A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Friday, September 30, 2005

Iraqi Anglicans under attack!

Whilst most people are aware of the struggle between the two/three sides of Islam in Iraq, not a lot is said of Iraqi Christians. Whilst Saddam Hussein was a monster with regard to his stranglehold on government, he kept the lid on ethnic/religious tensions. Now things are different.

Today, we hear that the entire lay leadership of the Anglican church in Iraq is missing and feared dead after being attacked on a dangerous road west of Baghdad. How difficult it is to be a Christian in such lands. Do we remember Bishop Hassan Dehqani Tafti of Iran and his troubles? This from a sermon by Kenneth E. Bailey, author and lecturer in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies, Canon Theologian of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

One of the greatest unsung heroes of the 20th century, in my opinion, is my friend, the now retired Episcopal Bishop of Teheran, Iran, his Grace Hassan Dehkani-Tafti. Bishop Hassan began his life as a Muslim. As an adult he discovered the full revelation of God who is merciful and compassionate in the face of Jesus Christ and he became a Christian. Answering a call to ministry he became an Episcopal priest and, in time, was selected as the Bishop of his church.
Shortly after Khomeni and his followers took over Iran, the revolutionary guards came to the Bishop demanding that he turn over to them all the pension funds for all the employees of the church’s schools and hospitals. He refused. In the night they returned to assassinate him, and in the darkness their bullets missed. For his own safety the church community insisted that he leave the country. With great regret he did so. Initially he was with us in Beirut and, like Moses, his face was shining but he didn’t know it. He continued on to Cyprus for regional church meetings. During those meetings the Bishop’s son, a journalist back in Teheran, was murdered. Having failed to kill the father, they killed his son.

It puts it into perspective for Western Christians. Now is the time for us to rally round, after Katrina and Rita and other problems, both great and small, to allay our fears of our neighbours and the dispossessed and to create united communities.



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