Here in the United States, where Americans are used to hearing their president always invoke Christianity as a way to silence Christians, United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent Easter message was moderately refreshing.
Obama – The Anti-Christian President
Among other things, Cameron made it a point to say “that we should feel proud to say, ‘This is a Christian country.’ Yes, we’re a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none, but we are still a Christian country.”
The context of Cameron’s statement, it should be recalled, is a UK with a large, intolerant, and aggressive Muslim populace—a populace that increasingly seeks to treat the UK’s indigenous Christians the way the Islamic world’s indigenous Christians are habitually treated, that is, subjugated, enslaved, raped, and murdered.
In fact, Cameron touched on the phenomenon of Christian persecution in mostly Muslim lands:
We have a duty to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world too. It is truly shocking that in 2015 there are still Christians being threatened, tortured, even killed because of their faith. From Egypt to Nigeria, Libya to North Korea. Across the Middle East Christians have been hounded out of their homes, forced to flee from village to village; many of them forced to renounce their faith or brutally murdered. To all those brave Christians in Iraq and Syria who practice their faith or shelter others, we will say, “We stand with you.”
While one may argue that Cameron is all talk (you can say that again) —after all, the UK’s foreign policies, like America’s, have only exacerbated the plight of Christians in the Middle East—it is still refreshing to hear such honest talk, since here in the U.S., one seldom get even that from President Obama.
This is in keeping with his earlierstatements calling on Americans in general Christians in particular to be nonjudgmental and instead to have “humility” and “doubt” themselves. For example, during the National Prayer Breakfast last February, after Obama alluded to the atrocities committed by the Islamic State—which include beheadings, crucifixions, rape, slavery, and immolations—he said:
I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe. And, first, we should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt—not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.
Humility, of course, is a well-recognized Christian virtue. It is the exact opposite of pride; a modest if not humble opinion of oneself, one’s shortcomings. But what does that—exercising humility—have to do with our understanding of Islamic violence and terrorism, which was, after all, the topic Obama was discussing immediately before he began pontificating about humility? Are we not to judge and condemn Islamic violence—since we’re apparently no better, as the president made clear when he told Christians to get off their “high horse” and remember the Crusades and Inquisition?
Furthermore, while Christian humility encourages self-doubt, it does not encourage doubt concerning right and wrong, good and evil. The same Christ who advocated humility repeatedly condemned evil behavior, called on people to repent of their sins, and hurled tables in righteous anger.
The point here is that, whenever Obama invokes Christianity and Christian virtues, it is almost always in the context of trying to silence Christians: telling them to “love” more—that is, to never judge or condemn anything, and instead be doormats ever “turning the other cheek”; telling them to remember the historic “crimes” of other Christians—even if they are a thousand years old and no crimes at all—that is, telling Christians not to criticize Islam because they too live in glass houses.
This is what I have to say to that. Tell it like it is! Scream it from the mountain tops. Let the truth be heard!
This is the “liberal Christianity” which Obama and others hail, because its chief purpose is to silence Christians from condemning and combatting what are otherwise clear evils. Christians are being persecuted by Muslims all around the world? That’s okay, seems to be Obama’s response; just turn the other cheek—have some more “humility” and “doubt,” show their Muslim persecutors some more “love”—and everything will be set aright.
Now is a good time to take a step back. As Americans approach Passover and Easter, it’s worth remembering why religious liberty matters in the first place. For that, we can turn to our Founding Fathers. After all, they were the ones who established a political society unlike any other in all of human history—meant to not merely “tolerate” the religious practice of minorities, but to protect the natural right of all Americans to liberty of conscience and the free exercise of religion.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
One of the hallmarks of conscience and religious liberty protections is that they protect people of all faiths, even if their beliefs seem unfounded, flawed, implausible or downright silly.
Recognition of a right to religious freedom does not, however, depend on religious skepticism or relativism. Rather, it rests on the intelligible value of the religious quest—the activities of seeking to understand the truth about ultimate questions and then conforming one’s life accordingly, with authenticity and integrity.
People have rights—including the right to pursue religious truth and, within the limits of justice and the common good, to act on their judgments of what truth demands. That’s what Religious Freedom Restoration Acts do. They prohibit the government from placing substantial burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and do so through the least restrictive means.
All people possess these fundamental rights, even when they are, in some respects, in error. Kevin Seamus Hasson, the founder of the Becket Fund, captured this in the title of his book “The Right to Be Wrong.” Hasson rightly argues that religious liberty is for A to Z, Anglicans to Zoroastrians.
This basic view of religious liberty has found a place in our civil law. James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance” puts the point well: “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.” Madison argued that it is an “arrogant pretension” to believe that “the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth.”
The right to religious liberty has its primary force precisely because of a priorduty to pursue the good of religion by seeking out the truth about God and the cosmos. As Madison explained:
What is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.
The government protects the space for citizens to fulfill this duty according to their own best judgments. Stanford law professor Michael McConnell makes just this point in an essay for the Yale Law Journal:
In the liberal tradition, the government’s role is not to make theological judgments but to protect the right of the people to pursue their own understanding of the truth, within the limits of the common good. That is the difference between “the full and free exercise of religion” (Madison’s formulation) and mere “toleration.” Toleration presupposes a “dominant group” with a particular opinion about religion (that it is “false,” or at least “unwarranted”), who decide not to “eradicate” beliefs they regard as “wrong, mistaken, or undesirable.”
The Founders got it right. Religious liberty isn’t about mere “toleration” from a dominant group that graciously opts not to coerce others. No, it’s a natural right, which all must respect within the context of justice and the common good—compelling state interests pursued in least restrictive ways. Indiana’sReligious Freedom Restoration Act would protect just that.
** See the video below to better understand why what Mike Pence did in Indiana has essentially weakened the religious freedom of Indiana citizens by weakening the very protection that the law was designed to insure. Great job Mr Pence!
Governor Mike Pence of Indiana seems to have caved into enormous pressure and will ask the state legislature for new legislation to make it clear that Christian florists and bakers could be forced to participate in weddings that violate their religious beliefs.
Mike Pence – Governor of Indiana and spineless to boot….
Last week, Indiana joined 19 other states and the federal government by enacting a law to protect religious believers from governmental encroachment on religious freedom. Such legislation was cited in the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision that determined religious employers could not be forced to supply abortion drugs to employees under ObamaCare.
In a packed press conference this morning, Pence did not give specifics about what the new legislation would say, only that he wants it to make clear that “Indiana businesses will not be able to discriminate against anyone for any reason.” He said the religion freedom bill he signed was never considered by him or the bill’s sponsors to allow a “license to discriminate.”
Such legislation has been read as supporting businesses and individuals not just to avoid supplying abortion drugs, but also allowing certain businesses to avoid serving gay weddings, usually bakers and photographers some who are now being run out of business for refusing to serve what they see as a religious ceremony that violates their own deeply held beliefs.
Pence and the state of Indiana absorbed a tsunami of protest from the main stream media, major corporations, athletes, movie stars and gay leaders after enacting the bill.
Religious freedom laws allow business and individuals to argue in court that the government is intruding upon “deeply held religious beliefs” and that they are “substantially burdened.” The government must show a “compelling goal” that cannot be met in any other way.
Advocates are calling for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as a new protected class in Indiana state law, something that is recognized in some Indiana municipalities. Pence says he does not advocate such special protections. Though Indiana does not have such broad protections of LGBTs, there are no reports of widespread discrimination against them.
Gay Mafia Nazis
Pence cited his youthful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama with Martin Luther King as he said discrimination of any kind is abhorrent to him. “Hoosiers are a loving, kind, generous and tolerant people. We are known all over the world for that. And the idea that we would discriminate in any way is deeply offensive.”
Social conservatives, a base Pence would need if he tries to make it through the GOP primaries, were immediately upset.
Columnist Robert Knight tells Breitbart News, “Mr. Pence would do well to find out what Scott Walker had for breakfast when he faced down union mobs, the media and the ruling elites.”
Ohio activist Phil Burress adds, “What good is a religious freedom law if it does not protect religious freedom?”
One noted social conservative leader who spoke on condition of anonymity told Breitbart News,
Pence is being forced publicly to accept the false premise of the bullies on the other side — that his bill was a license to discriminate against LGBTs. Pence is being forced to change the law to put a thumb on the scale — to change a neutral balancing test so that the gay rights lobby always gets to win.
WMAL radio host Chris Plante pointed out today that Christians are easy targets for the LGBT lobby and the left and wondered if they would be willing to force “a Muslim baker to provide a sheet cake with the image of Muhammad on it.”
In spite of what Barack Obama would have us believe, he was as much in tune to Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress this week as was anyone and everyone else in the world.
Christian persecution by Muslims is evident in this map showing incidents of persecution around the world.
Butexclusive focus on American/Israeli and Israeli/Islamic relations threatens to blind us to the fierce, unrelenting oppression with which Christians throughout the world are routinely forced to reckon courtesy of their Islamic neighbors.
Throughout the Islamosphere in Africa and the Middle East, men, women, andchildren have been subjected en masse to unspeakable acts of cruelty. Jihadists, while pillaging and burning homes and churches, have laid waste to whole communities. Families have been destroyed as husbands and fathers were bludgeoned, beheaded, and burned to death; wives and mothers raped, beaten, and starved; young boys forced to convert to Islam and take up arms on behalf of their captors; and young girls enslaved and sold off to become either wives to grown men or human missiles—i.e. suicide bombers.
Muslim persecution of Christians is particularly evident in the Sudan.
Meanwhile, stateside, the historical and theological illiterates of the left—exemplified by none other than our 44th President—spout as a matter of course vacuities designed to imply moral parity between Islam and other religions. Worse, the American left reserves not a fraction of the condemnation for Islam, or even ISIS, that it regularly unleashes on Christianity.
But there is no moral parity here.
And it is profoundly offensive for anyone, least of all self-avowed Christian leaders, to suggest otherwise.
Muslim persecution of Christians is as old as the Qu’ran.
People like none other than the titular head of my church, Pope Francis, sought an explanation for the mass murderers that attacked Charlie Hebdo that came dangerously close to sounding like a justification. To be clear, the Pope doubtless abhorred this ghastly deed as much as anyone. But he expressed an understanding of these Islamic killers that he never would have dreamt of extending to Christians whose sins were far less grave.
That there is a glaring contrast between Christianity and Islam is gotten quickly enough when we consider just how the legions of Christian victims of Islamic persecution have responded to their tormentors.
In Niger, where ISIS incinerated 45 churches, the Christians who survived the rampages (which left at least 10 dead and roughly another 170 people critically injured) still managed to gather to worship together. According to The Voice of the Martyrs, a teenager remarked: “I guess God found us worthy.”
Open Doors reports that following the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christian by ISIS, churches in Egypt “united” to pray for the murderers. This organization dedicated to serving persecuted Christians shares a letter penned by an Egyptian “Christian leader” whose name remains anonymous. “The sound of prayers requesting mercy and life, not revenge and destruction, calling on God’s name to come and change the hearts of the killers, is loudly heard across Egypt.”
The letter relays that the “heartbroken wives, mothers, fathers and children of the martyrs,” while interviewed on national and other television shows, offered “simple expressions of love and forgiveness” that “brought down so many tears on air and surely delivered a mind blowing message about what the Christian faith is all about.” Pastors of Egyptian churches are “calling their congregations to wake up and pray for the persecutors of the church to come to meet with the Savior” so that “God will remove their stone hearts…and give them hearts of flesh and blood, capable of loving.”
Organizations like Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs ask Christians around the world not to take up arms and avenge their subjugated brethren, but, rather, to pray for them.
The Christian News Wire reports that Christian Freedom International asked three Christians from three different Muslim-majority countries about their thoughts on Obama’s National Prayer Breakfast remarks. Their responses are telling.
What else needs to be said?
A Pakistani Christian replied: “I strongly condemn this statement by US President Obama… Christianity has always preached to love our neighbor.” The person added: “I know of no Christian extremist groups attacking people of other faiths.”
An Egyptian Christian said that he or she—the lives of these believers depend upon their anonymity—disagreed with Obama. “Coptic Christians in Egypt are very much pacifists and considered the most vulnerable minority [.]” Thus, “we cannot persecute people of other faiths. We Christians do not persecute Muslims. But we Christians are persecuted.”
A Muslim convert to Christianity living in Bangladesh had some particularly revealing things to say.
“But, the basic difference [between Christians and Muslims] is that Muslims today are being influenced and taught by their religious books to persecute the people of other beliefs.” In contrast, you can’t find “a single word in the New Testament that influences Christians to persecute others. The New Testament teaches [about] loving others.”
This convert from Islam mentions that while Christianity has produced numerous people, like Mother Teresa, who have made enormous sacrifices to serve others, “there is not a single example in the Muslim World of a Mother Teresa.” Instead, “Muslims have examples like Osama bin Laden.”
This person doesn’t stop here though. He or she identifies as the inspiration for Obama’s comments an Indian Muslim scholar by the name of Dr. Zakir Nayak. The latter, according to this irate Christian, “defends al Qaida activities by saying, ‘Christians and Jews did terrible things in the past.” Obama, he thinks, was exposed to Nayak while in India. At any rate, this interviewee poses a “challenge” to Obama to “find a single word in the New Testament that influences people to persecute others, where there are thousands [of such words] in the Muslim book, Quran.”
If Islamic militants can be said to pose an “existential threat” to anyone today, it is to those Christians living in Islamic lands.
Only don’t expect for Obama or John Kerry to ever bring this up.
There you go. I just summed up the message that millions of Christians will be hearing at the megachurches of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and many others this weekend. If you were planning to go, now there’s no need. You’re welcome. In fact, if you’re driving there and you see a “Don’t worry, be happy” bumper sticker on the back of someone’s minivan, you might as well turn around and head home. That’s about all you were going to hear when you got there anyway.
Sure, they might come up with more compelling ways to communicate it, but in the end, when you dig past the charisma and the personality of the pastors who utter this gibberish, this is all you’re really left with.
An episode of Barney.
Syrup and sugar.
A smile and a pat on the head.
A self-help speech.
Rob Bell – Ex-Pastor and apostate
Speaking of which, Rob Bell made the news a few days ago.
I should back up a moment. In case you’re fortunate enough to have no prior knowledge of Mr. Bell, I’ll give you the basics: he was a famous megachurch pastor who invented his own feel-good teachings out of whole cloth and published them in best selling books (to his credit, at least he didn’t spend $200,000 unethically inflating his sales figures, like certain other former mega church pastors).
Notoriously, Bell claimed in “Love Wins” that Hell only really exists as a state of mind. I know that kind of sounds like a stoned teenager musing theologically in between bong hits – “see, bro, the thing about Hell is, you know it’s like a state of mind, man, you know?” — but in fact this was coming from one of the most prominent religious leaders in the country (I’m not sure if bong hits were involved in the writing of the book, but I wouldn’t be surprised).
The celebrity pastor eventually resigned from his “ministry.” He didn’t say it out loud, but it’s appearing rather obvious that he left in large part because he simply doesn’t believe in the Bible. I’m not sure how else you can interpret these comments:
I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone.
According to Bell — former pastor and a man who still sells himself as a Christian leader of sorts — the Word of God is “irrelevant” and shouldn’t be considered our “best defense” due to the fact that it’s “2,000 years old.” And why is God’s Law irrelevant? Because our co-workers and neighbors might be gay, that’s why.
And why is God’s Law irrelevant? Because our co-workers and neighbors might be gay, that’s why.
We should calibrate the ancient and eternal teachings of the Church according to the emotional sensibilities of our friends and acquaintances. This isn’t just heresy, it’s outright anti-Christian propaganda. It’s the kind of rhetoric you expect to find on the Facebook profile of an angry 16-year-old atheist, not out of the mouth of a man who recently led a flock of thousands.
I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and a woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. And I think the ship has sailed. This is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.
The ship has sailed on Biblical marriage because some of the people in contemporary western culture find the concept offensive. In Bell’s world, the teachings of Christ are soluble and negotiable. The Lord is like a spineless and inconsistent parent who makes rules and retracts them whenever his spoiled brat kids stomp their feet and cry about it. That is Rob Bell’s god.
Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that Rob Bell is Rob Bell’s god.
Indeed, something even more disturbing was lost in the outrage over his gay marriage comments. He was talking about marriage in the first place because he and his wife are shilling a marriage book they wrote, called “The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage.” Yes, the zimzum of love. Oh, believe me, it’s as bad as it sounds. From the Amazon description:
In marriage, zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners, in which each person contracts to allow the other to flourish. Mastering this field, this give and take of energy, is the secret to what makes marriage flourish.
I hope you’ve learned something. The key to a successful marriage isn’t faith, love, trust, or commitment — it’s “mastering the dynamic energy field.” Coincidentally, that’s also the key to beating the bad guy at the end of “Star Trek.”
We should all take a moment to reflect on what we’re witnessing here. This is a man who used to preach to thousands of congregants, and now he’s on Oprah attacking the Bible and babbling about the zimzum energy field. He has descended past mere Osteen-ish apostasy and into a state bordering on egotistical madness. He is formulating his very own religion, and it sounds like some kind of Buddhist-Scientology hybrid. This, again, from a man who very recently shepherded a flock of 11,000 Christians.
Look closely at this situation, because I don’t think you can find a better illustration of how mega church pastors tend to become something closer to cult leaders than clergy. Yes, there are the sex scandals you often find these televangelists embroiled in, and the financial scandals that you hear about even more frequently, but these, as bad as they are, don’t really demonstrate the danger of the mega church cult.
The real fatal hazard is that their congregants go to hear them, not the Word. They are the stars. They are the main attraction. They are the Church. And after a while, they are voice of God Himself. There is no authority over them. No balance. They are the be all and end all, and that is a perilous dynamic.
Just look at Joyce Meyer. Elevated to celebrity status and adored like an Old Testament prophet, she became so intoxicated by her own hype that she started to fabricate her own radical self-serving theology, declaring at one point that she is not a sinner.
This is how it works. They drop a bombshell heresy like “I’m not a sinner,” and
Joyce Meyer – SINLESS!
then quickly bury it in mounds of motivational sound bites and slogans. After a while, when all you can see at first glance are the charming self-help morsels, you start to think these people are harmless. “She can’t be a heretic,” you think. “I read her book ‘Look Great, Feel Great: 12 Keys to Enjoying a Healthy Life Now’ and it helped me lose 50 pounds! Would a heretic be able to dispense such quality nutritional advice?”
It’s a sad state of affairs. Read the sermons of the early Church fathers, like John Chrysostom. They wrote and spoke with the spiritual passion, seriousness, and humility of men who knew they were fighting for souls and battling against the Devil himself. Now these televangelists speak and write with the marketing strategies of con artists who know they’re fighting for a spot on the New York Times Bestseller List and battling against, as Meyers puts it, the low self-esteem epidemic.
Now, I’m a capitalist. I don’t begrudge anyone their wealth. But it’s not hard to see why preaching the Word shouldn’t necessarily be an exorbitantly lucrative proposition. It’s certainly difficult to reconcile a pastor’s mansion, his fleet of luxury vehicles, and his private jet with Christ’s instruction to His apostles to leave all of their earthly possessions behind and follow Him.
“Leave it all behind — except for the 18 bedroom house, the offshore bank accounts, and, OK, you can keep seven cars and, alright, maybe ONE private jet. But JUST one!” — Jesus, apparently.
But the money, the fame, the cult-like environment, and the celebrity status are seriously troubling not merely because they defy Scripture and establish an enormous socioeconomic divide between the pastor and his flock, but because they must all be maintained through mass appeal.
Of course, ultimately, Christianity has an inherent ”mass appeal,” in the sense that it is the Truth and all human beings viscerally desire the truth. Yet Christianity, because it is true, is also something specific, solid, and irreducible. Our job is to bring people to the Faith That Is by changing their hearts and speaking to their souls. The Osteens and Meyers of the world would rather bring people to a Faith That Isn’t But Sort of Sounds a Little Like the Real Thing, because it’s easier to get bodies in the seats, books on the shelves, and interviews with the Oprah.
Joel Osteen – Dr Feelgood….
Admittedly, this is a problem that infects all strands of Christianity. When churches get together to try and figure out how they can fill their empty pews, inevitably many of them decide that the key is to be moderate, watered down, and “contemporary.” So they bring in the acoustic guitars and drum kits, create a more casual environment, and the pastor gets up and rattles off a bunch of sanitized platitudes, studiously avoiding any mention of scary words like “sin” or “morality.”
For regular churches, this tactic is usually an utter failure, but for mega churches it pays dividends. They have mastered the secular Christian experience. They have cornered the market on modernized motivational Christianity. I remember they built a mega church a couple of miles from me back when I lived in Kentucky. For months, my wife and I drove by trying to figure out what it was. A shopping mall? A prison complex? A modern art museum? It was a perplexing structure, without any indication anywhere on the exterior of the building that anything remotely religious might be happening inside.
Eventually, our curiosity got the best of us and we went in to investigate. The thing is, even when I was inside, it took me five minutes to figure out that it was a church. All traces of anything sacred, ancient, traditional, or reverent had been stripped away. What was left was something that plenty of people clearly found appealing, but it didn’t look Christian, or sound Christian, or feel Christian. It didn’t go to any great lengths to identify itself as a church, and that’s all for the best, I suppose. After all, there was nothing about it — aesthetically or substantively — that resembled one.
But it didn’t look Christian, or sound Christian, or feel Christian.
So these places can draw crowds by going all in, fully secularized and modernized. But to what end? What is gained? I might come away feeling happy or even motivated, but have I been given the full Truth of salvation? Do I feel called to walk as a soldier for Christ? Do I feel challenged to reject sin and choose what is right? Have I been equipped with the tools to be a disciple of the Faith? Have I been shown God in His glory? Have I been forced to face myself in my sin? Have I received anything real? Have I been in communion with Him — or just with the motivational speaker on stage?
We all want to feel good. But when feeling good becomes the entire point of our faith, we have lost our faith completely.
We create the Rob Bells by flocking to anyone with an inspirational message, a stage, and a fancy state-of-the-art auditorium. We should demand more than that from our church.
Not all those who claim to be Christians really are, said Pope Francis Friday morning. Some are Christians “in name only,” he said. “They bear the name of Christians but live a life of pagans.”
Pope Francis glaring…
In his homily at Mass, the Pope (said) that there have always been two types of Christian, those who truly followed Christ and those who only pretended to. At the time of Saint Paul, there were “worldly Christians, Christians in name only, with two or three Christian features, but nothing more.” The Pope called this sort of people “Pagan Christians,” whom St. Paul called “enemies of the cross of Christ.”
In Paul’s time, the Pope said, the two groups of Christians “were in church together, went to Mass on Sunday, praised the Lord, and were called Christians.” So what was the difference? He asked. The second were “enemies of the cross of Christ.”
The Pope went on to say that “even today there are many! We must be careful not to slip into the way of pagan Christians.” These are the ones, he said, who are “pagans painted over with two brush strokes of Christianity, so they look like Christians, but are really pagans.”
According to Francis, we all run the risk of becoming “Christians in appearance.” We are tempted, he said, to mediocrity, and when Christians become mediocre, “it is their ruin, because the heart cools and they become lukewarm.” Francis reminded his hearers that Jesus used strong language to describe this sort of Christians: “Because you are lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” These, the Pope said, “are enemies of the cross of Christ. They take the name of Christian, but do not follow the requirements of the Christian life.”
Pope Francis wants you to “be kind” to lost people, and to not try to convert them to save them from Hell. What about the “great commission”?
The Pope suggested that there are questions we can ask ourselves to know what sort of Christians we are. He said that all of us—the Pope included—need to ask ourselves: “How much worldliness is in me? How much paganism?”
Even more specifically, the Pope asked: “Do I like to brag? Do I like money? Do I like my pride, my arrogance? Where are my roots, and where is my citizenship? In heaven or on earth?”
“If you love money and are attached to it, if you love vanity and pride, you are headed down a bad road,” he said. If, instead, he continued, “you try to love God and serve others, if you are gentle, if you are humble, if you are the servant of others, you are on the right path. Your citizenship is in heaven.”
Over at Dana Loesch’s Dana Show site, I respond to the appalling piece by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, “Muslims Are Right to Be Angry.” Does Bill Donohue think thatJewish bakeries are also an intolerable insult and must be suppressed?
“It is too bad,” says Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, that Charlie Hebdo publisher Stephane Charbonnier “didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death.” In other words, as Donohue argues in an extraordinarily irresponsible article, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists who were murdered by Islamic jihadists yesterday have no one but themselves to blame – and to avoid such incidents in the future, non-Muslims should be careful not to offend Islam.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League
Donohue bases these grotesque assertions on what he characterizes as Charbonnier’s “narcissistic” statement that “Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.” Charbonnier, says Donohue, should have known better: “Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him.”
That, for Donohue, is the heart of the matter. “What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo,” Donohue asserts, “is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them.”
But what if someone does insult Muhammad? Should he be killed? Islamic law mandates death for blasphemy, as the British jihadist Anjem Choudary explained in Wednesday’s USA Today: “The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implementable by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, ‘Whoever insults a Prophet kill him.’”
Donohue doesn’t go that far. He assures us that “killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated.” The only remaining option, then, is for non-Muslims to stop insulting Muhammad: “Madison was right when he said, ‘Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as the abuses of power.’”
Stephane Charbonnier Editor of Charles Hebdo
Liberty may also be endangered by the voluntary abandonment of liberty, and that is what Donohue is calling for. The Sharia death penalty for blasphemy is the heckler’s veto enforced with a Kalashnikov. It encompasses not just the deliberate mockery of Charlie Hebdo, but also far more innocuous and even unintentional insults. The Qur’an says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (that is, essentially all Christians) are under Allah’s curse (9:30); thus to express this basic aspect of the Christian faith is arguably blasphemy by Islamic standards. And indeed, Christians in Muslim lands have more than once been victimized and brutalized simply for affirming this and other elements of the Christian faith.
A Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, is on death row now for the crime of responding to Muslim women who were insulting her and Christianity by saying: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”
For that, she is going to die. Bill Donohue disagrees with her being put to death, but he wants non-Muslims to respond to Muslim claims that they’re insulted by curtailing their own speech. Thus he would have Asia Bibi and other threatened Christians in Pakistan not make the slightest, most innocuous expression of their faith. He might argue that there is a world of difference between Asia Bibi and Stephane Charbonnier, and that is no doubt true, but where and how does one draw the line? How does Bill Donohue propose to distinguish between intentional and non-intentional insults?
Would he would leave this task up to Muslims? Groups like the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), recently designated a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates, have cultivated the politics of insult, and regard as insults to Islam and Muslims virtually every counter-terror measure that has ever been enacted or even just proposed, and every honest examination of how Islamic jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism. They have skillfully wielded the claim of being insulted to shut down the NYPD’s legal and effective surveillance program in Muslim communities, and to foreclose on honest public discussion of the jihad threat by getting speakers canceled and making people afraid to explore these issues for fear of charges of “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”
Charbonnier defiant after the firebombing
To rule Charlie Hebdo’s mockery of Islam (and other religions) out of the realm of acceptable discourse is unavoidably also to rule out any criticism of Islam, jihad, and Sharia oppression at all. The Leftists and Islamic supremacists who for years have consigned all examination of the motives and goals of jihadis to “bigotry” have made it so. Bill Donohue, by calling upon non-Muslims to avoid insulting Muslims, has strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel. If his advice were heeded (and Western media outlets are already hastening to do the jihadis’ bidding by declining to show the Charlie Hebdo Muhammad cartoons), not only would Charlie Hebdo be stopped, but also legitimate counter-terror investigations and expressions of Donohue’s own faith.
Muslim dog s**t killers of twelve innocent people at Charles Hebdo – the Kouachi brothers
As annoying as its manifestations may be, the freedom of speech is the fundamental bulwark of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can work his will unopposed and unimpeded. And in a society in which people of good will differ about what is the ultimate good, the ability to put up with insults patiently and without resorting to violence or threats is key to the peace and stability of the society. Donohue shows that he knows this when he says: “Anti-Catholic artists in this country have provoked me to hold many demonstrations, but never have I counseled violence.” Instead of preaching to non-Muslims a self-censorship that would only enable Sharia oppression and tyranny, he should try to spread among Muslims the idea that one need not, and indeed should not, respond to provocations with violence.
NBC Nightly News offered two stories on Christmas in their December 25 newscast, including a show-ender about “what Christmas means to me.”
The True Meaning of Christmas
Substitute anchor Tamron Hall offered this introduction: “Finally, on this special night, a question: What does Christmas mean to you? Maybe it’s the presents, the lights, the music, or getting together with family. We put the question to people around the country and discovered once against that Christmas means something a little different to everyone.” Somehow, this perfectly pleasant three-minute segment included lot of talk about family time and presents, and even someone saying “Happy Hanukkah,” but included no one uttering the name “Jesus.” No one defined Christmas as about Christ, NBC? (Earlier, Ron Mott did find time for a corporate plug: “Christmas, of course, is a holiday for gathering, and that’s exactly what thousands upon thousands of people are doing around our iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza.”)
The exclusion is not that surprising, since the NBC evening newscast only used the name twice in the entire last month. Somehow, the networks find Jesus talk extremely grating and sectarian to non-believers and Americans of other religions. There was a brief mention on Saturday, December 5 from anchor Lester Holt:
LESTER HOLT: There was a Christmas celebration today in the place it all began, Palestinians and pilgrims gathered to light a Christmas tree in Bethlehem, the town that`s believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The lighting was held outside the Church of the Nativity and followed by a fireworks display over Manger Square.
On December 22, the name was used as “incidental sound” in a Cynthia McFadden story on healing and faith:
FATHER JOHN MURRAY: Jesus Christ.
CYNTHIA McFADDEN: It`s not shocking that a Catholic priest believes in the power of prayer, but it is a bit of a surprise that Father John Murray says he can prove it. Do you think you’re a miracle?
FR. MURRAY: Yes, oh, without a doubt.
McFADDEN: Four years ago Father Murray broke his neck in a fall.
FR. MURRAY: I was paralyzed from my chest down.
McFADDEN: Doctors told him he’d never walk again.
FR. MURRAY: “You should expect no voluntary movement,” that’s a quote.
McFADDEN: But his doctors were wrong.
CBS Evening News worked in just one J-word — on Christmas Eve from substitute anchor Jim Axelrod: “Tonight, a more solemn gathering as mass is celebrated at the Church of the Nativity, built on what’s believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ.”
Leftist Mary Zeiss Stange says that Christian extremists are “More Threatening Than Islamist Jihadists”
Yet in the eyes of delusional liberals like USA Today contributor Mary Zeiss Stange, the real threat to both the world and our nation stems from “Christian extremists.”
Mary Zeiss Stange bases this horrendous assertion on a federal study by the Obama-operated National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. This study apparently reveals that government haters, “militia/patriots, racist skinheads and neo-Nazis” present a more “potent U.S. terrorist threat” than the same sorts of Islamist jihadists who keep killing people left and right:
Contrary to the popular opinion that radical Islam is the primary threat to homeland security, Christianity provides the other four groups with their extremist rationale. All are in one way or another affiliated with the Christian Identity movement, a hodgepodge of anarchist and white supremacist politics dedicated to white Christian activism. It’s all about God vs. government, and shoring up the rights of Anglo-Saxon Americans.
HAH! Keep in mind that the agency that pieced together this study works for the Department of Homeland Security and thus for the same government that still refuses to label the 2009 Fort Hood shooting as anything more than an act of “workplace violence” . . .
Regardless, Mary Zeiss Stange does admittedly include some fair and equitable examples to back up her assertion, namely Jerad Miller, Wade Michael Page, Eric Rudolph and of course Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. However, to draw an equivalency between the actions of a few random nutjobs and the widespread movement by Islamist jihadists for world domination and terror is simply INSANE! Sorry, Miss Stange, but there is no equivalency whatsoever between the actions of so-called “Christian extremists” and the actions of Islamic jihadists.
While it is true that some domestic mass murderers and killers were indeed Christian, there is no evidence to suggest that their attacks were based solely on their Christian faith. The actions of Islamic jihadists, on the other hand, can always be traced back to the Quran.
A jihadist generally sets out to commit murder — sometimes mass murder, often of complete innocents. Many of the offenses committed by Christian extremists, though annoying and outrageous, are nonviolent and relate to filing false liens and the like.
A jihadist believes he (or she) is carrying out Allah’s will. It is far from clear that this is the case in the few instances where Christian extremists have committed murder.
A jihadist often gets his (or her) inspiration as a result of participating in Islamic services at a publicly recognized mosque and fraternizing with its members. The roster of Christian churches advocating a murderous crusade against non-Christians is somewhere between zero and almost zero.
Bingo! But the real kicker is how Stange brings up the Cliven Bundy incident to prop up her fallacious argument:
The Bundy standoff — initially presented as prairie populism by popular media well beyond Fox News — reflects violent currents far deeper and older in American, and Christian, history.
It needs to be seen for what it is — religious extremism taken to potentially lethal ends. To the extent that we as a society fail to grapple with the religious element in extremist violence, the blood is on all of our hands.
Are you serious? Not once during the Bundy standoff was there an act of violence. Everything resolved itself peacefully. This cannot be said regarding the actions of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, Ali Muhammad Brown and Alton Nolen. But whatever. Believe what you want. Just remember that denial ain’t just a river in Egypt . . .
The cover photo shows a black ISIS flag flying over the Vatican. The booklet describes the terrorist army’s desires to conquer Rome and “break the cross,” according to Arutz Sheva, an independent Israeli news network.
Cover page (top half) of ISIS magazine Dabiq in which they declare Christians their number one enemy and boast of the return of slavery as heralded by the Qu’ran.
According to some Islamic traditions, the Islamic prophet Muhammad predicted that the occupation of Istanbul, Jerusalem and Rome would pave the way for the Islamic messiah or mahdi.
The declaration surfaces amid growing concern over the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East. ISIS has executed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Christians throughout Iraq and forced many to flee the country. Up to 100,000 Christians remain in the capital of Baghdad, as ISIS is now within eight miles of the city.
ISIS fighters celebrate their victories in Syria
A joint conference between the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem was held earlier this week to discuss the dire situation for Christians.
“Across the Middle East, in the last 10 years, 100,000 Christians have been murdered each year. That means every five minutes a Christian is killed because of his faith,” Father Gabriel Nadaf, who has campaigned for Christian Arab rights and for local Christians to support Israel, told the United Nations Human Rights Council in September. “Those who can escape persecution at the hands of Muslim extremists have fled. … Those who remain, exist as second if not third-class citizens to their Muslim rulers.”
An estimated 12 million Christians lived in the Middle East, according to a July estimate in the London Guardian. But that number has been thought to have decreased drastically since the ISIS summer takeover of nearly half of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, which had been home to Christians for 2,000 years.
As Islam jihadists have gained ground throughout the Middle East over the past three years, the Christian community has faced persecution in a number countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been targeted by violence from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi groups. There have been reports of church burnings and killings of Christians.
In Syria, al-Qaida-linked rebels have threatened to kill Christians who do not join the fight against President Bashar Al-Assad.
Iran has persecuted Christians relentlessly as well, recently making headlines for burning the lips of a Christian man caught eating during the Ramadan fast.
A recent graduate from a Canadian Christian University who applied for a job with a Norwegian wilderness tourism company got the shock of her life when she was “attacked” for her religion in a series of emails in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is called a “whore” and Jesus is threatened with sodomy.
Christian graduate Bethany Paquette and Olaf Amundsen (inset) hiring manager at Amaruk Wilderness Corp.
The graduate, Bethany Paquette, who attended Trinity Western University, said her application was rejected by Amaruk Wilderness Corp. because of her faith. And she provided the series of testy and, at times, obscene emails to prove it, according to CBC.
Amaruk notes the company’s website specializes in private guiding, highlighted as “custom expeditions throughout the world for private clients.” The firm also “offers wilderness training, support, and logistics, as well as consulting services, to individuals, corporations, and governments,” among other services.
“It did really hurt me and I did feel really attacked on the basis that I’m a Christian,” Paquette told CBC.
Paquette, who’s an experienced river rafting guide, has filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in Canada over the rejection.
After applying to be an assistant guide intern with Amaruk, Olaf Amundsen, the company’s hiring manager, replied with a rejection email in which he points out that her association with Trinity Western University, which opposes homosexuality, disqualified her from the job.
“I do not understand the purpose of your application considering you do not meet the minimum requirements that are clearly outlined on our website,” he began.
“Additionally, considering you were involved with Trinity Western University, I should mention that, unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want, and this is reflected within some of our staff and management,” he continued.
“In addition, the Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition, and way of life,” Amundsen’s rejection email ended.
Paquette responded to Amundsen’s email with a defense of her Christian faith and charged that the company was being discriminatory toward her and signed it “God bless.”
In a follow-up email Amundsen replied, in part: “In asking students to refrain from same-sex relationships, Trinity Western University, and any person associated with it has engaged in discrimination, as well as intolerance against other people’s beliefs, religious, and otherwise. … There are also practical concerns about a Christian university that rejects the concept of evolution but still grants ‘biology’ degrees.”
He then noted that if Christians simply abided by the tenets of their faith instead of trying to force their views on others, believers would be tolerable. “However, you force other people to embrace your religious beliefs, by preventing them from doing as they wish with their own life and body. This is where we draw the line however.”
Amundsen further stated that he is a Viking with a Ph.D. in Norse History and dismissed Christianity as propaganda.
“In closing, ‘God Bless’ is very offensive to me, and yet another sign of your attempts to impose your religious views on me. I do not want to be blessed by some guy who was conceived by a whore, outside of marriage, and whom has been the very reason for the most horrendous abuses and human rights violations in the history of the human race. If I was to meet the guy, I’d actually (expletive) him,” he wrote.
Paquette’s lawyer, Geoffrey Trotter, called the emails from Amaruk “nasty” and “over the top.”
“You are not allowed in British Columbia to refuse to hire someone because you associate them with other people, from centuries ago, who you think they did something they shouldn’t have done,” Trotter told CBC.
Trinity Western spokesperson Guy Saffold also told CBC that, “Canadians shouldn’t be treated this way by a foreign company. … Mocking of their religion — there is a personal shaming element to it that was most unfortunate.”
READ THE COMPLETE SERIES OF EMAILS BELOW (WARNING: CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE)
Exclusive: Greg Laurie declares ‘the only solution for turning our nation around is spiritual’
In 1947 Peter Marshall, chaplain of the U.S. Senate, said, “The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration.”
As we look at our country right now, I think we could agree that it is going downhill fast with the moral and spiritual breakdowns in our nation. So can a country ever turn around again?
I hope we all have gotten the memo that the solution is not political. No politician from any party will be able to turn this country around. Our primary problem is spiritual, and the only solution for turning our nation around is spiritual. That will come as a result of people praying.
I think America has two options before us: judgment or revival. If we don’t have a revival, then we are in big trouble in the United States. We know this much. Judgment is coming to America one day, just as judgment is coming to all of the world. That is inevitable. My prayer is that before judgment does come, we will have at least one more spiritual awakening.
The United States has had a number of revivals, or Great Awakenings, that have turned our nation around. The first was during the early 1700s, with such men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield taking part. During two years of this revival from 1740 to 1742, between 25,000 and 50,000 people came to believe in Jesus Christ – and that was out of a population of only 300,000.
The Second Great Awakening took place during the days of the early frontier, the Wild West, from the 1790s to 1840. Preachers like Charles Finney were proclaiming the gospel at a time when the law was disregarded and sexual sin was rampant. People would come from everywhere to camp meetings, where makeshift structures with sawdust floors were set up in the middle of a forest. Itinerant preachers would ride on horseback from place to place, preaching the gospel. One lanky young lawyer who was dramatically impacted at one of those sawdust revivals was Abraham Lincoln.
The Third Great Awakening, from 1857 to 1859, had unique beginnings. A 48-year-old businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier began a prayer meeting on Fulton Street in New York. At first, not a lot of people attended this prayer meeting. This revival started slow, but it began to build. Then the stock market crashed, and soon hundreds of New Yorkers were gathering for prayer. Within six months, 10,000 people were gathering daily for prayer throughout New York City. It was reported that 50,000 New Yorkers came to faith from March to May, and they saw approximately 1 million people come to faith in Christ during that particular revival.
There was perhaps a Fourth Great Awakening. I think we could call the Jesus Movement from the late 1960s to the early 1970s a genuine revival in the United States. It turned around thousands of young people. Many of those who came to faith during the Jesus Movement are grandparents now. I know this because I am one of them.
I thank God for what he has done in the past, but here is my prayer: “Do it again, Lord.” That needs to be our prayer, that God would do it again. We need another Great Awakening, another revival, another Jesus Movement.
The prophet Habakkuk understood this when he prayed, “I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NLT).
The psalmist prayed, “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6 NKJV).
We need to pray to that end – that God would send this revival. But what does revival mean exactly? Revive means to bring back to life again. We could use the word restoration in its place just as easily.
A revival is an invasion from heaven. It is when God is at work, and you can’t explain it. That is what I want to see again: a revival in which we don’t know how it started, but where people are packing out churches, are coming to Christ and are praying. That is what we need to see again.
Revival is kind of a church word. The secular culture doesn’t need revival; they need evangelism. And here is the interesting thing: Evangelism doesn’t necessarily produce revival, but revival always produces evangelism. Whenever there has been an awakening, there has been an evangelistic thrust that has come as a result. When God’s people are awakened, when they are restored, when they are revived, then they go out and start doing what they should have been doing all along, which is proclaiming the gospel. I pray that the church will have revival. And I pray that our culture will hear the gospel.
Will revival ever come again to the United States? No one can say with certainty. I hope it will. God gave the prescription for the healing of a nation in 2 Chronicles 7:14. God said, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” That is what we want. Lord, heal our Land. Lord, turn America in the right direction again. Turn America back toward You. Let’s pray to that end.
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Pray for your own needs, and pray for our nation as well. God could send an awakening.
By Eric Levenson – Boston.com — July 16, 2014 5:14 PM
Jews and Evangelical Christians have a bit of a one-sided relationship, according to a new poll from Pew surveying religious group’s opinions of other religions. Evangelicals have very warm feelings toward Jews. Jews do not reciprocate that warmth.
The Pew poll asked people of varying religions to rate their feelings about other religions on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, with ‘0’ as cold/negative and ‘100’ as hot/positive. Among all responses, both Jews and Evangelical Christians were two of the three most warmly rated: Jews at 63 degrees and Evangelicals at 61 on average.
But looking closer at how each religion rated other religions, there’s an awkward split. In the chart below, we’ve circled in red the key numbers.
On the upper left side of the chart, we see White Evangelical Christians rate Jews at a warm 69 degrees, making Evangelics the biggest fans of Jews among the religions surveyed. Jewish people, meanwhile, rated Evangelical Christians at a chilly 34 degrees. Jews felt colder toward Evangelical Chrstians than they did any other religious group.
That contrast of feelings wasn’t seen among any other reported poll results. For example, Jews rated Catholics at a positive 58 degrees, and Catholics rated Jews at a similar 61 degrees.
The Jewish-Evangelical relationship was one of many interesting factoids to pick out from Pew’s extensive data study. The Washington Post notes that Democrats’ least-liked religious group are Mormons, partly a result of lingering Romney resentment. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, points out that Muslims and Atheists were rated in the least favorable light.
Whenever the subject of politics and religion comes up, some individuals wish to believe that the two are not connected. Yet, many people are concerned with the speed of America’s moral collapse.
Throughout both the bible and world history, the two have collided (wars were fought over religion). When the Kings and Judges in the bible were godly, the people and the land flourished. On the other hand, the evil kings and judges brought famine and destruction upon the people and the land (does any of this sound familiar?) Our founding fathers were men of deep religious convictions based in the Bible and their Christian faith in Jesus Christ. America’s conflict appears to center around the Christian church and the current ruling politics.
The dilemma facing the Christian church today is whether to incorporate politics in its Sunday sermons or risk losing tax-exempt status. The congregants are voting citizens that should hear where the different political parties stand on issue that may conflict with the Christian faith. However, for the past five years, there has been an elephant in the room in most bible teaching church services across the United States. The elephant is the current administration and the Democratic Party’s unyielding push for abortion and gay marriage and the infringement on the church’s First Amendment rights (i.e. attempting to force the Catholic Church to provide birth control to its employees against its religious belief). Many pastors will not publically broach the subject of the different parties’ platforms from their pulpits due to fear and political correctness that has crept into the church. The church is no place for political correctness. The entire bible is not politically correct.
The Presbyterian Church appears to have completely adopted the entire Democratic Party’s platform from gay marriage, abortion to disinvestment in companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories. The United Methodist Church has aligned with the Democrats’ platform on the homosexual lifestyle and the Affordable Care Act but has since done an about face on the latter; however, there is a split within the denomination on the issue of gay marriage. In order for a Christian church to adopt the Democrats Party’s positions, it has to outright divorce itself from biblical teachings.
The black church has become the arm of the Democratic Party. As a teenager, I remember around election time, Democrat politicians would visit the black churches. The pastors would give these politicians free rein to stand in the pulpit and address the congregation as he or she felt necessary. The speeches were usually how the opposing politician (usually a Republican) did not have our best interest in mind. (We were never told what those interests were). The pastors would continue preaching on that same theme after the politicians left. There never seem to be any resignation or fear of losing the churches tax-exempt status. In many of today’s black churches, social justice, racism and grievance replaced the message of sin and forgiveness. The social justice message removes the individual from responsibility and blames all ones problems on society. Strangely, the topics missing from the sermons are fornication, homosexuality, coveting, envy, jealousy, ungratefulness, laziness, lying, murder, and theft (except when referring to the tithe). All such sins are plaguing the black community as well as all large segments of the rest of America.
Observing the actions of the Presbyterian Church, the United Methodist Church and the black Church, I have concluded that as long as a so-called church
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
aligns itself with the Democratic Party’s platform, there is no threat of losing its tax-exempt status. As long as the Democrat politicians can come into your church’s pulpit and disparage the Republican Party, your pastor can sleep well knowing that there is no threat of losing the church’s tax-exempt status. However, if you are a bible teaching church that refuses to give in to political correctness, it is time to give up the tax-exempt and “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar” (Mark 12:17) and get back to preaching the whole council of God. For the first time in the nation’s history, America is witnessing a government forcing its policies on the church.
A recent New York Timesarticle exemplifies why the Times simply cannot be trusted. Written by one David Kirkpatrick and titled “Vow of Freedom of Religion Goes Unkept in Egypt,” the article disingenuously interprets general truths in an effort to validate its thesis.
Much of this is done by omitting relevant facts that provide needed context. For example, Kirkpatrick makes Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the military—widely recognized as the heroes of the June 2013 revolution that toppled former President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood—appear responsible for the poor state of religious freedom in Egypt, when in fact the military has no authority over the judicial system, which is independent.
The phrase “boycott Christians” has been painted on walls in the southern city of Assiut, Egypt. Since security forces cleared two sit-in camps by supporters of Egypt’s ousted president, Islamists have attacked dozens of Coptic churches along with homes and businesses owned by the Christian minority. The campaign of intimidation appears to be a warning to Christians outside Cairo to stand down from political activism.
Even so, there is much evidence that Egypt, while far from becoming a Western-style democracy, is on a better path—certainly than under the Muslim Brotherhood. But these are seldom mentioned in the NYT report. Most recently, for example, the military-backed government jailed a popular Islamic scholar for contempt against Christianity—something that never happened under Morsi, when clerics were regularly and openly condemning and mocking Christians.
Similarly, Sheikh Yassir Burhami, the face of Egypt’s Salafi movement, is facing prosecution for contempt against Christianity for stating that Easter is an “infidel” celebration and that Muslims should not congratulate Christians during Easter celebrations. Previously under Morsi, Burhami was free to say even worse—including issuing a fatwa banning taxi drivers from transporting Christian priests to their churches.
Some positive developments are twisted to look as attacks on religious freedom. Kirkpatrick complains that “The new government has tightened its grip on mosques, pushing imams to follow state-approved sermons,” as if that is some sort of infringement on their rights, when in fact, mosques are the primary grounds where Muslims are radicalized to violence, especially against religious minorities like Coptic Christians. This is amply demonstrated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of attacks on churches and Christians occur on Friday, the one day of the week when Muslims congregate in mosques and listen to sermons.
“State-approved sermons” are much more moderate and pluralistic in nature and the government’s way of keeping radicals and extremists from mosque podiums.
If Kirkpatrick truly cared about the religious freedom of Egypt’s minorities, he would laud this move by the government, instead of trying to portray it as an infringement of the rights of the radicals to “freely” preach hate.
Another positive development overlooked by the article is that Egypt’s native church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, was involved in drafting the new, post-Morsi constitution, and was allowed to voice its opinion over controversial Article Two, which deals with how influential Islamic Sharia will be in governing society. The Church accepted a more moderate version than the previous one articulated under Morsi, which the Church as well as millions of Egyptian Muslims, were against due to its draconian, Islamist nature.
Speaking of the Copts—who are Egypt’s litmus test concerning religious freedom—a closer examination of them alone demonstrates the disingenuous nature of Kirkpatrick’s observations.
Early in the report, and in the context of stating that “the new military-backed government has fallen back into patterns of sectarianism that have prevailed here for decades,” Kirkpatrick asserts that “Prosecutors continue to jail Coptic Christians …. on charges of contempt of religion.” Interestingly, while this suggests Christians are being jailed under the current government on charges of blasphemy, a close reading reveals that that is not the case. Rather, Kirkpatrick is referring to the many Copts who were incarcerated under Morsi’s reign, some of whom still remain in jail.
Kirkpatrick seems to think that those not yet freeing Christians—due to the chaos it would likely cause among the already highly aggrieved Islamist/Salafi population—are as religiously intolerant as those who threw them in prison in the first place. Of course, back then under Morsi, when the full extent of “legal” persecution of Christian Copts in the context of “blasphemy” was revealed, the NYT and Kirkpatrick were remarkably silent.
The dissembling continues. Writes Kirkpatrick: “Many Coptic Christians and other religious minorities cheered the military takeover because they feared the Muslim Brotherhood, a religiously exclusive movement whose leaders have a history of denigrating non-Muslims” (emphasis added). Christians did not “fear” the Brotherhood because their leaders have a long “history of denigrating non-Muslims,” but rather because their leaders have a long history of inciting violence and hate against Christians, leading to countless attacks and atrocities on Copts and their churches over the decades.
Under Morsi, Coptic Christianity’s most symbolic church and papal residence, St Mark Cathedral, was savagely attacked by an Islamist mob, aided and abetted by state security. Then, Coptic Pope Tawadros said that Morsi had “promised to do everything to protect the cathedral but in reality we don’t see this…. We need action not only words… There is no action on the ground… This flagrant assault on a national symbol, the Egyptian church, has never been subjected to this in 2,000 years.”
Coptic Christians walk amid debris inside Amba Moussa Coptic church in Minya. Torched by Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Kirkpatrick also fails to inform his readership that due to Muslim Brotherhood incitement against the Copts for “daring” to participate in the June revolution against Morsi, in “retaliation,” some 80 churches in Egypt were bombed, burned, or simply attacked by Brotherhood supporters.
Also left unsaid by the NYT is that it was Sisi who pledged that the armed forces would rebuild and renovate the destroyed churches. According to church officials, the army will be done renovating and rebuilding 16 of the churches destroyed by the Brotherhood by the end of June, at which point they will begin phase two of renovating the rest of churches. Far from pointing this out, Kirkpatrick implies Sisi is indifferent to the Copts, writing for example that “unlike a rival presidential candidate, [Sisi] declined to attend Mass” at the Coptic cathedral during Easter. The fact is, due to Brotherhood assassination attempts—which the rival presidential candidate need not worry from—Sisi has had to decline many public events, not just Easter.
From here one can understand why Kirkpatrick’s next assertion makes perfect sense, even as he offers it with some puzzlement: “But the complaints about continued sectarianism have not deterred church leaders from firmly supporting Mr. Sisi as their protector against worse treatment by the Muslim majority. The Coptic pope, Tawadros II, has hailed Mr. Sisi as overwhelmingly popular, ‘a competent patriot’ on ‘an arduous mission,’ and ‘the one who rescued Egypt.’”
In short, when it comes to religious freedom and tolerance, the current government, although far from perfect, is also better than its Brotherhood predecessor. Hence why, not only the Coptic Church, but the majority of Egypt’s millions of Christians, support Sisi.
al-Sisi visits Coptic Pope at Easter
Needless to say, that is not the impression that Kirkpatrick gives, as he quotes an unknown Copt calling the pope’s statements which were supportive of Sisi “stupid and myopic.”
Thus it is only in the most general of ways that Kirkpatrick’s NYT article is accurate—in that, yes, religious freedom is still very problematic in Egypt, especially for minorities such as the Copts. It is true that police and security often do little to protect the Copts and their churches from Islamists–but this is partially because police stations are also under attack. Pope Tawadros recently confirmed that, in light of the circumstances, the police and government in general are doing better than under Morsi.
Overlooked and ignored are the true culprits of radicalization—the Muslim Brotherhood and allied Islamists, who, through the mosques and satellite stations, have been radicalizing Egypt for decades. It will take a long time, if ever, to eradicate their influence, but the post-Brotherhood government is a first step in the right direction—despite the NYT’s nonstop propaganda to whitewash the Muslim Brotherhood and sometimes even al-Qaeda.