02/15/18

Unholy Alliance

By: Cliff Kincaid | America’s Survival

Can you image the Vatican entering into a power-sharing agreement with Donald Trump? Yet Pope Francis is making a deal with the Red Chinese regime over control over the leadership of the Catholic Church in that communist-controlled country. George Neumayr, author of The Political Pope, discusses the Marxist bent of the Vatican under Pope Francis and the unholy deal with Beijing now being finalized.

02/15/18

Morality and Congress – an Oxymoron

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

While paramedics were still checking for victims of this latest school shooting, marching orders from gun grabbing leftists were being handed out.  “Get those guns, those evil guns must be rounded up for our children to be safe.”  No doubt the tragic loss of life in Parkland, Florida should affect each of us, right down to our very souls.

But that’s just the point; the soul of our nation has a festering cancer which must be treated… and it has nothing to do with individual ownership of firearms.

CNN had a  lead article, “Biden says Congress has ‘moral obligation’ to take action after Parkland”.  His exact quote, “I am at a loss for what more to say. I grieve with the families in Parkland today. I grieve with the families across the country who have suffered loss due to gun violence. Congress has a moral obligation to take action and spare more families from this violence,” Biden tweeted.

In other words, according to Joe Biden and those on the left, Congress needs to ignore the 2nd Amendment once and for all in order to get those evil guns away from stupid Americans who shouldn’t be trusted.  Doesn’t that about cover how the left sees us?

Contained within that same article, “Congress has a moral responsibility to take common sense action to prevent the daily tragedy of gun violence in communities across America,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted Wednesday.”  In my best Saturday Night Live, Church Lady voice, “Well isn’t that special.”

The leftist agenda is and always has been to disarm American citizens at any cost.  Once the government has removed all the guns, citizens become subjects of the state without near as much hassle. If that means playing on the tears of parents left childless from a crazed gunman’s senseless act of violence then so be it; just make sure to play up the part about his use of an AR-15 to make sure we get public sentiment working to complete the job.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are in mourning over this latest senseless shooting. That said…how about we talk about reality?

The brutal truth nobody wants to hear is that in a free society danger lurks around every ‘next corner’.  There is no such thing as a ‘safe space’ where you never get your feelings hurt, never run into a bully or have to defend yourself or loved ones from a crazed lunatic with a weapon. This is one of the reasons why individuals arm themselves and why it is a Natural Right (God Given Right) in a free society to offset those times when an individual runs up against situations which cannot be resolved in a peaceful manner. There is no way to guarantee safety from random acts of violence and so we remain armed as our only reasonable protection from that danger.

Exactly what is Congress going to fix?  Folks on the left are jumping up and down demanding we fix the gun problem.  Some things are not within the scope or power of Congress; but let’s not let little details like that stop them from gumming up our Constitutional Republic.  (sarcasm button engaged)

John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers, or as some refer to them, ‘old white guys’, shared these  words of caution, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.  Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

I point this out to Joe Biden, clearly the moral watchdog for our nation, a man who wants to become a presidential candidate for the Democrat Party; but only if they can ignore  Biden’s insatiable lusting after women, touching them to the point where Secret Service agents had to protect them from his groping.

Wasn’t there a platform issue during the  2012 Democrat Party Convention, they didn’t want to acknowledge God or something to the effect?

“Delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte today booed, jeered and shook their fists when the chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, declared that an amendment to the party’s platform that restored a mention of God had been adopted.”

Maybe that’s important when asking Congress to do something that it’s ‘morally obligated’ to do. Bear in mind, roughly half of the Senate and Congress are card carrying Democrats.

What do Democrats use to anchor themselves to morality and/or religion if they come right out and denounce any association with God?  Isn’t that a fair question?

James Madison pointed out, “Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe.”  Isn’t that simply another way of saying subject to God, no different than the use of the word Creator in our Declaration of Independence?

The only way to ‘fix’ the gun violence issues that plague our nation begin and end by following the laws of God.  There’s no other way to say it.  Disarming the general public is how totalitarian governments enslave their subjects; not how it works in the land of Liberty.

01/27/18

FBI takes on ‘Islamophobia’: White nationalism seen as bigger threat than jihadism

By: Leo Hohmann | LeoHohmann.com

Bushra Alawie is the FBI’s outreach to the metro Detroit area and gave a training workshop for local law enforcement Jan. 10 on “cultural education” about Islam. Screenshot/WXYZ

Two Michigan residents attended a BRIDGES meeting hosted by the Detroit office of the FBI recently that left them stunned by the level of Islamist infiltration at the Bureau.

BRIDGES is a quarterly FBI outreach program that stands for Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity, whereby the FBI hosts workshops for law enforcement and various immigrant communities. They’ve been held in Boston, Detroit, Houston and Minneapolis-St. Paul and some city police departments host similar meetings on their own, without the FBI in attendance.

According to the FBI website, BRIDGES “brings together members of diverse communities and state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies to discuss issues and concerns within their communities.”

In southeastern Michigan, those diverse communities include an array of Islamic migrant enclaves, both Shia and Sunni, as well as Coptic, Chaldean and Assyrian Christians forced to flee their Middle Eastern homelands by the Islamic State and other jihadist groups.

The outreaches can sometimes go to bizarre lengths to demonstrate the FBI’s respect for Islam.

In St. Paul, for example, the FBI boasted in its Oct. 7, 2014 edition of the Law Enforcement Bulletin that the local police department “hosted its first halal cookout” with the Somali Muslim community.

The Jan. 10 BRIDGES meeting in Michigan serves as a fresh reminder of how the FBI has made a concerted effort to divert the eyes of law enforcement away from Muslim communities as potential breeding grounds for terror and refocus attention on “Islamophobic” American citizens.

The meeting, held at the Troy Police and Fire Training Center in Oakland County, an affluent suburb of Detroit, was described as “painful to watch” by two guests who attended.

Dick Manasseri, an activist with Secure Michigan and a resident of Oakland County, gained entry to the meeting by way of a guest invitation from the American Middle Eastern Christian Congress, a regular attendee. But he said he heard nothing about the plight of persecuted Middle Eastern Christians now living in Oakland County.

Instead, almost the entire hour-and-a-half meeting was spent focusing on Islamic religious and cultural practices and trying to debunk any derogatory information police officers may have received about Islamic ideology.

The FBI’s point person for this task was Bushra Alawie, a young female Muslim wearing a full head covering, or hijab. Alawie served in the Army National Guard and upon leaving the Guard in September 2016 the FBI hired her to be its “community outreach specialist” in Detroit.

The mother of four spoke confidently and without any trace of an accent during her presentation on Islamic “cultural education.”

“I get that initial look like, ‘is that really Bushra’ because of my visibly Muslim attire,” she told Detroit’s WXYZ-TV in 2016. “Immediately those rumors are dispelled and it’s business as usual.”

Alawie admitted in the WXYZ interview that her real mission at the FBI is not to ferret out tips and information useful in the apprehension of terrorists but rather it is to “combat Islamophobia.”

That just happens to be the same exact mission of the Muslim Brotherhood-offshoot Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has an entire division called the Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia. And while he did not attend the January meeting, CAIR’s Michigan chapter head, Dawud Walid, has a standing invitation to the FBI’s quarterly BRIDGES meetings in metro Detroit.

Also on the FBI’s invite list is CAIR’s former Michigan chapter leader, Muthanna Al-Hanooti, who was convicted in 2011 of conspiring to work for a foreign government, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and making false statements to the same FBI. Yes, that would be the same FBI which now courts him as a guest at its Detroit-area outreach meetings.

WATCH VIDEO: Meet Bushra Alawie, a Muslim woman working for the FBI

About that phrase “Allahu Akbar,” so frequently shouted during the commission of Islamic terrorist attacks, Alawie assured the police officers in attendance not to worry or give it a second thought.

According to her, “Allahu Akbar”:

  • Is said by Muslims 85 times a day
  • Was said by Jews and Christians before Islam began
  • Would be used to celebrate the birth of a child or in the prayer of a sick person
  • Is perfectly normal and not particularly associated with violent jihad.

She explained that “jihad” means:

  • An inner struggle – for her to “not eat cheesecake”
  • Higher jihad – inner struggle
  • Lower Jihad – to defend one’s property.

She mentioned that “Jihad” was even a name taken by Christian men on occasion and that there was an FBI employee of Palestinian descent whose name was Jihad.

According to Alawie, if we Americans understand these subtleties, then we will be well on our way to wiping out Islamophobia.

Where did the impetus for this FBI focus on Islamophobia come from? It certainly did not originate in Oakland County, Michigan, or even Washington. It’s international in scope.

“Combatting Islamophobia” has been a top priority, since at least 2005, of the United Nations and the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a 57-nation group of Muslim-majority nations that makes up the largest voting bloc at the U.N.

The OIC adopted its 10-year Strategic Action Plan to Overcome Islamophobia in 2005, calling for nations to pass new laws “including deterrent punishments” for those guilty of Islamophobia. This crime was described as any speech that counters the OIC’s statement that “Islam is the religion of moderation and tolerance.”

This 10-year plan served as the basis for the 2011 U.N. Human Rights Resolution 16/18, which encourages every nation in the world to adopt hate-speech laws making “defamation of religion” a crime. There is only one religion, however, that seeks to punish people for speech deemed offensive to its members – Islam. Many nations in Western Europe, including the UK, Germany and Sweden obliged, as did Canada, and passed hate-speech laws geared toward punishing these vile Islamophobes.

It was also around this same time frame – 2010 to 2012 – that lesson plans in public schools across the United States started incorporating large sections on Islam, emphasizing it as a religion of peace and tolerance. Any teacher who resisted was an Islamophobe.

In 2013 the OIC opened an office in Brussels explicitly for the purpose of combatting Islamophobia in Europe.

In February 2017 U.N. Secretary General Antonio Gutteres cited “Islamophobia” as the fuel that has ignited the rise of global terrorism. This U.N. focus on Islamophobia came during the peak offensives of ISIS, al-Nusra and other jihadist groups conducting a genocide against Christian minorities in Iraq and Syria – exposing the global body’s agenda as more concerned about speech deemed offensive to Muslims than beheadings, rapes and mass-murdering of Christians.

Philip Haney, a former Customs and Border Protection officer who became a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 and a member of the Advanced Targeting Team before retiring in July 2015, said the FBI did not get to the point of rolling out Bushra Alawie overnight.

When Haney tried to blow the whistle on Homeland Security ineptitude, he found himself the target of repeated investigations and harassment. A critical data template he developed to catch terrorists before they strike was erased from the DHS computer system. He was an Islamophobe.

Haney believes the term “Islamophobia” was created by the global Islamic movement to set up a watered-down version of the blasphemy laws that terrorize Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East.

Instead of a stern-looking mullah or sheikh enforcing the blasphemy laws under penalty of death, the Muslims in the West use people like Bushra Alawie, who deliver the same warning with a smile, under penalty of losing one’s reputation and career.

“She wouldn’t have been given that platform under the old rules,” Haney said. “These concessions to Islam have been developing for a long time, and the fact that someone like her would be endorsed by the FBI and given that platform, it would never have happened without all those previous developments at the OIC, U.N., and the fervent work of Obama holdovers in the FBI.”

Scrubbing FBI training manuals

One of the more crucial developments came in 2011 – the same year the U.N. adopted Resolution 16/18. That’s when more than 50 Muslim organizations, many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, sent a letter to Obama’s then-deputy national security adviser John Brennan demanding he remove from FBI training manuals all references to Islam deemed offensive to Muslims. They also requested that the FBI and DHS rid themselves of all “biased experts” – people like Haney – and “immediately create an inter-agency task force to address the problem.”

Brennan and then-FBI chief Robert Mueller fell over like a stack of dominos. They immediately scrubbed the training manuals and began purging federal agencies of patriots with expert knowledge of Islamist ideology.

Instead of true terrorism experts, police would receive training from people like Bushra Alawie, the smooth-talking, hijab-wearing Muslim apologist with the contagious smile.

Since most local police chiefs get training from the FBI Academy, the same drivel that now passes for counter-terrorist instruction at the Bureau gets filtered down to police departments nationwide.

But Trump is rectifying all of this right? Unfortunately, no. All of the Muslim infiltrations of the government remain in place. Hiring a woman like Alawie to present an unrealistic view of Islam is the new normal at the FBI.

Other highlights from the BRIDGES meeting:

  • Troy Mayor Dane Slater welcomed the meeting attendees to the “most diverse city in Michigan.”
  • Troy Police Chief Gary Mayer, along with four of his senior officers, welcomed their federal counterparts from the FBI and witnessed the guidance provided by the FBI regarding the normalcy of “Allahu Akbar” and benevolent jihad.
  • Praise was offered for the Obama-appointed former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade who was fired by Trump.
  • Examples offered of domestic terrorism repeatedly focused on white supremacist groups, who are seen as more dangerous than Islamic terrorism according to the teaching of the previous administration and the United Nations-endorsed Strong Cities Network.
  • The FBI’s special agent in charge of Detroit said there remains no clear motive for the Las Vegas massacre.
  • Mental health was injected as an explanation for violent activity per the Muslim Brotherhood playbook.
  • Celebration of the long-standing civil rights partnership between the FBI and the Muslim community was marked with recognition awards.

“Everything was about welcoming, welcoming, welcoming,” Manasseri said. “It was terribly discouraging, including when they talked about domestic terrorism and they kept coming back to white supremacism and how do you protect us from white nationalism? Stunning.”

To counter the false and incomplete training being given by the FBI, Manasseri has co-founded a project called Sharia Crime Stoppers in partnership with a retired police chief.

“The Muslim Brotherhood-managed FBI and its pandering to Islam at 60-plus BRIDGES meetings since the 9/11 terrorist attacks provides ample evidence that Michigan is already living under Sharia, even while it contemplates the candidacy of Sharia-compliant and Muslim Brotherhood-groomed candidate Abdul El-Sayed for governor,” Manasseri said.

El-Sayed is running on the Democratic ticket in Michigan’s 2018 gubernatorial race. CAIR’s Dawud Walid has already said, in an article for the Detroit News, that any questions to Muslim candidates about Sharia law are off limits. For any journalist or concerned citizen to ask such a question would be Islamophobic.

Leo Hohmann is author of the 2017 book “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad.” Donate to this website and help support his investigative reporting on topics most journalists are afraid to touch.

01/26/18

Egyptian regime: Closes many churches, Builds one cathedral

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

This Christmas Eve, January 6, Coptic Christians celebrated mass during the grand opening of the brand-new state-built Nativity of Christ Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the state’s new administration district of Cairo. Those in attendance rejoiced the occasion while many rural villagers had no local church to attend. Cairo now has another (a third) cathedral, thanks to President Al-Sisi who is also responsible for the rise in church closings in 2017. This brings the total number of shut-downs for Christians to twenty-seven hundred.

Roughly half of all Orthodox churches in the country are nonoperational. This did not happen overnight. It was a gradual process beginning with the Nasser regime that continued through the subsequent Islamization of Egypt. In 2017, Law 80-2016 was enforced by the Al-Sisi regime so that all premises used for worship by Christians, yet still without permits, would be grandfathered in and issued one.  When all clergy around the country responded to the state’s request for comprehensive lists of churches for this purpose, local police instead used the master list to legally close them down. The Al-Sisi government never responded.

Last year, Copts experienced an increase in violence. A common thread in most cases was that police, if at all present, stood down or were nowhere to be found in crucial moments. This fact reflects poorly on Al-Sisi who has vowed to protect Christians. The final two weeks of December alone demonstrates their vulnerability after four years with a president who claims favor with the Copts.

Year-end terror targeting Copts

Approximately two thousand worshipers leaving a mosque ambushed a village church in the Giza governorate, north of Cairo, in order to stop the erection of a church bell (disallowed by law). It turned out to be a false accusation. Injuries to seven parishioners and damage to sacred property was a result of the weaponized use of wooden clubs, heavy rocks and steel bars. Satisfied, the attackers dispersed. Police patrols stood down and watched, then stepped in to board up the church.

Seven days later two men with bombs strapped to their bodies fired rounds from machine-guns and killed a church guard (uniformed police officer) during a church service south of Cairo in Helwan. Parishioners heard the rapid fire from inside the church and ran to lock the doors while the gunmen proceeded to kill ten Christians on the church grounds. One perpetrator was shot and killed by the church guard before the guard was in turn killed. The other spent ten minutes more at-large while police patrolled the perimeters and surrounding streets doing nothing to step in. Finally, a pedestrian snatched up the gun of the dead guard and shot the second perpetrator, injuring him. He was captured by civilians and handed over to police who suddenly appeared.

On New Year’s Eve two Coptic Christian men with their children stopped to visit a store owner and friend in Omranya, the suburban town of Cairo, on their way back home from a church service. Two masked gunmen who yelled slurs and curses at Christians opened fire and killed the two brothers. Traumatized, the children survived the bloody scene begging for their fathers.

Copts celebrating Al-Sisi in the new state cathedral

After a terrible year of violence and church closings, Copts who attended the Cairo cathedral’s Christmas Eve service paid homage to Egypt’s head-of-state. On what is normally a solemn religious occasion, congregants waved Egyptian flags and leapt over pews — yelling praise at the president upon the dais. The strictly conservative clergy allowed this commotion, making an exception in order for parishioners to celebrate the visiting president. Coptic support for Al-Sisi is at an all-time high as he approaches his re-election campaign in March.

Orthodox clergy including the pope overwhelmingly support the president. Symbolically, two gold framed poster-sized portraits of the pope and the president hung prominently side-by-side on the interior side wall of Nativity Cathedral. This is completely out of character for the church as the sanctuary only ever carries pictures of saints and never insinuates politics.

This violation of centuries-old Orthodox tradition represents the strong influence of the Islamic state and President Al-Sisi over the church and Pope Tawadros II. By all appearance, the pope is submitted to Islam and with him is the Orthodox body. He recently met with the Grand Imam and declared that while God protects Christians from heaven, “Muslims protect us in the earth.” His diplomacy apparently included the removal of his ever-present cross worn upon his chest so as not to offend Islam’s religious head. Is this the pope’s strategy to bring safety and peace to the Copts? If so, it’s not working.

The US Congress is aware of the bloodshed and so recently presented a bill to deal with the discrimination and oppression of the Egyptian Coptic minority. However, Pope Tawadros II condemned the American attempt to alleviate persecution of Christians by deeming it “interference” and not welcome. He is not the first pope to show his loyalty to the Islamic state and the regime, forsaking his people by appeasing their oppressors.

More and more Copts are beginning to openly criticize clergy statements and actions. In their observations and discussions of the pope resides a daring never before seen. Strong opposition and questioning can be heard within blogging circles. Although the discontented have both voice and sound reason, it is unlikely any sort of unified political voice will emerge in the near future for the Coptic community as long as the clergy fills this role.

12/21/17

Come Follow Me

By: T F Stern | Self-Educated American

In the movie, Always, there’s a scene where a mechanic is working on a service vehicle used at a small private air strip.  Somehow while the motor is running it jumps into gear and takes off without a driver.  On the back of the service vehicle is a sign, Follow Me, intended to guide pilots of small aircraft to the proper location.

(Image, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo – Adoration of the Magi – Google Art Project courtesy of Wikipedia)

As often happens in movies intended to entertain, a borderline qualified pilot happens to be landing at this precise moment as he observes and follows the unmanned service vehicle down the taxi way, across a private road, all the while everyone around is yelling for him to stop.  Eventually the truck crashes into a house at the edge of the landing strip.

I suppose it really is important to identify and validate prior to following just anyone, or in this case, anything.

Such was and is the case with the Great War in Heaven.  Satan put forth his plan whereby every soul would be guaranteed to return to Father; but man would not have his Agency, the ability to choose.  That plan was not accepted by Father and a third of the host of Heaven who wanted to follow that plan were cast out with Satan.

In the other plan… the plan we all agreed to follow, mortality would be our proving ground, a probationary period to test our resolve in obeying God’s laws.  Knowing our shortcomings Father would provide a Savior, even His Only Begotten Son.  And so the War in Heaven began…and continues to this very day.

For our safe return to Father we must decide on a daily basis if we really do want to return to Father or is it worth the effort.  Nobody is going to force you back to Heaven; but there are plenty of opportunities to stray from the path.

We’ve been given lots of help; parents who love and guide us, the scriptures and living prophets all with the purpose of showing us the way home to Father.  Still, we must decide.

Being a convert to the Church I missed out on attending Primary in my youth; however, the Lord didn’t want me to miss out entirely so along the way I’ve been privileged to serve as an instructor while getting to learn all about Sharing Time, Children’s Hymns and how to deal with a wide variety of challenges.

I remember being impressed as Sharing Time began with a roomful of high energy children bouncing off the walls.  The Chorister didn’t seem phased at all as she stood in front of them, having nodded at the sister playing the piano; asked if one of the more energetic children would assist in singing, Do As I’m Doing.

Do as I’m doing;

Follow, follow me!

Do as I’m doing;

Follow, follow me!

If I do it high or low,

If I do it fast or slow,

Do as I’m doing;

Follow, follow me!

Do as I’m doing;

Follow, follow me…

Apparently the children love this tune as they also have a chance to get the ‘wiggle worms’ out of their system.  After a couple of imaginative operations are offered, a different child helping to carry out the exercise, the children are asked to fold their arms for an opening prayer and the children have achieved a much more teachable attitude.  Someone from the Primary Presidency would then present the spiritual lesson with far fewer interruptions.

Isn’t it much the same with adults?  Take for instance the setting for the birth of our Savior.  Wise Men followed the star, traveling far until it rested over the stable where He’d been sleeping in a crib of hay.  Shepherds watching their flocks by night were greeted by angels advising them of the fulfillment of ancient scripture.

Each of us is prepared according to the Lord’s time, His knowing when our hearts have been properly prepared to receive the message of the Gospel.  For some they are born into families where the Gospel is already a daily part of their lives.  Others, myself included, wait a little longer as experiences and testing work to soften our hearts and open our minds.

The tune in my head has been bouncing around all week, Do as I’m doing, Follow, Follow Me…Do as I’m doing, Follow, Follow Me.  Funny how things like that work to our advantage if we but listen to the Spirit as it guides us to the path leading to what’s best for us.

Lucy and I had been married about 7 years when we decided it was time to toss our world upside down and have children.  I knew at that moment that I needed to know more about spiritual life, much more than I’d gathered over the years.

I hadn’t been much on attending the Presbyterian church, at least not after I’d asked some important questions to the Youth Minister and was told, “You really don’t need to know that”.   Well, I did need to know which was why I’d asked so I came to the conclusion that the reason my request was turned away was simple…this Youth Minister didn’t know the answers and it was his way of telling me to get lost.

I was about 14 at the time and had no use for formal religion until we decided to start our family.

It was time to read the Bible, only this time with the intent of actually finding out what was in it.  The New Testament was my starting point.  I had a partner who attended the Lutheran Church at the time.  He thought it was great that I’d decided to read the Bible, offering me a copy, can’t remember exactly; but it sure wasn’t the King James Version.

I got to the part where God made a Deal with Abraham…yea, it came off like a popular television show… Monty Hall pointing to Curtain Number 3… “…and for you God has a Brand New Pontiac Grand Prix with Air Conditioning, Electric Windows and Italian Leather Bucket Seats.”

I thanked him for his genuine concern and shelved that version of the Bible in favor of the King James Version.  It took a little more effort to read the archaic use of language; but somehow the intent of those words made it into my soul as I continued searching for the pathway back to our Father in Heaven.

I actually took inventory, so to speak, an inventory of those I worked with on a daily basis.  Who seemed to be happier; not because they had more money or a better car as we all were police officers making about the same pay.  No, what I was looking for I’ve learned to call, Countenance, the subtle glow which presents itself when an individual is living his/her life in accordance with Gospel principles.

It’s as if that person had a sign on them saying, Follow Me, I know the way home.

Interestingly, those individuals I’d identified as ‘persons of interest’, they all happened to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

If I were prone to assigning things as coincidence, random alignment of details to fit a theory then perhaps it wouldn’t have made such an impression on me; but I don’t believe there is such a thing as coincidence…no, everything happens for a reason including the folks we meet in passing.  It’s up to us to take notice and act on what we have been given.

In short, I knew my insurance agent was a member of the Church so I asked him to send ‘those boys on bicycles’ over so they could tell me more.  The rest is history and we joined the Church.

The Lord sent his servants to assist us in finding the path, the Plan of Salvation.  Another Hymn has been rattling around in my thoughts, one you are familiar with, Come Follow Me.

“Come, follow me,” the Savior said.

Then let us in his footsteps tread,

For thus alone can we be one

With God’s own loved, begotten Son…

I’m grateful for the many opportunities the Lord has seen fit to bless me with all these years; an angel for a wife who puts up with my short comings and loves me in spite of them, the Gospel in my life which has permitted me to follow the Iron Rod which leads us back to our Father in Heaven.  The Temple Blessings which provide the necessary ordinances for eternal marriage and families, ordinances which include all those who have gone before us and tie them together with those who have yet to arrive.

Glad I followed the right path, could just have easily tore through that house on the edge of the run way had I not been paying attention.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

11/15/17

Al-Sisi’s old guard appointee maintains anti-Copts solutions to jihad

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

Al Minya’s governor

General Essam Al-Badawi was installed as Al Minya’s governor (in Upper Egypt) in September 2016 when President Al-Sisi was replacing local officials. He graduated from the police academy in the mid-eighties last century after a long career with the National Security Service. Statements made recently by the governor in response to antagonism and threats towards Christians and the forced closing of Saint George Church (on Oct 27) have aroused widespread suspicion of him among Copts inside and outside Egypt.

His denial of “sectarian” strife as the cause of the recent closures of three churches and an assault on a fourth issued on the heels of Bishop Makarious’ pointed objections displays his interest in gaining control over this narrative with a pro-Islamic stance.  Sectarianism is rife with Muslim civil servants and becomes an obstacle to any attempts at equality under the law.

How could Governor Al-Badawi not see that the mosque inflated its numbers with jihadists in order to pose a threat and strike the church across the road?  And now, after the fact, what do Copts risk by speaking up? In an attempt to silence Copts, the governor schooled them: “It is not permissible to raise internal problems in international and local media.” But Copts need to be heard outside of Al Minya and seek only justice.

In countering a public statement made by the bishop, the governor patronized, flattered, and feigned ignorance regarding the detrimental “peace reconciliations” for Copts who are corralled into rigged tribal agreements and kept from the courts. In other words, it is evident to Copts directly involved or following it closely that the governor has no interest in truth or justice.

Governor Al-Badawi cautioned Bishop Makarious to regard his sources more carefully for the sake of accuracy as if the bishop had the basic facts wrong. “With great confidence in the wisdom and rationality of the bishop” the governor began and proceeded to say that “through sincere cooperation between the bishop and the organs of the province” there would be “agreed implementation of the solutions.” In other words, this Islamic bureaucrat instructs to toe the line and the solutions will come from ignoring the facts and excusing the culprits.

Exasperated by the governor’s request for cooperation with a system that’s well-known for incriminating Christian victims, Monsignor Athanasius George replied, “Where were you when the attacks, insults, vandalism and injuries took place? Where were you when barbarians and bandits became self-appointed rulers?” Sarcastically he added, “It is better that you remove the ISIS flag from your provincial building.”

Governor Al-Badawi warned Copts against pursuing justice, cautioning that irritating “religious citizens who love their religion,” i.e. jihadists, might incite them to strike again if Copts persist. Coptic MP, Marian Azer, seems to agree with the governor. With the expectations of her to represent her own people and at least take a role to insure that evidence is factual, she remains silent. Azer instead reassures the American delegation days after the incident of non-discriminatory treatment of Copts: “…all Muslims and Christians are living under the umbrella of the homeland as equal citizens in rights and freedoms without distinction in any field.” Sadly, misinformation is their take-away.

Muslim and Christian support for Al Minya Copts 

The largely Muslim and Muslim-led political party, the Egyptian Secular Party, put MP Azer to shame. It issued a statement strongly condemning “the wave of church closures in Al Minya” stressing its absolute belief in the right of every citizen to practice the rites of religion and beliefs whatever they are without restrictions or conditions – further emphasizing the repeal of the unfair church construction law and proclaiming a unified law on places of worship, a meaningful reform for Copts.

Likeminded Kamal Suleiman Bishara, former MP and member of the Christian community, urged a fact-finding commission: “The president must immediately send a committee to Al Minya to investigate the truth about what is happening on the ground against Christians and their churches and not rely on misleading reports from the security and executive services.”

Coptic Bishop Agathon of Magagha and Al Adwa (Upper Egypt) issued a statement of support for Bishop Makarius and the Coptic community of Al Minya and Abukarqas in their legitimate demand for the right to pray and practice religious rites, pointing out the repeated attacks by outlaws against the Copts and stressing their rights as guaranteed under the law and current constitution.

Bishop Agathon’s signature was notably absent from an earlier dhimmi-style (appeasing and assuming inferiority) press release issued from the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Mallawi Ashmonin gushing thanks to the governor of Al Minya, as well as President Al Sisi, the prime minister, the interior minister, the security director of Al Minya, the director of national security of Al Minya, officers and police staff for their hard work to resolve the variety of problems concerning Coptic issues as well as serving the Coptic Church.

So far, their hard work has led them to unsatisfactory and unacceptable solutions: The church closure issue is ignored and Saint George remains closed indefinitely, other churches have been shut down since the crisis, perpetrators are not arrested for their encroachments and threats which led to police closing the victimized church, and finally, a “conciliation” meeting has been thrust upon Copts for the purpose of submission and further threats.

Governor Al-Badawi is Al-Sisi’s man. He awaits direct orders from the top. If he does not receive a clear dictate to treat Copts equality and fairly he will adhere to Islamic doctrine and teachings.  As it stands, the governor appears to take his lead from the Grand Imam who just a few weeks ago emphasized Islamic Sharia as Egypt’s rule of law.

10/30/17

More “Peace Solutions”: Egyptian Copts Pay The Price

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

Bedouin peace process

A few days prior to the stand-off on Friday, the streets leading to the village mosque were heavily posted with a threatening provocation ostensibly written by Coptic Church attendees that said, “We re-opened the church against your will.”

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah – Voice ofthe Copts

The Islamic Bedouin peace process, used for negotiating an agreement between two tribes, arrived in Egypt via Saudi Arabia with the Arab conquest. Today, the technique is utilized to settle issues between Muslims and the indigenous Copts. The Copts submit to prepared agreements that force them as innocent victims into statements of guilt along with penalties, by-passing the courts.

Last week on Friday, October 27, following an attack by jihadists against Copts gathering to pray in a newly renovated church a week earlier, the heads of 1,800 Copts from the village of Al Kashery (Abu Kurkas region of Al Minya) were coerced into a Bedouin Peace Reconciliation meeting after a throng of Muslims (a thousand or more) gathered for prayer outside the mosque and threatened the church across the road.

Expanded numbers of Islamic worshipers for the purpose of intimidating church-goers to the Saint George Church across the road from the mosque prompted police forces to protect Copts against possible violence but also to serve Copts with papers demanding attendance at a Bedouin peace meeting later that day. (Automatically, this means Copts relinquish their own defense and innocence in the matter). Police bolted shut the door of the church building along with the children’s nursery.

Throng of Islamic participants prone to attack church incited by false-flag suspicions 

A few days prior to the stand-off on Friday, the streets leading to the village mosque were heavily posted with a threatening provocation ostensibly written by Coptic Church attendees that said, “We re-opened the church against your will.” Local Copts claim that Muslim instigators are the ones responsible for the signage in order to incite malice against Copts from mosque-goers and give them justification to attack the church. This type of agitation has a viral affect, notifying jihadists from nearby villages to join with another.

Message of power

Rumors grew during Friday that police were prepared to arrest both Muslims and Copts on charges of sectarian strife. Because of this, Muslims made threats to Copts with warnings that Copts would be held accountable for any Muslims arrested or harmed. Meanwhile, Copts see themselves framed in the whole matter. One anonymous source directly involved said the following: “We found no support from the law, and we fear that our children will be hurt — overall, after seeing the mobilization of large numbers of jihadists in front of the mosque that faces toward our church, closing the street with prayer mats as a message of power.”

Problematic “solution”

The same source close to the matter had more on Friday to say, “Copts had to agree to the reconciliation that will be held this evening in the village hall. A written agreement was presented that indicated a framework of friendliness, love and brotherhood. A reconciliation and waiver of all records between the two sides must be signed, including a ‘non-provoke crisis’ clause.”

This final item for Copts could mean permanent closure of their church building. The simple act of attending church is a provocation for jihadists and a trigger for mosques — particularly so when a mosque is in direct proximity of a church, i.e., across the road. “Conciliators” made no mention of the bolted church doors during the meeting. Many times the excuse used to rid towns of churches is a “permit issue” problem that has little or no basis in fact, which could happen next in order to have the church remain closed. 

Jihadists have the final word 

Bishop MakariousBishop Makarius of Al Minya summed up the latest episode when he stated, “As we remained silent for two weeks after the closure of a church, hoping officials would stand up in the role entrusted them by the state, our silence led to a worse situation. After closing the first church, a second and third followed the same path, and a fourth one may follow soon — as if Coptic prayer is a crime and must be punished.”

Worse than ever under Al Sisi now

The Bishop’s statement continued, “What happened in two weeks didn’t occur in a year — bolted churches, people attacked and their property destroyed without deterrents by the authority.”

Coexistence comes with a price for Christians alone

The Bishop went on to say, “Copts always pay the price of this coexistence — always called for by the authorities when Copts (are attacked) pay always the price for that coexistence and not the Muslims (the attackers).”

Standard reaction by the state to aggression; Deprive Copts the right to church and prayer
Furthermore, Bishop Makarius added, “When there is any aggression, the first action taken is to close the church and pressure Copts alone without punishing the aggressors.” The Bishop concluded, “The most basic right of our rights is prayer, which is guaranteed by the constitution, and we will not stop demanding it until it is realized.” 

A law is now pending to regulate church construction and clarify Christian rights

Bishop Makarius stated, “Our fear is once the church construction law is passed along with the promises that Copts will be equally treated and are second-class citizens no more that jihadists will impose their will on the organs of the state, which we reject in total.” 

List of attacks in just the last 12 days, including the story above
October 15, 2017: The church of Virgin Mary was closed in 2015 after jihadists attacked it. On this date two years later it re-opened, and while in use on the same afternoon worshipers were harassed by outsiders and police arrived to bolt the church shut – parishioners not allowed to enter again. 

October 22, 2017: The church and children’s nursery of Bishop Moses in the Al Kashery village (Abu Korkas – Al Minya) where 950 Copts are parishioners was attacked by jihadists, and four Copts were injured. The church was bolted. No one was arrested but another Bedouin Reconciliation meeting was held, and the church remains closed.  

October 22, 2017: Within a few hours of the Al Kashery village incident, the church of Abi Sefin at Al Karm village was closed by police wrongly claiming that local Muslims were complaining. For the record, this is the village where the seventy-year old Christian woman was stripped naked and beaten in the street in a recent attack.  

October 27, 2017: Five days later, Saint George church was attacked. On the same evening jihadists attacked Coptic homes and businesses. (Story above)

Which Egypt is this — Al Sisi’s or Al Tayeb’s? Neither. 

Is this evidence of the secular democratic Egypt President Al Sisi praised last week in France? (In all fairness, he did mention chaos.) Is this the religion-of-peace Islam that the Grand Imam, Al Tayeb, portrayed in his speech this month at Cairo’s “Ifta conference?”

10/29/17

Exposing Islam’s “Necromancy” Doctrine Risks Al-Azhar Scholar’s Professorship

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

Al-Azhar Institute is scrambling to protect and defend the Islamic faith, its traditions and foundational beliefs – clamping down on Islamic scholars who reveal truths that will damage Islam’s position as a “heavenly” religion. By labeling them “incompetent,” the Institute muzzles religious researchers. Currently, the highest authorities of Al-Azhar are ignoring President Al Sisi’s requests for “renewal of Islamic discourse,” which aims for discussions to temper interpretations of the Hadiths and the Sera doctrinal books.

Islamic authorities stifle discourse in the media when scholars of their own as well as other independent researchers expose embarrassing doctrine or examine it. Al-Azhar rejects any formal attempts by the government to have an open discourse. Copts care about this issue because so much of the violence against them can be traced to Islamic verses containing hatred and violence, which back it up.

The Coptic community remains certain that Ah-Azhar Institute is an enormous obstacle to societal equality and progress for human rights in Egypt — the country is dysfunctional with oppressive norms, discriminatory regulations, lawlessness and violence against a prescribed underclass that includes all non-Muslims. This is all doctrinally sound.

Islamic doctrine is discussed in the media and Al-Azhar reacts

In the middle of last month, while Al-Azhar denounced a liberal law in Tunisia, the Institute created a national scandal within Egypt when it reacted to the pronouncements of two of its comparative-religion professors – Dr. Sabry Abd El Raauf and Dr. Suaad Saleh – both specialists in the field of religious doctrine. While appearing on an Egyptian TV talk show (ITC Satellite TV) by invitation, Professor Dr. Sabry Abd El Raauf answered a call-in question about the acceptable practice of necromancy. Necromancy – a solid component of Islamic religious doctrine – tends to be a subject of derision for Egyptian school children but nonetheless a gruesome reality.

Unseemly and demonic to those in the biblical tradition, for Muslims, communing with the dead as a practice was accurately explained by the expert-professor as permissible and allowed by Allah (“halal”). He further qualified that, “This practice is against human nature but cannot be considered sin [“haram”].” Dr. Raauf was using his knowledge of the Quran, Hadiths and Sera – the doctrinal books of the Islamic faith. He clarified that a man would not be punished for engaging in this.

According to Islamic practice, the doctor’s response to the caller automatically established an edict or “fatwa” (a religious decree) just by virtue of answering the question. Typically, when a religious decree is made in such a way it is recorded by number and entered into the edict registry and disseminated around the world. (The dos-and-don’ts edicts keep piling up to govern world-wide followers of Islam.) As a comparative-religion professor and expert on solid grounds, Dr. Raauf was shocked at what occurred next. He was called in by his employer, the Al-Azhar Institute’s Vice-President’s office, and threatened to be fired. What had he done wrong?

After all, as recent as May 2011, an Algerian Imam, in a fresh statement of endorsement and reinforcement of the truth just expressed by the professor confirmed it with the question, “Who am I to disagree?” Also in 2012, a member of Egypt’s majority-Muslim Brotherhood parliament submitted a bill to clarify that sexual intercourse with a dead wife must occur within six hours of her death. Furthermore, Egyptian children in the Al-Azhar curriculum learn this lesson in school from religious textbooks.

According to pre-eminent Islamic teaching texts, Islam’s adherence to necromancy stems from a “strong” classification based upon the Hadiths (the religious source) as opposed to a “weak” one. If “weak,” Professor Dr. Raauf would have stressed that no one need follow it, and his edict affirming the practice could never have been produced. According to a current statement on the Al Tahir website — Egypt’s electronic daily newspaper with a mission to bring truthful information to readers — intercourse with the dead is part of the Islamic heritage and is still rightly being taught.

Disturbingly as well, according to the website “the farewell intercourse” is “…fixed among the pages of books of Islamic heritage for decades without revision or modification.” The Al Tahir statement continued with, “…until many of them [pages] became a guide [for teachers] causing the escalation of attacks against them [teachers] instead of attacking the sources the fatwa was built on.” This last quote might as well be an indictment of the Al-Ahzar Institute’s reaction to the correct professor.

Dr. Suaad Saleh was reprimanded along with Dr. Ruaaf because she answered a caller in a second talk show to produce in the same way a “fatwa” (religious decree) about the existing practice of bestiality, confirming what every Muslim knows to be true by the content of their sacred books. Intercourse between humans and animals is “halal” (permitted) but does, however, carry various penalties or prescribed procedures unlike the topic addressed by Dr. Ruaaf. Both practices are not merely facts out of Islam’s history (meant for only a time and place in the past) but are relevant today and applicable to modern-day worshipers.

Copts live in a culture where the dominant values are set by a “foreign” doctrine and regulated by edicts accordingly. It goes without saying that Copts have never adopted the degrading practices of jihad, necromancy, bestiality and honor killings – just to name a few. Instead, Christians in Islam’s midst counter this by the life-affirming, life-giving ideals rooted in their religious doctrine and spiritual walk.

For Copts, manipulation by deception (“taqiyya”), adds psychological damage to their physical endangerment. Denial as an aspect of deception can be seen here with Al-Azhar leaders at Cairo’s October 17 conference entitled: International Conference of Ifta (Fatwas): The role of the fatwa in the stability of societies. During his opening speech, Mohammed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Institute, shifted blame away from the evidence-linked facts of the Institute’s teachings leading to death and destruction onto the machinations of the international community. He said, “a link between terrorism and Islam is a falsification in the consciousness of Muslims, distracting them from the real cause behind terrorism, which in my view is the unjust international policies that know nothing about the human brotherhood in countries that manufacture weapons and export them to ignite strife in Muslim countries.”

Geo-political actors are guilty as the quote points out. However, Islamic doctrine and practice provides a culture groomed and ready for exploitation. Islam is weaponized and counterfeited in the Middle East precisely because the narrative is plausible and easily digested by the western world. Imagine for one moment that a world conference is hosted by the pre-eminent Al-Azhar Sunni-Muslim Institute of Cairo in which speeches are made denouncing unequivocally each crime committed in the name of jihad and every church and village bombing done in the name of Islamic supremacy.

Replacing the normal platitudes of “peace,” which signify nothing, with genuine apologies as a precursor to altering interpretations of texts would transform the world and form a natural resistance to war games that exploit the vile nature and unreformed character of Islam.

10/26/17

Egyptian president visits France: Declares “modernity” while Coptic church is seized

By: Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

The Church of the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs of Margaregs and Abi Sefin has been harassed for years by the state and is constantly under threat of closure.

During President Al Sisi’s press conference upon his visit to France a few days ago (Saturday, Oct 21), a journalist asked about Egyptian human rights. The President replied that Egypt is suffering from disorder and chaos, adding, “I am keen to establish a modern and civil state

Meanwhile in Egypt on the same day, the government Zoning and Planning Commission paid a visit to a four-year old, owned and occupied Orthodox building containing a church for a surprise inspection. The Upper Egypt region of Egypt is primarily Christian and subject to gestapo-like scrutiny with a view to shutting down churches. The village of Al Hager in Suhag has three thousand Coptic Orthodox inhabitants with only one church a mile away – too far to walk.

The following morning before Sunday’s church service, worshipers and the priest arrived to find police forces surrounding the church building while the water and electricity were being disconnected. The reason given was that the state was concerned with security and safety due to complaints from Muslims in the town.

The Church of the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs of Margaregs and Abi Sefin has been harassed for years by the state and is constantly under threat of closure.

Church of the Virgin Mary – Its history of abuse

Beginning in 2006, the Virgin Mary Church was under construction for seven years as a four-story service and sanctuary building. The first floor was for priests only, the second floor for worship service, and the third floor dedicated to the children’s nursery. The top floor provided social services for the congregation.

Delays in construction were endless as they waited for a state church-building permit to be issued (which generally takes many years). The building was finalized and occupied before receiving it. Copts know that non-issuance of church permits is one way the state attempts to obstruct Christian worship.

Upon completion and occupancy in 2013, the Zoning Commission issued a demolition order, but fortunately the courts overturned it when Copts challenged the decision. In the middle of 2013, Copts began to hold two masses weekly on Friday and Sunday mornings.

Now, one day after Al Sisi’s declarations of civility and modernity in France, the church priest toured the property with officials from the Zoning Commission and answered their questions surmising that a shut-down was pending.

That Sunday evening, a delegation from the diocese met with the mayor for more than five hours. In the early hours of Monday morning a decision was reached to “temporarily” close the building until further determinations by the Zoning Commission. No reason given. In June of this year the church in Bani Sweef was subjected to the same closure.

It is easy for a leader to give speeches in foreign countries stating good intentions — another matter to implement them.

10/15/17

Islamic terrorist murders Coptic priest

By: Dr. Ashraf Ramelah | Voice of the Copts

We are not without sympathy for the Muslim Egyptian who is under pressure, indeed coercion towards a Sharia fundamentalism that’s touted today in Egypt – in particular by the powers-that-be from Al-Azhar Institute, the Muslim Brotherhood factions and the fundamentalist Salafi remnant currently influencing believers.  It is difficult to be patient with the slow process of expunging or relegating these influences and the long-haul of reform (if in fact the effort to do so actually exists in Egypt today as we are told) when the outcome of Sharia brainwashing is so gruesomely apparent in crimes such as last Thursday’s bludgeoning to death of Coptic Christian Orthodox Monsignor Samaan Shehata.

In an indisputable act of jihad by a Cairo Muslim named Ahmed Saayed Al Sunbaty wielding a sword in the streets of Al Marg in Egypt’s capital city, two Orthodox priests, Father Beeman Muftah and Monsignor Samaan, became the targets of this jihadist.  On Thursday, October 12, the two priests were visiting Cairo to raise funds for the poor villagers of Bani Sweef (Al Minya). They departed from a store (a construction steel seller) and returned to their car where the Monsignor realized he forgot his cell phone in the store. Father Beeman asked their driver, Gerges Kamel, to accompany the Monsignor on his return to the store in order to retrieve it.

Mr. Kamel gave the following firsthand account:

There was water in the street dividing us.

I followed him separated by water, and suddenly I saw a man carrying a sword begin to follow Monsignor Samaan who began running toward the store. At the store entrance, the attacker reached the Monsignor and stabbed him in his side. Monsignor fell to the ground. At that point, the killer stabbed him again in the neck, slaughtering him. The murderer then hit him in the skull and then carved a cross with the same tool into Monsignor Samaan’s forehead.

The driver continued to say that the street was filled with pedestrians who were present at the scene, but no one intervened. The jihadist ran off but not before tossing onto the Monsignor’s body a handwritten note from his pocket. It all happened in four minutes.

Ahmed Saayed Al Sunbaty was apprehended by citizens with the police who by then were a few meters away from the carnage.  The Monsignor remained alive for another half hour waiting for an ambulance to navigate Cairo’s streets. It arrived one hour after he died. Some say dispatchers work slowly when an emergency call comes in for Christians. Mr. Kamel estimated that the Monsignor’s life could have been saved.

Rumors began to circulate about the attacker’s mental state with labels such as “mentally unstable” and “out of his mind,” which is often heard when Copts are the victims of attacks and a legal case for “insanity” begins to build. But this time, eyewitnesses, including the priests’ driver, Mr. Kamel, emphasized seeing a very deliberate and wholly conscious actor. Later, Al Sunbaty admitted under preliminary interrogation that his action was intentional and fulfilled his desire to get rid of infidels. This is confirmed by the hand written message Al Sunbaty threw down onto his mutilated victim. It stated, “Praise be to Allah. The operation was successful.”

Al Sunbaty’s neighbors told reporters that he lives in the area where he murdered the Monsignor and is well-known for his devotion to Islamic jihad, often directing insults to Christians. In general, Copts rekindled the ire of jihadists when they became one of the forces favoring removal of the former Muslim Brotherhood ruler, President Morsi. Copts were labeled as enemies for their political views after June 30, 2012 and hostility toward Copts proliferated throughout radio and television broadcasts until today.

Reaction to the incident has brought only silence as of yet from Islam’s highest governing authority with its Sunni Muslim Institute located in Cairo. The Institution of Islamic scholars is obstinate when it comes to the slightest reforms and least of all to jihad, one of the major pillars of Islam. As of this writing, no statement has come from President Al-Sisi who normally garners praise from Copts.

Coptic Bishop Rafael addressed government authorities in a statement making mention of the increase of frequency of jihad since churches began to burn in 1972, the very year Monsignor Samaan was born, adding that it demonstrates how poorly the state is handling religious crimes and the extremism of a culture which needs to change by a huge effort yet to begin. Defective security monitoring, prosecution of victims instead of the perpetrators, releasing the guilty without penalty when arrested; all foster the system of religious jihad, stressed the Bishop.

The late Monsignor Samaan, who entered the priesthood in 1998 and was promoted to Monsignor in 2016, was laid to rest within a day of his murder. At his funeral, Bishop Rafael addressed parishioners, “We are all ready to die for the Christian faith.” Not a soul could disagree. Referring to terrorists, the Bishop said, “The blood of our martyrs is the seed of the Church – each murder by a terrorist flourishes our Church – sadly they [terrorists] do not understand that.”

Agreement came from Germany, where Pope Tawadros II resides temporarily for therapeutic reasons, in his statement expressing the Monsignor’s final reward for a purposeful life and death: “celebrating with heaven, receiving another martyr to paradise of joy…he joined the procession of victory like his predecessors of the Church…” Indeed.

Voice of the Copts offers condolences to all who knew and loved the Monsignor. Our prayers and sympathies go to Monsignor Samaan’s family and congregation. We hope and pray as well that President Al-Sisi is enabled and directed by the Almighty to work toward equality throughout Egypt’s system of justice, end anti-Coptic rhetoric, and begin genuine reform within Islam despite the very discouraging signs we see — all as a foundation to build a better future for Egyptians.