much more chilling sort of evil, because we dress it up in terms of individual autonomy and ‘progressive’ ideology. As Kathleen’s post on Solzhenitsyn points out, this is all because we have forgotten God – whether we do so overtly, as Stalin et al did, or as we do now, by a process of marginalisation and indifference, it matters not – the results are just as unsettling.


  14. mkenny114 says:


    I have just re-read your earlier comment, and what you say about Communism simply being another name for various other movements that have placed man above God is very well put. In fact, I think the term ‘making-man-the-only-god ideology’ pretty much sums up everything that’s been discussed here! This is the bottom line – either we take our lead from God, or man; and if the latter, it will always be the strongest, or those with the greatest power of persuasion, that will prevail – what is actually the right thing to do will not come into it at all.


  15. toadspittle says:

    Well Michael, maybe my reply on another “thread,” will help explain. If I have given the impression religion is responsible for the majority of our ills, I now gladly amend that to responsible for some of our ills. (I’ve named the other culprits.)
    And when we look at ISIS, that is hard to deny, I think. Homicidal lunatics who, sincerely – for all I know – believe that they are obediently following God’s instructions for dealing with heretics and infidels.
    Nor do I think we can designate “Communism” as a convenient, catch-all way of describing all “Man over God,” anti-religious movements, if that is what you, and/or Kathleen, are actually doing.
    You might say the same about Fascism.
    However, there’s no point in pursuing that line, so I won’t.

    Also however, Christ seems to me perfectly explicit in how to deal with ISIS, and their like: “Turn the other cheek,” that is to say, submit, be martyred, and proceed immediately, and happily to Heaven. Like the early Christians did in the Coliseum.
    Personally, I’m not prepared to do that – which is one reason (among several others) I can’t claim to be a real Catholic.
    What’s your opinion – on this very serious issue?


  16. mkenny114 says:

    Yes, I have seen your reply over on the Solzhenitsyn thread, and I’ll take your word for it, until next time anyway 🙂 As for ISIS, I agree, and made my views on Islam clear in an earlier reply – I know it’s not politically correct to say that there is something wrong with the religion itself, but I’m afraid that the history of Islam from beginning to end, as well as its patent identification of its theological ends with legal and socio-political ones, makes it hard to say otherwise. Looking at the particular case of Islam of course also reminds us that there is not really such thing as ‘religion’ in the abstract, but individual religions, and that the principles behind each one of them can provide their adherents with different motivations (Christianity, to actively love God and neighbour; Islam, to, ultimately, make everyone a Muslim through various means; Buddhism, given that life is just an illusion, to not do much of anything). I’m generalising wildly of course, but I think you get the idea.

    This leads on to your point about turning the other cheek, martyrdom, etc, which, as you rightly say, is a very serious issue. The first thing to say about this is that the Christian imperative to non-violence in the face of attack is not to be taken absolutely literally – in the Sermon on the Mount, as well as in many other places, Christ spoke in hyperbole, and certainly did not mean to suggest (for example) that every time someone took your coat, you were to offer them another piece of clothing, or to literally pluck your eye out lest temptations lead you into sin. However, having said that, the essence of what He said does remain, which is that, when assaulted in any way, we should seek a peaceful resolution, and that this may often involve not seeking revenge, of swallowing our desire to dish out judgement on them, which will only result in them seeking to do the same to me, and the cycle of violence continues. This does not mean of course that we cannot defend ourselves, but only that we should not respond in kind.

    The call to turn the other cheek in fact presupposes the lex talionis or ‘eye for an eye’ of the Old Testament because mercy presupposes justice – we cannot be merciful if there is no preceding justice to be done, and so, in not responding violently to an injustice done to us, we are recognising that it really is an injustice, but then going beyond it and showing a more ‘excellent way’. This is why, when it comes to the safety of others, the Church has long endorsed the idea of a Just War – that it is legitimate to actively use violence against another, in order to protect the innocent. When it comes to ourselves, we must do all we can to show to our assailant that there is another option – namely that of sacrificial love – but when it comes to the safety of others (e.g.; like those in Iraq) we can legitimately use aggressive means, because justice must be done.

    As for those who do take Our Lord’s commandment literally and put up no resistance whatsoever, they are doing something that many of us would not be able to, and, as I said earlier, which is not necessarily required of us all. But, just as many of the saints were able to exhibit perfect charity in other ways, so has it been given to the martyrs to exhibit it in laying down their lives, and we cannot discount this, but rather must point to it as a pinnacle of what it means to forget one’s own life for the sake of Love. Furthermore, as Tertullian wrote, ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’ – it is the example of such people that has always shown to the world just how powerful love is; that the martyrs were so given over to it that they found a new and more perfect freedom, so that even death no longer presented a threat to them. Of course, if one does not believe in the Resurrection or in Heaven, this will be written off as ‘pie in the sky’ and their lives seen as needlessly lost, but for them this was not the case – they were able to give their lives because they believed that love was stronger even than death, and that whatever was done to them by their fellow men could not destroy what that love had given them. Because of this witness of what love can do, the Church grew, and continues to do so in every place where the blood of the martyrs is shed.

    So, there are various levels to this issue I think – firstly, that the command to turn the other cheek is not to be taken literally but, like many of Our Lord’s commands, has a more essential meaning which, though still challenging, is not as impractical as it might seem; secondly, that despite this, it is still possible to take that imperative of non-violence to its logical conclusion, as in the case of the martyrs, and that this provides a powerful witness to the power of love over evil; and thirdly, that, as societies, we are not just allowed, but are encouraged by the Church, to protect the innocent using violent means.

    Finally, re Communism, just to clarify, you have the description the wrong way around – I (following Kathleen) was not using it as a catch-all way of describing all ‘Man-over-God’ movements, but suggesting that it is merely the most recent (and most overt) example of a variety of such movements that have taken place throughout history. It is the anti-religious movement par excellence, if you will, but also representative of an already existent type.

    N.B. Sorry, I hadn’t intended my reply to be quite that long!


  17. toadspittle says:

    Good answer, indeed, Michael. Much to consider.
    I know it’s not politically correct to say that there is something wrong with the religion itself, but I’m afraid that the history of Islam from beginning to end, as well as its patent identification of its theological ends with legal and socio-political ones, makes it hard to say otherwise. “
    I agree, absolutely – and suggest the same strictures apply to other religions – possibly most of them?
    But then where in,say, the case of birth control – does the theology stop and the socio-politics begin? Or contrariwise?


  18. mkenny114 says:

    I think there is a fundamental difference here. Of course, all (well, most) religions wish to see society adopt certain values, and this will almost certainly lead to religious beliefs entering into the socio-political sphere. Islam however is different, in that it does not just think that certain values are better than others, but is in and of itself a religious, political and legal system all bound up together – the ideal is not just to make people Muslims, but to make the whole society Muslim, from top to bottom, which is why it spread via military means from the beginning, and why there are so many Qu’ranic verses justifying coercion.

    The Church on the other hand, from the beginning, actually made a point of separating itself from the socio-political arena (‘give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s’ etc and Saint Ambrose’s two swords theory, for example). That it became too close to the State at various points in history is undeniable, but the inner logic of Christianity requires that the two spheres be kept separate; Islam is just the opposite.

    Having said that though, a Christian society will necessarily live according to Christian ethics, and whilst the Church must remain separate from the State, that does not mean she cannot (indeed, she must) restate those ethics, and call those in society to live by them. So, in the case of birth control, and many other aspects of Catholic sexual and social morality, it is obvious that Church teaching will interact with society, but this is not the same as the identification of faith and politics that we see in Islam.

    Another good point of comparison might be law in Christian and Muslim countries – in the former case, law is shaped and influenced by Church teaching; in the latter case, for the most part, the law IS Muslim teaching.


  19. toadspittle says:

    Very well put, Michael – that is to say I agree with just about all of it.
    (When ‘A” express views that ‘B’ agrees with, ‘B’ considers them “Fair, accurate and unbiased.” When ‘B’ disagrees, the exact same views are “Biased, inaccurate, lies.”)
    However, when you say,
    “…the ideal is not just to make people Muslims, but to make the whole society Muslim, from top to bottom,”
    Which was certainly the Stalinist ideal – and surely is also the Catholic ideal of evangelism, so can we fault this attitude with a straight face?

    If Solzhenitsyn were miraculously to return to life today, would he be reassured that men had not forgotten God – by the upsurge in persecution of Christians for religious reasons? And, thanks to ISIS, The Wit and Wisdom of Pope Francis, The Da Vinci Code, Richard Dawkins, Gay Marriage (God apparently doesn’t care for it), The Camino explosion, and movies starring either Jesus or Noah – people seem to talk of little else other than God, these days.
    …I know I don’t. There’s a thought.


  20. mkenny114 says:

    No, this is not the same ideal. The Church does indeed want to see everyone come to faith, and ideally for society to be guided according to Church teaching on morality etc. However, as I said before, there has always been a principle of separation between Church and State from within the Church itself, and thus it is not the ideal that society be identified with the Faith. In Islam though, the ideal is, basically, a theocracy, and Muslims see the world divided up into the Dar-al-Islam (the ‘house of Islam’, or part of the world under the rule of Islam) and the Dar-al-Harb (the ‘house of war’, or places where Muslim law is not in control of society). Whereas the Church does want everyone to become a Catholic, she also recognises that this is not the same thing as the Church actually ruling societies where a majority of people adopt the Faith. Islam does see things in these terms – hence the provision of a ready-made legal system in Sharia – and also sees coercion and military expansion as basic tools of making more of the world part of the Dar-al-Islam, which is completely contrary to the Christian practice of mission.

    Similarly, one could call what occurred in Stalinist Russia an a-theocracy, in the sense that it saw the purging of religion from public (and, to a great extent, private) life as essential to its overall task, and the imposition of godlessness as being axiomatic to the project overall. The difference between these two and the Church is a.) the identification of their ideologies with the State, and b.) the justification therefore of using coercive methods to impose that ideology on everyone. I am of course well aware that the Church has become too closely allied with various secular powers in the past, and that coercive methods have been used as well – but these are aberrations, alien to her essence, whereas in the other two cases they are part of the ideologies themselves.

    As for what Solzhenitsyn would say about today’s situation, I think it would be exactly the same. Religion will always be of interest, and ‘spirituality’ (whichever one of many vague definitions is given) is indeed, I think, actually on the increase. Things like the Da Vinci Code and the Dawkins phenomenon show that, whilst the new generation of atheists say they think God is no more real than a fairy godmother or pixie at the bottom of the garden, they clearly take Him seriously enough to spend a lot of their time talking and writing about Him. So, I don’t think interest in God or religion is going away no, but that is not what Solzhenitsyn meant –he meant that we have forgotten (or cast aside) the God revealed in Jesus Christ, the God of Love and Truth, who makes a claim on us to join in His life by bearing witness to Love and Truth and allowing them to shape our lives (and also, the values which this God has inspired have shaped all that is best in Western civilisation). Instead, we have replaced God with various idols of our own making (principally ourselves), and I would also include Islam in this (ironically, given that it is notorious for its iconoclasm) as it replaces God with a deity that it characterised by power and will alone, whose nature is not commensurate with Reason or Natural Law and therefore whose commands can be entirely arbitrary.

    For more on this (the essential difference between the Christian and Islamic conceptions of God) I would highly recommend Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture of 2006, and for a wider perspective on Solzhenitsyn’s vision, the latter’s Harvard Address of 1978. Both are very worthwhile reads (though the first is more relevant, and a lot shorter!):


  21. kathleen says:

    @ Michael

    Thank you so much for your brilliant expounding of Catholic thought and teaching in these recent comments in your discussion with Toad. It is extremely kind and generous of you to take the time and trouble to do this for us (the Team of CP&S). I, for one, have been unable to answer the issues raised the last couple of days; I have been kept busy entertaining the last of the summer visitors, whilst at the same time fighting internet ‘gremlins’. 😉

    I agree 100% with everything you have stated above. Besides, your insights into the main reason there are these increasing problems with the islamic ‘religion’ are undeniable. (See the article we have just published from the National Catholic Register too.)

    For once I feel I must even thank Toad for being the sort of catalyst that enabled your making ‘a pearl’ out of Toad’s ‘grain of sand’. 🙂


  22. toadspittle says:

    Toad seconds that.
    The great Sir Anthony ought to be proud of his namesake.


  23. toadspittle says:

    …Still..“….the ideal is not just to make people Muslims, but to make the whole society Muslim, from top to bottom, “
    ..But surely, if you made the people – into not Muslims, but Catholics, in your case – you would inevitably make the whole society Catholic, from top to bottom?
    And I personally would not be happy with that. (Viz: yet another Toad comment on another thread, just now.)
    Would you?


  24. kathleen says:

    Well Toad, if “the whole society” were to become Catholic – truly Catholic that is, abiding by all the virtues and beatitudes of Pure Catholicism – it would certainly become a world similar* to the Garden of Eden before the Fall.

    And I believe every good Man (or Woman) would be very happy indeed with that. Even Toad! 😉

    * Since we can’t turn the clock back on Original Sin, a few little pecadillos will still be floating around I fear.


  25. mkenny114 says:

    Thank you Kathleen! And thank you Toad – the invocation of your old favourite Sir Anthony is praise indeed 🙂

    As to the differences between a society where everyone is converted to Catholicism and one where the society has been made Muslim at every level (not just in terms of the people in it, but the legal and political structures, etc), I don’t think I can say much more than I already have really.

    As to whether I would be happy with the former situation, yes I certainly would, as I believe that what the Church teaches affords people the best possible means for happiness and holiness, as well as providing the resources for a stable society, from the basic ‘building block’ of the family upwards. Furthermore, I think it is important to remember that all those Western ideals we hold so dear (like tolerance, democracy, freedom of conscience) not only have their roots in Catholic social teaching, but that Catholic teaching on the human person is the only thing that really justifies such a thing as inviolable human rights in the first place – secularism doesn’t really have any values of its own, and can’t do, as it is supposedly ‘neutral towards worldviews’; ultimately it must always (and does) ride on the coattails of another worldview, namely that of Christianity.

    Plus, as Kathleen has pointed out, if everyone in such a society were really to live according to the Church’s teaching, I have no doubt that the that society would become an immeasurably better place, almost overnight.


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