Wednesday, September 19, 2012
A report by two U.S.-based religious freedom groups says anti-Christian persecution is on the rise in America.
The joint report by Texas-based Liberty Institute and Washington-based Family Research Council says groups like the American Civil Liberties Union aren’t the only culprits. The report says government agencies around the U.S. are trying to push Christian expression out the door.
“It is dramatic,” says Liberty Institute Founder Kelly Shackleford, of the recent hike in reported incidents of persecution. “I have been doing these types of cases for almost 25 years now. I have never seen the levels of attacks like these and how quickly they are now proliferating.”
Shackleford says government, from schools to social programs, is the ringleader.
“There are children being prohibited from writing Merry Christmas to the soldiers, senior citizens being banned from praying over their meals in the Senior Center, the VA banning the mention of God in military funerals, numerous attempts to have veterans memorials torn down if they have any religious symbols such as a cross, and I could go on and on,” Shackleford said.
WND reported in August 2011 on the Houston, Texas, veterans’ cemetery director who issued an order banning God from military or veteran funerals at the facility.
A pastor and family members of deceased veterans eventually filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Houston National VA Cemetery is discriminating against their religious freedoms.
The suit alleges that cemetery administrator Arleen Ocasio required pastor Scott Rainey to edit a Memorial Day prayer so that the prayer was “general, and its fundamental purpose [was] nondenominational in nature.”
Christian civil rights organization ACLJ senior counsel David French says the exact rate of increase is hard to determine, but many of the new cases come from colleges.
“Our knowledge of incidents is only as good as the reporting,” French says. “However, it’s clear that – particularly on college and university campuses – we have seen a significant rise in attempts to silence Christian organizations by the misapplication of nondiscrimination laws.”
French adds that many public facilities are also covering over Christianity.
“One of the most strident examples: the misuse of the Establishment Clause to attempt to ban any mention of God from historical markers, monuments or even museum exhibits,” French says. “This represents an effort to whitewash God from American history and change our national identity.”
WND reported in February that the city of New York was attempting to cancel the leases of all church and religious groups renting city facilities.
“Our view is that public school buildings, which are funded by taxpayers’ dollars, should not be used as houses of worship,” said Marge Feinberg, spokeswoman for New York City’s Department of Education. “Public school space cannot and should not be used for worship services, especially because school space is not equally available to all faiths.”
Shackleford says the attacks are becoming violent, too.
“The recent attacks on the faith-based Family Research Council and the attack on the Sikhs are recent examples alone,” Shackleford says.
He also cites an example of a city trying to push out its Jewish residents.
“In one case I was involved in, a city literally tried to zone out Orthodox Jews from the city. An official city meeting perpetrated this,” Shackleford says. “Some said, ‘Hitler should have finished the job.’”
Shackleford claims the acts of persecution point to a deeply rooted spiritual issue.
“Religious hostility is the red light on the dashboard that tells us we have a problem and that violence will come next if not fixed,” Shackleford says.
French says although the Obama administration has contributed to the problem, the problem didn’t begin in 2008.
“While the Obama administration launched its own unprecedented assault on religious liberty through Obamacare,” French says, “the attack on Christian expression is the result of cultural changes that have been taking place for decades.”
“The Obama administration has been very hostile, from the HHS mandates to the VA case to many, many more; but it has been getting worse and worse each administration,” Shackleford says. “Government always tries to increase its power, and freedom has been fading in the process. It has been a steady and consistent.”
French says the current crisis has been brewing for decades.
“No, the trend began with advent of the sexual revolution and the mainstreaming of the 1960s counterculture,” French claims. “As leftist radicals have progressed through the academy, media, churches and government, the trend has only accelerated.”
Shackleford adds that some key court cases may have accelerated the trend.
“The seeds for these attacks were dropped in a Supreme Court opinions in the ’40s, and it really began to take off in the 1960s. The thing that is shocking now, and different, is that the attacks have dramatically picked up speed,” Shackleford says. “There can be as many as 100 new attacks in a month. While Liberty Institute has the highest win rate of any group in the country at over 99 percent, we just can’t currently cover all these with our current resources.”
Among the violations listed in the joint report:
- A federal judge threatened “incarceration” to a high school valedictorian unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech.
- City officials prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages or singing gospel songs at a senior activities center.
- A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.
- Following U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ policies, a federal government official sought to censor a pastor’s prayer, eliminating references to Jesus, during a Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans at a national cemetery.
- Public school officials prohibited students from handing out gifts because they contained religious messages.
- A public school official prevented a student from handing out flyers inviting her classmates to an event at her church.
- A public university’s law school banned a Christian organization because it required its officers to adhere to a statement of faith that the university disagreed with.
- The U.S. Department of Justice argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire.
- The State of Texas sought to approve and regulate what religious seminaries can teach.
- Through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government is forcing religious organizations to provide insurance for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in direct violation of their religious beliefs.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs banned the mention of God from veterans’ funerals, overriding the wishes of the deceased’s families.
- A federal judge held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus.
Whereas some belief systems are shrouded in mystery and sometimes difficult to understand, the Qur’an is forthright regarding core tenets of Islam. As Islam re-emerges as a central world influence, it is very important for all to understand its foundational teachings. While there are many weighty Quranic teachings, there are a few passages that are particularly enlightening. A few of the most distinctive are considered here.
Traditionally, Islam is most identifiable by its Five Pillars:
- Shahada (belief or creed, from Surah 3:18, etc.)
- Salat (daily ritual prayer, from Surah 2:3-5, etc.)
- Zakat (ritual almsgiving, from Surah 21:73, etc.), divided between eight specific causes (from Surah 9:60):
- the Masakeen (destitute)
- Fugaraa (poor)
- Amil Zakah (alms collectors)
- Fi sai Lillah (the Cause of Allah, those involved in Jihad)
- Gharimun (debtors)
- Ibn as’Sabil (wayfarers)
- Riqab (those in bondage)
- Mu’Allaf (those inclined to Islam)
- Sawm (fasting during Ramadan, from Surah 1:183-185, etc.)
- Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca, from Surah 22:27-28, etc.)
While these Pillars are central in Islamic piety, there are other distinctive teachings that are equally as profound; teachings on Christ (no more than a created apostle), on the future (Islam will reign supreme), on Jihad ( perhaps a sixth pillar, and the mechanism for fulfilling the eschatology of Islam), and on women (inferior to men). Let’s consider Islam’s teaching on these topics in the words of the Qur’an. All quotes of the Qur’an are fromTranslation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language, by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Madinah, KSA: King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an).
1. ISLAM IS THE ONE TRUE RELIGION
“Say: “We believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Ya’qub and Al-Asbat (the offspring of the 12 sons of Ya’qub) and what was given to Musa, ‘Isa and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allah) we have submitted (in Islam). And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.”
2. JIHAD IS THE MECHANISM FOR ELIMINATING IDOLATRY
“And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and all and every kind of worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers).”
“Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun [polytheists and idolaters] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and ever ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat [ritual prayer], and give Zakat [ritual giving, one seventh of which goes to financing Jihad], then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e., Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah [submission tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
3. MEN ARE SUPERIOR TO WOMEN AND MAY BEAT THEM WHEN NECESSARY
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g., their chastity, their husband’s property). As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.”
4. JIHAD IS NOT OPTIONAL, AND THERE ARE SUPERIOR BLESSINGS FOR THOSE WHO FIGHT IN JIHAD
“O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allah (i.e., Jihad) you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared to the Hereafter. If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment…”
“March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), and strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allah [Jihad]. This is better for you, if you but knew.” (also, Surah 9:73, 123; 66:9)
“Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives…”
5. SALVATION REQUIRES BOTH FAITH AND WORKS—ESPECIALLY FIGHTING IN JIHAD
“O you who believe! Shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah [Jihad] with your wealth and your lives: that will be better for you, if you but know! (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwellings in ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise; that is indeed the great success.”
“But those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah—Islamic Monotheism) and do deeds of righteousness, We shall admit them to the Gardens under which rivers flow (i.e., in Paradise) to dwell therein forever…” (also, Surah 7:41-42; 16:30; 36:45-58; 52:17-24)
6. JESUS IS NOT THE SON OF GOD, BUT IS A CREATED APOSTLE. THERE IS NO TRINITY.
“O People of the Scripture (Christians)! Do not exceed the limits of your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, (“Be!”—and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: “Three (trinity)!” Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One Ilah (God), glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son…” (also, Surah 5:75; 10:68; 19:34-38)
7. FRIENDSHIP WITH JEWS AND CHRISTIANS PROHIBITED
“O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Auliya’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliya’), then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers and unjust).”
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves…”
“Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures. Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah, and in His Messenger (Muhammad) including all obligations ordered by Islam] and do righteous good deeds, they are the best of creatures.”
SO WHICH IS IT?
While these passages represent only a small sampling of Quranic teachings, they are foundational in their representations. In light of these passages, it is evident that the teachings of Biblical Christianity and those of Quranic Islam are mutually exclusive on many points. The Bible and the Qur’an can’t both be true, because they are so essentially incongruous. The two systems contrast especially regarding the nature of God, the identity of Jesus, how a person gains favor with God, the essential identity and equality of women and men, how to deal with religious pluralism, and the implications of the future for every individual. In fact, it is difficult to find a topic in which the two systems are not in doctrinal conflict.
Even regarding how one should respond to such differences, the two systems differ. For followers of Muhammad, Jihad must play a prominent role on the world stage until Islam reigns supreme (Surah 2:193), when all must come to believe that Islam is the one true religion. None should underestimate Islamic commitment to that principle, as it is the guiding and most central tenet of Islam, as represented in the Qur’an.
The Bible, on the other hand never permits followers of Jesus to kill anyone for holding to different beliefs. Christians aren’t the judges, rather, the Bible describes Jesus as the Judge who will one day make an end of sin (Rev 19:11), and who, in the meantime, “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). The Bible records a message of grace and hope for all who would call upon the name of Christ (“…the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” Jn 6:37.)
So, where does that leave you?
There’s much, much more than mere politics at stake…
Bible prophecy Blog
Intel last week said it wants to do away with computer passwords – and wants to let them. Research scientists at the world’s largest chipmaker demonstrated a system that recognizes the pattern of veins in the palm of a hand as it’s waved over a sensor, eliminating the need for the string of numbers and letters now used to gain access to phones, computers or web sites.
“Nobody likes passwords,” Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner said at a meeting for developers on Thursday. “This completely removes this deeply inconvenient notion of passwords.”
While other so-called biometric identification devices are already in common use, Intel’s system goes further. Once the machine has identified a user, embedded hardware and software connects with all the other protected services, say, online banking, that person would normally access.
For added protection, the machines will contain additional sensors that detect when a user has stepped away and will automatically lock down access to all connected machines and sites, Rattner said.
He also took pains to reassure people who may be concerned that miscreants might resort to violence to gain access to a person’s palm. “Severed hands won’t work because you have to have blood flow,” he assured. Phew.
Bad debt at Spanish banks has risen to record levels, with data from the Bank of Spain showing that 9.86 per cent of all the debt they hold is in arrears and may not be repaid. It is the highest bad-loan ratio since central bank records began in 1962.
The announcement will add to the pressure on Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to ask for international aid, paving the way for the European Central Bank to buy his government's bonds.
The news that so much Spanish bank debt is in arrears will also prompt questions about whether the previous €100bn (£80bn) bailout of the banking sector, requested in June by Mr Rajoy, will prove sufficient.
The results of a final EU stress test on Spain's banks are due to be published on 28 September, and this will decide which institutions will need bailout cash. Some analysts suggest up to €60bn will be needed almost straight away.
The yield – or interest rates demanded by investors – at Spain's latest debt sale yesterday fell slightly from last month but remained at 2.835 per cent on the 12-month bill and at 3.072 per cent on the 18-month paper, offering little hope the country can finance itself at reasonable levels without seeking assistance. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond also rose to just over 6 per cent.
China’s most powerful military leader, in an unusual public statement, last week ordered military forces to prepare for combat, as Chinese warships deployed to waters near disputed islands and anti-Japan protests throughout the country turned violent.
Protests against the Japanese government’s purchase of three privately held islands in the Senkakus chain led to mass street protests, the burning of Japanese flags, and attacks on Japanese businesses and cars in several cities. Some carried signs that read “Kill all Japanese,” and “Fight to the Death” over disputed islands. One sign urged China to threaten a nuclear strike against Japan.
Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, considered the most senior military political commissar, said Friday that military forces should be “prepared for any possible military combat,” state run Xinhua news agency reported.
Heightened tensions over the Senkakus come as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in China Monday.
Panetta, in comments made in Japan shortly before traveling to China, said, “We are concerned by the demonstrations, and we are concerned by the conflict that is taking place over the Senkaku islands.”
“The message I have tried to convey is we have to urge calm and restraint on all sides,” he said, noting any “provocation” could produce a “blow up.”
Panetta repeated the U.S. position that it is neutral in the dispute over Japan’s Senkaku islands, a small chain of islets located south of Okinawa and north of Taiwan. But he also reaffirmed the U.S. defense commitment to Japan, a treaty ally.
“We stand by our treaty obligations,” Panetta said, echoing a similar commitment made during a 2010 standoff between Beijing and Tokyo over the Senkakus. ”They’re longstanding, and that has not changed.”
China claims the islands as its territory and calls them the Diaoyu islands.
Last week, following the Japanese government’s purchase of three of the Senkakus from private Japanese owners, six Chinese maritime security ships were deployed near the Senkaku islands, further heightening tensions.
Xu’s unusual comments followed reports in state-controlled Chinese media that opposed the Japanese government’s purchase of the three islands.
Xu said during a visit to military units near Taiyuan, in the northern province of Shanxi, “efforts should be made to ensure that the military is capable of resolutely performing its duty to safeguard the country’s national sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity whenever it is needed by the Party and the people.”
A U.S. official said the PLA’s most senior political general rarely makes such direct appeals to troops to prepare for combat.
Panetta told reporters en route to Japan, the first stop on a three-nation visit to Asia, “The United States does not take a position with regards to territorial disputes.”
In 2010, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates invoked the U.S.-Japan defense treaty when tensions between China and Japan increased over Tokyo’s arrest of a Chinese fishing captain who rammed his boat against a Japanese coast guard vessel in waters near the Senkakus. Gates said the United States would “fulfill our alliance responsibilities” toward Japan.
Japan’s Coast Guard announced on Sept. 14 that six Chinese maritime patrol vessels sailed into Japanese-controlled waters near the Senkakus and the vessels ignored Japanese warnings for the ships to leave the area.
Other reports from China on Monday showed a convoy of hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels sailing toward the disputed islands.
The six Chinese ships entered Japanese waters near the island on Friday, and ignored Japanese coast guard orders for them to vacate what it said was its territorial waters.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that six of its surveillance ships had entered the waters near the islands.
China’s aggressiveness in maritime disputes has garnered little attention in the presidential election campaign.
On Monday, President Obama criticized GOP nominee Mitt Romney for his attack on the administration for being soft on China through its weak response to China’s trade and currency policies.
The Chinese maritime warships near the Senkakus were reported last week by Xinhua as “routine patrols” near the islands to “assert the country’s sovereignty and protect fishermen.”
“The Diaoyou Islands and their affiliated islets have been China’s inherent territory since ancient times, and their surrounding waters are China’s traditional fishing ground,” the report said.
A classified Chinese government map from 1969 that was obtained by Japan’s government shows Beijing had labeled the islands as “Senkaku,” their Japanese name, and thus confirmed their control by Tokyo. The map, which was viewed by the Free Beacon, also had a dividing line south of the islands showing that they fall within Japanese territory.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a hearing last week that China’s behavior toward regional states was tantamount to bullying.
“While the world’s attention was turned to other crises, including Iran’s nuclear program and concerns over the faltering Euro, China has upped the ante, playing the role of a schoolyard bully towards its maritime neighbors,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
“From one end to the other of the South China Sea, Beijing has increased both in belligerence and bellicosity.”
Ros-Lehtinen said the United States, through the Navy, will stand by friends and allies in the region.
The Florida Republican said China is seeking to control the South China Sea and other coastal waters and sealanes because they are “central to the Chinese communist mandarins’ aspirations to re-establish the Middle Kingdom as the dominant power in Asia.”
“Whoever controls these sea lanes can dominate Asia—and beyond—by choking off that commerce and oil shipments to the major stakeholders in the Asian economic miracle,” she said.
Chinese efforts to dominate the western Pacific are increasing the possibility of naval clashes, Ros-Lehtinen said.
“Other global crises must not distract from our vital national interests in the South China Sea and the western Pacific,” she said during a hearing.
Washington Free Beacon
In a document released on Tuesday after a meeting between 11 foreign ministers in Warsaw, the bloc, which includes all the largest European countries outside Britain, charted a vision for the "future of Europe".
As well as calling for a single, elected head of state for Europe, the bloc demanded a new defence policy, under the control of a new pan-EUforeign ministry commanded by Baroness Ashton, which "could eventually involve a European army".
In order to "prevent one single member state from being able to obstruct initiatives", a reference to British opposition to a European army, the German-led grouping demanded an end to existing national vetoes over foreign and defence policy.
This would give the EU the power to impose a decision on Britain if it is supported by a majority of other countries.
The plan, which has the backing of Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Holland, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg and Portugal the plan, is likely to fuel calls for a British referendum on membership of the European Union.
The document also proposed sweeping new powers for the European Parliament and further splitting of the EU by creating a new parliamentary sub chamber for the 17 countries of the eurozone.
In a joint statement, Guido Westerwelle and Radek Sikorski, the foreign ministers of Germany and Poland, called for the creation of a single EU President, running the commission and overseeing regular summits, who is directly elected by voters in a pan-European vote "on the same day in all member states".
"For Europe to be a truly strong actor and global leader it needs a strong institutional setup," said Mr Westerwelle and Mr Sikorski. "It needs a directly elected president who personally appoints the members of his "European government'."
In another major change, the 11 countries urged that changes to European treaties should in future be adopted and implemented "by a super-qualified majority of the EU member states" instead of by unanimity, meaning treaties can no longer be blocked from entering into force by No votes in popular referendums.
The document follows last week's call by Jose Manuel Barroso for the EU to become a "federation" and growing calls in Britain for a referendum on any new European treaty or constitution.
A British Government spokesman said: "This is one contribution to the debate, which is just starting. The United Kingdom will play a full and active role in that debate."
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the proposed EU constitution, which has emerged in response to the eurozone crisis, as a "new European settlement".
"It looks and is entirely hostile to the hopes and aspirations of this country. The government wants to negotiate, so does the Continent, but they are at cross purposes," he said. "We now know what they want, we know we won't get what we want, so now is the time to offer the people a choice on our membership of the EU."
The major intervention by five of six biggest EU countries will increase calls from the Conservative backbenches in the House of Commons for a referendum on Europe.
Steve Baker, the Tory MP for Wycombe, warned that proposals to strip Britain of its veto over defence or foreign policy would be "the end of the UK as an independent country".
"The EU is emerging as a fully-fledged state that is not under democratic control," he said. "Any idea of making these changes without the overwhelming consent of the British people would be criminal."
You can not pray on the schools and have to be silent....
Someone make a silly movie and the peaceful muslim religion have the right to kill 50 people and destroy 30 nations....
Someone make a silly movie and the peaceful muslim religion have the right to kill 50 people and destroy 30 nations....