(RNS) #WeAreN is sweeping the Christian Twittersphere as churches, organizations and individuals change their avatars to the Arabic letter “Nun.”

It’s the symbol for “Nazarene,” or Christian, used by Islamic State militants in Iraq to brand Christian properties in Iraq as part of their effort to drive out an ancient Christian community with threats to convert or die.

Today, the trending avatar is intended as a global message of solidarity in the place everyone now turns for that — social media.

Switching to the Nun avatar is a gesture reminiscent of the long-standing (although factually debunked) legend that Danish Christians adopted Jewish star armbands during World War II in solidarity with Danish Jews.

Christianity Today magazine modified its usual @CTmag avatar to a Nun with a T:

Churches large and small chimed in, from The Church of England to the leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and its leader, Russell Moore, and Lifeway Research President Ed Stetzer also made the switch:

Catholics, too, are on board. Traditionalists at Rorate Caeli claim they started the trend:

Vatican media strategist Greg Burke in Rome went Nun with an illustration from Iraq.

The Archdiocese of Washington kept its own seal for the avatar but tweeted the image with a plea:

Ethics professor Charlie Camosy was blunt:

Indeed, Jeremy Courtney, who says he launched #WeAreN, told RNS senior columnist Jonathan Merritt that global media — including social media — are missing the point of the awareness campaign. “I don’t know that it has done anything except make people feel like they are doing something when they are doing nothing at all,” he said.

44 Comments

  1. Maria Hutchings

    I am horrified that Christians use a symbol inspired by Satan, used by Islamic Muslins to identify and claim Christian property for Islam and use it against Christians in threat to convert or die! Is the symbol of our Christian faith, The Holy Cross of Jesus, not good enough? I am certain that Christians who are being martyred right now are holding onto their crucifixes and the images of God, NOT the image of Islam. This is a work of Satan to further bring confusion in the world and DIVERT OUR EYES AWAY FROM THE SYMBOL OF SALVATION: THE CROSS! SATAN IS LAUGHING AT US. It is right and just to be in solidarity with those who suffer for the Christian faith, and Catholic & Christian faiths prove this by their daily sacrifices, prayers and offerings, and missionary outreach. BUT GIVE GOD A BREAK! HOW DARE ANYONE USE A SYMBOL OF MURDER AND VIOLENCE AS A SYMBOL OF SOLIDARITY? Someone must have thought you can fight fire with fire, NO! You fight fire of hell with God’s Living Waters which flowed from THE CROSS. There most serious spiritual deception upon you is that as you gaze upon and glorify Satan’s symbol, your mind is drawn to the darkness of the sin committed by the Islamic people…Your mind needs to always focus on Jesus and as St. Paul says, he keeps his eyes on his eternal reward… It is possible that one may fall into this trap of darkness and become angry and maybe violent and projects this unrighteously toward neighbor and country because he is always reminded of this unjust persecution of Christians. Already people on Facebook are arguing and UN friending one another. This is the work of Satan. Spiritually, speaking, I would be terrified to use any symbol from Satan to fight Satan that is just plain stupid, beyond ignorance about the spiritual battle we are in. This battle requires the hand of God not man. And that is man’s errors here and using this evil symbol to profess our solidarity? Get real. God is our reality. Use God’s symbols because they have power of God to defeat and rebuke the work of Satan.

    • Just like the rainbow, a promise from the Creator of the Universe, was “stolen” to promote that which flies in the face of righteousness, this symbol is being used to show that we’re all willing to “mark” ourselves as followers of the Nazarene, Christ Jesus. Christians don’t have crucifixes or “images of God” as it breaks the second commandment.
      This isn’t playing into the hands of satan, this is showing the world that no matter where our beloved brothers and sisters are being persecuted, we’re willing to bear that persecution along side them.

      • God loves gay people just as God loves you. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

      • Christians DO have crucifixes and images of Jesus and Mary. Some Christians, who broke away from Rome, don’t have crosses or images. The second commandment means that one must not make an image and worship the image instead of that which it stands for. It was written so that believers did not worship idols, as in pre-Christian religions where they worshiped animals or trees or the sun etc. A statue of Mary, Joseph or Jesus in a church helps one focus one’s thoughts and prayers, I think. I am Catholic, BTW.

    • Indeed, the very term “Christian” was an insult… The early church were called “Christ-followers” in derision.

      The symbol of the cross is first a symbol of a horrible, violent death that Christians use to represent instead the glorious redemptive work that Christ accomplished on the cross.

      Last thing (and I think this is pretty cool), is that there is apparently also a Hebrew/Aramaic letter called “nun.” The symbol is different, but it means “fish” in Aramaic. When Christians were later persecuted in Roman times, they used a fish as a symbol.

      http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Grammar/Unit_One/Aleph-Bet/Nun/nun.html

    • What…? The Arabic language predates both Islam and Christianity. The Arabic language is not Satanic. Arab Christians speak Arabic, as do Arab Jews, Arab Muslims, and most people who consider themselves Arab, a nationality or ethnicity that is closely if not indistinguishable from the Semitic peoples that include Jesus and the biblical Jews & Israelites, as well as modern-day Jews.

    • You are confused by the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and Islam. Not because they call their group “Islamic” means that they are real Muslims, No, they are not.

      Christians lived in Iraq under Saddam Husein rule without any problem at all. Until USA invaded it and destroyed it, which allowed these terrorist become powerful as they are now.

    • With all due respect Miss Hutchings, the cross itself is a violent symbol that Christians embrace. The Romans actual crosses as a gruesome means of execution and torture, much like ISIS is using the “nun” symbol to persecute Christians. The cross is a parallel to the electric chair or lethal injection. We Christians have turned the cross around and use it today in order to remember Christ’s love and sacrifice. I see nothing wrong with using the ن identify with Christianity and the persecuted in Iraq. #WeAreN ن

      “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -Jesus (Matthew 5:11,12)

      In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted
      -2 Timothy 3:12

      • Musafir, my brother, you speak truth and reason. Most Christians do not use the name of God, YHWH, when they speak of God , the Father. They use the name of God in whatever tongue they speak. The important thing to recognize is that an Arabic Christian’s use of the name Allah does not equate to the Muslim’s use of the same word. They are similar in concept, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the God of Mohammad are not the same. Ours is God, His wants to be.

    • Hello Maria,

      You wrote, “HOW DARE ANYONE USE A SYMBOL OF MURDER AND VIOLENCE AS A SYMBOL OF SOLIDARITY?” That is ironic. The cross was an instrument of torture and murder used by the Romans to strike terror into the hearts of their enemies. Early Christians were reluctant to use it, preferring the fish symbol for the acrostic ΙΧΘΥΣ, meaning Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior. However, by the second century, Christians had taken the symbol of Roman torture and appropriated it as a symbol of our Lord’s triumph over sin and death. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_symbolism)

      Even the name “Christian” was originally used by outsiders to ridicule the early disciples (Acts 11:26; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian).

      Likewise, the term, “Nazarene” has been used over the years as a slur against the followers of Jesus (Whether in Arabic or any other language). In every case, we have worn these names boldly and used the symbol of the cross boldly, to associate ourselves with our Lord Jesus “In the fellowship of His sufferings,” (Philppians 3:10). And gladly share his reproach (Hebrews 13:13) and the reproach of the suffering Church. Please do not misunderstand our solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iraq. We are doing what Christ followers have always done!

  2. Maria Hutchings

    This is a statement on a picture of the facebook page of #WEARN:
    “Atleast the last thing you could do if you are a Christian is to take down your profile picture of vanity to show others that you don’t support the death of 100,000 brothers and sisters each year.”

    There are number of grave errors in this statement. The first accusation which insults every prayerful Christian is in the use of the first word “Atleast you can…”. This clearly accuses everyone of doing nothing and that they are the only ones who are doing something. And that is the first lie! All faithful Christians worth their salt are doing something according to the Will of God in their life. This statement further draws a comparison, creating a division in the Church: 2 groups: them with an avatar nun symbol and us with an icon of God. All comparison of this nature causes suffering. It incites ill feelings, and draws the spirit of pride, jealousy, envy, competition, and covetousness, and greed. All evil is divisive. The first sign that evil is at play here.

    The 2nd Grave error: This statement intends to incite guilt and shame upon Christians who prefer to keep their pictures as they are. The use of the words ” you could’ve or should’ve or would’ve” are guilt and shame based statements. I am certain that the Holy Spirit had a say in the selection of everyone’s choice of their Christian photos. Proof that Satan is behind this statement is that fact that Satan is always inducing guilt and shame to seduce and manipulate someone to do his bidding.

    3rd Grave error: Satan is also called the accuser. In this statement good Christians are accused of having a profile picture of their Vanity. VANITY? VANITY? THAT is an OUTRAGEOUS ACCUSATION! THAT IS AN ABOMINATION to GOD. Choosing a photo of God, Mary or the angels and saints is a sign of the HUMBLE Christian who always directs attention away from themselves to point in the direction of God and His Kingdom. Through these beautiful heavenly images of love, a message is sent to all people: 1) I believe in Jesus, 2) I am a child of God, and 3) a reminder to people to seek God alone, for God is the source of LIFE. Their HUMILITY and faithfulness to God is the opposite of the mortal sin of Vanity and Pride! These heavenly images of God and his Kingdom glorify, honor, and dignify our God who is all merciful, kind, and just. The Christians who post their face and those of their families also glorify God because God, our Creator, made all people in His Image and Likeness. Every face on Facebook is a beautiful soul created by God. We can only disfigure our face, our soul by disgracing it through sin. When people sin against you, they attempt to disfigure you and tempt you to join them as if they are above God’s law of love! They profess their Way is better than God’s Way of love (the comparison effect). Who do they think they are to judge others? This is the intention of this message too. Satan attempts to disfigure our image in Christ and misdirects the Way of Jesus. When you are lying upon your death bed or standing in front of a firing squad, which image do you want to behold: The Kingdom of God and The Cross, or this “Nun” avitar? Has anyone asked the persecuted Christians if they want this symbol to identify their Faith?

    4th Grave Error: The professed and mandated use of this symbol by well-intentioned Christians is just the seed to begin the split of The Holy Roman Catholic Church and other like-minded Christian communities. And it is already happening on facebook. Please do not misunderstand me. It is a fine idea if one wants to find a symbol of faith to show the persecuted Christians that we are in solidarity with them. However, I believe that all persecuted Christians already know that those who are FAITHFUL to God are in solidarity with them by OUR LOVE FOR GOD AND HIS CHURCH AT PRAYER. In every Catholic Mass celebrated in every parish, everyday of the year, throughout the world, the People Of God pray for these persecuted souls and for religious freedom! In addition, Jesus states that we are to “do good to those who hate us and to pray for those who persecute us.” The Catholic Church does this too.THIS IS THE SIGN OF OUR LOVE AND HOPE FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL SOULS. God through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, has given us the perfect symbol of faith, hope, and charity – THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. Anything less DENIES that Jesus is God, Jesus is The Victor over death, Jesus is the Sovereign King of all creation. Anything less represents a man-made godhead. Hence, this “Nun” symbol is a man-made godhead of the Islam faith, used over a thousand years ago against Christians. Remember the song: “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they will know we are Christians by our love!” Why not have the symbol of a heart embracing The Cross? Is that not too manly for male Christians to wear?

    5th Grave Error: The teachings of the Church on Modernism and those of the saints is clear: It is evil to say or suggest “that something good is bad or something that is bad is good” or both. The sentence on the #WEAREN is a perfect example of this evil sin. They imply that the Christian icon of God is wrong/bad/not good enough and that their avatar is right/good. ALL CONFUSION of MIND IS WROUGHT BY SATAN. The only way to discern good from evil is to KNOW GOD. GOD IS THE GOOD. KNOW GOD.

    6th Grave Error: the choice of the symbol to represent solidarity, the “nun”symbol. I have already explained that it is a symbol of death to Christians used by Islam Muslim people for thousands of years. I would never have any thing – a sign, symbol, object- in my possession that represented death or inspired by evil intentions because it would draw the attention of evil to come into your home. The spirituality of the people who used this symbol had evil intentions toward all Christians. In my opinion, the symbol has evil origins. Evil begets evil. Proof of this was in the intention of the USE of this symbol by #WEAREN! I learned from Facebook conversations that these Christians want to “irritate/aggravate” the Muslim terrorists. That is not only unwise but of evil design! You just do not irritate a lion on the prowl and draw attention to oneself when you have no weapons. Moreover, to purposefully cause ill will is in direct violation of God’s Law of love. You do not add fire to flame to quench it!!! This evil intention is caused by the evil spirit of mischieviousness, it is not a little thing. It is a beast!!!! Hence, if a good Christian plots with devious designs for their own satisfaction of revenge, their best laid plans not only fall apart but will do great harm to their soul and others. It is very sad these Christian people may be doing this promotion out of a sense of helplessness. Those who feel helpless do not know God.. or they do not trust God to act. Now that is truly sad! Jesus did tell his apostles about the end times. And He also told them that there is one more group of people HE HAS TO DRAW INTO THE FOLD. I believe that group of people are the descendants of Ishmael, whom God revealed to Abraham, would be a rebellious people. We need to pray and pray some more! We cannot do a work that God is supposed to do. That is impossible. God has to ordain our actions. We must do the will of God.

    I am happy to see that Christianity Magazine found the Wisdom to change the Nun avatar by placing The Cross over the avatar, the symbol of death. Atleast that symbol is a straight forward message to all terrorists that we believe in Jesus the Christ is the Victor who conquered death. Christ will conquer them. We are victorious only through Jesus by His Cross. Never forget that God Almighty gave this symbol of the Cross to Constantine to put on the shields of his army. God told Constantine that if he did this he would be victorious in battle. Constantine did this, and he was victorious! And not one of his soldiers were killed in battle! Awesome! Do you think we should use any other symbol to defeat the enemy today? God’s Word is Holy and keeps his promises always!

    • Jesus used symbols of hate for healing…God has a way of turning acts of rejection into acts of redemption – . Read John 9:6 about the blind man healed – Jesus spat on and dirt rubbed it in his eyes. Which is the way Jews would have approached this man – spitting in contempt for his blindness caused by “sin”. Jesus didnt really care for religious stuff. And God has turned cross -the electric chair of the day -into a sign of love.God has a way of overpowering hate with Love. Pray for this overpowering love to wipe out the evil of IS. The letter nun may just become used by Christians now to show love instead of evil. Now isn’t that Gods Justice. Let God use it for healing. Amen

    • Thank you Brandon. That is exactly what I was thinking. The cross was an instrument of torture used to kill criminals and our Lord Jesus Christ. We glorify it and have adopted it as a symbol of our Christianity? The irony IS amazing.

      • Maria Hutchings

        CattyCat,
        The Holy Catholic Church gives all honor and Glory to God. In reflection of the Sorrowful Mysteries, we do not glorify the Garden of Gethsemane. We glorify Jesus in his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. We do not glorify the pillar upon which he was scourged or the cat-of-nine-tails which was used to scourge Jesus. We glorify Jesus in his sufferings for our salvation. We do not glorify the crown of thorns used to further suffer our Lord. We glorify Jesus who endured this suffering for our salvation. We not glorify the heavy weight of the cross he carried or the people who spat upon him or jeered at him upon the way to Calvary. We glorify Jesus who further endured and persevered, despite all his pain, through this public humiliation, to arrive at his end. We do not glorify a wooden cross, 3 nails, a spear, or the cup of gaul. We glorify Jesus who hung and died upon a cross to forgive mankind their sins that we may have salvation. The Church honors and glorifies Jesus. The Crucifix is a reminder to us of the love God has for His Children. Jesus suffered all known tortures used at that time. It is not the tools of torture we glorify. We only glorify Jesus who suffered all these tools of torture. Jesus died upon a cross. We recall His unending love for us by recalling His death upon the a cross in the visual image of Jesus hanging upon a cross. That is called a crucifix. The non-Catholic Christians usually use a cross without the body of Jesus to recall to mind the resurrection of Jesus. Hence, the symbol of the ultimate expression of God’s Love is the cross.

    • Maria Hutchings

      Brandon,
      GOD CHOSE THE CROSS.
      GOD BLESSED THE CROSS.

      Miracles abound everyday through the use of the Sign of The Cross. Do you know of these miracles? Do you not pray before a blessed crucifix?

      Do you understand now?

      May God bless you with an increase of The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
      St. Lucy, pray for us. Maria

      • God bless the resurrected life of Christ, the POINT of the life of Christ. The crucifix is the wrong symbol of redemption. I would never worship such an image as my faith lies in his resurrection, not his suffering. To shame ppl for putting up the nun is ignorance played out. The rainbow has been used as the gay communities symbol. Guess what it represents in the Christian faith?! This have dual meaning in many places in life.

  3. I changed my facbook cover and profile image to this symbol not that im giving up the cross as my symbol. I am sure this is not there symbol of choice but it is the one they have been given by isis to show they a Christians. If this is the symbol isis uses, knows, kills christians by then i want to use it to show u didnt need to mark me ill tell you what i believe and there is more of us out here so try as you may you can not take us all wi the out a fight. At the same time i am trying to show those marked that i am honnered they stood by our God and i will do the same even if it means death by standing out b/c of my religion

  4. I CANNOT BELIEVE people are actually arguing about what symbol is used to demonstrate us standing as one in defence of our brothers and sisters who are being murdered for their faith. It could be a picture of an apple for all I care. (No that isn’t a reference to Satan tempting Eve…) Please stop wasting time arguing about something so trivial and start using your energy to spread the news about what’s happening.

  5. Psalm 119:נ Nun

    105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
    106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
    107 I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
    108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
    109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
    110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
    111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
    112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end.

  6. No, Arabic in its present form doesn’t predate Islam or Christianity.

    This is from ‘Arabic Without Walls.’

    ‘In terms of language typology, Arabic belongs to the Semitic family of languages. Some of the members of this language family that are spoken today include Arabic, Aramaic (relatively small communities mostly in Iraq and Syria), Amharic (the national language of Ethiopia), Tigre (spoken in Eritrea), and Hebrew (spoken in Israel). There were many other members of this language family which have disappeared over time. These include, for example, Akkadian (spoken in ancient Mesopotamia), Phoenician (spoken in what is today Lebanon), and Eblaite (spoken in ancient Syria).’

    The 14th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, נ, is also called ‘nun.’

    So, it’s not satanic to use the Arabic letter that uses the same name.

    • Correction: I meant to say that if it predates Christianity, it does so insofar as it developed as distinct dialect of the other Semitic languages, with Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumeric, and the others being the forerunners of what would become Arabic and Hebrew.

  7. Blessings in Jesus Name. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray.
    Do what Nehemiah did, do what Daniel did. PRAY.
    Whether you use the symbol or not, pray in the Name of GOD the Father, GOD the Son and GOD the Holy Spirit.
    Salvation is for all, the Cross of Christ is where our sins have been washed and the Blood of Christ cleanses us. Just believe and pray. Mark 1v37-With GOD ALL things are possible.
    Our GOD is Greater, Our GOD is Healer, our GOD is awesome in Power. LORD You are higher than any other. Pray, pray, pray. I stand with Christian family. I’m here to fight or bring division. How about you?

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