Below is the speech given by Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff at the Prayer Rally for Persecuted Christians on May 17, 2014. The event was organized by Burning Bush Ministries and held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Orlando. Elisabeth was introduced by the Rev. Bruce Lieske.
Many thanks to Alan Kornman of The United West for recording and uploading this video:
Below is the prepared text for Elisabeth’s speech:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I bring you warm greetings from my country, Austria, and from my city, Vienna.
It was in Vienna, on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the “United Nations Charter of Human Rights,” that an awesome idea was born: Why not use the date of the signing — the 10th of December — to advocate for persecuted Christians around the world, to call attention to their plight, and to push for action to be taken against oppression, torment and discrimination?
Although some fundamental human rights — such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — are still available for many Christians in the world, other rights are restricted or non-existent. In some places Christians cannot own property, and Christian householders have no rights. And even worse: Christians in numerous countries are tortured, raped and murdered. Every year 200,000 of them are killed because of their religious beliefs.
The greatest suffering endured by Christians occurs in Islamic countries. According to the index of global persecution published by the respected organization Open Doors, of the ten countries in which Christians are intimidated and persecuted most aggressively, nine of them are Islamic by government or culture. It must be stressed that the persecution and suppression of Christians is encouraged — and even mandated — by Islamic law, or sharia, which is based on Islamic scriptures.
So it was appropriate to connect the anniversary of the declaration of human rights with the worst form of its abuse. It was decided in Vienna was to bring the persecution of Christians into public consciousness. We want to give the victims a face, because the phenomenon of Christian persecution is generally ignored or suppressed in the West.
It was decided in Vienna to give voice to the voiceless by holding a press conference with materials to hand out, to make personal contacts, to take a torchlight walk from the Opera to Saint Stephen’s — the most beautiful and important cathedral in the land — and finally, to celebrate an ecumenical divine service with the participation of the most diverse Christian denominations — especially those from regions which suffer the greatest persecution.
A growing variety of organizations supported the platform of “solidarity with persecuted Christians”. At the initiative of the Wiener Akademikerbund, church-based institutions, aid organizations, academic and civil associations, and dedicated individuals came together to set an example and mobilize support. The 24 participating organizations made certain throughout the year that the subject was not forgotten in their own fields of activity. To date, six days of action have been arranged, to give a media presence to this sad subject, to strengthen solidarity, and to encourage practical help for the victims. The money collected during each day of action was to be donated to a project chosen by the day’s honored guest.
The distinguished guest on the most recent day of action — December 10, 2013 in Vienna — is here with us today. Sister Hatune Dogan is a Syrian Orthodox nun representing the foundation she created, which has already helped thousands of persecuted and destitute Christians. She is the link between Vienna and Orlando, where the idea of a torchlight march for “Solidarity with persecuted Christians” has been adopted and publicized for the first time in the United States. Members of the Viennese group are delighted at the American initiative and impressed by the spiritual power and enthusiasm of the organizers of today’s event. The members of Austria’s “Solidarity with persecuted Christians” in the heart of Europe send their sisters and brothers in the USA a spirit-filled welcome and a prayers for the success of this day, and for a firm foundation of the cause. And the Viennese initiators hope that this action will become a lasting institution and a model for other parts of the USA. May the Good Lord bless this endeavor and uphold the formation of an extended fellowship of like-minded platforms.
The Viennese organizers platform have learned that a sense of solidarity is important not only for our sisters and brothers in critical regions of the Middle East. Unfortunately, Christian persecution is also a real and growing problem in our own Western lands. This oppressive situation takes different shapes in our countries. It disguises itself in the deceptive forms of suppression of opinion, denigration, and discrimination, and includes so much hostility that churches are vandalized — as happened earlier this spring in Vienna, when a man vandalized six churches, even setting fire to one.
As the dominant Christian culture in Western countries becomes more hollowed out, even greater hostility to Christians may be expected. Our platform activities should focus on this growing danger and do battle against it. In this, too, your friends in Vienna encourage the organizers of the program here in Orlando, and wish you all the best. May God’s rich blessings be upon you!
Previous posts about the Prayer March for Persecuted Christians, Orlando, May 2014:
|2014||May||15||ACT! for America meeting in Orlando|
|18||Prayer March Held in Orlando for Persecuted Christians|
|19||March and Rally for Persecuted Christians|
|21||A Passage to Orlando|
|22||Sister Hatune at ACT! For America in Orlando