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Be Alert!

Moriel Ministries Be Alert! has added this Blog as a resource for further information, links and research to help keep you above the global deception blinding the world and most of the church in these last days. Jesus our Messiah is indeed coming soon and this should only be cause for joy unless you have not surrendered to Him. Today is the day for salvation! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, - Psalms 95:7

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Muslim appointed to UK cathedral

Ephesians 5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;... 1 John 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Ed. Comment: We may be on our way to hell, but a least well have a clean neighborhood? EKKLESIA - By staff writers - March 29, 2007 A Muslim woman is to join the staff of a major cathedral, in an appointment believed to be the first of its kind. Anjum Anwar, currently Education Officer of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, will work with Canon Chris Chivers, showing how dialogue between faiths, cultures and communities across Lancashire, and beyond, can be developed in practice. Ms Anwar, who has been honoured for community service in Lancashire, has been appointed to a post at Blackburn Cathedral as its Dialogue Development Officer. Her post will be funded by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) for an initial two years. She was awarded the MBE in 2005 for her services to the community in Lancashire. The appointment was today (Thursday) commended by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s national adviser on inter-faith relations, Canon Guy Wilkinson. “By this appointment, Blackburn Cathedral, supported by the NWDA, is demonstrating what it is to be present at the heart of the community, and to engage in positive and constructive ways,” he said. “I am very glad to commend this initiative warmly.” Anjum Anwar said: “It’s very brave for the Cathedral to take this unique step, and I am very honoured by it. It’s a success story for the Cathedral and for the Lancashire Council of Mosques. It shows that working together has real benefits for both communities, and for wider communities as well.” The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev Christopher Armstrong said: “Anjum Anwar and Chris Chivers have worked hard over the past two years to make the Cathedral a place humming with dialogue. “They have enabled all sorts of people, of all faiths and none, to have difficult conversations that needed to happen. The two of them have a regional, national and indeed international profile, through their dialogues, broadcasting and writing. “With the generosity and foresight of NWDA we shall be able to embed this public conversation more deeply in schools, colleges, churches, mosques, workplaces and other areas in the public sphere. This appointment shows major institutions in Lancashire coming together to blaze an innovative trail for cohesive living in our county and beyond.” Welcoming the development, Abdul Hamid Quershi, Chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “This is very happy news for us in the Muslim community. It indicates the level of trust already developed between communities, and can help to take things to a new level.” Mgr John Devine, the Churches Officer for the North-west at NWDA, said: “The NWDA recognises that faith communities are major custodians of the cultural and architectural heritage of this region, and significant partners in delivering social cohesion. “The imaginative work already undertaken by Canon Chivers and Anjum at Blackburn Cathedral is genuinely groundbreaking. The move to employ Anjum as a member of the Cathedral team will ensure that this fine example of interfaith collaboration and dialogue continues to inspire those involved in community regeneration throughout the North-west and beyond.” Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Councillor Kate Hollern, said: “This work to increase dialogue between faiths, cultures and communities is excellent and complements the 100 Voices community debates that have given local people the opportunity to discuss their concerns and give their views about cohesion in an open, honest and constructive way.” “We found that local people from different communities have the shared values of wanting to promote strong families and good, safe, clean neighbourhoods.” http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/4962 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Australian Anglican Church Celebrates Birth of False Prophet Mohammed

The Falling Away This came from Salt Shakers We have received notification of an event to 'celebrate' the birth of Mohammed - a false Prophet - at a Melbourne Anglican church! The event is titled "Multifaith Commemoration the Noble Birth of Prophet Mohammed" As Christians we should rebuke the term "noble Prophet" by a Christian church - Jesus clearly said there would be NO MORE Prophets!! This is the worship of a false prophet of a false god in a Christian church. Is this blasphemy? Is this sacrilege? It certainly is appeasement and Dhimmitude! God destroyed the altars of Baal - a false God. God said "Have no other God but me". How does this event in a Christian church glorify the One True God? If it does not, it has no place in a Christian Church. The Australian Intercultural Society appears to be totally focused on the promotion of Islam: http://www.intercultural.org.au/

Patrol confronts students over Christian literature

Persecution in America 1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Luke 21:12 "But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name's sake. Officer tells college team missions work 'shameful' Note: This a missions group focuses on evangelizing Mormons WORLDNETDAILY - By Bob Unruh - March 30, 2007 An officer with a state police force has confronted a team of college students on a spring break missions trip, telling them that handing out Christian literature is "shameful." In Pakistan? India? Perhaps Syria? Nope. In Utah. Not only that, but a second officer, this one with a local police force, confronted the same students just a day later, telling them that handing out such information was "looked down on here." Nelson Koon, of Hudsonville, Mich., and a junior at Frontier School of the Bible in LaGrange, Wyo., led the team of college students on their missions trip, and described for WND how these two incidents happened this week, starting in Payson, Utah. "We got stopped by a police officer, the group of eight of us in a school vehicle," he said. "He said it was shameful, what we were doing." The team had volunteered to raise their own funds and spend their spring breaks helping various Christian organizations, including TriGrace Ministries, and others in Utah hand out Christian brochures, and in one case, a DVD called "Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith". "He said he got one on his door," Koon said of the officer. "He said, 'what were we doing, putting all these lies on the DVD?'" "He asked us what group or church were we with, … then he chewed us out a little. He kind of warned us, then he took off," Koon reported. "This is something absolutely unacceptable," Patrol Public Information Officer Preston Raban of the Utah State Patrol told WND when first contacted. He later responded that the officer in question had been identified, and admitted letting his "personal feelings" take over. "That's where he became unprofessional," Raban told WND. Koon said he's long had a heart for the American West, especially the Utah region, and when he graduates in a year from the Wyoming school that focuses on training students for Christian service, he hopes to obtain an internship in Utah to begin his work. So when a minister from Utah visited the school and described how students could help Utah's churches, he organized the trip. "I thought it would be a good way to get a foot in the door," he said. Team members had been canvassing towns across the state, not ringing doorbells, but simply hanging handouts on door handles and moving on, he said. The officer, in uniform and in a state squad car, clearly was upset. "It was like he felt bad for us, bad for our souls. He thought we were lost," Koon said. Koon said he didn't want to make any particular organization look bad, and the overall trip was "a great experience." "We were just going house to house hanging them [handouts and DVDs) on doors with door hangers," he said. Koon said during the team's preparations, they had reviewed state laws they would need to follow, so felt they were on solid ground, but after the patrolman left, they saw a police station a few blocks up, and decided to stop and make sure. "[The officer] was hiding on a side street, and he followed us when we drove by," Koon said. "He pulled up and ran into the [police station] before we could get there." A local police officer then came out to talk with the students, and told them they were following the appropriate laws. Koon said the second incident happened to two team members in Springville the next day. The local municipal officer approached the team members, who were on foot this time, checked their licenses and identifications, and "basically said handing things out was looked down on in Utah," Koon said. City spokesman Lt. Dave Caron said an officer would have been dispatched if someone complained about door-to-door sales teams. "We have problems," he said. "Some of them [peddlers] that come out have warrants. They have warrants for a reason. They end up going into houses. It's that we have people doing door-to-door and they rip people off." But once assured of the student's plans, there should be no further interaction, he said. But Koon said the officers took the team members' drivers' licenses, checked them against the record and called for backup so that a second squad car was on the scene, before eventually letting the students continue. So how soon will Koon and his team members be returning to Utah? "As soon as possible," he told WND. http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54948 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Human rights for apes?

Genesis 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Growing movement wants to grant 'personhood' WORLDNETDAILY - March 31, 2007 An international movement is growing to grant human rights and "personhood" to apes. In Austria, judges must decide whether a British woman should become legal guardian of a chimpanzee, and in Spain, members of parliament are being urged to grant apes the right to life, freedom and protection from torture, reports BBC News magazine. Ian Redmond of the U.N.'s Great Apes Survival Project contends apes are special because they are so closely related to humans – chimpanzees and bonobos, for example, differ by only 1 percent of DNA. Redmond argues the great apes have the human quality of self-awareness and the ability to reason. "Show a gibbon a mirror and the reaction suggests he or she thinks the reflection is another gibbon," he said. "But all the great apes have passed the 'mirror self-recognition' test and soon begin checking their teeth or examining parts of their body they couldn't see without the mirror. This self-awareness surely suggests that they know they exist." Zoologist Charlotte Uhlenbroek argues apes have a similar lifespan to humans and form lifelong family bonds in which they display emotions that could be described as love, anxiety, fear, jealousy and trauma. "If I was an alien from Mars and looked at human society and a society of apes then in terms of the emotional life I would see no distinct difference, although we live very different lives because of language and technology, "Uhlenbroek said. Redmond asserts apes need protection, noting, for example, an international trade ban is flouted in Africa and South-East Asia, where mothers are shot and their infants shipped off as pets, circus performers or lab animals. The British woman who wants to adopt a chimpanzee, Paula Stibbe, says the animal was abducted from its family tribe in West Africa 25 years ago. It now lives in an animal sanctuary that is about to close, and she wants to prevent it from being sold to a zoo by persuading a court to grant the same protection as a child. Members of Parliament in Spain are being asked to support legislation endorsed by the international organization Great Ape Project, which advocates a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on great apes. The law would be based on the assertion apes deserve a right to life, freedom and protection from torture. But Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University of London, maintains human rights cannot be imposed on animals. "Where do you stop? It seems to be that being human is unique and nothing to do with biology," he said. "Say that apes share 98 percent of human DNA and therefore should have 98 percent of human rights. Well mice share 90 percent of human DNA. Should they get 90 percent of human rights? And plants have more DNA than humans." Jones argues that bestowing rights based on criteria invented by one group is itself a breach of human rights, similar to what the Nazis did in the Holocaust. "Rights and responsibilities go together and I've yet to see a chimp imprisoned for stealing a banana because they don't have a moral sense of what's right and wrong," he said. "To give them rights is to give them something without asking for anything in return." http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54959 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Faith and Values Awards honor religous portrayals

The Falling Away THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER - By Randee Dawn - February 20, 2007 One might say former Los Angeles-based casting director Reuben Cannon found his true calling after moving to Atlanta and becoming a producer on writer-director Tyler Perry's ultrasuccessful urban comedies "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" (2005), "Madea's Family Reunion" (2006) and Lionsgate's current release "Daddy's Little Girls." "Hollywood does not understand the people who live between New York and California," says Cannon, who was the first to describe Perry's oeuvre as "gospel cinema." "Now that I live in the South, religion is probably the biggest activity here. The Bible Belt is not just a name. It is real. Hollywood just hasn't catered to the Christian faith-based market because it hasn't been necessary." Until recently, that is. Untold articles already have pontificated about the colossal boxoffice gross of Mel Gibson's 2004 Biblical epic "The Passion of the Christ" -- which took in upward of $370 million domestically -- and the similar performance of the arguably less overt but still Christian-themed "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which earned roughly $292 million stateside after its December 2005 release. No doubt seduced by those staggering sums, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment announced in October the creation of a new label, FoxFaith, that will release faith-based films theatrically and on DVD. Two months later, Hollywood impresario Harvey Weinstein and his brother, Bob, announced that their nascent outfit the Weinstein Co. had entered into a multiyear first-look deal with Tulsa, Okla.-based Impact Entertainment, a Christian movie production and grass-roots marketing company, to produce and acquire theatrical and direct-to-video titles for the faith-based community. And there's more. David Kirkpatrick, an 18-year veteran of Paramount, recently left the studio to co-found Good News Holdings, an independent production and distribution company that is financing and adapting Anne Rice's novel "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," as well as a slate of Christian-themed horror films. He also is starting up a Christian programming satellite channel. "What happens in New York and Los Angeles is we breathe rarefied air, and we believe we know what people want," says Kirkpatrick, whose resume also includes stints at Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures as president of production. He recalls that while working for the studios, there was plenty of talk about how the executives should all pile in a bus and drive around the country "to find out what the hearts and dreams of everybody around were. It was a nice idea, though we never did it." What all of this amounts to is that religious conservatives have a newfound cachet in Hollywood thanks largely to their significant spending power, which is great news to someone like Ted Baehr, who publishes Movieguide magazine and, with the help of his staff, reviews and analyzes nearly every theatrically released film in a given year. Although the content of the reviews might surprise outsiders -- movies are evaluated in terms of how they hew to Christian worldviews, if any characters smoke or consume alcohol, if the message embraces a "humanist" worldview -- Baehr has the ear of studio executives at the Walt Disney Co. and New Line, the latter of which struggled with its recent foray into religious-themed cinema, "The Nativity Story." And when representatives at WMA need theological input for their plan to work with faith-based films, they dine with him. - - - - http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/features/e3iaf4b3145ad2a38c52641ac4c9e91a326 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Case for Teaching The Bible

Proverbs 16:20 He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD. Note: Moriel in no way recommends nor endorses the ministries of Chuck Colsen or John Hagee, both whom are mentioned in this article. This article is posted simply for furthering the understanding of this current issue involving the Word of God. TIME - By David Van Biema - March 22, 2007 Miss Kendrick came ready, with props. The day's topic was the Gospel of Matthew. "You can divide all the Beatitudes into two parts," Jennifer Kendrick explained to her teenage audience. "The 'Blessed are the whatevers,' like 'the meek,' and then the reward they will get. So I've made some puzzle pieces here." She passed out construction-paper sheets, each bearing either the name of a virtuous group or its reward, in black marker. "And you've got to find the person who has the other half. What's the first one in the Bible?" "The poor in spirit," mumbled a crew-cut boy. "O.K. What goes with the poor in spirit?" A girl in the front of the room replied, reading from her sheet, "For they will see God." "Nope," chirped Kendrick. "O.K., find the person that matches yours. I'll take the roll." By which she meant an official attendance roll. Because the day was Thursday, not Sunday. And the location was not Oakwood Baptist Church, a mile down Texas State Highway 46, but New Braunfels High School, a public school that began offering a Bible-literacy class last fall. The class has its share of conservative Christians. Front-row center sat Rachel Williams, 18, whose mother does teach Sunday school at Oakwood. But not 20 ft. away sat a blond atheist who asked that her name not be used because she hasn't outed herself to her parents. Why take a Bible class? I asked her. "Some of my friends are Christian," she said, shrugging, "and they would argue about, like, whether you can be a Christian and believe in evolution, and I'm like, Okaaaay ... clueless." Williams signed up for a similar reason. "If somebody is going to carry on a sophisticated conversation with me, I would rather know what they're talking about than look like a moron or fight my way through it," she says. The class has "gotten a lot of positive feedback," she adds. "It's going to really rise in popularity." The same might be said about public-school courses on the Bible nationwide. There aren't that many. But they're rising in popularity. Last year Georgia became the first state in memory to offer funds for high school electives on the Old and New Testaments using the Bible as the core text. Similar funding was discussed in several other legislatures, although the initiatives did not become law. Meanwhile, two privately produced curriculums crafted specifically to pass church-state muster are competing for use in individual schools nationwide. Combined, they are employed in 460 districts in at least 37 states. The numbers are modest, but their publishers expect them to soar. The smaller of the two went into operation just last year but is already into its second 10,000-copy printing, has expressions of interest from a thousand new districts this year and expects many more. The larger publisher claims to be roughly doubling the number of districts it adds each year. These new curriculums plus polls suggesting that over 60% of Americans favor secular teaching about the Bible suggest that a Miss Kendrick may soon be talking about Matthew in a school near you. To some, this idea seems retrograde. Citing a series of Supreme Court decisions culminating in 1963's Abington Township School District v. Schempp, which removed prayer and devotion from the classroom, the skeptics ask whether it is safe to bring back the source of all that sectarianism. But a new, post-Schempp coalition insists it is essential to do so. It argues that teaching the Bible in schools--as an object of study, not God's received word--is eminently constitutional. The Bible so pervades Western culture, it says, that it's hard to call anyone educated who hasn't at least given thought to its key passages. Finally, it claims that the current civic climate makes it a "now more than ever" proposition. Says Stephen Prothero, chair of the Boston University religion department, whose new book, Religious Literacy (Harper SanFrancisco), presents a compelling argument for Bible-literacy courses: "In the late '70s, [students] knew nothing about religion, and it didn't matter. But then religion rushed into the public square. What purpose could it possibly serve for citizens to be ignorant of all that?" The "new consensus" for secular Bible study argues that knowledge of it is essential to being a full-fledged, well-rounded citizen. Let's examine that argument. Is it constitutional? TOWARD THE BEGINNING OF THE COURT'S string of school-secularization cases, the most eloquent language preserving the neutral study of religion was probably Justice Robert Jackson's concurring opinion in the 1948 case McCollum v. Board of Education: "One can hardly respect the system of education that would leave the student wholly ignorant of the currents of religious thought that move the world society for ... which he is being prepared," Jackson wrote, and warned that putting all references to God off limits would leave public education "in shreds." In the 1963 Schempp decision, the exemption for secular study of Scripture was explicit and in the majority opinion: "Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment," wrote Justice Tom C. Clark. Justice Arthur Goldberg contributed a helpful distinction between "the teaching of religion" (bad) and "teaching about religion" (good). Citing these and subsequent cases, Marc Stern, general counsel for the American Jewish Congress, says, "It is beyond question that it is possible to teach a course about the Bible that is constitutional." For over a decade, he says, any legal challenges to school Bible courses have focused not on the general principle but on whether the course in question was sufficiently neutral in its approach. Why should I care? HERE IS ONE OF PROTHERO'S FAVORITE stories of Bible ignorance. In 1995 a federal appeals court upheld the overturn of a death sentence in a Colorado kidnap-rape-murder case because jurors had inappropriately brought in extraneous material--Bibles--for an unsanctioned discussion of the Exodus verse "an eye for eye, tooth for tooth ... whoever ... kills a man shall be put to death." The Christian group Focus on the Family complained, "It is a sad day when the Bible is banned from the jury room." Who's most at fault here? The jurors, who perhaps hadn't noticed that in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus rejects the eye-for-an-eye rule, word for word, in favor of turning the other cheek? The Focus spokesman, who may well have known of Jesus' repudiation of the old law but chose to ignore it? Or any liberal who didn't know enough to bring it up? According to Religious Literacy, polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to "all or most of life's basic questions," but pollster George Gallup has dubbed us "a nation of biblical illiterates." Only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel. Most can't name the Bible's first book. The trend extends even to Evangelicals, only 44% of whose teens could identify a particular quote as coming from the Sermon on the Mount. So what? I'm not a very religious person SIMPLY PUT, THE BIBLE IS THE MOST influential book ever written. Not only is the Bible the best-selling book of all time, it is the best-selling book of the year every year. In a 1992 survey of English teachers to determine the top-10 required "book-length works" in high school English classes, plays by Shakespeare occupied three spots and the Bible none. And yet, let's compare the two: Beauty of language: Shakespeare, by a nose. Depth of subject matter: toss-up. Breadth of subject matter: the Bible. Numbers published, translated etc: Bible. Number of people martyred for: Bible. Number of wars attributed to: Bible. Solace and hope provided to billions: you guessed it. And Shakespeare would almost surely have agreed. According to one estimate, he alludes to Scripture some 1,300 times. As for the rest of literature, when your seventh-grader reads The Old Man and the Sea, a teacher could tick off the references to Christ's Passion--the bleeding of the old man's palms, his stumbles while carrying his mast over his shoulder, his hat cutting his head--but wouldn't the thrill of recognition have been more satisfying on their/own? If literature doesn't interest you, you also need the Bible to make sense of the ideas and rhetoric that have helped drive U.S. history. "The shining city on the hill"? That's Puritan leader John Winthrop quoting Matthew to describe his settlement's convenantal standing with God. In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln noted sadly that both sides in the Civil War "read the same Bible" to bolster their opposing claims. When Martin Luther King Jr. talked of "Justice rolling down like waters" in his "I Have a Dream" speech, he was consciously enlisting the Old Testament prophet Amos, who first spoke those words. The Bible provided the argot--and theological underpinnings--of women's suffrage and prison-reform movements. And then there is today's political rhetoric. For a while, secular liberals complained that when George W. Bush went all biblical, he was speaking in code. Recently, the Democratic Party seems to have come around to the realization that a lot of grass-roots Democrats welcome such use. Without the Bible and a few imposing secular sources, we face a numbing horizontality in our culture--blogs, political announcements, ads. The world is flat, sure. But Scripture is among our few means to make it deep. Doesn't secular teaching about the Bible play into the hands of the religious right and the secular left? YES. BOTH. WHICH MAY SUGGEST THAT EACH is exaggerating its claim. Fundamentalist pastor John Hagee has complained that The Bible and Its Influence, a curriculum Kendrick uses in her class, could "greatly damage" youth too callow to "decipher" what he called its misrepresentations of Scripture. He cited its observation that contrary to Christianity, "other origin stories tell of ... gods who themselves are created." Hagee thundered that this could convince a student that polytheism is as valid as monotheism. But evangelical pundit Chuck Colson favors Bible-literacy courses. "Would I prefer a more explicitly biblical Christian teaching?" he asks. "Of course. But you can't do that in public education. What you can do is introduce the Bible so that people are aware of its impact on people and in history and then let God speak through it as he will." First Amendment sentinels like Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer and the author of Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and the Perils of Piety, fear that given America's overwhelmingly Christian cast, even neutral Bible instruction would amount to preferencing. "If you teach the Bible outside of close conjunction with other religions," she says, "then it becomes a kind of promotion of the majority faith. It becomes too hard for most folks to draw the line between teaching and preaching." Yet the American Jewish Congress's Stern, who has participated in Supreme Court establishment-clause-violation cases, sees Bible class as a plus for anyone following in his footsteps. "Take creationism," he offers. "Unless you are literate in the first two chapters of Genesis, you have no idea what people are fighting about." All such discussion, of course, assumes that the two sides of the culture wars are duking it out over impressionable young minds. Prothero rejects the premise. He says he has never seen a Bible-literacy course change anyone's faith one way or another. "I think the academic study of religion provides a kind of middle space between those two ways of talking. It takes the biblical truth claims seriously and yet brackets them for purposes of classroom discussion," he says. "It works in a way that feels safe to both the believer and the unbeliever in the room." And people are "tired of the culture wars," he insists. "There's a broad middle who want to do something productive." So who are the leaders of this movement? DECADES AFTER THE Schempp DECISION, most school administrators, lawsuit-averse by nature, had eliminated almost any treatment of religion. Then during the evangelical renaissance of the 1990s, a theologically conservative North Carolina group called the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools compiled an outline for Bible courses. The curriculums reached the attention of Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center, based in Arlington, Va., who favored teaching about religion in school but didn't think what he was looking at passed constitutional muster. He composed a document, The Bible and Public Schools: A First Amendment Guide, that accomplished two crucial things: it provided bright-line standards on what the law allowed and collected endorsements from so broad a base of advocates (the American Jewish Committee, the Council on Islamic Education, the National Association of Evangelicals and the liberal watchdog group People for the American Way, to name a few) that even the most nervous school board could find what he calls "safe harbor" for a course teaching about the Bible. Haynes also brought in Chuck Stetson, who wanted to take the next step: a secularly acceptable Bible textbook. Stetson's religious credentials alarm church-state separationists. He is a graduate of Colson's Wilberforce Centurion project, a study group pledged to "restore our culture by effectively thinking, teaching and advocating the Christian world view as applied to all of life." Yet he claims his commitment to his textbook's constitutionality determined its secularity. In late 2005 he unveiled The Bible and Its Influence, which was vetted by 40 religious and legal scholars, including Jews, Protestants and a Roman Catholic bishop. Meant to be read alongside a Bible, the book's 373 oversize pages provide a clearly written--if selective--theme-and-style analysis of key passages in most of the biblical books. Its sidebars--"Cultural Connections," "Historical Connections"--do much of the heavy lifting in transforming a Bible commentary into a textbook. It seems more legally palatable than its competition. The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, which has offered its curriculum since 1993, claims a bigger market (382 schools in 37 states) than the newcomer (85 school districts in 30 states). But its 1999 edition reportedly recommended materials from something called the Creation Evidence Museum; a "question for reflection" in the 2005 version suggested that the logistics of Noah's Ark would have been more manageable if some of the animals were babies or hibernating. In 2002 a Florida district court ruled unconstitutional a course that critics claim was loosely based on its New Testament portion (the Council denies a connection). Its spokespeople claim it is refining itself as it goes and its most recent edition, which came out last month, eliminates much literalist bias--but still devotes 18 lines to the blatantly unscientific notion that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Some secularists are worried about who will teach the literacy classes. Joe Conn and Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State have expressed a concern about how teachers willing to give the Bible secular treatment would be found, particularly in states where vast majorities are evangelical. They note that Stetson's history sections are almost exclusively positive. "A textbook should offer objective study about both the positive and negative uses of the Bible," Conn writes. "Where is the analysis of the role of the Bible in the Inquisition or the Salem witch trials?" They specifically question the tone of a final section, "Freedom and Faith in America," which omits the high court's school-secularization rulings and ends on a truly odd note: a Chinese social scientist attributing the "pre-eminence of the West" to the fact that the "heart of your culture is ... your Christianity." Unlike most of the book, this seems written by Stetson the true believer who took Colson's Centurion program. A modest proposal A BASIC QUESTION: WHY TEACH THE BIBLE and not comparative religion? It may not be necessary to provide Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism with equal time, but it seems misguided to ignore faiths that millions of Americans practice each day; and a glance at the headlines further argues for an omnibus course. Yet could a school demand that its already overloaded kids take one elective if they take the other? Concerns about whether a Bible Belt Christian teacher could in good conscience teach a religiously neutral Bible course also plagued me. Was high school Bible study one of those great ideas that vaporizes when exposed to air? I visited New Braunfels high in early February. Jennifer Kendrick is committed to The Bible and Its Influence, but as a starting point rather than a blueprint. "It gives me ways to approach the topic, and then I put together something else," she says. She's unconvinced of its impartiality. "It will bring up Catholicism and mention Gandhi, but you can tell it's written as if I am a Protestant Christian teaching Protestant Christians." Actually, she is a conservative Protestant. But her students don't know that, and nothing in the class I saw suggested it. Kendrick aces the compulsories--notes John Locke's use of the Beatitudes and Frank Zappa's riffs on "the meek shall inherit the earth," and ponders why various politicians have found it more convenient to attribute the "city on a hill" to Winthrop rather than to Matthew. When a student asks how Jesus could say the meek shall inherit the earth, when Christianity inherited it only after attaining tremendous strength, she suggests, "When he was giving the sermon, people took it not just as a physical award but an emotional or spiritual kind of award. Later on, when they became more powerful, say, in the Crusades or something, they weren't trying to inherit the earth. They were trying to take it over." Explaining why Jesus' famous sermon took place on a mount, she reminds the students that Matthew was writing for Jews, and a mount is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. "So, supposedly," she says, "Jesus is the new covenant, the new law, for the Jewish people." She gives over much of the class to a Socratic symposium on Jesus' simplest yet most difficult sayings, which reveals a lot about the class's earnest attempts to make sense of rather disparate worlds. "'Turn the other cheek'--Does that mean we're supposed to let them hit you on the other cheek too?" she asks. A boy answers, "You should, you know, just take what's coming. It's not like if someone hits you. If someone doesn't give you the right change back, you shouldn't come back looking for a fight." A girl argues that it is more of an ideal than a mandate. "So it's a guideline," asks Kendrick, "and you apply it to the situation and see what fits?" This, in turn, upsets a girl in the third row, who asks, "Does that mean that the Ten Commandments are exceptions?" Kendrick: "That they're literal?" Everyone: "Yes!" Trying to make sense of both this consensus and his possible future, an ROTC cadet notes, "Some people say, 'Thou shalt not kill' is really 'Thou shalt not murder,' and in Ecclesiastes it says, 'There's a time for war and a time for peace.'" I could find little to object to here and much to admire. Here was a conservative teacher going way beyond The Bible and Its Influence, but not in a predictable direction. She name-checked the Crusades, avoided faith declarations and treated the Bible as a living document to be pored over rather than blindly accepted. She even managed to fit in other faiths. Moving on through the Sermon on the Mount, she pulled out another sheaf of papers. "So I'm gonna give these examples of Golden Rules from different cultures. Read 'em and share 'em with the class." They ran from Buddhism to Baha'i. And most did sound a lot alike. Shouted one girl: "The Golden Rule remix!" One successful class teaching the Bible as an academic subject hardly guarantees that it will work every time or everywhere. But Kendrick shows that it can work. "Bad courses will be taught," predicts Prothero, sitting in his B.U. office with the inscription Sans Dieu Rien--Without God, Nothing--carved above the fireplace. (True to his nonsectarian position, he calls its presence "a coincidence. This used to be a private house.") "People will teach it as a Sunday-school class. And we'll do what we always do when unconstitutional stuff happens in America. We'll get a court to tell us what to do, and then we'll fix it." Prothero may be overly sanguine about the workings of the U.S. court system. But even if he's wrong, this shouldn't stop schools from making some effort to teach the Bible. The study doesn't have to be mandatory. In a national school system overscheduled with basic skills, other topics such as history and literature deserve core status more than Scripture--provided that these classes address it themselves, where appropriate. But if an elective is offered, it should be twinned mandatorily with a world religions course, even if that would mean just a semester of each. Within that period students could be expected to read and discuss Genesis, the Gospel of Matthew, a few Moses-on-the-mountain passages and two of Paul's letters. No one should take the course but juniors and seniors. The Bible's harmful as well as helpful uses must be addressed, which could be done by acknowledging that religious conservatives see the problems as stemming from the abuse of the holy text, while others think the text itself may be the culprit. The course should have a strong accompanying textbook on the model of The Bible and Its Influence but one that is willing to deal a bit more bluntly with the historical warts. And some teacher training is a must: at a bare minimum, about their constitutional obligations. And, oh yes, there should be one faith test. Faith in our country. Sure, there will be bumps along the way. But in the end, what is required in teaching about the Bible in our public schools is patriotism: a belief that we live in a nation that understands the wisdom of its Constitution clearly enough to allow the most important book in its history to remain vibrantly accessible for everyone. David Van Biema is TIME's senior religion writer. His first cover story on the topic ran in 1996 http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1601845,00.html FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Letter from a Persecuted German Homeschooler

Parliamentary Report Into SORS Represents Huge Concerns For Christian Freedoms

2nd March 2007 Summary On Wednesday 28 February the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) reported their findings on the Northern Ireland SORs and the proposed England, Wales and Scotland SORs (see link below for their full report). The highly concerning content of the Committee’s report is all the more significant because it will be used by the Government and politicians when finalising the content of (and voting on) the England, Wales and Scotland SORs in the next few weeks. WE URGE EVERY CHRISTIAN TO READ AND FORWARD THIS INFORMATION TO OTHERS SO THAT THE FULL POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS OF THE SEXUAL ORIENTATION REGULATIONS CAN BE UNDERSTOOD (further details on action that can be taken are given below). The importance of what this report reveals and the thrust of the secularist agenda cannot be underestimated. We need to understand this and communicate our concerns as widely as possible. We need to pray for a miracle that the Sexual Orientation Regulations would not become law. The JCHR report says the following: 1. “In our view, the prohibitions on discrimination in the Regulations limit the manifestations of religious beliefs and limitation is justifiable in a democratic society for the protection of the right of gay people not to be discriminated against” (paragraph 44). The Committee could not be clearer in saying that they believe the freedom to live a practising homosexual lifestyle trumps the freedom to live a religious lifestyle. The JCHR not only say that this is the position taken by the SORs, and that it is right that the SORs do so, but also that in their view, it would be unlawful to reverse the position and to allow the right of Christians to manifest their faith to override the right of homosexuals to practise their lifestyle. 2. “Where the manifestation of a belief conflicts with the right of gay people not to be discriminated against in their access to services as important as adoption services, it is in our view necessary and justifiable to limit the right to manifest the belief” (paragraph 52). 3. “In our view the Regulations should clearly apply to the curriculum, so that homosexual pupils are not subjected to teaching, as part of their religious education or other curriculum, that their sexual orientation is sinful or morally wrong”, and “We welcome the Government’s acceptance that [the Regulations] should apply to all schools […] without any exemption for particular types of school such as faith schools” (paragraphs 65 and 67). The Committee are explicit in their view that no Christian schools should have the right to promote marriage over homosexual relationships or hold to a Christian ethos that sex is only right in a heterosexual monogamous marriage. Rather, the JCHR want the Government to go further than their current proposals (the Government have argued the SORs do not apply to the curriculum) so that it would be illegal for a school to suggest in their teaching that extra-marital sexual relationships are morally wrong. 4. “In our view there is an important difference between this factual information [about sexual morality] being imparted in a descriptive way as part of a wide-ranging syllabus about different religions, and a curriculum which teaches a particular religion’s doctrinal beliefs as if they were objectively true. The latter is likely to lead to unjustifiable discrimination” (paragraph 67). This is an astounding statement which, without giving any justification, assumes Christianity cannot be ‘objectively true’ and that it should be illegal, even in a faith school, to teach that Christianity and its principles are ‘objectively true’. The JCHR instead say that it will be sufficient for a school to be able to ‘describe’ that one religion believes X about sexual morality, while another religion believes Y – allowing this sort of description while denying the right to promote a Christian view does not allow a school to have a religious ‘ethos’ (as the law currently allows) in any true sense of the word. The JCHR suggest that it will be illegal for faith schools to teach that the Bible is right in what it says about sexual morality. 5. “During the passage of the Equality Act, the House of Lords removed harassment on the grounds of religion or belief from the Bill […] In our view, however, different considerations apply in relation to sexual orientation, race and sex, because these are inherent characteristics. We therefore welcome the inclusion of harassment […] within the Northern Ireland Regulations and we recommend that it also be included in the forthcoming Regulations for the rest of Great Britain” (paragraph 56). Firstly, the JCHR claim that a person’s sexual orientation is the same as their race or sex as an ‘inherent characteristic’. This is of course a completely unfounded claim with no basis in science: whilst there is indisputable proof that race and sex are genetic, it is obvious that sexual orientation is not comparable in this regard, not least because no-one can change their race or sex whereas many people have felt oriented/tempted to same-sex relationships, as well as having felt oriented to heterosexual relationships. Secondly, the JCHR encourage the Government to go beyond their current proposals by creating a law making harassment on the grounds of sexual orientation illegal, whilst they recommend that there should be no such law making harassment on the grounds of religion or belief illegal. It is perhaps not surprising that the JCHR report promotes homosexual rights to such a degree whilst relegating the right to live out the Christian faith: one of the 11 members of the committee was MP Evan Harris, honorary President of the Lib Dem Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights as well as vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association. The fact is that the report of this Committee will be reported to the Government and other politicians unchallenged in its assertions, unless Christians take the time and effort to stand up and explain the truth that while unjustified discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation must rightly be opposed, for the benefit of society Christians must be free under British law to lovingly and compassionately hold to the clear teaching of the Gospel that God created sexual relationships to be enjoyed only within a monogamous heterosexual marriage. Please contact your local MPs and Peers to make this point, as well as contacting Ruth Kelly and the Department for Women and Equality (see contact details below) to stand up for truth. Use the link below to find lobbying information (such as finding the contact details of your local MP). Link The Joint Committee on Human Rights report into the SORs can be found at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200607/jtselect/jtrights/58/58.pdf A central page with documents on how to lobby MPs and Peers, including advice on finding contact details for MPs and Peers, can be found at http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/HowTo/howto.php Contact details The contact details for Ruth Kelly are: Post: Rt Hon Ruth Kelly MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. Telephone: 0207 944 3013 (Her department number) 0207 2193000 (this is the Parliament switchboard: simply ask for Ruth Kelly MP’s office) 0207944 4400 (this is the Communities and Local Government Department switchboard: ask for Ruth Kelly). House of Lords House of Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights Legislative Scrutiny: Sexual Orientation Regulations Sixth Report of Session 2006–07 Report, together with formal minutes Ordered by The House of Commons to be printed 26 February 2007 - Ordered by The House of Lords to be printed 26 February 2007 Summary In its recent Report on its future working practices the Committee indicated it would undertake more work in future on pre-legislative scrutiny and post-legislative scrutiny, the latter including the implementation of primary legislation through regulations. This is the Committee’s first post-legislative scrutiny Report this Session (paragraph 1). The Government intends to use its power in Part 3 of the Equality Act 2006 to make Regulations prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods, facilities and services, in education and in the exercise of public functions. Its Consultation Paper received over 3,000 responses but the Government has still not published its analysis and summary. In the meantime the Northern Ireland Regulations have raised difficult questions about the human rights implications of prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, particularly in the context of faith-based organisations delivering social and other public services. The purpose of this Report is for the Committee to draw the attention of Parliament to its views on the human rights issues likely to be raised by the sexual orientation Regulations for Great Britain (paragraphs 2-5). In its Consultation Paper, the Government notes that there is clear evidence that lesbian, gay and bisexual people still face unacceptable discrimination and that its broad intention is to provide protection from sexual orientation discrimination in line with the approach taken in other anti-discrimination legislation. The new Regulations would come into effect at the same time as provisions prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. In the Committee’s view the Consultation Paper and the Northern Ireland Sexual Orientation Regulations raise a number of significant human rights issues (paragraphs 6-20). The Committee welcomes the premise of the Consultation Paper and the Northern Ireland Regulations that there is now a firmly established principle that it is not acceptable for someone to be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. The Committee therefore welcomes the Government’s proposal to introduce regulations prohibiting discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation as a significant human rights-enhancing measure (paragraphs 21-30). The Northern Ireland Regulations 17. The exemption for religious organisations is the Government’s response to the large number of responses to its consultation which raised this issue. It permits such organisations to: • restrict membership of the organisation • restrict participation in activities undertaken by the organisation • restrict the provision of goods, facilities and services in the course of activities undertaken by the organisation; or • restrict the use or disposal of premises owned and controlled by the organisation, but only if one of two conditions is satisfied: either it is necessary to comply with the doctrine of the organisation, or so as to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers.25 The exemption does not apply to an organisation whose sole or main purpose is commercial, to bodies concerned with education, or to organisations providing goods, facilities or services, or performing certain functions, on behalf of a public authority under the terms of a contract for provision of that kind. See the full 29 page report (pdf doc) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200607/jtselect/jtrights/58/58.pdf http://www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk/HowTo/howto.php

The Coming War with Islam

A Horde of Judgment Habakkuk 1:2-3 How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, "violence! "Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. 1 John 2:22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. FRONTPAGEMAGAZINE - By Solly Ganor - March 15, 2007 Five years ago, I had a conversation with a young Palestinian student who in short precise terms explained how Islam will defeat the West. The conversation opened my eyes to a much larger picture in which Israel plays only a minor role in the Islamic game of conquest. Since then I tried to speak to some Arabs who come to pray at the Mosque, but they were not as outspoken as the student. Last week, I had another conversation with an Israeli Arab construction boss by the unlikely name of Francis who was in charge of building a villa near our house in Herzelia. He told me that his family was Christian, and his name was given to him in honor of the Franciscan monks. Our conversation was as interesting as the first conversation I had with the Arab student five years ago and I would like to share it with you. Francis frequently parked his car near our house and we would exchange polite greetings. About a week ago, the water was shut off for repairs in the house he was building, and Francis asked me if I could give him some hot water for his coffee. He was a tall man of about forty, with reddish hair and blue eyes. He spoke a perfect Hebrew, and I naturally became curious about him. I felt that he may the right person to exchange some views with. By his looks, I assumed that he was either a Druze or from the Syrian region. He looked more like a teacher than a construction worker and, as I later found out, he was actually a teacher by profession. Since my conversation with the student five years ago, I was always curious to hear their side of the story; therefore, I decided to invite him for a cup of coffee to our house. I saw him hesitate for a moment; then he smiled and thanked me for my hospitality. While we drank our coffee, he told me that he was from a small village in the Galilee called Jish, near the present Kibbutz Sassa. I remembered the village very well as I was one of the soldiers who captured the village while serving in the 7th Armored brigade during the War of Independence in 1948. I decided not to tell him about it because at the time we encountered some stiff resistance at that village and quite a few of the inhabitants were killed. He went on to tell me a little about himself. “For a while I was a teacher and I loved teaching, but I couldn’t make a living at it and I decided to join my father in law who is in the construction business.” Judging by the large Honda he was driving, I figured that he didn’t do too badly changing his profession. Our conversation soon turned to the present situation in the Middle East, about Hamas winning the elections, the situation of the Israeli Arabs, and the last Lebanese war against Hezbollah. “As Christians we are in a difficult situation here in Israel. Unfortunately, the Moslems and especially the extreme Islamist section, are giving the tone here. My family who lived in Bethlehem probably since the Crusaders, had to flee for their life. The Moslems have been forcing us out, by threats and even murder. Bethlehem that was once predominantly Christian is now predominantly Moslem. Very little is written about it even in the Israeli press.” He sipped his coffee and gave me a long look. He seemed like someone who wasn’t quite sure whether to say what he was about to say. I gave him an encouraging nod. “I have to tell you something which very few of you seem to comprehend.” He continued, “Your bungling war against a few thousand Hezbollah fighters which you should have crushed no matter what, considering the importance of the outcome, has created a completely new situation, not only for this area, but globally. Your inept leadership totally misunderstood the importance of winning this war." “As a matter of fact, the whole Moslem world, not only the Arabs, simply couldn’t believe that the mighty Israeli Army that defeated the combined Arab forces in six days in 1967, and almost captured Cairo and Damascus in 1973, couldn’t defeat a small army of Hezbollah men. As usual the Moslems see things the way they want to see things. Most think that the present generation of Israelis have gone soft and can be defeated." “The American bungling of the war in Iraq only added to their conviction that victory not only over Israel but also over the West is not only possible, but certain. The ramifications of these two bungling wars may bring an Islamic bloody Tsunami all over the West, not only in Israel. The sharks smell blood and these two wars gave them the green light to attack sooner than they had in mind. Your problem is that you are on the defensive and they have the option to choose the time and the places when and where to attack and there is nothing much you can do about it. When will you Westerners realize that half measures don’t work with people who are willing to die by the thousands for Allah to achieve their goal? In their eyes the Western World is simply an abomination on earth that has to be wiped out.” He spoke quietly and I could just picture him in the school giving his students a lecture. I poured him another cup of coffee and encouraged him to continue. “The Americans, the Europeans, and even you Israelis really don’t know what it is all about, do you? During the last generation hundreds of thousands of children have been taught all over the Moslem world in Madrass schools to become martyrs for Allah in order to kill the infidels. These youngsters not only are ready to do it, but are actually in the process of doing it. Bombs are going off all over the world killing and maiming thousands of people, not only on 9/11 in the US, in London Madrid and Bali, but in Africa, India, Bengladesh, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many other places. The first signs of the Islamic Tsunami is already here, but the West doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand what is coming." “The Americans, instead of realizing that this is as bad as World War Two, or even worse, are going to pull out of Iraq, handing it over to Iran on a silver platter. Next may come the Saudis and the rest of the Gulf states. When dirty bombs go off all over Western towns, who is going to stop the Iranians?" “Now is the time to stop them, not only because they are developing nuclear bombs, but because Iran has become the base for all Islamic terrorist. They supply, money, men, and weapons to Islamic terrorist around the world, quite often through their diplomatic mail. Billions of petro-dollars that are pouring into Iran are being funneled into terrorist organizations world-wide. They believe, and perhaps rightly so, that the West will do nothing to stop them in achieving their goals. Is history repeating itself? Are the Iranians making the same mistake that Hitler made when he attacked Poland? Is the situation similar?" “As a history teacher who studied the subject thoroughly I can tell you that Western victory in World War Two was not all certain. Hitler could have won the war if he would have gone ahead with the atomic bomb development before the Americans. The Germans began working on it in the thirties, and it was Hitler’s decision to prefer building more conventional arms, as he considered atomic weapons sheer fantasy. Hitler made the wrong decision, but had he made the right decision the world would have been a different type of world today, wouldn’t it? The West won the war against Hitler by sheer chance. Very few people seem to realize that.” I must say that his last words shook me up quite a bit. Had Hitler made a different decision, I would have died in Dachau, there wouldn’t have been a Jewish state called Israel, and most likely there wouldn’t have been any Jews left in the world. The idea that the Western democracies in general and the fate of the Jewish people in particular could have hinged on Hitler’s one decision, is a scenario of the worst nightmare. He notices that his last words had an effect on me, and he smiled. “I see that my words are not wasted on you,” he said dryly. I nodded, and he continued with his lecture. “Coming back to our time, the Iranians rely on the West doing nothing about their development of nuclear bombs. They also rely on their secret weapon: an inexhaustible supply of Islamic suicide bombers, some of them who are already planted all over the Western World. Besides the Islamic countries that supply these suicide bombers, a second front has been opened, and that is the Internet with more than five thousand Islamic web sites, brain washing and urging young Moslems to become martyrs for Allah. They especially target young Moslems who live in Europe and the West in general. The Western intelligence authorities consider these web sites a bigger threat than the Iranian atomic bomb. Al-Qaeda recently issued a television broadcast that promised a devastating attack against its enemies this spring. As we all know, Al-Qaeda doesn’t make empty threats." “Actually, I don’t understand why the Iranians bother to develop atomic bombs and bring the whole world down on them. Every suicide bomber is a potential atomic bomb, or a biological, chemical or dirty bomb that can be no less devastating than an atom bomb. The Americans and Europeans have no defense against this type of war." “What can we do against this type warfare?” I asked him. “Well, you Israelis, should better prepare yourself for another round against Hezbollah. It will not be long in coming. It depends on the Iranians to give the word. This time you will have to destroy Hezbollah no matter what the cost may be." “Of course, your next round against Hezbollah may involve the Syrians and the Iranians against you. The Iranians declared that they will not allow Hezbollah to be defeated no matter what and may launch their missiles against you. So will the Syrians. What will Israel do? It is unlikely that Israel will accept its destruction and may use their nuclear arsenal if the West will not come to their help. Perhaps our book of Revelation is not so wrong in describing that the end of the world would start at Armageddon, which we know as Har-Megiddo in Israel. The book of Revelations describe the last battle would be fought at Armageddon between the “Forces of good and the forces of evil.” “And who would you call the forces of good ‘Israel or Islam?’ I asked looking him straight in the eyes. He gave me a startled look. “If I were a Moslem, I would have no problem to name the forces of good and it wouldn’t be Israel. As a Christian, I would probably name Israel, but as a Christian Arab I would prefer not to answer.” We looked at each other. His answer made it clear where the Israeli Arabs stood, whether they were Moslems or Christians. And why should I be surprised? After all the Israeli Arabs call the establishment of the State of Israel their nakbah (disaster). Is there a way to avoid the “Armageddon”? “I think there are two ways to avoid it. One can be a major war which the West can win. As in World War Two, had the West attacked the Germans in 1936 the war would have lasted not more than a month with very few casualties. Their procrastination resulted in World War II with all its consequences. Eventually, the West will have to tackle the Iranians, it is better that they do it now to avert a world catastrophe later. With Iran defeated the Islamic onslaught will lose its base, and it may be the turning point in history to defeat the menace of extreme Islam. The majority of the Moslems don’t want this confrontation anyway.” “You are painting a rather dark picture. When do you think we will have the next round against Hezbollah?” I asked. “I think they will attack again as soon as they are fully re-equipped and I think it will be during the summer, while Israel is still in a military and political turmoil.” For a while, we sat in silence. He finished his second cup of coffee and got up. “I know what I am going to do. I am going to Canada to join my brother. This country is becoming much too dangerous for Christians as well,” he said. He thanked me for the coffee and we shook hands. “You said there are two ways to avoid Armageddon?” I remembered to ask him. “Sure, all the West has to do is follow Putin’s ways. He assassinates his enemies without blinking an eye. Assassinate the four or five Mullahs who run the show, Ahmadinejad, and a few more Iranian fanatics, and the War can be avoided. It may be difficult to do, but not impossible. With today’s hi- tech technology I am sure that new weapons against individuals are being prepared right now. I think it would be a better way of handling the matter than an all out war against Islam.” The conversation with Francis was not more encouraging than the one I had with the Palestinian student five years ago. It was becoming clear that Israel may be on the forefront for the coming war of the West against Islam, unless we follow Francis’ suggestion to assassinate the heads of the snake, rather than going to war with Islam. Solly Ganor is a survivor of Dachau and the author of Light One Candle. http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27385 FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

For Some Black Pastors, Accepting Gay Members Means Losing Others

Not one stone shall be left upon another Ezekiel 8:15 He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these." 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law. Romans 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,.. NEW YORK TIMES - By Neela Banerjee - March 27, 2007 ATLANTA — When the Rev. Dennis Meredith of Tabernacle Baptist Church here began preaching acceptance of gay men and lesbians a few years ago, he attracted some gay people who were on the brink of suicide and some who had left the Baptist faith of their childhoods but wanted badly to return. At the same time, Tabernacle Baptist, an African-American congregation, lost many of its most loyal, generous parishioners, who could not accept a message that contradicted what they saw as the Bible’s condemnation of same-sex relations. Over the last three years, Tabernacle’s Sunday attendance shrank to 800, from 1,100. The debate about homosexuality that has roiled predominantly white mainline churches for years has gradually seeped into African-American congregations, threatening their unity, finances and, in some cases, their existence. In St. Paul, the Rev. Oliver White, senior minister of Grace Community Church, lost nearly all his 70 congregants after he voted in 2005 to support the blessing of same-sex unions in his denomination, the United Church of Christ. In the Atlanta area, a hub of African-American life, only a few black churches have preached acceptance of gay men and lesbians, Mr. Meredith said. At one of those congregations, Victory Church in Stone Mountain, attendance on Sundays has fallen to 3,000 people, from about 6,000 four or five years ago, said the Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel, the senior pastor. Some black ministers, like their white counterparts, said they had been moved to reconsider biblical passages about same-sex relations by personal events, like finding out that a friend or relative is gay. Some members of the clergy contend that because of the antipathy to gay men and lesbians, black churches have done little to address the high rate of H.I.V. infection among African-Americans. “The church has to come to a point when it has to embrace all the people Jesus embraced, and that means the people in the margins,” Dr. Samuel said. “It really bothered my congregation when I said that as people of color who have been ostracized, marginalized, how can we turn around now and oppress other people?” It is hard to know how many ministers who lead the country’s tens of thousands of African-American congregations are preaching acceptance of gay men and lesbians. Some leading African-American religious thinkers and leaders — like Cornel West, the Rev. Peter J. Gomes and the Rev. Michael Eric Dyson — have called for inclusion of gay men and lesbians. But other leaders are convinced that the Bible condemns homosexuality and that tolerance of gay men and lesbians is a yet another dangerous force buffeting the already fragile black family. “It is one of several factors that are taking away the interest in traditional marriage in the African-American community,” said Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., the president of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, a black conservative Christian group. “I see the growing gay movement in the black community and our culture as almost evangelistic in nature, with what’s on television, with their legal agenda, all those things that have made homosexuality more acceptable.” In the 13 years Mr. Meredith has led Tabernacle Baptist, he has presided over cycles of fraying and mending, this last time because of his preaching “love and acceptance,” he said. When he arrived in 1994, the congregation at Tabernacle had dwindled from several thousand members to about 110. A compelling orator with the voice and showmanship of a stadium-rock star, Mr. Meredith quickly began to draw more new members. He preached against homosexuality. Then, five years ago, his middle son, Micah, told him that he is gay. Mr. Meredith and his wife began to read liberal theologians like Mr. Gomes and to look at Scripture again. What matters most in the Bible, Mr. Meredith said, was Jesus’ injunction to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that includes gay men and lesbians. As he preached greater acceptance of gay people, Mr. Meredith saw the face of his congregation change. About three years ago, many older members, those who had hung on through the church’s waning, and who drove in from the suburbs because they had attended Tabernacle as young people, gradually began to leave. They took with them their generous, loyal tithing. The 90-year-old church had money to cover salaries and utilities but had a hard time paying for properties it had bought nearby. In September, Mr. Meredith held a commitment ceremony in the church for two lesbian couples. More people left after that. As attendance dropped, the church cut back to one service on Sunday, from two. On a recent Sunday, the pews were filled with some older people like the deacons and deaconesses, though the head deacon had left recently after telling Mr. Meredith that he had turned Tabernacle into “a sissy church.” Under banners that read “Kindness,” “Peace” and “Love,” there were young families with babies. And there were transgender people like Stacy Jackson and Nikki Brown. There were also lesbian couples like Angela Hutchins and Stephanie Champion, sitting together in the front rows. Mr. Meredith preached about Moses, about the vision God gave him to do the right thing. He told congregants about holding on to that vision, regardless of who they were. “Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it because of your lifestyle, because of your sexuality, because you don’t have an education, because you’ve done time,” he said. “Because God knew you before you were born, when you were still in your mother’s womb. If God loves everybody, who am I not to love everybody?” “Amen,” people called out. “Preach it; preach it.” Afterward, when the sanctuary was mostly empty, Ruth Jinks, a deaconess who has been at Tabernacle since 1969, sat in a pew, cane by her side, waiting for the church van to take her home. Gay men and lesbians do not make her uncomfortable, Ms. Jinks said. They have always been in black churches, under something of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. But she seems to have tired of Mr. Meredith’s mention of them. She hears from acquaintances that she goes to the “gay church.” “I don’t think you need to be speaking about it from the pulpit all the time,” said Ms. Jinks, who is in her early 80s. “I joined this church; I support this church. I didn’t join a minister. I’m planning on staying here and will not let people run me away.” One of the junior pastors is the Rev. Chris Brown, who grew up in a black Pentecostal church in Montgomery, Ala. “My pastor in Alabama said gays had three rights: to redeem themselves, to repent or to die of AIDS,” said Mr. Brown, 32. He added, “The African-American church thinks AIDS is a gay disease, and that everyone who got it deserved to.” DeMarcus Hill, 32, said he admired Mr. Meredith’s “ability to embrace those people who everyone had rejected.” Mr. Hill once attended and worked at Tabernacle Baptist, and he is still friends with the Meredith family. But after reading the Bible closely, Mr. Hill, who is studying to be ordained as a Baptist minister, said he could not stay at Tabernacle because sex outside heterosexual marriage was not countenanced. Mr. Hill said he agreed with Mr. Meredith that God loves everyone, including gay men and lesbians. “But God corrects you because he loves you,” he said, explaining that for gay Christians, such a correction would probably mean lifelong celibacy or eventually being with someone of the opposite sex. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/27/us/27churches.html?th=&emc=th&pagewanted=all FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

German Judge Cites Koran, Stirring Up Cultural Storm

Judge holds Koran above German law in case of domestic abuse This is like that... Joel 2:3 A fire consumes before them and behind them a flame burns. The land is like the garden of Eden before them but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them. Habakkuk 1:2-3 How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, "violence! "Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. NEW YORK TIMES - By Mark Landler - March 23, 2007 FRANKFURT, March 22 — A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her. In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse. News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put seventh-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of German law in deciding a case of domestic violence. The court in Frankfurt abruptly removed Judge Datz-Winter from the case on Wednesday, saying it could not justify her reasoning. The woman’s lawyer, Barbara Becker-Rojczyk, said she decided to publicize the ruling, which was issued in January, after the court refused her request for a new judge. “It was terrible for my client,” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said. “This man beat her seriously from the beginning of their marriage. After they separated, he called her and threatened to kill her.” Muslim leaders agreed that Muslims living here must be judged by the German legal code. But they were just as offended by what they characterized as the judge’s misinterpretation of a much-debated passage in the Koran. While the verse cited by Judge Datz-Winter does say husbands may beat their wives for being disobedient — an interpretation embraced by fundamentalists— mainstream Muslims have long rejected wife-beating as a medieval relic. “Our prophet never struck a woman, and he is our example,” Ayyub Axel Köhler, the head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said in an interview. While legal experts said the ruling was a judicial misstep rather than evidence of a broader trend, it comes at a time of rising tension in Europe as authorities in many fields struggle to reconcile Western values with growing Muslim minorities. Last fall, for example, a Berlin opera house canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad. Stung by charges that it had surrendered its artistic freedom, the house staged the opera three months later without incident. To some here, the judge’s ruling reflected a similar compromising of basic values. “A judge in Germany has to refer to the constitutional law, which says that human rights are not to be violated,” said Günter Meyer, director of the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz. “It’s not her task to interpret the Koran. It was an attempt at multicultural understanding, but in completely the wrong context.” Reaction to the judge’s decision has been almost as sulfurous as it was to the cancellation of the opera. “When the Koran is put above the German Constitution, I can only say, ‘Good night, Germany,’ ” Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union, said in the mass-market newspaper Bild. The 26-year-old woman in this case was born in Germany to a Moroccan family and married in Morocco in 2001, according to her lawyer, Ms. Becker-Rojczyk. The couple settled in the Frankfurt area and had two children. In May 2006, the police were summoned after a particularly violent incident. At that time, Judge Datz-Winter ordered the husband to move out and stay at least 55 yards away from the couple’s home. In the months that followed, her lawyer said, the man threatened to kill his wife. Terrified, the woman filed for divorce in October and requested that it be granted without the usual year of separation because her husband’s threats and beatings constituted an “unreasonable hardship.” “We worried that he might think he had the right to kill her because she is still his wife,” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said. A lawyer for the husband, Gisela Hammes, did not reply to an e-mail message and a telephone message left at her office in Mainz. In January, the judge turned down the wife’s request for a speedy divorce, saying her husband’s behavior did not constitute unreasonable hardship because they are both Moroccan. “In this cultural background,” she wrote, “it is not unusual that the husband uses physical punishment against the wife.” Ms. Becker-Rojczyk filed a request to remove the judge from the case, contending that she had not been neutral. In a statement defending her ruling, Judge Datz-Winter noted that she had ordered the man to move out and put a restraining order on him. But she also cited the verse in the Koran that speaks of a husband’s prerogatives in disciplining his wife. And she suggested that the wife’s Western lifestyle would give her husband grounds to claim his honor had been compromised. The woman, her lawyer said, does not wear a headscarf. She has been a German citizen for eight years. Judge Datz-Winter declined to comment. But a spokesman for the court, Bernhard Olp, said she did not intend to suggest that violence in a marriage is acceptable or that the Koran supersedes German law. “The ruling is not justifiable, but the judge herself cannot explain it at this moment,” he said. Judge Datz-Winter herself narrowly avoided injury 10 years ago in a case involving a man and woman whose relationship had come apart. When the man shot up her courtroom, the judge escaped by diving under her desk. German papers have suggested that that ordeal may have affected her judgment in this case, which the spokesman denied. A new judge will be assigned, but Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said her client would probably wait until May for her divorce because the paperwork would take until then anyway. For some, the greatest damage done by this episode is to other Muslim women suffering from domestic abuse. Many are already afraid of going to court against their spouses. There have been a string of so-called honor killings here, in which Turkish Muslim men have murdered women. “For Muslim men, this is like putting oil on a fire, that a German judge thinks it is O.K. for them to hit their wives,” said Michaela Sulaika Kaiser, the head of a group that counsels Muslim women. Sarah Plass contributed reporting. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/23/world/europe/23germany.html?_r=1&th=&oref=slogin&emc=th&pagewanted=all FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.