Czech & Dutch need our prayers

Discussion for Christian perspectives on ethical issues such as abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, and so forth.
ochotseat
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Czech & Dutch need our prayers

Postby ochotseat » Mon Jun 06, 2005 3:04 am

They are on their way to becoming the first Western countries with an atheist/agnostic majority:

Section I. Religious Demography

The country has a total area of 16,485 square miles and its population is approximately 16 million. Approximately 30 percent of the population consider themselves to be Roman Catholic, 15 percent Dutch Reformed, 7 percent Calvinist Reformist, 8 percent non-Christian (Islamic, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist), and 40 percent atheist or agnostic.

Dutch society has become increasingly secular. According to the Government's Social Cultural Planning Bureau, church membership has declined steadily from 76 percent in 1958 to 41 percent in 1995 and still is decreasing, although at a slower pace. The breakdown within this 41 percent is 20 percent Roman Catholic, 9 percent Dutch Reformed, 6 percent Calvinist Reformist, 2 percent Muslim, and 4 percent other. Membership is decreasing among all denominations, except Islam, which is expected to become the second largest religion in the country by 2010.

The Low Country Sinks Lower
by Tom Neven

A common picture of Holland is one of windmills, wooden shoes, tulips and a brave people who stood up to the Nazis in World War II. And while you can still find a lot of windmills and such, the moral fortitude that distinguished the Dutch Resistance is sadly lacking in 21st century Holland.

Consider that full nudity is common on Dutch television after 9 p.m., and that one can find pornographic movies on television during weekends. Consider that homosexual marriage is legal in Holland. Consider that Holland also recently made euthanasia legal; it has been tacitly accepted for at least the past 20 years. Supermarket racks are full of magazine covers featuring photos of nude women—all in open view. And hard drugs are consumed openly in so-called "coffee houses." (If you're ever in Holland, don't wander into a coffee house assuming you'll find the Dutch version of a double frothé.) And abortion is yawned at.

Even the Christian church in Holland is not immune from the evidence of moral decay, with professing Christians engaging in immoral activities in almost the same percentages as the surrounding culture. For example, divorce is accepted as normal by 60 percent of the Dutch, and that percentage is the same within Christian homes, says Rob Hondsmerk, director of Focus on the Family Netherlands.

"Family life here is not family life anymore," he says. "There were more social structures 10 years ago and larger extended families." Families are more isolated today, and parents need information on some very basic questions such as disciplining children. "Some parents believe a temper tantrum requires psychological counseling," Hondsmerk says. "And how do they teach sexual abstinence in a society with free sex?"

The movement toward free sex began in the 1960s, as in many other places. "The children of those years are parents now," Hondsmerk says. "Add in a declining belief in God and it has an impact not just on society, but the church. Our children are the first generation where we have to explain God's plan for marriage."

And perhaps most shocking of all is the incidence of incest in Dutch culture, even within Christian homes. In 1989 a national survey found that 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 20 boys were victims of incest. In 1999, a repeat survey found those figures to be 1 in 5 and 1 in 10, respectively.

"We deal with one new incest case a day from Christian homes," Hondsmerk says. "It's not even a big news story anymore. In 10 years the penalties for incest went from, for example, 15 years in prison to 240 hours of community service."

Many children already think incest is normal because their parents tell them so and they don't know any better, he adds, and while the current age of consent is 14, some are trying to lower that to age 12.

A crying need

Hondsmerk gave up a military career in 1990 to start a family outreach ministry called Chris. (In a culture where Christian terms might as well be in Chinese, he thought teens calling a hotline for Chris would make more sense than calling for Christ.) He was motivated by a book named Weid Mijn Lammeren—Feed My Sheep—by Else Vlug in which she argues that it is the church's responsibility to look out for the emotional and spiritual care of children.

The Chris hotline took 400 calls its first year from young people with problems at home and school ranging from bullying to incest. (Its equivalent for parents is called Center for Pastoral Counseling.) Last year the hotline took 5,000 calls, 90 percent from kids with a Christian background.

"By 1997 we realized we needed to help prevent problems, and that's where Focus on the Family came in." In 1998, Focus came alongside Chris to provide assistance with professional counseling for teens and parents, support for childrearing classes and marriage seminars.

Focus on the Family Netherlands now distributes two Dutch-language magazines, including Plugged In, Focus' magazine on youth culture.

It also distributes newsletters, books, including Dutch versions of Dr. Dobson's, and is in the process of translating Focus on the Family videos such as No Apologies (about sexual abstinence) and the Adventures in Odyssey series.

Hondsmerk, who has a doctorate in child psychology, writes a newspaper column every two weeks with plans to compile them into a book similar to Dr. Dobson's Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.

And the Life on the Edge conferences for parents and teens have been well received in Holland. "Some parents want to go the way of the Lord, but they don't know how," Hondsmerk says. "It's not just with sexual abstinence, but what it means to be a mother and a father."

The average age for a mother in Holland to give birth to a first child is 32. "The culture says get everything you want first," Hondsmerk says—nice home, stereo, television, vacations and so forth.

God's faithfulness

"When I read the Bible, I see it's about families," Hondsmerk says. "When Satan wants to destroy the church, he starts with families. The culture is asleep, and I'm expecting a collapse."

But, he adds, "People pray when they're in need."

The existence and continued success of both Chris and Focus Netherlands, Hondsmerk says, is a story of God's faithfulness. "It's hard to exist and grow in a post-Christian society. Whenever we needed money or help, He provided."



http://www.hli.org/pro-life_czech-republic.html

PEOPLE

The majority of the 10.2 million inhabitants of the Czech Republic are ethnically and linguistically Czech (95%). Other ethnic groups include Germans, Roma, and Poles. Laws establishing religious freedom were passed shortly after the revolution of 1989, lifting oppressive regulations enacted by the former communist regime. Major denominations and their estimated percentage populations are Roman Catholic (39%) and Protestant (3%). A large percentage of the Czech population claim to be atheists (40%), and 16% describe themselves as uncertain. The Jewish community numbers a few thousand today; a synagogue in Prague memorializes the names of more than 80,000 Czechoslovak Jews who perished in World War II.

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
20-23 July 2003

INTO THE CZECH REPUBLIC

As I got off the plane in the Prague airport eager to kick off HLI's first pro-life missionary trip to the Czech Republic in a decade, I saw before me a twenty-foot-tall billboard featuring a totally naked woman. At that moment I knew I was in for trouble. I couldn't help but think of a statement I read in Pat Buchanan's book The Death of the West. In his book Buchanan quotes former Czech president Vaclav Havel as uttering this frightening statement: what we are creating, he said, is "the first atheistic civilization in the history of mankind." Buchanan says that only 3 percent of the people in the Czech Republic practice their faith, but others told me that the statistic is as low as 2 percent. As if to confirm the power of the culture of death, there is only one NFP-only ob/gyn and only two hospitals in the entire country that do not perform abortions. Depressing figures, I know, and if it were not for our hope in Christ, we might give up the battle.

What is now the Czech Republic is the western region of what used to be called Czechoslovakia, and at one time Bohemia. This country was carved out of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire after the First World War and made an independent nation all its own in the heart of Europe. The region was isolated by mountains on every side, a Slavic enclave that was generally resistant to other cultural influences until the Modern Era. Slovakia and the Czech Republic contain two distinctly different Slavic peoples with their own languages and customs. These regions split up peacefully into two separate countries in 1993 after the so-called "Velvet Revolution" of 1991 in which the people overthrew their Communist oppressors and established democracy. They are almost buried in the middle of Europe between Germany to the west, Poland to the north, Austria to the south and the Ukraine to the east. The Czech Republic is home to one of the most beautiful cities in the world-Prague, its capital-and has boasted of a deeply Catholic culture that penetrated into every nook and cranny of its existence. In fact, the Czech Republic had such a Catholic history that "good king Wenceslaus" was named the patron saint of the country!

How could this people have fallen so far?

CATHOLICISM DESTROYED BY MASONS AND COMMUNISTS: THE PERFECT CRIME

Our HLI representatives, Mr. Radim Uchac (pron. oo-kotch) and his wife, Katarina, gave me a brief, but gripping, historical survey of the destruction of the Faith in this land. Czechoslovakia experienced a resurgence of nationalism at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It was not a bad thing, in itself, but the Masons entered in during this time and did a lot of damage, especially to derail nationalism and separate it from the Church. Quite a different story is how nationalism developed in Poland, its neighbor, where the national spirit remained united to the faith life of its people.

The Masons sought to drive the Czech people from the Faith by proposing Jan Hus, a 15th Century church reformer, as a martyr and symbol of the Czech national identity. Hus was, in actual fact, a heretic trying to insert Protestant practices into the Czech culture and was burned at the stake in 1415. Pope Martin V called for a crusade against the Husite Rebellion in 1420, which shows the virulence of the anti-Catholic forces that Hus unleashed. For that reason alone, he qualified as a Masonic martyr and a handy instrument of division at a time when all things Czech still meant "Catholic." At the dawn of the industrial revolution, when the Czech people were forming a stronger identity as a people, a Masonic dichotomy of "either-or" was presented, which drove a wedge in the strictly Catholic identity that used to unite them. Some began to think that to be Czech one had to be Husite even though to be Czech had always meant to be Catholic.

There is a huge statue of Jan Hus in the main square of Prague. There used to be a large statue of the Immaculate Conception about 30 feet from where Hus is commemorated now, but a fanatical woman took a rope and tore down the statue single-handedly after the First World War. A legend grew up that the nation would be in a constant state of decline until that statue was replaced. It is surprising how accurate that "legend" has proven. Since the demise of the statue, the nation has only declined and is still suffering through a below-replacement birth rate and a cultural decadence that is a new revolution: the culture of death. Needless to say, the statue has yet to be replaced.

The Masonic manipulation of national sentiment also corresponded with the scapegoating and raping of the Church at the beginning of the last century. The Czech leaders blamed all of Czechoslovakia's problems on the Austro-Hungarian Empire's alliance with Rome and alienated the culture from everything having to do with Vienna and Rome after the First World War. They couldn't be truly an independent nation, they said, if they were beholden to foreign powers under the dominion of priests; they proceeded to steal Church property, vilify Catholicism and create a climate that was anti-clerical and ripe for an atheistic revolution.

The Communists, who came to power after the Second World War, capitalized on these divisions, made Hus a revolutionary hero and institutionalized atheism as they did in the entire Eastern Bloc. Even today these Masonic and Communist scars remain: the Czech Republic is the only post-communist country of Europe that still does not have a concordat with the Vatican. My hosts, Radim and Katarina, reflected ironically on how things make a full circle when people and movements are not of God: the Czech Republic is joining the European Union next year, and they are happy about it. The only problem is that they are trading the precious nationalism they worked so hard to gain for membership in the European club, which is wiping out national differences and customs!

SIGNS OF THE CULTURE OF DEATH

Since 1957 abortion has been legal, and when Communism fell the Czechs did not bother to change their laws, like the Poles did, and thus abortion is still legal on demand in this country up until the 12th week of pregnancy. In the case of risk to the life or health of the mother, abortion is legal until birth. For all practical purposes, then, there are no restrictions on abortion in the Czech Republic. The liberalization of the abortion law in 1986 caused the number of surgical abortions to skyrocket to 100,000 per year. The number hovers around 30,000 now, not counting chemical abortions.

There is a creepy secularism and moral relativism that infects this land. During my visit I saw huge disgusting billboards showing the intimate apparel of a man and a woman strewn on a bedroom floor. Written across the top of these billboards were the words: "anywhere, anytime, with anyone." they were, of course, condom ads. Does it surprise you that the unwed birth rate increased from 8 percent to 20 percent in the decade of the 90s? Likewise there was reduction of the actual number of marriages from 81,000 to 53,000 (a significant drop), and the fertility rate is perfectly abysmal at 1.13 children per woman, typical of the whole situation in Europe. I was also told that there are 10 IVF centers in this country with no laws to regulate in vitro fertilization, cloning, genetic manipulation and reproductive medicine.

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

Lest I paint a totally negative picture of this beautiful people, I must mention a few points of light emanating from this small country of 10 million. The first point of light, of course, is that HLI is there! Our affiliate is an organization known as Hnuti Pro ō½ivot (simply, the Pro-Life Movement). It was founded by a pro-life hero, Dr. Zdenek Hejl, in 1957 just after the Communists legalized abortion. Dr. Hejl almost miraculously kept the pro-life cause alive underground during all the years of Communism and thereafter. Dr. Hejl passed away four years ago, but I met his secretary, Mrs. Sylva Bernardova, who is a magnificent pro-lifer in her own right and who to this day gives pro-life talks to kids and NFP talks to young adults in marriage preparation.

Hnuti Pro ō½ivot has an impressive record, even despite its battle scars. In 1968 they brought forth legislation to change the anti-life abortion law in their country, but the Communists stopped it. What courage! In 1985-86 they held a series of secret meetings and did a popular petition against abortion. In 1989 they started a secret pro-life newspaper and lobbied politicians to change the abortion law. They brought pro-life amendments to change the constitution after the 1991 revolution but were rejected by the new class of professionals who were in charge at that time. They have also initiated vast letter-writing campaigns against sex ed in the schools and the RU-486 death pill and held pilgrimages, marches and publicity campaigns in defense of life. They are a marvelous group.

Because of its totally Catholic stance on all the life issues, Hnuti Pro ō½ivot finds it tough to work with other pro-life groups in the country-groups that advocate birth control in their crisis pregnancy centers and endorse sex ed in the schools. The leader of one of these groups even has a CPC located in an in vitro fertilization clinic and sees nothing wrong with it.

My new friends Radim and Katarina are now the driving forces behind Hnuti Pro ō½ivot, and Mrs. Bernardova is thankful for their energy and enthusiasm. They have four young children, yet they somehow manage to publish a regular newsletter, organize educational campaigns and "Helpers" prayer vigils, and they are even hoping to open up a fully Catholic crisis pregnancy center soon. They are HLI to the core! During my visit I also made the acquaintance of Dr. František Matušina who had met Fr. Marx in Czechoslovakia, just after the fall of Communism, and was instrumental in setting up the first HLI group which is now replaced with Hnuti Pro ō½ivot. Dr. Matušina has been extremely faithful to the HLI mission over many years and is a great friend of HLI.

A second point of light is Dr. Jiri Karas, the only fully pro-life member of Parliament. He is very clear on the life issues and recently proposed measures to the Parliament on limiting abortion, which was brought up for discussion the day after I arrived in the country. Needless to say, the Parliament decided not to do anything about the country's abortion law, citing as their main reason the United Nations conventions that allow a woman to decide the size of her family. Their position takes an analagous stance, for example, to refusing to object to Hitler killing Jews in concentration camps because the totally immoral Nuremburg laws said it was okay. We will pray for Dr. Karas and his lone attempts to change the culture of death into the culture of life.

HOLINESS SHINING THROUGH THE ATHEISM

On my last day in Prague I had the privilege of praying in the two most beautiful shrines in the Czech Republic: St. Vitus Cathedral and the Infant of Prague shrine. Radim, Katarina and I took a walk across the famous Charles Bridge where St. John Nepomucen was martyred, and we walked up the hill to the famous picturesque Cathedral of St. Vitus. For those not familiar with the name, St. John Nepomucen was the 14th century priest who is invoked as the patron saint of the seal of the confessional. As the story goes, the wicked King Wenceslaus IV was terribly jealous of his wife and suspected her of immorality. After she went to confession to St. John Nepomucen, the king made every attempt to get the priest to break the seal of the confessional and reveal to him what she told him in confession. St. John refused. He was tortured with fire by the King's executioners, his body tied into a circle (feet to head) and was gagged, then finally thrown off the Charles Bridge to drown. For me, as a priest, it was a powerful moment to stand in front of his statue there on the bridge and pledge again my absolute commitment to maintaining the sacred seal of the Sacrament of Confession. It is a commitment unto death.

St. Vitus Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent churches in Christendom. It is a Gothic-style cathedral perched on the highest point of land in Prague, with the whole complex of government offices situated around and below it on the hill. It is quite symbolic in itself of how the Church should always be over the state as a moral authority. The tomb of St. Wenceslaus is located in a side chapel of the cathedral, with the stunning crown jewels of the Czech Republic in a compartment behind that locked with seven locks. The crown jewels contain not only a crown, but a jeweled scepter and a globe that the monarch used to hold in his hand as a symbol of his concern for all peoples. Our time of prayer in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of the Cathedral was perhaps the pinnacle of my trip in every sense.

Located on a slope of the hill just below the Cathedral, is the Carmelite Church with the beautiful and tender statuette of the grace-filled Infant of Prague (as the locals call Him). Most of us know that image, but few know the story behind it. This small wax statue was the work of an unknown Spanish artist in the 1500s and the pious possession of Maria Manrique de Lara, who married a Czech nobleman and brought the statuette to Prague in 1556. Her daughter gave it as a gift to the Carmelites in 1628. During the Thirty Years' War it was desecrated and thrown behind an altar until a pious priest named Fr. Cyril of Our Lord's Mother searched it out and found it in 1637. When he restored it to its niche, there were many extraordinary events attributed to it, and people immediately began once again to venerate the image of Christ. These miraculous events occurred at a time in Europe when the faith of people in the divinity of Jesus was growing cold. Single-handedly this beautiful little reminder of the simplicity and love of the Child Jesus has been a powerful means of returning many people to the Faith. Let us pray that the Infant of Prague will lead many more back to the Faith in this time of cultural and moral devastation.

PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING

My time in the shrine was spent exclusively for you. I prayed to the Holy Infant of Prague for all of the HLI staff, board of directors, international leaders and especially for those of you who make this mission possible through your constant prayer and generosity. I spent a good long time thanking the Lord for giving me the privilege of being able to serve so exalted a mission as HLI's. I know that the good Lord will continue to bless our friends in the Czech Republic, and all of us, with the grace of perseverance in this most worthy cause -saving the lives of many of His precious infants.

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Mastermind
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Postby Mastermind » Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:03 am

I give it a few hours before the protestand hordes object to praying to a statue.
Are you threatening me Master Skeptic?

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Postby ochotseat » Mon Jun 06, 2005 9:25 pm

Mastermind wrote:I give it a few hours before the protestand hordes object to praying to a statue.


Depends if you're praying directly to it.

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Postby Forge » Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:41 pm

Weird.

I've always thought Sweden was the atheist place.

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Postby ochotseat » Tue Jun 07, 2005 11:24 pm

Forge wrote:Weird.

I've always thought Sweden was the atheist place.


Not yet, but maybe later down the road.

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Postby Felgar » Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:04 am

Did anyone see Lou Dobbs last night? He had an author on that wrote a book about the EU constitution and how it deliberately omits references to God... I thought it was really interesting.

They put up a poll that asked "is god a 'very important' part of your life?" 62% of Americans said yes, 39% Italians, and the UK, Germany, France, and Spain were all less than 20%. Very telling, and sad.

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Postby sandy_mcd » Wed Jun 08, 2005 2:11 pm

Felgar wrote:... the EU constitution and how it deliberately omits references to God. ... "is god a 'very important' part of your life?" 62% of Americans said yes, 39% Italians, and the UK, Germany, France, and Spain were all less than 20%. ...


This is mixing apples and oranges. Having God be an important part of your life does not necessarily mean that you think God should be part of your government. Check out these poll (data agree with one referred to except Germany and UK are 20%, not under 20%) results (full data online at http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/client/act ... df&id=2694 ).

Question 1: How important is religion in your life ? Answer - some of both positives - Very, Somewhat)
Question 2: Should religious leaders try to influence government decisions ?
    [font=Courier New, Courier, monospace]
    Country......?1...?2 yes...?2 no

    USA............86...37...61
    mexico.........86...20...77
    italy..........80...30...63
    canada.........64...25...72
    s korea........63...21...68
    australia......55...22...75
    germany........54...20...75
    spain..........46...17...76
    UK.............43...20...77
    france.........37...12...85
    [/font]


Note that for US, 61% respond that religious leaders should not try to influence the government. Assuming that all 14% to whom religion is not important are in this number, than 44% of the total - which is more than 1/2 of those to whom religion is important - do not want religious leaders influencing the government. That to me is a really astounding number, and it is much worse for Mexico where less than 1/4 of those to whom religion is important want religious leaders influencing the government.

sandy

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Postby Forge » Wed Jun 08, 2005 8:07 pm

Felgar wrote:They put up a poll that asked "is god a 'very important' part of your life?" 62% of Americans said yes, 39% Italians, and the UK, Germany, France, and Spain were all less than 20%. Very telling, and sad.

Well, only like half a year ago France banned any religious items from public schools, i.e. crosses on sweaters, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps, etc.

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Postby ochotseat » Wed Jun 08, 2005 10:19 pm

sandy_mcd wrote:That to me is a really astounding number,


If it's so astounding to you, then do your part to change it.

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Postby sandy_mcd » Thu Jun 09, 2005 11:29 am

ochotseat wrote:If it's so astounding to you, then do your part to change it.
What course of action would you recommend ?
sandy

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Postby ochotseat » Thu Jun 09, 2005 8:23 pm

sandy_mcd wrote: What course of action would you recommend ?
sandy


You'd know if you're a citizen.

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Re: Czech & Dutch need our prayers

Postby madscientist » Wed May 24, 2006 2:25 am

ochotseat wrote:These regions split up peacefully into two separate countries in 1993 after the so-called "Velvet Revolution" of 1991 in which the people overthrew their Communist oppressors and established democracy.


Just like to commetn it was in novemnber 1989 not 91 that velver rev took place...

As I am from SLovakia this issue is also quite important. It is the neighbouring countyre and lots of stuff comes from there. It can be seemn their laws, such as drugs, sex, alcohol and all that is like 'western world'. It is not in SK yet, and, i hope it WILL NOT coem there. It can be seen however it is slowly coming there too.
Overall the CZ do more of such immoral stff etc. For example, 10 year olds smoke regularly, drink beer... youngest age in europe. CZ movies, even a decades of years old are often issues of sex, drinking etc and such stuff. I duno whether its just me but the SK do not like the CZ ppl much. I dont wana blame enyone but just saty how the situatuon is.
So ya... im just hopin SK will remian at least on the level nit is now.


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