Tragedy in Christchurch

By Mark A. Kellner | Posted March 18, 2019

On a day when Muslim believers were at prayer, an Australian national entered a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and gunned down worshipers for no other reason than their faith. After unloading his weapon at one mosque, the killer drove a few miles to another house of worship, where he again opened fire.

At least 50 people were killed and dozens more injured before a person at the second mosque began fighting back, sending the assailant fleeing. The shooter “live-streamed” the killing spree on social media using a helmet-mounted camera.

Ironically, that camera captured the first and final words of one victim at the Al-Noor mosque, which the website said bore the brunt of the killings. Despite seeing that the individual entering the mosque was armed, the person greeted his killer with, “Hello, brother,” before he was shot dead.

At the time of this writing, not all of the slain have been identified; some families may still be awaiting word of their missing loved ones. Other victims are recovering from their wounds, reports indicate.

A ‘Manifesto’ of Hatred, Bigotry

The assailant, whose 73-page “manifesto” is a compilation of hateful statements about Islam along with barely coherent ramblings about politics and immigration, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the one count of murder he’s been charged with so far. Media reports also state the accused has dismissed his attorney and plans to represent himself at trial.

New Zealand, a nation known as a peaceful retreat in a world of chaos, has been shaken to its core by the events, as can be well understood. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was raised in the Mormon faith but now claims to be agnostic, donned a Muslim headscarf when she visited and comforted relatives of the slain on the Sunday following the attack. Ardern vowed to seek changes in the nation’s gun laws that would ban ownership of the semi-automatic style weapons reportedly used in the attacks.

Already, some gun owners in the country are turning in their weapons in the face of these promised restrictions. Farmer John Hart, via Twitter, declared, “On the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse. We don’t need these in our country."

Elaborate on the relationship between church and state

Global Religious Unrest Growing

Sadly, global unrest involving religion is a recurring theme these days. Last December, reports surfaced of attempts by India’s ruling political party at the “saffronization” of minority religions, pressuring those who are not Hindus to convert. “Indian authorities have proven themselves unwilling to protect minority religious communities and other vulnerable groups from frequent attack,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, told Pakistan’s Karachi Tribune newspaper.

And since February of this year, 120 people have been killed in Nigeria in attacks by Fulani militants in predominantly Christian areas of Kaduna state. The Christian Post online newspaper says the killings have received “scant media attention” outside of Nigeria, where clashes between Christians and Muslims are an all-too-common occurrence.

What are believers to think as these events pile up? One important need is to reaffirm the principle of religious liberty for all. The Muslims in Christchurch have the right to worship as they wish, just as much as the Christians in Nigeria’s Kaduna state, or the non-Hindu people in India. Defending the rights of religious minorities also secures the religious liberty of all peoples, including the right of those who do not wish to practice any faith. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by many member countries of the United Nations, enshrines this right in its Article 18.

It’s also important to remember—as has been pointed out here before—that there will come a time when religious liberty is lost in this world. Pastor Doug talked about this in an audio presentation on Freedom and Liberty,  offering unique insights into our prophesied future.

And not only will there be a loss of religious liberty, but active persecution of believers will be another hallmark of the end times. The Church and the State, an audio sermon, examines what is described in Revelation 17 as Pastor Doug reveals what’s in store for believers.

But despite the hardships millions now experience—and those yet to come—there is a bright and glorious future for those who believe God’s Word and have a relationship with Jesus. The series Prophecy Encounter, available online, will explain Bible prophecy in a clear, compelling manner, offering hope during these tumultuous days.

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.

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