Church Leaders Speak Out After Paris Attacks

The Bishop of Durham has joined many other Christian leaders from across denominations, warning against fear and Islamophobia after the terrorist atrocities in Paris last Friday.



Many UK church leaders exhorted their congregations this week to hold on to Compassion and Justice rather than react with fear following the series of attacks in Paris carried out by ISIS last Friday, that killed at least 129 people.


Bishop of DurhamThe Bishop of Durham has warned against Islamophobia as a reaction to terrorist attacks.  

Rt. Rev. Paul Butler draws attention to the tragedy that occurs when people blame refugees for the very actions from which they are fleeing in their home nations.

Bishop Butler said: "The events in Paris last Friday night were deeply tragic. We stand with the people of Paris and France in prayer and a determination to stand firm for liberty for all people. We must also stand with the people of Baghdad where 43 died in similar attacks.

"These attacks should in no way be used to encourage antagonism towards refugees fleeing the very same terror in their homelands, nor encourage Islamophobia."

In September, Bishop Butler called the North East of England to lead in the country's response to the refugee crisis on the ground.

"We do also have to play our part in responding to the exodus into Europe. National Government, local councils, communities, and individuals all need to play their part together. Churches, and other faith communities should be part of offering welcome, sanctuary and support to thousands of people whose plight is desperate.

"This humanitarian response will not resolve the long term issues that are very complex. But it is a proper response to people who are beloved human beings just like us."

Martin SaundersMartin Saunders a Contributing Editor for Christian Today

Martin Saunders a Contributing Editor for Christian Today and Deputy CEO of Youthscape poses an interesting question, to Christians throughout the UK

Remembering that Jesus was himself a refugee Martin says,

"... Here's something really radical. Two days after the Paris attacks, the Australian pastor and peace campaigner Jarrod McKenna said something fairly extraordinary in his Sunday sermon:

'It's harder to kill you, If you've gone out and built their homes. It's harder to kill you, if you have helped them with their kids. It's harder to kill you if you have put them through a programme that is helping them gain meaningful employment. If you want ISIS to win, keep vilifying and stereotyping all Muslims. Keep perpetuating this violence against Muslims. That kind of hatred just helps radicalise disenfranchised youth. We need to love our Muslim neighbours.'

Martin Saunders continues: "What McKenna bravely does is both acknowledge the problem, and advocate an approach which breaks the cycle of violence and hatred. His final line might seem provocative, but in fact he's right – the change and the process of reconciliation does indeed start at home. While Christians should absolutely be calling on their governments to help and 'love' communities far from our shores, we demonstrate our beliefs in the way that we practise them among the people we meet every day.

So here's the really difficult question – and the one which might tangibly move us toward combatting islamophobia: what are your relationships like with Muslims in your community? At a broad, inter-faith relations level the picture might be improving, but how many of us have really built meaningful friendships with Muslims? Let's be honest, many of us would never even think of doing that.

Perhaps the first step in fighting against the tide of fear and misinformation around Islam, and in turn in loving our Muslim neighbours, is simply to get to know some. Islamophobia is enabled by cultural distance; in coming to earth as a man and tearing up the boundaries between Jew and Gentile, Jesus modelled the overthrowing of that kind of barrier. Right now the world needs more peacemakers; Jesus liked them too. Let's stand against a climate of fear, and beat it by loving unconditionally just like Him."


David RobertsonDavid Robertson Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland

Users voted David Robertson Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland's blog on Christianity Today website (click here to read David Robertson's online Blog)

David Robertson addresses the very real question of fear and whether Christians go along with the view that all the Syrian refugees should be kept out of the U.K.

He says, "The conspiracy theorists are having a field day. They tell us that ISIS are invading Europe with swarms of refugees. Of course there will be some who intend to cause harm who come under the guise of refugees, but there are many more who are fleeing ISIS and the terror. Can we not welcome them? Especially those of us who are Christians. Muslims are humans too, made in the image of God and needing the good news of Jesus as much as anyone else. 

"Instead of being afraid can we not rejoice that the Lord has brought Mohammed to the mountain? And who knows but that in the providence of God, as Western liberal society rejects its own foundations, Muslims might be used to help us reconsider what we are throwing away."
What makes news? In many respects, whatever is deemed interesting and important by news organisations. Yet God is interested in all human beings, and they are all important to him.

Sadly, news coverage will never fully reflect God’s compassion for his creatures. For all the good it brings, media is inevitably unbalanced and impoverished when it comes to providing the wisdom and guidance we need. In a broken world, why would we expect otherwise? Still, in these insecure times, Christians can find wisdom and security in a sovereign God – and invite others to discover the same for themselves. For, while God’s purposes are sometimes hard to discern, his ways are always just, and his love endures forever.

The views  here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users. 
We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted in the forum below, upon the ideas expressed here.

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