Give 7 days to stand against bigotry: 11-22-16
Say it (in whatever language) with me: 11-24-16

A church reopens after ISIS: 11-23-16

Despite verified reports of persecution of religion around the world, here and there one can find evidence of some good news when it comes to how various religions are faring.

Iraq-mapFor instance, a Christian church in Iraq has reopened after being closed for two years because the area in which it was located had been taken over by the so-called Islamic State, which doesn't represent Islam and isn't a state.

The Mar Korkeis church in the town of Bashiqa has been turned back over to Christians in an area of Iraq where Kurdish fighters have driven ISIS out and re-established control.

As the Reuters story to which I've linked you above reports, "After seizing the Nineveh plains in 2014, Islamic State issued an ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Most abandoned their homes and fled to the nearby autonomous Kurdish region."

The recapture of Bashiqa is, of course, good news, but in an area suffering from all kinds of political and religious turmoil, there is no guarantee that the Mar Korkeis church faces nothing but smooth sailing ahead.

Struggles like this provide some perspective to American churches (and other houses of worship) that sometimes are split by controversy over such matters as what music, if any, to use in worship and whether to spend money refurbishing an organ or, instead, on putting new carpet in the sanctuary.

When a church's very existence is threatened, such disagreements seem remarkably trivial -- perhaps because they are.

(The map of Iraq here today shows Mosul in the north. Bashiqa is about 10 miles north of Mosul.)

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One reason to prevent the spread of ISIS is that when this terrorist group takes control, it demolishes history. Here, for instance, is a Reuters story about the ways in which ISIS ransacked a Christian monastery, which is now back in Christian hands. History and tradition mean nothing to violent Islamists. History to them, rather, is a propaganda tool to manipulate and exploit.


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