United Church of Canada Urges Prayers After Attacks on Christians Abroad

(Photo Credit: United Church of Canada, BC Conference)Worship

Canada's largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, is asking for prayers for all people affected by violence, and drew specific attention to recent reports of attacks on Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The United Church of Canada has called its members and those who share its values to keep praying for all people affected by violence, drawing attention specifically to reports of persecution of Christians and churches in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

"The church urges United Church people (and all those who share in the values of the United Church) to continue to pray for those affected by these and all other acts of violence that deny fullness of life, and destroy the bonds of community and relationship," the church wrote Monday in a released statement.

The Church warned against overcoming violence with violence and stated its belief in promoting positive interfaith relations.

The UCC called attention to a June statement by the World Council of Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches which condemned the demolition of an Episcopal church in Khartoum, Sudan. The two ecumenical organizations also cited other incidents in Sudan in the months prior involving Christian organizations, including the confiscation of property and the destruction of a Bible school.

The WCC and AACC said they feared persecution based on religion, observing "that all these events may not be isolated but rather calculated attacks on Sudanese civilians who are not of the Muslim faith and their property in Khartoum, and in particular Christians."

In its Monday statement, the UCC also drew attention to attacks on churches in Baghdad, Iraq in October 2010, in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in January 2010, and in Garissa, Kenya in July 2012.

The attacks "have been condemned by Muslims and Christians alike, and are not – at their root-expressions of religious hatred or intolerance," the UCC said.

A joint report in July by the WCC in partnership with The Royal Aal al-Bayt institute for Islamic Thought found that the primary causes of the current tension and conflict in Nigeria are not inherently based in religion but rather, rooted in a complex matrix of political, social, ethnic, economic, and legal problems, with a lack of justice looming large as a common factor.

The report by a joint delegation to Nigeria warned, however "that there is a possibility the current tension and conflict might become subsumed by its religious dimension (especially along geographical 'religious fault-lines') and so particularly warns against letting this idea-through misperception and simplification-become a self-fulfilling prediction."

The UCC's statement urged its members to reflect on the acts, how it could feed into fears.

"United Church people are encouraged to analyze and reflect on how these acts, which are portrayed primarily as persecution of Christian minorities, can feed into our own fears and the denigration of 'the other,' especially as it relates to Islam," the UCC wrote.

"In faithfulness to the gospel, we must continue to acknowledge and resist religious and other kinds of persecution wherever they occur," the church added.

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