Feast of Shabbaz Bhatti and Other Christian Martyrs of the Islamic World (March 2)   2 comments

Above:  Flag of Pakistan

Image in the Public Domain

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SHABBAZ BHATTI (SEPTEMBER 9, 1968-MARCH 2, 2011)

Roman Catholic Martyr in Pakistan

Shabbaz Bhatti, born to a Roman Catholic family in Lahore, Pakistan, on September 9, 1968, lived and died for his faith.  His political life took him the post of Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs in November 2008.  He was the only Christian member of the Cabinet.  He also opposed the Pakistani blasphemy law, which mandates a death penalty for anyone convicted of insulting Islam.  The main effects of this law have been to suppress minorities (Christians constitute 1.85 percent of the Pakistani population; Muslims are 95 percent) and to lead to the lynchings of at least thirty people convicted under it.  On March 2, after leaving his mother’s house in suburban Islamabad, Bhatti died in his car as gunmen filled it with bullets.  The Federal Minister’s security detail was oddly absent that day.  The Pakistani branch of the Taliban claimed credit for the assassination.  Spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said:

This man was a known blasphemer of the Prophet [Muhammad].  We will continue to target all those who speak against the law which punishes those who insult the Prophet.  Their fate will be the same.

Asia Bibi, a Christian, has been under a death sentence since November 2010.  She has lived in prison after conviction under the blasphemy law.  Allegedly she insulted Muhammad during an argument with some Muslim neighbors, but the case seems to stem from grudges some of those neighbors have against her.  This case is a prime example of injustice on several fronts.  Bibi claims that she did not say anything of the sort; I take her at her word.  But, even if she had, any judicial action would be unjust.  Simply put, the test of religious freedom is whether one extends it to those with whom one disagrees.  So, to digress slightly, we ought not to say that Puritans emigrated to the Americas to enjoy religious freedom, for they hanged Quakers and exiled religious dissidents.  I disagree strongly with much of what many people say about Jesus, but I would never advocate any earthly punishment for them.  Enlightenment notions of liberty of conscience influence me.  Furthermore, such punishment would violate the principle of living compassionately.

May we pray for all the persecuted Christians of the world.  And may we do what we can to help those facing martyrdom under these abominations called blasphemy laws and their informal counterparts.  Governments are, at least theoretically, susceptible to pressure from other governments.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY MEN OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

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FOR FURTHER READING:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/10/shahbaz-bhatti-obituary

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12617562

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-11930849

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Gracious God,

in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of

Shabbaz Bhatti and other Christian martyrs of the Islamic world,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives

to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59

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Revised on December 23, 2016

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2 responses to “Feast of Shabbaz Bhatti and Other Christian Martyrs of the Islamic World (March 2)

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  1. Pingback: Devotion for the Thirty-Third Day of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary) « LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

  2. Pingback: Leviticus and Luke, Part VII: Blasphemy and Repentance | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

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