Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Christians are the most persecuted group in the world, expert says

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, May 31, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In all, 15 European countries currently have laws on the books that effectively restrict the freedom of religious practice and speech of Christians, according to testimony at the annual meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), May 22 in Tirana, Albania.

Dr. Massimo Introvigne, an Italian sociologist and author said that Christians are the most persecuted group in the world, with one Christian being killed out of religious discrimination every five minutes, particularly in Islamic or Communist countries like North Korea.

OSCE is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization.

“The most dangerous areas,” Introvigne said, “are those which limit the conscientious objection of Christians who do not want to cooperate in abortion, the sale of abortifacient pills, or the celebration of same-sex marriage.”

“In Europe, we have identified 14 laws that are likely to negatively affect the religious liberty of Christians in 15 countries,” he said. “Fortunately, Italy is not among them.”

In 2012, his group reported 169 rulings made in courts around Europe “that we judged to be dangerous to the freedom of Christians.”

Introvigne is the head of the Observatory on Religious Liberty established last year by the Italian Foreign Ministry and Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno.

He highlighted laws which “limit the freedom to preach through the misuse of laws against so-called ‘hate speech’; those which restrict the freedom of religious education and parents’ rights to educate their children, and those which place restrictions on the use of religious symbols.”

Introvigne warned that the “logic” of anti-Christian legal discrimination in Western countries could easily lead to more violent outcomes.

“Naturally, it would be a mistake to place homicidal violence against Christians occurring in some countries of Africa and Asia on the same plane with legal and administrative discrimination against Christians in Europe,” he said. “But in terms of religious liberty, the logic of the inclined plane applies.”

“Where discrimination becomes normal, the transition to violence is never far away,” he concluded.

At the 2011 conference, Introvigne said, “Between the 1st and the 20th centuries there were 70 million Christian martyrs and 40 million of them were in the last century.”

“Statistically,” he said, “persecutions of Christians are the biggest ones but the media dedicate the least time to them.”

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The Vienna-based OSCE has representatives from 57 states and focuses on issues such as arms control, the promotion of human rights, freedom of the press and fair elections. In recent years it has hosted the annual conference in response to the growing reports of anti-Christian discrimination in Europe.

Dr. Gudrun Kugler, the head of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians (OIDC), said in her keynote address that it is mainly those Christians who attempt to take seriously the ethical demands of their religion who suffer.

“Sometimes I get asked, how can a majority be discriminated against? Well, it is not the nominal Christian who is fully aligned to society’s mainstream, who suffers discrimination,” she clarified. “It is those to strive to live according to the high ethical demands of Christianity, who experience a clash. Those are not the majority. And even if they were: History has shown that a leading minority can discriminate against a peaceful majority, as we saw in the striking example of apartheid.”

The OIDC, she said, “documented 41 laws which effect Christians West of Vienna adversely.”

She added, “Unfortunately, with regard to the situation of Christians West of Vienna there is a problem of underreporting – not only by the people themselves, but also by their governments.”

The OIDC found laws limiting conscientious objection in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, and Ireland; curbing freedom of speech by “hate speech legislation” in France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom; violations of freedom of assembly and association in Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands and Spain; discriminatory equality policies in the EU, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and UK and limiting of parental rights in Belgium, France, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden.

Kugler said that Europe is “ready for honest reasonable accommodation when it comes to the clash between people of faith and a mainstream which seems to be at unease with religion. “I ask you to be wary of horizontal equal treatment legislation: Such policies can inflict serious dilemmas on Christians.”

She asked the OSCE member states to combat underreporting and develop materials on how to combat intolerance against Christians and to disseminate this through the OSCE region.

In Western countries, Introvigne in 2011 blamed the growth of “the dictatorship of relativism that allows expressing non-relativistic ideas only in the private sphere and not in the public one.”

This, he added, is particularly being manifested in the suppression of any objection to the homosexual movement.

The Italian government established the Observatory on Religious Liberty last year after a visit between Mayor Alemanno and Pope Benedict XVI, who said that historically and culturally Rome has “a special role to play in defense of religious freedom and particularly in denouncing the persecution of Christians perpetrated in the world.” Vatican specialist Andrea Tornielli reported the pope's words in La Stampa last June.

Introvigne was chosen to head it as the founder and director of the Center for Studies on New Religions, that focuses on combating racism, xenophobia, and discrimination, with particular attention discrimination against Christians and members of other religions.

The founding document from the Foreign Ministry acknowledged Rome as “the center of Christianity, a meeting point between cultures, religions, and ethnic groups.”

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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