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Archbishop Adetiloye a foe of idolatry and corruption: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 7. February 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Corruption.
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Spiritual and material corruption was eating away at the hearts of the Christian Churches of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said last week, warning that the failure of Church leaders to live up to their callings was emblematic of the failure of Nigerian civil society.

In his eulogy for the late Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Joseph Adetiloye on 25 Jan 2013 at St Paul’s Church in Odo-Owa in Ekiti State, Archbishop Okoh told the mourners: “We are not here to help Archbishop Adetiloye but to help ourselves to see if we can realign with God and make a meaning of our life.”

Taking as his text 2 Timothy 4:7-8, the archbishop lambasted Prosperity Gospel preachers who taught false doctrine and used their ministries to enrich themselves.  “The church today is highly criticised because many of us who profess Christ are very poor images of Christ,” the archbishop said.

“It is a pity that we have become slaves to money; we have lost our dear moral values in the name of getting money,” he said, noting “teaching now centres around quick money, quick riches, and selfishness in the service of God.  People don’t want to serve, but to get reach quick through miracles,” he said.

The archbishop added that “rather than worshiping God, today most Christians worship money, and some other gods that are of no benefit to the growing of the Gospel and the spread of evangelism.”

The pursuit of wealth had even led to some Christians to “idol worshiping in the name of cultural reawakening,” he said.

The late Archbishop Adetiloye had lived an exemplary private life, Archbishop Okoh and had dedicated his ministry to growing the church and combating the infusion of pagan practices and secret societies into the life of the church.  Archbishop Adetiloye “waged war against augmenting the power of God with some other powers.”

Nigeria needed more men like Archbishop Adetiloye — a “courageous prophet of the church who was not afraid to speak the truth to the authorities and stood firm in it,” Archbishop Okoh said.

105,000 Christians murdered for the faith in 2012: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2013 p 6. January 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Persecution.
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Over 105,000 Christians were killed because of their faith in 2012, an Italian sociologist told Vatican Radio last week, with reports from Africa, India and Asia showing a surge in anti-Christian persecution over the Christmas holidays.

Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy from Islam but released after an international protest campaign was re-arrested at his home on Christmas Day, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports.

In a 26 December 2012 statement, CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said Pastor Nadarkhani had been returned to prison Iran. CSW reported he had “been returned to jail on the orders of the director of Lakan Prison, who claimed he had been released several days too early due to the insistence of his lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah,” who is also in an Iranian jail for having defended Mr. Nadarkhani.

The Mohabat News service reported that on 27 Dec 2012, approximately 50 converts to Christianity from Islam were also arrested by police in Tehran for unlawful assembly.  The converts were released after several hours of police interrogation, but the Rev. Vruir Avanessian, remains in custody.

In Nigeria, the Islamist terror group, Boko Haram, attacked a church service on Christmas Eve in a village in Yobe State, killing the pastor and several members of the congregation.  The First Baptist Church in the northern city of Maduguri was attacked by gunmen during a Midnight Service on Christmas Eve and the church’s deacon was killed.  Reports on the total death count vary, with reports ranging from 12 to 24 killed.  CSW reports that since 2010, 45 Christians have been killed in Christmas church attacks launched by Boko Haram.

On 29 Dec, terrorist believed to belong to an Islamist militia group attacked the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Dafniya a town near Misrata Libya.  Three members of the church’s staff were killed and two were injured in the attack.  As members of the congregation left the church following the Saturday evening service, a bomb exploded inside the church.  The Coptic Church in Egypt reports the death toll could have been much higher as the blast went off after the congregation had moved from the church to the parish hall at the conclusion of services – those killed were those still inside the sanctuary when the bomb detonated.

A Catholic priest in Zanzibar was shot on Christmas Day, missionaries on the majority Muslim island off the coast of Tanzania tell The Church of England Newspaper.  Fr Ambrose Mkenda was shot by two men riding a motorcycle as stepped out of his car after returning home from celebrating Christmas Day service.  Sources on the island tell CEN Fr. Mkenda, who is recovering in hospital, was not believed to be the primary target of the attack and was mistaken for the Catholic bishop of the island.  Last year the Anglican and Catholic bishops and clergy on the island were forced to flee to the mainland for a week after Uamsho, an extremist Islamic group, sparked riots.

In an interview broadcast on 26 Dec, the Feast of St Stephen the Martyr, Prof. Massimo Introvigne reported that in 2012 it was believed 105,000 Christians were “murdered for their faith”, or “one death every 5 minutes.”

Christians were most at risk in areas with a strong Islamic fundamentalist presence, Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, Pakistan and some parts of Egypt, in Communist North Korea, and in countries with strong ethnic national identities, where national identity is tied to religion.  In Orissa State in India, he said, Christians are considered “traitors to the nation.”

Ideology lay behind the persecution of Christians, Prof.  Introvigne said: “the ideology of radical Islamic fundamentalism, the more aggressive versions of ethno-nationalism and, of course, the vestiges of the old Communist ideology.”

He noted that “when it comes to the 105 000 deaths per year, these are not all martyrs in the theological sense of the term. However, within this number there those people who very consciously lay down their lives for the Church and often also pray for their persecutors and these offer forgiveness,” he said.

This forgiveness of those who persecute them is the “unique feature of Christianity, because many other cultures – even pre-Christian and post-Christian – speak, the right and duty of honor and vengeance. Christianity had this great civilizing function, which today we tend to forget, to have replaced the logic of revenge with the logic of forgiveness,” Prof. Introvigne said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church Commissioners pledge support for embattled African Christians: The Church of England Newspaper, January 27, 2012 p 7. February 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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Tony Baldry, MP

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Second Church Estates Commissioner has pledged the support of the Church of England in aid to Africa’s embattled Christians.

On 20 January 2012 — the same day as 200 Nigerians were killed in terror blasts by al-Qaeda linked terrorists — the member for Bury North, Mr. David Nuttall (Con) asked the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Mr. Tony Baldry, what plans the church had to provide “support for Christian communities in Nigeria.”

Mr. Baldry responded that “Lambeth Palace” was in “regular contact” with the Church of Nigeria and that Dr. Rowan Williams has followed closely the “ongoing situation in the region.”

He added that the the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev. Justin Welby was “currently visiting Nigeria on behalf of the archbishop” and that the Church of England supports the Church of Nigeria’s effors to “end the murder and violence. It is putting its efforts into supporting movements for peace and reconciliation within the northern and central belt communities of Nigeria.”

Mr. Nuttall pressed the Second Church Estates Commissioner to condemn the terror campaign mounted by Boko Haram and “to take whatever action is necessary to bring such attacks to an end.”

Mr. Baldry responded that to “murder people simply for their religion or simply because they are Christians is totally barbaric, taking us back through the centuries. I very much hope that the Government of Nigeria will do everything they can to prevent the continuing murder of Christians. It is particularly disturbing that the person accused of bombing St Theresa’s church just outside Abuja was found hiding in the home of a local state governor.”

The member for Edinburgh North and Leith, Mr. Lazarowicz (Lab/Co-op) rose and asked whether the Second Church Estates Commission agreed that the issue of the “persecution of Christians—or, indeed, of those of any faith—must now be taken much more seriously by international agencies, by this Government and by other bodies that can play a role?”

He added that this was “the third month in a row in which the hon. Gentleman has had to answer questions relating to persecution or discrimination against Christians.”

The member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Simon Hughes (LD) rose and noted that his borough contained the “largest African community in Britain.”

He asked whether the church might find a way to “communicate better to Christian Africans in Britain what is being done” by the Church of England and the Christian churches in Africa to respond to persecution as well as find a way of involving British Africans in the peace process who “may be able to build a bridge” between the warring communities – points to which Mr. Baldry concurred, stating he would raise them with Dr. Williams.

Akinola says ‘no’ to Sharia banking: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2011 p 5. August 1, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The former Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, has added his voice to the chorus of protest over government-regulated Islamic banks in Nigeria.

Injecting religion into the financial sector while the country wrestled with sharp sectarian divisions was a recipe for disaster, the archbishop said on 10 July at a youth festival in Obantoko, and could lead to the “disintegration” of Nigeria.

However, Muslim leaders have attacked the archbishop, questioning his sincerity in condemning Sharia financial laws.

On 13 January, 2011 the Central Bank of Nigeria released an official circular setting the “Framework for the Regulation and Supervision of Institutions Offering Non-Interest Financial Services in Nigeria.”

The new rules authorized Sharia law-compliant banking under the Fiqh al-Muamalat (Islamic rules on transactions). The Sharia banks would be permitted to take non-interest bearing deposits and to issue Islamic mortgages and loans under government licence.

Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has denied allegations the new laws broached the line between church and state. Nigerian Muslim leaders have also denounced the criticism of Sharia banking as ignorant, and have objected to the linking of terrorism with Islam.

A statement released on 11 July by the umbrella group the Conference of Islamic Organisations said there was “no link whatsoever” between “Islamic financial institutions and terrorism.”

“We see the attacks against Islamic banking as insincerity and diversionary tactics to heat up the political situation of the country, thereby portraying Islam and Muslims as trouble-makers,” the Muslim group said.

While financial institutions operating on Islamic banking principles can be found in Europe and across the Muslim world, the Nigerian law goes a step further in requiring the new banks be governed by Sharia law. While church leaders have not objected to the creation of private associations that are self-governed by Sharia law, they sharply object to the requirement that the new institutions under state licence be Sharia-compliant.

Archbishop Akinola called on the Church of Nigeria and “all other well-meaning Nigerians to wake up and appreciate the situation.”

“Well-meaning Nigerians must resist all of this by all lawful means and the National Assembly must see the whole thing as an affront” to the Nigerian constitution “which states unambiguously that no particular religion shall be adopted as state religion.”

“Government must take decisive action and promptly cancel everything about the proposed Sharia banking,” the archbishop said, imploring Christians to “rise to defend our faith which is currently on trial” from pro-Muslim government policies and violent Islamist terror attacks.

“We are too comfortable. We must not allow our enemies to win this battle. This is a battle that we must fight and win,” Archbishop Akinola said.

Speaking to the press after last week’s House of Bishops meeting, the current primate of the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh “there is more to Islamic banking than meets the eye.”

The goal of Islamic banking, Archbishop Okoh said, was Islamic evangelism. “In 10 years from now Islamic banking would have grown and matured to what it is intended to be, a religious oppressive instrument and tool for social coercion of the poor to convert to Islam.”