Iraq's outnumbered Christians and other religious minority groups are targets of a terror campaign and are facing a dire situation where killings and rapes have become the norm, a panel of witnesses testified yesterday on Capitol Hill.
In a hearing convened by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, and four other panelists unfolded tales of horrors overtaking Christians, Yezidis (angel worshippers) and Mandaeans, members of a pacifist faith that follows the teachings of John the Baptist.
"The situation is more than desperate," said Mr. White, who described how Christians in Baghdad have been told to convert to Islam or be killed. Hundreds of those who could not afford to flee the country are living in churches without adequate food or water, he said.
"In the past month, 36 members of my own congregation have been kidnapped," he said. "To date, only one has been returned."
Iraq's eight remaining Jews, now hiding in Baghdad, are "the oldest Jewish community in the world," he said, referring to the 597 B.C. Babylonian conquest of ancient Judah that brought the Jews to the region as captives.
"The international community has done nothing to help these people," Mr. White said, explaining that the group is trying to emigrate to an Iraqi Jewish enclave in the Netherlands, which won't admit them. ...
Tammy Bruce is disappointed that a measure to name Jesus the King of Poland won't pass. I would say, "But what about the Polish Jews?", but I guess there aren't enough of those left to cause a problem, are there?
Jesus Named Honorary King ... In Poland. If certain lawmakers get their way. At least Jesus is welcomed somewhere. But you'll never guess who opposes the honor--the Catholic Church in Poland. Go figure.
WARSAW, Poland Dec 20, 2006 (AP)— Lawmakers have drawn up a resolution naming Jesus Christ as the honorary king of Poland, but have failed to win support from the country's powerful Roman Catholic church.
Lawmakers for the ruling Law and Justice party and League of Polish Families as well as the opposition Peasants Party back the resolution, said Szymon Ruman, spokesman for parliamentary speaker Marek Jurek.
The LPR is strongly against homosexuality, in both its rhetoric and policy objectives. Its youth organization, the All-Polish Youth, has on numerous occasions counter-protested against demonstrations organized by members of homosexual advocacy groups.
As mayor of Warsaw, PiS (The ruling Polish political party) leader Lech Kaczyński refused authorisation for the Equality Parade for gay rights on June 11, 2005 in Warsaw. The Parade took place despite the ban, and eggs, stones and bottles were thrown at the marchers by young people (nearly all men) from the All-Polish Youth (Młodzież Wszechpolska) youth organisation (a youth group associated with the League of Polish Families), with at least two people injured and hospitalized. The organization claims its members merely tried to prevent an illegal march, and that the violence should be condemned.
Now as far as the issue itself - whether Jesus of Nazareth should be named King of Poland - you might argue that the pedigree of the League of Polish Families is neither here nor there. Well, let's go back to Tammy's post.
At least Jesus is welcomed somewhere.
To the best of my knowledge, Jesus has never been officially named an honorary King - or even President - in the United States. So does that mean that he is "unwelcome" here? Or does it mean that we have a nation and a government that recognize separation of church and state?
Much to Tammy's dismay, it seems the Catholic Church itself is not enthusiastic about the idea: 'On Wednesday several bishops criticized it, and said parliament should stay out of religious affairs.' Well, what a novel concept.
Here's the bigger point that I want to get to. A lot of former liberals have become turned-off by the extreme anti-religious zealotry of organizations like the ACLU; they feel that a climate of "political correctness" has unfairly targeted traditional religion - particularly Christianity. They may believe that high-profile liberal activists exaggerate the threat of fundamentalist Christian extremism while ignoring the very real threat of Islamist extremism.
And to a large extent they are right. But this is not sufficient reason (in fact, there is no sufficient reason) to go to the opposite, and equally wrong, extreme by advocating a Christian theocracy. To the great credit of the Catholic Church, it would appear from the bishops' remarks that the Church understands this.
UPDATE: A screen pal who's an American expat living in Poland (and an out lesbian) writes:
Do you know that when JPII died, everyone said he was a Polish king, the last of the Piasts (even though he's not descended from the Piast dynasty)? Do you know that the Virgin Mary Mother of God (or so - I'm not catholic, nor do I play one on TV) has been called the Queen of Poland for a thousand years? Do you know that 98% of the population calls itself Catholic?
It doesn't surprise me at all. The parties that backed this are ultra nationalist right wing (LPR, SO), and only slightly closer to center (PiS). If you were listen9ing to the daily goings on in political news here, you see how this is just one more scene in a comedy. Tragicomedy. ...
And there are still jews in Poland. I know at least 5. I'm not being facetious, either. The synagogue here peeks into backpacks before they let you in, but yeah, there are still some.
Also, there is a great cafe in the basement of the synagogue in the city center, and Tamara, the fun lady who runs it, makes tasty snacks (nearly) every day. And there's a billiard table there. It's actually the only billiard table I know of in the whole city. ...
The leader of LPR [League of Polish Families] is from a long line of nationalist bigots/politicians/activists, and is currently education minister. They're not only actively homophobic, they're also very anti-choice, anti women/women in the workplace, anti anyone who isn't Polish, and yes, that includes Polish Jews. The lice have gotten away with throwing acid at cops during homo rallies, and eggs for throwing at homos, feminists, etc are often supplied by "adult" members of LPR (as in, the cops have busted them with partial cases of eggs in the trunks of their cars). Members, indeed.