Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting

Gay community, I am your daughter. My mom raised me with her same-sex partner back in the ’80s and ’90s. She and my dad were married for a little while. She knew she was gay before they got married, but things were different back then. That’s how I got here. It was complicated as you can imagine. She left him when I was two or three because she wanted a chance to be happy with someone she really loved: a woman.

My dad wasn’t a great guy, and after she left him he didn’t bother coming around anymore.

Do you remember that book, “Heather Has Two Mommies”? That was my life. My mom, her partner, and I lived in a cozy little house in the ‘burbs of a very liberal and open-minded area. Her partner treated me as if I was her own daughter. Along with my mom’s partner, I also inherited her tight-knit community of gay and lesbian friends. Or maybe they inherited me? […]

I’m writing to you because I’m letting myself out of the closet: I don’t support gay marriage. But it might not be for the reasons that you think.

Children Need a Mother and Father

It’s not because you’re gay. I love you, so much. It’s because of the nature of the same-sex relationship itself.

It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.

Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognize the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. And it’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

I grew up surrounded by women who said they didn’t need or want a man. Yet, as a little girl, I so desperately wanted a daddy. It is a strange and confusing thing to walk around with this deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man, in a community that says that men are unnecessary. There were times I felt so angry with my dad for not being there for me, and then times I felt angry with myself for even wanting a father to begin with. There are parts of me that still grieve over that loss today. […]

Why Can’t Gay People’s Kids Be Honest?

Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting.

If anyone can talk about hard things, it’s us.

 

More at: http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/17/dear-gay-community-your-kids-are-hurting/

 

Reading from the Synaxarion:

Saint Patrick, the Apostle of the Irish, was seized from his native Britain by Irish marauders when he was sixteen years old. Though the son of a deacon and a grandson of a priest, it was not until his captivity that he sought out the Lord with his whole heart. In his Confession, the testament he wrote towards the end of his life, he says, “After I came to Ireland – every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed – the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was so moved that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many at night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain; and I would rise for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm.” After six years of slavery in Ireland, he was guided by God to make his escape, and afterwards struggled in the monastic life at Auxerre in Gaul, under the guidance of the holy
Bishop Germanus. Many years later he was ordained bishop and sent to Ireland once again, about the year 432, to convert the Irish to Christ. His arduous labours bore so much fruit that within seven years, three bishops were sent from Gaul to help him shepherd his flock, “my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord – so many thousands of people,” he says in his Confession. His apostolic work was not accomplished without much “weariness and painfulness,” long journeys through difficult country, and many perils; he says his very life was in danger twelve times. When he came to Ireland as its enlightener, it was a pagan country; when he ended his earthly life some thirty years later, about 461, the Faith of Christ was established in every corner.

Apolytikion of Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland in the Third Tone
O Holy Hierarch, equal of the Apostles, Saint Patrick, wonderworker and enlightener of Ireland: Intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

Kontakion of Patrick, Enlightener of Ireland in the Fourth Tone
The Master revealed thee as a skillful fisher of men; and casting forth nets of Gospel preaching, thou drewest up the heathen to piety. Those who were the children of idolatrous darkness thou didst render sons of day through holy Baptism. O Patrick, intercede for us who honour thy memory.

The position in support homosexuality shared by some Orthodox representatives present at Chambery created deep anxiety among the hierarchs as some Church leaders are striving to change the Scripture, the Holy Canons of the Orthodox Church and the teaching of the Holy Fathers.

Such debates prove indisputably our current society pressure to weaken the supporting pillars of Orthodoxy.

The Preparation of THE INTER-ORTHODOX Commission

The Special Commission for the preparation of 2016 Great Pan-Orthodox Synod/ Council of the Orthodox Church met on February 16 – 20, at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambery – Geneva, under the chairmanship of Metropolitan of Pergamum, Ioannis Ziziulas, a respectable scholar and academician.

For more than 50 years, the Orthodox await this Synod and yet the preparations are not completed. When the Primates of the Orthodox Churches met at the Fanar at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in March last year, it was decided that the Pan-Orthodox Synod will take place in the summer of 2016 in Constantinople.

The NEED to UPDATE the patristic TEXTS?

It appears that many texts prepared to be reviewed at this meeting by the Orthodox bishops are no longer current, due to past eras of the Cold War and especially the communist regimes of Eastern Europe. Therefore, in order to revise the outdated texts, the patriarchs and the archbishops had formed a new Commission consisting of representatives of all the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

The purpose of this Commission was to update these texts in order to be accepted by the bishops who will attend the Synod next year, and all the decrees of the Council, as agreed last March by the primates, should be taken jointly.

It is difficult to determine how long it will tale the hierarchs to fulfill this purpose, since their predecessors had decades to prepare texts which now will be subject to review.

In any case, if we consider the contents of this February meeting in Chambery, it is better not to rush to decisions, and better if this Synod will not meet at all, since some who will participate in it, are ready to amend not only the works of past century theologians, but the very Scripture, the Holy Canons of the Church and the writings of the Holy Fathers.

This time the primates that gathered in Switzerland discussed a text that was drafted at the third Pan-Orthodox Pre-Synodic meeting from 1986 with the resounding title: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in promoting peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love between people for the elimination of racial or other forms of discrimination”.

The hierarchs of the Eastern bloc were the ones who put this text on the Synod agenda, as not long ago they had to report to their communist rulers that their “professional journeys” abroad were not in vain reassuring their rulers that they are laboring for “peace” as peace could be defined in the Eastern bloc.

Meanwhile many things have changed at the political level and although we are still very far from brotherhood and love among nations, the battle against racial discrimination is not as acute. Indeed, the apartheid in South Africa is a file of the past, while black colonial countries have managed to gain their independence, and a representative of the formerly oppressed race lives in the White House leading the most powerful nation of the contemporary world.

Backstage SHAMEFUL DISPUTES

No one would have expected this text to cause such heated discussions among the participants.

As it turned out, the acute divergences were on the subject regarding the rights of sexual minorities. The Metropolitan of Pergamum euphemistically called them “other minorities” which, in his opinion, should be protected from any kind of discrimination and injustice.

“We have no right to humble and victimize the image of God,” said – according to reliable sources – the 84 years old theology professor, while addressing his “heartless” colleagues. “Let us ask ourselves if we need to consider homosexuals scapegoats who deserve to suffer persecution. And if we don’t want to establish that these people must be protected, it means that we want to be punish and imprison them.”

Thus the Metropolitan by trying to assume the creed of those who support anti-racism, in fact he supported the anti-Orthodox bill passed by the Greek parliament under pressure of the European Union.

We remember that this bill was the subject of criticism from His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus and from several other church leaders worthy of respect and with great spiritual authority, that represent the healthy part of Greek society.

But the endeavors to incorporate in the text of the Holy Synod the claim for respect of “minorities of other nature” and the guarantee to “express freely according to their principles”, has not been supported by the majority.

Then another “theology” professor, dean of the Orthodox Theological Institute in Chambery, Vlaslios Feidas, in aim to help the Metropolitan Ioannis, stressed:

“There are sexual minorities, but they are just as we, members of the Orthodox Church. They also participate in the church life. They are sinners, but we are all sinners. The state recognizes them, as respectable members of society, therefore we, in turn, must not ignore them. Sexual sins are under no circumstance the grievous, so we must face the GL community not by conviction, but with love and respect.”

Among the participants there were very few at first to share this position. Conversely, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church, lead by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, absolutely disagreed. This position of respect for homosexual communities and their protection against persecution, would neither be endorsed by the Patriarchate of Antioch, nor by Metropolitan Basil in Syria, where Christians suffer severe persecution because of their faith, nor by Metropolitan of Montenegro Amfilohios, who courageously resisted the “Gay Pride Festival” in the capital city of his country, nor by the other hierarchs.

The 7 hours intense psychological coercion practiced by the Chairman of the Committee on the participants who did not let go the subject, resulted in a compromise amendment that “sexual minorities should not be discriminated against, and this will not imply that others share their opinions and principles.”

All Greek hierarchies including Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetriates voted this amendment, to our great sorrow and shame. Bishop Ignatius alleged that in Greece “the supporters of Nazi ideology” is attacking the sexual minorities.

The amendment was also voted by the Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messina, Bishop George of Paphos (Cyprus), Archbishop Aristarchus of Constantia (Patriarchate of Jerusalem) and the Metropolitan Sergei of Good Hope (the Patriarchate of Alexandria).

The compromise of shame was strongly opposed by Metropolitans Hilarion, Basil and Amfilohios (mentioned above), but also by the hierarchs representing Serbian, Bulgarian, Georgian and Romanian Orthodox Churches.

All these hierarchs, to their honor, have not changed their position and because of them, the awaited revision of Orthodox theology to protect homosexuals has not been accomplished. Thanks to their firm opposition, the revised text will not be submitted to Great Synod next year.

Thus the Holy Orthodox Church will continue to call any sin as evil and the good deeds as good; will not remove from the Holy Scripture the chapter on Sodom and Gomorrah, or the words of the Apostle Paul who says “no homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:9-10)

But the fact that such discussions took place between those whom God had appointed to shepherd His flock and to guard of the Orthodox Faith inflicts deep anxiety on the faithful. And the behavior of certain bishops, who in the name of political correctness fear this world more than the Lord, betraying the teachings of the Holy Fathers, inflicts our hearts with deep sorrow.

Originally published by
http://www.agioritikovima.gr/
a Greek news paper at: http://www.dimokratianews.gr/content/34956/i-omofylofilia-milon-tis-eridos-gia-toys-orthodoxoys-ierarhes-sti-geneyi translated by blog author

See below a replica of Professor Theodore Yiangou
Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Theology AUTH

It is known that last February (from 16th to the 20th of the month), the Patriarchal Center of Chambesy met for the second time (the first meeting was held from September 29 to October 3, 2014). The Inter-Orthodox Special Committee, was established to update and correct Prosynodikon Texts to be referred to the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which, according to the announcement of the Synaxis of the Primates (March 2014), will convene in Istanbul in 2016.
Source: http://fanarion.blogspot.gr/

The purpose of the Special Commission’ work this time was to update the text entitled: “The contribution of the Orthodox Church in the prevalence of peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love among peoples and the elimination of racial and other discrimination.” This text was written in the climate of the time, when the Cold War dominated. Today, however, the situation changed, new threats has proliferated and other pressing problems appeared. So the Church is called not to offer “new wine in old wineskins.” The Commission worked with pride and above all with the deepest sense of respect for the ecclesiastical tradition and in service of the Holy Fathers theological truth. […] Indeed, if we consider the Holy and Great Council preparedness for decades and the increased expectations of the church […], this responsibility is therefore task.

The representatives of all the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches worked as a body, engaging in a creative theological dialogue, always targeting the promotion of Church’s teaching. Nobody acted fragmentary or individually or intentionally to break the ecclesiastical unity. Thus the exchange of views and proposals helped as much as possible, to improve the documents.

This was the spirit and the work of the Commission. Unfortunately a few days ago on the web a text entitled: “Homosexuality, the bone of contention between the Orthodox hierarchs in Chambesy Geneva”, was published which completely distorts reality. From the initial site the same text was republished by others, who are accustomed to transforming the champions of Orthodoxy in mudslinging, a sample of their spiritual poverty.

The erroneous positions and information of the publication shall include:

Refers to this that some hierarchs supported homosexuality “and almost become the cause for the chapter of Sodom and Gomorrah to be deleted from the Bible'” The attitude and effort of the Bishops, according to this text, for modification of the Bible and the Holy Canons and of the Patristic teaching raises concern within the Church.
That “the conflicts … took stormy dimensions, according to exclusive information. It was also so heated and loud, to reach the hallway and the ears of both the technical staff of the Orthodox Center, and to the students studying orthodox theology there. ”
That amendment “of the great sorrow and shame … was voted by all Greek Hierarchs Greek” (“the Messenia Chrysostomos, Paphos George, Constantine Aristarchus and Good Hope Sergius ‘),’ including the Metropolitan of Demetrias, Ignatius.” In contrast the Slavs – rejected “the compromise of shame.”
The anonymous report claims that some (ie the Slavs-) have “not changed their minds until the end. Thanks to them the treacherous revision of Orthodox theology did not take place, so the position to protect homosexuals will not be incorporated into the text written for the Holy and Great Synod”

What is the target of the publication?
Aims: – to present the Orthodox Church divided, with the Greek-speaking Prelates offending the ecclesiastic tradition and Slavic-speaking champions;
– to undermine the validity of the Synod in ecclesiastical team, giving the impression of traitors.
– to eventually canceled the meeting of the Holy Synod.  As stated verbatim in anonymous text: “And yet it would be better not to convene this Meeting at all, if those who are to take part in its activities, are ready to revise … the teaching of the Holy Fathers” ; a flimsy argument against convening the Meeting.

What is reality?

In the text agreed and signed by all the representatives of the Orthodox Churches, there is not one hint, not a single word, conveying the issue of homosexuality. Furthermore, this subject was not on the agenda. Therefore, in the agreed text there is no reference to homosexuality or worse in support of it.
This question arose purely by chance, during the debates, and no Hierarch advocated homosexuality.
Was even supported by declaratory, that the Church does not condemn people or God’ creation, but sin.

This is an fundamental and obvious principle of Christian anthropology. Even the penances imposed for repentant sinners, are not for punishment, but as pedagogy (Reg. 2 and 102 Quinisext). The saints of the Church prayed even for the salvation of the devil, and Christ taught the perfect love for all people.

It is worth mentioning the position of St. Theodore the Studite, that at Christ Second Coming only evil will be consumed by fire, and not God’s creation, namely the logical beings and the spirits. (c.f. PG 99, 1501AB).

The dialogue at Chambesy reflects the biblical and patristic theology. I repeat that no one argued otherwise. Moreover, the Church has a clear position that homosexuality is a passion.

The unsigned text can produce disinformation. It is sloppy journalism, which unfortunately shares responsibility for the spiritual decline of our country. Such texts increase our anxiety about the future of the ecclesiastical and theological discourse. […]

Whatever someone may claim as an excuse, it does not negate the truth of the facts that took place at the last meeting of the Special Committee in Chambesy. Furthermore it will be seen from the publication of the agreed text.

Because the Holy and Great Synod has vision, so we should all assist in its work.

Professor Theodore Yiangou
Chairman of the Department of Pastoral Theology AUTH

Translator disclaimer: I’m neither Greek nor Slave, I do not sympathize with any ethnic group as says the Scripture: “In Christ divided? … there is neither Greek nor Jew”

One cannot claim sympathy for the Slavs, when the “scandalous” article appeared in the Greek and not the Slavic press. As I agree in part with what Professor Theodore Yiangou said that some statements in the “scandalous “ article aim to create division within the CHURCH, lets not forget the past and recent century aggressive ecumenism of the Fanar and of some Hyerarchs who against the Church teachings participate in common prayers with the heretics and in the World Council of churches. It this kind of “dialogue” not aimed to create greater division among the orthodox faithful? A painful reality of our state today that shall no be hidden.

More about Metropolitan John of Pergamon who had also presided the last pan-Orthodox meeting, held in Geneva, few years back. Are the Orthodox faithful aware of some of Mitr. John Zizioulas ideas?
He’s the author of a famous statement: “The Papal primacy is the most important issue of ecumenism”. So according to his idea, not Christian dogmas or Christian truth takes priority, not even the return of heterodox to the Orthodox Church, but … the problem of primacy, the role of the Pope, justified by Zizioulas as sole leader of the Church. No wonder, that Mitr. John was one of the proponents (and probably one of the creators) of the Agreement in Ravenna, which recognizes the Papal primacy as legitimate.

Other dubious ideas were also expressed by John Zizioulas with regards to the Uniates and Monophysites.

Another example of gravely twisting the teachings of the Holy Fathers is Zizioulas’s view on homosexuality, quoted by an Anglican publication (the Tablet): “When I raise the question of homosexuality he claims that the Greek Church is traditionally flexible and non-Judgement on such issues (!!!), but is now becoming more puritanical – due to Western Influence”. So, after Zizioulas, the Orthodox tradition does not condemn homosexuality, but the condemnation of this sin would be a Protestant influence!
What would the Ap. Paul, St. John Chrysostom and all the saints of the Orthodox Church would say about these serious and blasphemous statements? Here you have the “great theologians” preparing the Pan-Orthodox Council …

May God illumine us all.
Please pray for me a sinner!

 

Knowing the will of God is one of the most delicate and complicated matter of our lives, especially for those who are trying to find it through prayer. For although His will is revealed according to Thy words: “Ask, seek, knock, and it shall be given you”, yet it requires patience, trials, temptations and [ascetic] experience, to extinguish man’ own will and passions that cannot withstand the inexpressible tenderness and sensitivity of divine grace.

(Elder Joseph the Hesychast)

A monk needed to go for a day-trip to a big city, accompanied by one of his acquaintance. In the midst of urban’ uproar the monk claimed to have heard a cricket, though his companion did not believe him. Crossing the road and looking carefully under a tree the monk found the cricket, to the astonishment of his relative.

– You must have a superhuman hearing!

– No. My ears aren’t different from yours, said the monk. But everything depends on what you’re  used to listen with them

– No! I would not be able to hear a cricket in this noise!

– It all depends on what is important to you, reiterated the monk. Let’s make a demonstration. So the monk took out few coins from his packet and dropped them quietly on asphalt. And despite of the loud noise of the city, all the people around them turned their heads thinking that the scattered coins could’ve fallen from their packets.

– Do you understand now? It all depends on what is important to people … If we watch or listen to the contentions daily news on television, our ears become accustomed only to what is ugly and evil. We become fearful and helpless! Then we’ll say: “Life is hard, people are evil, we live in an insecure and ugly world, you cannot trust anyone or anything …”

And meanwhile the crickets sing, the leaves rustle, the waters flow… and we do not hear them.

Taken from the Friends of Mt Athos blog

Our Lord Jesus Christ, who “untied the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3: 8) by His humility, had shown us the most powerful weapon against the spirits of wickedness under the heaven. The whole earthly life of our Savior is a powerful and unprecedented example of humility. His descent from His heavenly throne on this corrupted earth, His birth in a manger, His upbringing that remained unnoticed in the mysterious city of Nazareth, His obedience without murmuring against others, His complete service to others to the ultimate self-sacrifice on the Cross, the washing of His disciples’ feet, His Passion and death on the cross; all bear witness to His perfect humility. But our Savior humility indebted us to follow in His deeds “I gave you an example, that as I have done to you, ye should do to others” (Jn. 13:15) He told his disciples after He washed their feet.

He who humbles himself lays down the very foundation of a moral, righteous life. If a man engages in various spiritual labors without humility, but overcome by pride, then sooner or later, he will fall. Only the struggles and works erected on the foundation of deep humility will not be shaken. The higher the building that we want to raise, the more we ought to deepen its foundations. So it happens in the spiritual life. The more we desire to be raised closer to God, the more we ought to humble ourselves.

The power of the devil resides in pride, so his undoing. He is strong by his pride, but only before the proud, as only over those he has power.
Before the deeply humbled man, his pride proves a weak weapon. The ice can be very hard, but only during frosty weather. When the sun warms it up, then the hard ice begins to melt. Likewise the devil pride proves helpless before the humility of those truly pleasing to God. By their humility, they evince to be the bravest warriors.
Isn’t this the true bravery? to be reviled, and not to not avenge, to forgive and to overcome evil with good? (Rom. 12:21)
(Archimandrite Seraphim Alexiev, “The spiritual life of the Orthodox Christian”)

I believe that there is no better call than “to think beautifully!”. What is a “beautiful thought”? It means to think of something good not only at a particular moment, but to think beautifully at any moment of your life, to be mindful of your thoughts, to select the thoughts that go through your mind, to keep the good thoughts and possibly to extent them, to put them into action. The foundation of spiritual life is the thought, so the essence of the religious life is inner discipline, the discipline of the mind. (Archimandrite Theophil Paraian, “Words to Youth”)

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou
One of the last diplomats to leave Smyrna after the Turks set the great Anatolian port city ablaze in September 1922 was the United States’ Consul General, George Horton.  Reflecting on the carnage and depravity of the Turkish forces tasked by Mustafa Kemal to destroy Smyrna’s Greeks and every physical semblance of their three-millennial presence in the magnificent city on the western littoral of Asia Minor, Horton wrote that “one of the keenest impressions which I brought away from Smyrna was a feeling of shame that I belonged to the human race.”  The shame that Horton expressed stemmed from his shock and disgust, both as a witness to the Turks’ genocidal frenzy and as a diplomat aware that several Western governments, including his own, had contributed to the horrors that took place in Smyrna.

The destruction of Smyrna marked the dramatic, fiery climax—although it would not be the telos—of the Turkish nationalists’ genocidal project to annihilate the historic Christian populations of Asia Minor.  The mass murder and mass expulsion of the Ottoman Empire’s and Turkey’s Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks from 1915 to 1923 marked the twentieth century’s first large-scale and systematic state-directed genocide, establishing a model that would inspire and be replicated by other criminal regimes throughout the following century.  Moreover, the Turks’ policy of genocide encouraged imitation elsewhere, precisely because that holocaust against Christians was astonishingly successful and without penalties for the perpetrators.  Indeed, the Turks not only achieved their objectives—the slaughter of three million Christians and the expulsion of another two million from their ancestral homes did, in fact, produce an essentially homogeneous Muslim Turkey—but they did so without any consequences, evading all accountability and any justice.

One of the chief reasons that Turkey escaped responsibility for its crimes against humanity was the complicity, albeit indirect, of several of the Western powers in those crimes.  During the First World War, the Allies condemned the Turkish nationalist leadership that controlled the Ottoman Empire for its acts of genocide.  However, once the war ended, various Western Allied powers (most notably France, Italy, and the United States), in pursuit of commercial concessions from the Turks, entered into diplomatic understandings with the Turkish nationalists, pushed aside and buried the issue of genocide, and even provided military aid and support to Kemal’s regime, thereby enabling the founder of the Turkish Republic to complete by 1923 the bloody “nation-building” project begun by his colleagues in the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

Despite the duplicitous postwar actions of several Western governments, popular sentiment in those same societies was deeply sympathetic to the plight of Christians in the Ottoman Middle East.  A remarkable variety of international relief and aid efforts emerged throughout the West, especially in the United States, in response to the humanitarian crisis produced by Turkey’s policy of annihilating its large Christian population.  The extermination and expulsions of Christians—Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks alike—in Turkey were widely reported in the United States, producing strident calls by several prominent diplomats, politicians, influential religious leaders, scholars, and the press to respond decisively to the crisis as a moral imperative and a Christian duty.  Two years before the US even entered the war, Americans had answered this call to action by organizing the highly publicized, nationwide charity that would become known eventually as Near East Relief, which channeled millions of dollars in aid to Christian survivors of the genocide.

In sharp contrast to the American public’s outrage over the Muslim Turks’ extermination of Christians a century ago, the most recent genocide of Christians in the Middle East by fanatical Muslims, under the moniker of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has witnessed a very different response in American society—apathy.

In the year 2014, ISIS launched a reign of terror against Arab and Armenian Christian populations reminiscent of Turkey’s genocide a century earlier.  As Islamic State forces advanced across the northern arc of the historic Fertile Crescent (the territory stretching across northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq), ancient Eastern Christian communities were decimated.  An undetermined number of Christians, many several thousands, were killed or enslaved by the Islamic State’s forces in 2014.  In order to escape this fate, almost 250,000 Christians fled the areas occupied by the Islamic State.  The Islamic State’s cleansing of the Christian populations under its control recalls and reiterates the project of nationalist Turkey, one in which nationalist Islamic forces functioned to create a homogeneous Muslim society in the territory under their control.

Tragically enough, the erasure of Christians in Iraq and Syria in 2014 is only the most recent episode in the wave of violence and persecutions against Christians that has been underway since the fateful United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 catalyzed the state failures and Islamist extremist mobilizations that are producing anarchy in the Near East.  During the last decade of bloodshed and chaos in Iraq, and more recently in Syria, perhaps as many as 100,000 Christians have been killed and more than 1.5 million have been made refugees.  As a result, Christianity now faces the possibility of extinction in the lands of its origin.

The American government’s response to this humanitarian catastrophe has been characterized by overt indifference.  The Bush administration dealt with the embarrassing fact that its Iraqi misadventure had unleashed the destruction of the country’s ancient and large Christian population by ignoring and suppressing that fact.  Simultaneously, the Bush government, either deliberately or through sheer folly, implemented occupation policies that undermined the security and prospects for survival of Christian communities in Iraq.

The Obama administration has continued and compounded the fecklessness of its predecessor administration.  Most recently, in an effort to erase the humiliation produced by his reckless comment made in late July, that the White House had no policy to deal with the Islamic State, President Obama rushed to launch a policy initiative in early August.  In a televised national address, President Obama announced that he had ordered military action against the Islamic State, rationalizing the move to limited air war in Iraq and Syria by invoking the US’ moral obligation to protect Iraq’s Yezidi religious minority from genocide at the hands of the Islamic State.  The privations of the Yezidis certainly justified a response and aid, but the genocide and plight of the much larger Christian communities of Iraq, brutalized for more than a decade by the region’s mélange of Islamist extremist groups and actively and passively persecuted by the Baghdad government, were largely ignored in President Obama’s speech.

The US government’s indifference to the genocide of Christians in the Middle East is shocking, but, unfortunately, not surprising.  The demonstrated disregard for the suffering of Christians in the Middle East by the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama is entirely consistent with a double standard established by the moralizing hypocrisy of Woodrow Wilson in the midst of the first genocide of the twentieth century.  In fact, American administrations have been willing not only to turn a blind eye to genocide against Christians in the Middle East; they have gone beyond that, by consistently supporting, at least since the 1980s, Turkey’s genocide denial efforts.

Yet, where is the public outrage?  Although the US government has remained consistent in its indifference and duplicity on this subject, the attitude of the American public has undergone significant change.  A century ago, the Turks’ genocide against Armenians and other Christians provoked public outrage and led to large-scale humanitarian relief efforts in the United States of America.  A century ago, America’s civil society leaders, public intellectuals, and media mavens actively promoted awareness of the Turks’ crimes against humanity, and led popular initiatives to rescue Christians from death and suffering.  The invocation in the public sphere of Christian duty and moral imperatives was sufficient to produce societal concern and action.  In contrast, today, as the Islamic State completes the destruction of the historic Christian centers that Kemal’s forces did not reach, the American public’s response is one of apathy.  The apathy is reflected in the measurable lack of public awareness campaigns and in the absence of activism when it comes to coverage about and support for the Christian victims of Islamist violence.

The cultural and intellectual currents, as well as official policies, that have aimed to expunge religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, from the American public sphere have been corrosive for any commitment to respect for faith and, especially, for assigning value to the survival of Christianity in human civilization.  Signs of America’s emerging a-religious culture has also been instrumental in explaining public misperceptions about the Middle East as home only to Muslims and Jews, thereby rendering reporting on Christians in the Middle East largely incomprehensible or meaningless.  In a word, the cumulative social and cultural changes attendant to the specific drivers and modes of secularization in America go a long way to explaining the reasons for American public apathy towards the annihilation of the Mideast’s Christians.  Indeed, the knowledge, principles, and the very language—“Christian duty,” for example—that produced widespread outrage and drove humanitarian relief in response to genocide against Christians a century earlier have no place in today’s public dialogue, and for some, are viewed as vestiges of an exclusivist American identity that must be terminated.

The domestic politics of faith and US foreign policy concerns regarding religion have contributed to a worrying cynicism in how Washington policymakers engage on the issue of the Middle East’s disappearing Christians.  This past August, President Obama introduced the Yezidis—a group unknown to Americans, indistinguishable victims, free from any association with Christianity—to justify limited military action against the Islamic State.  Given current American political sensitivities towards Islam and social changes generating ambivalence and hostility towards Christianity, the President (much as with his predecessor) made no clarion call for action to protect today’s Middle East Christians—a group whose experiences in the Ottoman Empire were marked by the same options—pay a poll tax, convert, flee, or be killed—that face the Yazidis and the Christians suffering in the ISIS footprint.

This year, 2015, will be a year of centennial remembrance and commemoration of the Christian—the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek—genocide.  It will also be a year of genocide denial, already planned and launched by the Turkish state, as well as by Turkey’s apologists in the US government, American media, and academia.

Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou is Professor of History at Salem State University, where he teaches on the Balkans, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire.

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