Egyptian bishop murdered, Focus on religious liberty, the New York Post, Russian ties to the National Prayer Breakfast, and Remembering Sheldon Vanauken

Weekly Review

Orthodox Bishop Murdered. Coptic Orthodox Bishop Epiphanius was apparently murdered over the weekend. He was found Sunday morning, lying in a pool of blood in a hallway of the Saint Macarius the Great monastery in the Egyptian town of Wadi El Natrun. He served that monastery as abbot. According to Egypt scholar and Hoover Institution senior fellow Samuel Tadros, quoted in WORLD, Epiphanius was “a towering figure of the Coptic Church, a serious scholar and a loving father.”

The Secret Sharer? The arrest of a Russian woman, Maria Butina, for being an “unregistered foreign agent” has cast a bright light on her ties to Christian groups, especially her ties to the National Prayer Breakfast. News reports have suggested that she used Christian groups to gain access to high-ranking Republican officials. The relationships are apparently real, but they are not all sinister. For the best and – more importantly – most fair-minded account of the relationship between Butina and the National Prayer Breakfast, I recommend WORLD’s account, by the intrepid Emily Belz. You can find it here.

International Religious Liberty Declaration. As I reported last week, representatives from nearly 100 nations gathered in Washington last week for a Ministerial on international religious liberty hosted by the State Department. Among the actions taken by the group was the creation of what is being called the Potomac Declaration, which highlights the fact that nearly 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries that place “severe limitations” on religious liberty. According to Mindy Belz, who attended the Ministerial, “The State Department also published six statements signed by an array of the 80+ nations in attendance highlighting specific areas of concern: blasphemy laws, counterterrorism, Burma, China, and Iran.”

A New York State of Mind. Billy Joel might have to change the words to his famous song in the aftermath of huge cuts to the staff of the New York Daily News. The storied tabloid cut half of its newsroom staff Monday in an effort to return to profitability. The paper sold last year to a company that also owns the Chicago Tribune. The sale price: $1. The newspaper has won 11 Pulitzer Prizes in its 100-year-or-so history, but it is perhaps best known for its populist editorial stance and its sensational front pages. Daily newspaper circulation has fallen nearly in half since 2000 (to about 31-million in 2017). However, given the liberal and often anti-Christian editorial stance of most daily newspapers, and the explosive growth of on-line alternatives, including many Christian and alternative alternatives (you’re reading one of them now), it’s hard to mourn the loss of a paper that once portrayed the State of Liberty giving Ted Cruz the middle finger when he disparaged “New York values.”

Milestones. Flannery O’Connor died this week (Aug. 3) in 1964. Read an account of my visit to her grave here…. William Wilberforce died 185 years ago this week, on July 29, 1833…. Sheldon Vanauken, whose A Severe Mercy has become a Christian classic, was born this week (Aug. 4) in 1914.

 

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