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The Complicity of Silence

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A second reporter has been killed by ISIS, Steven Sotloff. Women are being sold off as “brides.” Teen girls are raped repeatedly. Thousands are murdered. There are plenty of news reports, but in some quarters, the silence is deafening.

Kathryn Jean Lopez asks what can we do, what must we do, in the face of evil, at National Review Online.

I don’t want to have on my conscience that I was complicit in something as horrendous as this simply by being quiet,” is how Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., reflected on the persecution being conducted against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria — which are far enough away from the U.S. that we mostly go on with our lives, perhaps without even a thought or a prayer.

The President plays golf, Beyoncé is applauded for her “women’s power” performance that is laden with sexual imagery, we worry about our favorite celebrities as their nude photos get leaked. And people die. En masse. For their faith, for where they live, for their willingness to say “I believe” when someone with a sword demands they recant.

Lopez writes about James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS just a few short days ago.

Foley talked about his time in a Libyan prison. A few days into his captivity, he heard a knock on the wall of his cell. He then heard the muffled voice of an American contractor, also detained there, who read to him from the Gospel according to Matthew, and they prayed together. “In a very calm voice, he’d read me Scripture once or twice a day,” Foley told the interviewer. “Then I’d pray to stay strong. I’d pray to soften the hearts of our captors. I’d pray to God to lift the burdens we couldn’t handle. And I’d pray that our Moms would know we were OK.”

Foley is not alone in having faith in the power of prayer and our obligations to truth. Just this past week, Pope Francis met with Paul Bhatti, the brother of the slain Pakistani Shahbaz Bhatti, who was minister for minorities in his country’s government. Before Shahbaz Bhatti was killed, he talked with peace and courage about the threats he received for his work against blasphemy laws: “I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us. I know what is the meaning of cross, and I am following the cross, and I am ready to die for a cause.”

That’s real faith.

Lopez wants to know if NOW is the time when we’ll be awakened. What will it take for us to realize that “Never again” really means “Never again?” Will we clear out the distractions of celebrity and politics and infotainment and football scores and take note of what terror surrounds us? Will we be complicit in our silence, or will we stand up to evil and truly mean, “Never again?”

Read “Never Again” at National Review Online.

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Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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