politics in the church

Dear all,
I read that an Egyptian singer by the name of Ihab towfik sang the most famous patriotic song nowadays inside a church.. supposedly that was a church in France. Does anyone know if that's true?


  • Join a group on Facebook called " اهواكي يا أرثوذكسية " . They have a photo of Ihab Tawfik in front of the altar and icons with a mic in his hand and some ladies clapping behind him. The post says that he is singing and he looks like he is. Was he invited in an event in the church and he acted on his own, putting the congregation on the spot? Was it planned? Hard to tell.

    It is not a matter of politics in the church. I think we can all agree that singing in front of the consecrated altar is not appropriate.
  • Must say that I havent heard, but it would not surprise me at all lol! In my church, they have "prayer meetings" whenever stuff goes wrong in Egypt, where they bring in a wonderful line up of politicians to come give speeches from the church pulpit. Of course this nothing more than Christian atheism (where we believe so little in the power of prayer that we substitute it with political speeches) or Christian idolatry (where we pray to the politicians.) In either case, it is by no means Christian Christianity, and has no place inside the church. 

    But the 20-21 century has seen such a terrible decline in true spirituality that unites us as children of God, that it has been replaced by any other factor of unity. That is nationalism to the degree that we see inside our churches today. The 20-21 century has seen such a drastic decline in the sense of true spiritual power, that we have forsaken it all together, and have hurried after political justice and liberty as our source of power. all the while citing verses of the bible to justify it. 

    So, ophadece, I am not sure about the Holy Chanter Ihab Towfik singing inside a Coptic church, but I am sure that there is a total mix up of the place of politics inside the church. My opinion, as usual, is prone to offending people, so take it as you will and with a grain of salt. 

  • RO,
    You are correct as always. I saved this post.

    Politics aside, in the mid 90's, when The holy songs of the Better Life Team and the Praise team became the norm in meetings and during communion distribution, a seasoned servant told us: " There will come a day when the songs of Amr Diab and Muhamed Fouad ( famous Egyptian singers) will be played in the Church." Kind of prophetic.

    Is there a big difference between the songs of Ihab Tawfik and other songs of Better life Team? Same words, same music, same moves.

    We should not pretend to be surprised.
  • @Stavro
    I regret having started this thread. I should care about my own salvation. It doesn't matter because as you rightly say, your servant is unfortunately right..
    I'll take your advice..
  • There is nothing wrong with getting involved in politics so long as the clergy does not mix the two, like Rome did and still does to an extent. Prayer is a must but we all know that action is also a must. While I do not believe politics are necessarily a good thing I do believe that man is a political being, as Aristotle stated. Let us not forget our holy father St Cyril the great, in defense of the church he got involved in politics because the prefect had failed to protect the Christians, often siding with the pagan harlot Hypatia and even the jews. St Cyril did not try and make the church the state, but took action against the trouble making jews by expelling them from Egypt. I believe that this was an attempt to spare them from any further violence of a majority Christian mob looking for justice in the public torture and execution of Heirax. 

    While politics are all but corrupt, especially in Egypt, its not satanic to get involved and make your voice heard. Satanism is elevating ones self to or above the level of God. 
  • @Ioannes,
    The church is God's bride. If she condescends to such matters taking her message and practices away from prayers then we lost our goal..
  • btw, this is the video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=671462422914484

    I really think that there may be a mixup in the place where this song/event was hosted. Many churches have multipurpose rooms and it is not surprising to have a movable altar there or even an iconostasis for those who can afford it. 

  • Dear Ioannes,

    The Jews were expelled not because they were spared the violence from Christian mobs, but because they were a huge part of the violence.  The expulsion was a violent one, not a decree and exodus.  They were very Salafi-like in their behavior at the time, so a peaceful exodus was not possible.

    St. Cyril, while I acknowledge he lived within the context of his own time, is not a good example to use of a necessary mixing of church and politics.  The issue with Hypatia is considered tragic, as well as the violent battles with Alexandrian Jews.  I do not say St. Cyril was wrong, but it certainly was not a good atmosphere, and especially not a good name for Christians either, as Christians at that same time were not without fault and tended to act in very intimidating ways ever since the emperor Theodosius made pagans second class citizens of the empire.

    I think we learn throughout history that it is a mistake to put one's trust in any governmental authority, even if he is an Orthodox Christian, as evils arise and unChristian behavior from Christians start to develop.  It is best that the two entities, politics and church, are as far away as possible, to the point where any idea that resembles the symbolism of the two-headed eagle of ancient times should be heretical.
  • edited April 2014
    With that said, I think these days some Copts today are acting very inappropriately in the name of nationalism.  A couple of weeks ago, I remember hearing a Coptic priest in publicly endorsing El Sisi mentioning how pretty and strong he is and how Egypt should have a pretty and strong president.

    I don't mind that there be an endorsement of El Sisi, but that it should be done with class, and without causing any scandals to other folks, as this Ehab Tawfik incident seems to have made.
  • Well said @minasoliman..
  • Ophadece, people getting involved in politics is not "the church" getting involved but rather people part of a specific church getting involved in politics. If the clergy and people, as a majority, decide to delve into politics then that would be "the church delving into politics." Your stance is so far extreme that it is somewhat offensive. If one or more members of the church struggle with a specific sin, does that mean that church as a whole is sinful? If the pope of Alexandria said "Our church should vote this way or that" then yes, you have a point. What you are saying is that a small contingent of concerned people make up the whole of the church, so a bit absurd and illogical in my opinion.

    @Mina the violence was not a result of the expulsion but rather the violence likely led to the expulsion. After the murder of Heirax the Christian majority went nuts and began to attack the jews and St Cyril rightly kicked them out of Egypt. Yes they were trouble makers, and still are, but St Cyril was no doubt trying to save them from further violence and his people from sinning even more by massacring all of them. 

    It is not right to completely rely on government nor government officials, but if you can use politics to help your own people, then it should be done. Much like having to use violence to defend innocent people, its not necessarily good but not necessarily bad. I am just entirely confused by ophadece's stance as if the church is blurring the line of church and state, its not.
  • Yes, the violence caused by the Alexandrian Jewish community lead to their expulsion, but the expulsion in and of itself was not a peaceful one either.  Christian mobs didn't go around telling Jews to pack their bags and leave.  I have trouble believing St. Cyril did it to spare their lives from Christian mobs, when it were the same people probably who aided the expulsion.

    Be it as it may, the situation when using politics to help the Church tends to get out of hand.  That is the main issue here.  There should be strict adherence to staying away, even if it seems it could help the Church.  Certainly, we were just talking about St. Constantine in other thread.  It was a mistake to involve him in ecumenical discussions.  He would have done better as a political leader to unite based on country, not on what you should believe, which lead to his flip flop and to the problems St. Athanasius had to face, as well as future generations, including our non-Chalcedonian fathers.

    Being a soldier and getting to wars from Christian laypeople is a necessary evil.  Clergymen who are including political leaders in ecclesiastical affairs in exchange for a better life for Christians and making Christian law is as history seems to show, eventually evil and unnecessary.
  • btw, this is the video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=671462422914484
    I really think that there may be a mixup in the place where this song/event was hosted. Many churches have multipurpose rooms and it is not surprising to have a movable altar there or even an iconostasis for those who can afford it. 


    No songs should be hosted at all in the Church. It does not matter where this takes place, whether in the basement of a rented community center or in a cathedral. There is no way out of this one. There is no excuse except that Ihab Tawfik acted on his own and the crowd got into it.

    Maybe the choir before him gave him the impression that this is not a holy place by their songs and clapping, which is also becoming more frequent in the Church of Jesus Christ for Latter Day Copts.   

    The issue with Hypatia is considered tragic, as well as the violent battles with Alexandrian Jews.

    But cannot be blamed on or attributed to Cyril the Great.   

  • What do you guys think about Pope Tawadros' endorsement of General Aziz? I know very little about Egyptian politics so I want to learn from you guys. 

    In Christ 
  • edited April 2014
    By principle as a clergyman, I think you should be held to a high standard and not show public endorsement to anyone. With that said, the cultural atmosphere presently allows at least this one exception, and it doesn't bother me much that HH is endorsing El Sisi. HH was after all involved in a united front with El Sisi on June 30, so naturally, he's endorsing an ally.
  • edited April 2014
    "But cannot be blamed on or attributed to Cyril the Great."

    I never said he could be blamed for this tragic death, but he was caught between a rock and hard place on this issue. He felt he had to act against the injustice of Orestes, acting in a zealous manner, but ignorant Alexandrians being hyped by this proceeded to do their infamous deed. It was such a volatile situation, all beginning with mixing politics and the church by imperial practices.

    The two headed eagle deserves a noose, or better a guillotine
  • Thanks Mina for posting the link.

    Im glad there are many on here upset about the Church being used for such events. I too would prefer to keep the Church untainted from any political activity, nor make it a forum for any political message. The Church is sacred, and this should have been done in the church hall. If there was no Church hall, then do it in a bar.


    Where does someone have to go to pray and worship God nowadays???

  • @Ioannes,
    Sorry to have offended you or anyone else, but I think you should follow the events in Egypt more closely and you'll know what I mean.
  • There are many other Orthodox Christians who disagree with that statement^^^
  • I don't know much about politics but I think there is more than one controversy here discussed and possibly conflated. Protestant singers and songs should never be allowed in any Orthodox church service. Ever. Period. Our Coptic Church is not bankrupt of spirituality to borrow or allow Protestantism or culturalism in the most holy place. Otherwise, we would be no different than the Jews in Matthew 21:12,13. 

    Regarding politics and religion, I think a false dichotomy has been setup in the minds of many Copts that religious leaders should not actively participate in politics. I'm not sure where it comes from but I don't think history and liturgy supports this claim. In fact, there are numerous historical events where our Coptic patriarch was the mediator with Muslim rulers and Ethiopia or Nubia. From Constantine on, the Orthodox Church has been actively involved in politics with the Roman Empire.  We have stories of St Shenoute the Archimandrite attacking a pagan priest and defending this before a magistrate court. In the post-Chalcedonian era with Pope Timothy, there was interaction with the emperor to resolve Christological issues. In the 20th century, many decisions involved Pope Cyril VI hand in hand with government officials, whether Emperor Halie Sallise or Gamal AbdelNasser.  A detailed survey of Coptic history shows an incredible amount of politics with nearly every Coptic patriarch. Most of it resulted in problems, but many political actions by Coptic patriarchs resulted in peace.

    Liturgically, the idea that politics is inversely related to spirituality is not supported. We have a litany for the ruler (the president, the king, whatever applies now) that asks God to soften his heart to act peacefully to us. If the church was not supposed to get involved with politics, we wouldn't pray to God for the political leaders. We have a prayer for "those in the palace". The litanies in the Liturgy of St Mark/Cyril spends a lot of time praying for non-Christian people and things. Theologically, secularism is a heresy. To detach ourselves from the rest of the world implies a Machinean-like understanding of Providence. God didn't save the pure, the spiritual and the Christian only. God died for the life of the whole world. Read Fr Schmemann's For the Life of the World. 

    That being said, Pope Tawadros II is my father, not just my patriarch. I wouldn't reproach my physical father for discussing his endorsement of a political nominee, even if I disagreed. He has the right to do that. I see no problem for any spiritual father to endorse a political leader, as long this father has the interest of God and his children above all. 

  • Ophadece, yea you are being offensive in my opinion. Sometimes there is a need to get involved in politics, in Egypt there is a clear line between church and state, since the majority are muslim it is doubtful that the church will ever become the state. That being said, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to try to maintain peace for your people.

    Mina, the fact is we are both guessing. We know there was an expulsion and perhaps violence, I am not sure scholasticus mentions violence on the scale that the movie Agora portrays it. The reason I say St Cyril did that to try and spare them, an act of mercy, is because I have read so many of his writings and am familiar with his way of thinking. He was not fond of the behavior of the jews, nor the Christian mobs at that time, but he certainly never showed signs of hatred or violence towards them. Based on what I know of his writings I think its a much safer bet that he booted the jews out of Egypt in an act of mercy. Unless you have some evidence that I am unaware of.
  • @remenkimi
    It's fine for any Copt including clergy to be involved in politics. That's the whole point of participating actively in society and not being passive. What unfortunately happens in Egypt, not sure if you're aware, is that clergy statements are taken to represent the church, and more so when it comes from the pope. Are you aware that the pope recently decreed no clergy to interfere in politics for the example given above by minasoliman? Bottom line is exert some wisdom in dealing with such issues..
    Sorry for being offensive..
  • edited April 2014

    I agree with much of what you said. I think we have bought into a false dichotomy too. I am reposting the following from another trend:
  • Don’t quote me on this but I believe this idea was originally proposed by the Founding Fathers of the U.S.A in order to protect the church from corruption by the state.   

     OO churches where Orthodox Christians are majority, e.g. Ethiopia and Eritrea, historically don’t practice much separation of church and state. I don’t know much about the Armenian Orthodox Church.   

    Personally, I am more attracted to the idea of a church that is the conscience of the state. The church not as an entity that is prohibited to meddle in secular matters but rather an institution which guides the state on the right path. 

    But, this is just my opinion and I really want to learn what the Church Fathers taught. 

  • edited April 2014
    "The double-headed eagle is the symbol of the Byzantine Empire, and that symbol carried through to Russia. One eagle represents church, and one the state. The symbol shows the synergy between both. Then, as now, there have been both benefits and drawbacks to such rule. And still, even though our country is founded in opposition to such a principle (we have a one-headed eagle), it was the way of the Roman and Byzantine Empires for more than 1,000 years, until 1453."
    source: http://www.pravmir.com/guest-column-russia-long-history-orthodox-christianity-traditional-views/
  • edited April 2014
    I'm going to expand on this, but the crux of the argument made for allowing clerics to engage in politics depends on how one is defining "politics".  To use a cleric to mediate peace between two nations I don't see as politics, but as service for peacemaking.  To take a heretical group to court for their violation on Church property or community I don't see as politics, but as a lawsuit. To pray for the president or king is not politics, it's a service of loving and supporting our leaders.

    To excommunicate someone to go to a country because of the country's political views is politics.  To use the Church as a venue to endorse a political candidate is politics.  To allow to consecrate a King with Holy Oil and allow him in the holy altar or involve him in ecclesiastical affairs is political meddling.  To ask the President of Egypt if they approve of the choice of the Pope is political meddling.

    And I know where that double-headed eagle comes from, and I seek that at least one of its heads should go to the guillotine.
  • @minasoliman
    Can't agree more.. thank you
  • There is no clear cut line, sometimes it is necessary for one or more clergy to get involved for the sake of their people. Other times its unacceptable because it has no real purpose other than power, not protecting people or making peace. I dont know.
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