Religious leaders condemn Paris attacks; Florida pastor calls for 'courageous Christians'

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(REUTERS/Charles Platiau)French police stand guard as people gather to look at the Eiffel Tower that is lit with the blue, white and red colours of the French flag in Paris, France, November 16, 2015, in tribute to the victims of a series of deadly attacks on Friday in the French capital.

PARIS (Christian Examiner) – Religious and political leaders worldwide expressed condolences to the French people and condemned ISIS ffter six coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday evening left over 120 dead and hundreds critically wounded.

"We are shocked by this new manifestation of maddening, terrorist violence and hatred which we condemn in the most radical way together with the pope and all those who love peace," Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's chief spokesman, said on Saturday.

"We pray for the victims and the wounded, and for all the French people," Lombardi said. "This is an attack on peace for all humanity, and it requires a decisive, supportive response on the part of all of us as we counter the spread the homicidal hatred in all of its forms."

Pledging to eradicate ISIS, French President Francois Hollande launched massive airstrikes against Syria Sunday night, targeting ISIS training camps and munitions stores.

On social media, supporters of ISIS have been celebrating the success of the attacks. ISIS has made further threats about planning similar organized terror in other international cities, including Washington, D.C.

TERRIBLE AND SICKENING

At the G20 summit in Turkey, President Obama called the attacks a "terrible and sickening setback," adding that ISIS can be pushed back with airstrikes even as the world grieves with Paris.

The targeted sites included the Bataclan theater, a bar and restaurants, and a sports stadium. The attack was carried out by numerous jihadists believed to be coordinated out of Belgium.

In its statement claiming credit for the attacks, ISIS called Paris a center of "prostitution and vice."

The hateful statement concluded: "Let France and all nations following its path know that they will continue to be at the top of the target list for the Islamic State and that the scent of death will not leave their nostrils as long as they partake in the crusader campaign, as long as they dare to curse our Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), and as long as they boast about their war against Islam in France and their strikes against Muslims in the lands of the Caliphate with their jets, which were of no avail to them in the filthy streets and alleys of Paris," according to Vox.

Umar Al-Qadri, imam of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Dublin harshly condemned the terrorist acts and said these should be dissociated from Islam.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris and every other place on earth plagued by sick men with weapons and bombs," Al-Qadri said. "Terrorists have no religion whatsoever. Their religion is intolerance hatred for Peace. The news from Paris is very frightening. May God be with us all against all types of extremism and terrorism."

Buildings around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, displayed red, white and blue bands to honor the Parisians who died Friday night.

SICK MEN WITH WEAPONS

In the United States, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, called upon "all Episcopalians and people of good will and faith to pray for those who have died," those who may still be in harm's way, and first responders. He prayed the Lord's prayer on behalf of "the human family" in a video on the Episcopal website.

The Nov. 13 attack comes less than a year after the Jan. 7 terrorist attack targeting the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, where 12 were killed that day and four in a related hostage situation on Jan. 9.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who cancelled his European visit, sent a message to President Hollande. "In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government," he said.

In an address to French parliamentary houses, President Hollande said he will prioritize national security by increased airstrikes and increased border patrol as well as seeking the option to extend the country's state of emergency to up to three months and deport those deemed threatening to national security, according to the BBC.

THE CHURCH IN A TIME OF DISTRESS

President Obama said the United States would also increase airstrikes against ISIS and remain on guard against its threats.

Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, noted Sunday that Obama just Friday had made an announcement that ISIS had been contained. 

"We are living in distressed times," Brunson said, Preaching from Proverbs 24. "We're living in a day folks where we need some courageous Christians."

Brunson said in a world where Millennials -- or the "none's" -- increasingly don't claim a church, and baby boomers -- or the "done's" -- are leaving the church out of apathy, a vaccum exists.

"We are ready to stand for Jesus Christ in the day in which we live," Brunson said.