Friday, August 23, 2013
My thoughts on a Presbyterian News Service article ...
After writing that the Presbyterian News Service had not published any information on the attacks against Egyptian Christians and their churches by the Muslim Brotherhood, the PNS did so today, August 22, more then a week after the fiery persecution began. The article entitled “PC (U.S.A.) Partners in Egypt call for Peace in Wake of Violence: Several Christian Churches, Bookstores Have Been Destroyed” is written by Bethany Daily. There is helpful information in this article but it also raises some questions about the ideological positions of the PNS.
One helpful part of the article is its links to the Presbyterian mission page for Egypt with its many links to information. And the article covers statements by several Christian leaders in Egypt, including the Secretary General of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt, Rev. Refat Fathy and Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church.
But I was troubled by the title of the piece which included the information that “several churches” and “bookstores have been destroyed.” And I was curious that the main title turned the article toward a call for peace as though this was the most important issue to be reported. So I will address both of these issues.
My concern with the statement about several churches and bookstores being destroyed is how it belittles the situation. One thinks of maybe two or perhaps three when the word several is used. But this was not a mere event but an overwhelming catastrophe. The AsiaNews.it carried a report which not only provides numbers but the names of the churches as well as other institutions which were burnt. Of Catholic Churches and Convents there were fourteen (Some of these are Coptic). Of Orthodox and Evangelical Churches there were 35 (Some of these are also Coptic). Of Christian institutions including the Bible Society there were nine. 58 houses and 85 shops belonging to Christians were burnt. 16 pharmacies and 3 hotels were burnt. 75 cars and buses were burnt. Seven Christians were killed.
And this belittling of the persecution also belittles the Christian leaders' call for forgiveness and an end to violence. The bigger issue here is the pain and suffering that the Christians of Egypt are going though and how it will be resolved. Their call for peace and forgiveness is both amazing and expected but it is not the story. The story is about the suffering of fellow Christians. There are of course some side stories such as the one about the Muslim woman who offered shelter to three nuns who were being paraded through the streets as prisoners of war. There is the video of an old man who in the midst of ruin just keeps sweeping the ashes out of the church because it is his home. There is the sad detail that a monastery after holding services for 1600 years will miss a service.
An urge to promote peace is not about peace if it fails to show real concern, compassion and a sense of the humanity of those who are true victims.