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James Foley Likely Was a Martyr

Serious faith is not talked about on mainstream television very often, so when the parents of James Foley, who was beheaded by ISIS, held a press conference in Rochester, N.H., faith was not a theme the media emphasized. There was however coverage of the parents' statement that the many prayers for James' safety were appreciated, as he had noted himself when in a tight situation earlier in Libya. That led me to wonder what else was said.

Thee truth seems to be that the Foley family are devout Catholics and have had the active involvement of their church parish in supporting them through the long ordeal of son Jim's captivity and now, violent death.

It was decided not to stress religious faith during their son's captivity, for fear, one supposes, that it would give ISIS a further reason to kill him. But more is coming out now. It is significant, perhaps, that Pope Francis made a personal call of sympathy to the family.

Someone who is killed for his faith arguably should be considered a martyr, however odd that term sounds to modern ears. We think of martyrs as Christians fed to the lions in ancient Rome, but the reality is that there are more people being killed for their faith today than in many centuries--and certainly more than were killed by the Romans. Assuming that Jim Foley shared the strong faith of the rest of his family, he probably should be considered a martyr.

It is hard to know, as a Christian, what one would say at the minute he knew he was to be killed. It is unlikely the ISIS terrorists would put any expressions of faith on the video they release to the Internet. In the end, unless there is another believer there to hear the circumstances, one can't know for sure. And maybe it doesn't matter. The ultimate Judge knows.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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