Highlights from the First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium
On Saturday, March 14, 2015, St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Naples Florida and the South Florida Archons hosted their first annual National Christian Rights and Freedom Symposium – ‘Uplifting Christ and Witnessing for our Faith in the Face of Radical Extremism.’
The symposium featured several prominent speakers including Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle, and Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople; Rev. Father Fouad Saba, Dean of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral (Coral Gables, FL); Father Philemon Patitsas, Presiding Priest of the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Naples, FL); John Scurtis, Regional Commander and Archon; Harry Demas, Archon; and Dr. Harry Dimopoulos, Chairman of the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry.
In attendance were an audience of nearly 250 people comprising not only parish members of St. Katherine but also numerous attendees from other Christian churches and denominations, representing a very broad section of the Southwest Florida community. Many also traveled from the vicinity of Miami to attend the event.
Acting as Master of Ceremonies was Dr. Dimopoulos. He opened the Symposium by stating the Mission of the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry, which is:
- To neutralize and undermine the opponents of Christianity by organizing local events and initiatives, in order
- To educate, advocate, defend and counteract the antagonists of our faith.
- To support local, national and global efforts and peacefully “Uplift Christ” in the face of our attackers.
He referenced the terrible atrocities being perpetrated in Africa, The Middle East and in Turkey today, and he urged everyone to pay close attention to the 7 elements of the Call to Action. He concluded by saying,
“We believe it is high time for us to say, ‘Enough is Enough’. We must organize, educate and petition to defend Christian Rights and Freedom, at the local, the grass roots level. We know there is much concern about this issue at the national and state levels. It is time for us to mobilize at the local level. Yes, Parish by Parish!”
Featured presentations included:
- ‘Christianity Under Attack! The Plight of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’ by Archon Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis
- ‘Promise, Law and Freedom – Living the Word of God’ by Reverend Fr. Fouad Saba
- ‘Call to Action, in Defense of Persecuted Christians’, Fr. Philemon Patitsas
- Message from U.S. Congressman & Archon Gus Bilirakis via a pre-recorded video
- ‘Message to Archon 2nd International Conference on Religious Freedom’ by Hillary Clinton via a pre-recorded video.
“We know that religious freedom is under attack across the world today. Many of the more than 300 million Orthodox Christians, as well as millions of Catholics and other Christian believers throughout the world, especially in Islamic countries, have lived through decades of persecution, violence and isolation”, said Metropolitan Alexios, in a letter addressed to the Symposium. “I congratulate your parish community on your commitment to this vital issue,” he continued, noting that “As we battle against atheism and the powers of this world which threaten our religious freedom, we must join together, to unite in proclaiming our absolute commitment to the free practice of our religious faith, living our faith every day, with courage and commitment.”
Father Philemon Patitsas noted, “The first annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium is necessary because American society, together with much of Western civilization is oblivious to the extreme dangers we are facing from radical Islam.” He cautioned that “We have been lulled into a sleepy coma where the problems of the persecuted overseas Christians seem remote and disconnected from our everyday lives. Meanwhile, Christianity is close to annihilation in its birthplace, where Jesus Christ lived, where His saving passion was completed, and where Christianity first took hold. Enough is enough! It is time for us to stand up for ourselves, before it is too late!”
7 Steps: How You Can Help in Defense of Persecuted Christians
The co-chairs of the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry (Dr. Harry Dimopoulos, Archon Harry Demas, and Richard Pappas) and Father Philemon Patitsas of St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Naples, FL) invite your questions and involvement. The following 7 steps can assist you in ‘Uplifting Christ and Witnessing for Our Faith in the Face of Radical Extremism.
1. Preserve Our Christian Identity
- Align our minds and hearts with God’s calling. See Christ in others.
- Glorify God daily; PRAY, fast, and give alms.
- Identify empathetically with the plight of persecuted Christians of the world.
2. Organize Ourselves for Success
- Establish Christian Rights and Freedom ministries in communities throughout America. Do you belong to one?
- Organize local events & initiatives to educate, advocate, defend & counteract the antagonists of our faith.
3. Educate Ourselves and Others
- ’Know Ourselves’ – Study our history, faith & culture
- Develop clear policy positions so the public knows where we stand.
- Expose misinformation to the light of truth.
4. Dialogue with the Public
- Network with people concerned about the rise of Islamofascism.
- Boycott producers of products that may be underwriting radical extremism & terrorism, such as oil produced by certain member states.
- Advocate for energy self-sufficiency for America, and alternative energy sourcing options.
- Advocate withholding foreign aid and military assistance to countries that are not aligned with our national interests.
5. Stand Up for Ourselves
- Establish “Anti-Defamation Teams” to call out Christophobes.
- Petition officials who have the ability to influence public policy.
- Advocate for economic sanctions; exercise our freedom of assembly.
6. Invest in the Cause
- Donate to organizations that help the oppressed and promote the preservation of Western culture and values.
- Fund infrastructure & activities that advance the cause of Christian Rights & Freedom
7. Purchase an ‘I Too Am a Nazarene’ pin
- Show your solidarity with persecuted Christians by purchasing an ‘I Too Am a Nazarene’ pin depicting the Arabic letter “N”, which has been painted by ISIS/ISIL to target the homes of Christians for expulsion and its occupants for obliteration. The symbol “N” stands for ‘Nazarene’ signifying that its residents are followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Pins are on sale through the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church’s website. Pins are one inch square, and sell for $5 each, plus shipping and handling; shipping is waived for orders over 50 pins.
All proceeds from pin sales will be directed to the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) Middle East Fund to aid these suffering people. IOCC has had a continual presence in that part of the world almost since its inception in 1992, and was chosen as the recipient because of its effectiveness in providing relief to the suffering people of the Middle East.
All churches and concerned organizations are encouraged to participate. For further information, please contact ChristianRelief7100@gmail.com.
About First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium
On Saturday, March 14, 2015, St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Naples Florida and the South Florida Archons hosted its first annual National Christian Rights and Freedom Symposium – ‘Uplifting Christ, Witnessing for our Faith in the Face of Radical Extremism.”
The First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium featured several prominent speakers including Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander and Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; Rev. Father Fouad Saba, Dean of the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral (Coral Gables, FL); Father Philemon Patitsas, Presiding Priest of the St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church (Naples, FL); John Scurtis, Regional Commander and Archon; Harry Demas, Archon; and Dr. Harry Dimopoulos, Chairman of the Christian Rights and Freedom Ministry
To watch video highlights of the First Annual National Christian Rights and Freedom Symposium, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnDiwtAs52o.
To learn more about the First Annual National Christian Rights & Freedom Symposium visit http://stkatherine.net.
By Nick T. Mavrick
You can find Nick Mavrick on Google+