Last week my wife had told me about a planned rally in Ottawa to protest the martydom of 28 Coptic Christians in Maspero, Egypt on October 9, 2011. She had indicated to me that we really should attend to show our support. As with family life, this sort of thing sometimes gets buried in amongst our daily routines, but we were reminded of it again last night at our parish’s “All Saint’s Eve” party when I saw a notice posted on the parish bulletin board. When I mentioned it to my wife and asked her if she still wanted to go, she agreed. Normally, I’m the one pushing for this sort of thing and my dear wife is on the receiving end of having to deal with all of the sacrifices that go with it. So I was ecstatic that I could fall back on the old “Well-you-wanted-to- go!” excuse as we struggled to get home from Mass, gobble down some food, and head out to the March before the 2PM start. Although I was hoping to get some relaxation in this Sunday, there was something about this event that I really sensed was important. And indeed, as I was making my way to join the March after parking some distance away, a reporter (who we think worked for the CBC) cornered my shy and evasive wife for a quick interview. Providence works in mysterious ways. “Well, you wanted to go, dear!”
Substantively, however, religious freedom is very important. First, as Christians, we are usually the first ones to feel the brunt of persecution by the State or radical elements in other religions. So here, we have a vested interest in defending our rights to practice our Faith..and not be brutalized as a bonus. The other reason why it’s important is that, as Christians, we all sink or swim together. It’s important that we not allow our theological differences (however important they are in their own spheres) to divide our shared common witness on fundamental values of family, freedom and our shared common witness to Jesus Christ. If it’s the Copts today in Egypt, it will be the Anglicans tomorrow in Nigeria, and the Catholics in France in the near future. We need each other. And we need to suffer for one another. That is where true unity will be born.
And for our secular friends of good will who still treasure true freedom, let me remind you all that when totalitarianism strikes, it strikes first at what we colloquially call “religious freedom”. Why? Because “religious freedom” is ultimately what sways the hearts and minds of the people. When radical political movements wish to squash opposition, they don’t bother with secondary freedoms, first. They target the rights of Christianity. The Communists did it. The Nazis did it. And the Islamists are doing it. And when they are done with suppressing Christianity, they come after the “secondary freedoms” which most people in the secular West understand as “fundamental freedoms”. We’re the first line of defense. If we fall, you’re easy pickings. Remember that.
Video, pics, and the pamphlet of the event are reproduced below.
The March began at Elgin and Metcalfe Streets and headed towards Parliament Hill. Notice the very religious iconography and religious displays. Much as the secular West hates to admit it, but, yes, Christians have rights too and yes, Christianity, is indeed the most persecuted religion in the world today by radicals in other religions (Islamic and Hindu militants, for instance), including the religion of Communism.
Placards displaying pictures of loved ones killed and other unpleasant truths that people need to be aware of about the “Arab Spring” in Egypt.
The poster says its all.
Martydom is not simply a thing of the past for the Christian Church. It’s right here and right now, present now more than any other time in Church history. More Christians have suffered martydom in the past century than all previous centuries combined.
Coptic Orthodox leaders addressing the crowd at Parliament Hill.
Bishop Peter Coffin, Anglican Chaplain to the Canadian Armed Forces and Orleans Catholic MP Roy Galipeau offering some spiritual advice and practical counsel of what we can do here in Ottawa to help Christians in Egypt. Roy mentioned that the Canadian embassy in Egypt is notorious for not being receptive to Christians living there when they have business with the Canadian embassy. He said it was important to gather evidence of this generally received truth so something can be done about it. Galipeau also said he would be meeting with the Egyptian ambassador to express his “concerns” about…murder and brutality I guess. How exactly to you diplomatically put that anyway? “Excuse me, sir, please stop running your tire over my head.”
The small but determined crowd at Parliament Hill, in front of symbolic coffins of Christian martyrs.
The ugly truth about the unspeakable topic among the champagne, chattering classes: Christians as the real victims of oppression.
Yours truly with my lovely wife and four daughters, represented the Catholic participation in the March (which was noticed and appreciated by our Coptic brothers and sisters). The short notice meant we couldn’t get too many people out. United we stand, divided we fall. We need stronger unity and better communication. That’s something that all Christians have to start to wake up to.
The fine print of the sign on our cross….