Christians remain under attack during Easter season
Last week, hundreds of millions of Western Christians celebrated the high Holy Day of the liturgical calendar, Easter. As last week’s column reported, hundreds in the country of Sri-Lanka were called to be martyrs, celebrated their last Paschal meal in this world to join around the Lord’s table for the eternal banquet.
This Sunday, as I pen this column, hundreds of millions of Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord in their Paschal celebration. Time and column inches do not afford me the space to explain the differences in dating of Easter for the Eastern and Western branches of the Christian Church. It also does not afford me to the opportunity to explain that Easter/Pascha is a movable feast — one that is celebrated on a different date every year. As this day dawns and the beautiful sun rises, we look forward with all the hope and promise that springs forth in both the season and the liturgical season of the Resurrection. We watch all of God’s creation push forth to new and vibrant life after lying dormant through the cold and dark winter. We look back to last week with all the joy not juxtaposed against the immense suffering but coupled with it.
We pray that this day, also celebrated by millions of Christians, is free from the martyrdom of the previous Sunday. 20 Easters ago violence rained down for many Orthodox Christians in the former Slavic republic of Yugoslavia and Serbia as NATO bombed these countries in what they termed to be peacekeeping operations. Around 500 (possibly more) civilians perished during the bombings with a good deal of the infrastructure of those countries demolished.
In the aftermath of the bombing campaign, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the area after the Yugoslavian Army fed. This included not only hundreds of thousands of Christians but tens of thousands of Romani, or more commonly known as, Gypsies. The bombing campaign which lasted throughout the weeks leading to Easter and long after it brought about much suffering, but more so than that have created much strife, strife that continues to this day. During that time, the Kosovo Liberation Army, which was branded a terrorist group by our own State Department, enjoyed an alliance with then Democratic administration of Bill Clinton. This lead to the much coveted air support from NATO. Human rights allegations and civilian murders accusations have been levied since that time and probably will continue to be so. From 1999-2004, an estimated 155 Serbian Orthodox Churches, monasteries and other church properties have been eradicated. In that time, and before, mosques and Islamic targets have also been hit as well. It is of note, and probably more of the point of this article that NATO in its peace keeping efforts never targeted KLA forces or any other Islamic terrorist groups. It is not a surprise, considering former President Bill Clinton’s ease at siding against Christians that his wife was unable to refer to the recent martyrs as Christians.
In recent tweets from her, and former President Barack Obama, Christians were weirdly described as Easter worshipers. This disconnect though troubling certainly should not come as a surprise. Surprise or not, we who worship the risen Lord, in the East or the West, will not let the neo-liberal elites define us with their disdain or hatred. We will stand in the gap against it.
Christ is risen. Let us glorify Him.