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THE ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH

I lost a good friend this week.

We worked together a long time ago.   For many years we’ve been hundreds of miles apart, but we were always able to see each other, with our wives, at our annual church conference.

That is, until the latest split took place.   He and his wife went one way and we went the other.   So, for the last few years of his life, we did not get together.

Church splits can be devastating on relationships.   Even marriages have fallen apart when partners don’t see eye to eye on church affiliation.   More than one church I know of teaches that its followers should have nothing to do with people in other church organizations, even when they are family.

It’s ironic when you consider that Jesus Christ said:  “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:35).

Unfortunately, churches are not immune from selfish ambition, differences over administration or doctrinal disagreement, three of the primary causes of splits.

True Christians will always strive to fulfill the words of Jesus Christ; even as others in their midst will deliberately cause division, believing that God is on their side.

One of the root causes of division is that people have a tendency to follow men.   The Apostle Paul wrote about this in I Corinthians where some were following Apollos, some Peter and some Paul.   As Paul said elsewhere, we should only follow one man and that man is Jesus Christ.   That means we should all live in accordance with His words.   What a novel idea!!!

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ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH

Church splits are one reason why churches are in decline.   This is true of all churches, including mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches.   The vacuum is often filled by other religions. Note the following headline from the Gatestone Institute:

Londonistan:   423 New Mosques; 500 Closed Churches          by Giulio Meotti  •  April 2, 2017

Londonistan is a term often used to describe contemporary London, Britain’s capital.   It is, like many cities in the UK, becoming increasingly Islamic.   But that’s not the only problem churches face, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“For most of the country’s history, white Christian America —the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national conversations and shaped American ideals.   But today, many white Christian Americans feel profoundly anxious as their numbers and influence are waning.    The two primary branches of their family tree, white mainline and white evangelical Protestants, offer competing narratives about their decline.   White mainline Protestants blame evangelical Protestants for turning off the younger generation with their anti-gay rhetoric and tendency to conflate Christianity with conservative, nationalist politics.   White evangelical Protestants, on the other hand, blame mainline Protestants for undermining Christianity because of their willingness to sell out traditional beliefs to accommodate contemporary culture.”   (“The Eclipse of White Christian America,” Robert P. Jones, The Atlantic)

Many people still believe in God – they just don’t want to join a church.   Consequently, churches are becoming irrelevant, arguably the worst thing that can happen to a church.

One reason for irrelevancy is that churches have failed to understand the dramatic changes that have taken place in the western world in the last few decades.

The writer and former atheist Peter Hitchens, now a deeply religious man, wrote an interesting book in the late 1990’s, showing how much Britain had changed in one generation.   The book “The Abolition of Britain” compared the United Kingdom at the time of Churchill’s funeral (in 1965) with the country at the time of Princess Diana’s funeral, in 1997.

Whereas the people who witnessed Churchill’s funeral were little changed from those who stood in the crowds at Victoria’s funeral in 1901, by the time of Diana’s funeral the mourners were a nation of emotional basket-cases, rather like Diana herself.   In the interim, churches had been replaced by psychiatrists, prescription drugs, mental health workers, television, movies and celebrities.

At the same time, we have witnessed the collapse of the traditional family.   Many people today don’t even know what a family is – they call friends family and won’t even speak to people to whom they are related.

All of this shows a crying need for churches, for the restoration of basic Christianity and biblical teachings on marriage and the family.   (Forget the doctrinal differences that separate Christians from one another.)   Yet churches are not comfortable with the “un-churched.” That was not a problem with Jesus Christ.   Note the following from Matthew 9:10-13:

“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.   And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

This passage of scripture could be speaking to us today.   Many of Christ’s followers were appalled that He was mixing with “publicans and sinners.”   But those publicans and sinners needed Christ and His healing.

Just like people today.   Only today, the problems are different.   It’s unlikely that anybody joining a church today will not have an addiction, whether it be an eating or mental disorder, a sexual or drinking problem.   Each of these requires professional help from outside of the church; but there’s also a need for spiritual healing, to remove the cause of the problem.   This can only come from the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

The need for Christ has never been greater.   It’s churches that are at fault – many Christians will judge and condemn, when what’s needed most is love and compassion, two qualities sadly lacking today.

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CHURCH AND STATE

It’s not just churches that are divided.

Our countries are also seriously divided, perhaps more so than ever before.   This is especially true of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The British historian Paul Johnson, now 88, observed in his 1972 book, “The Offshore Islanders,” that “disunity has always been fatal for the island nation.”

The book was about Britain’s relationship with the European continent – ironically, that’s the issue dividing the country today.   Although the majority of voters want to leave the EU, there’s a solid hardcore that will stop at nothing to remain in the organization.

A different division exists in America.   There are those who are very loyal to Donald Trump, but others who will seemingly stop at nothing to get him removed from office.

The “antis” on both sides of the Atlantic do not care how much damage they cause – their hatred and anger knows no bounds.   Our countries are in danger of falling apart.   Once again, selfish ambition and greed are at the core.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ENOUGH WITH TEDDY BEARS!

 

Easter Sunday Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan
Easter Sunday Bombing in Lahore, Pakistan

There’s an incredible disconnect in the western world right now.

A few days ago, we witnessed the Brussels bombings that killed 35 and sent hundreds to area hospitals.   Many are maimed for life.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the world witnessed a deliberate bombing of Christian families in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed more than twice as many people as the bombs in Brussels.  Many of the victims were children.   Muslims were killed as well as Christians, but the target was a Christian gathering, with the intent to kill as many as possible, especially children.   Less than 48 hours later, Sky News in England revealed that ISIS has plans to attack Jewish kindergartens in Turkey.   Children have clearly become prime targets for Islamic militants.

Faced with the prospect of more terrorism in the years to come, each attack ratcheting up the intensity and the carnage, an anti-immigrant rally was held in Brussels on Sunday.   The rally was quickly condemned as being made up of “hooligans,” “right wing thugs,” “racists” and “neo-Nazis.”   None of their concerns was addressed.

Older people know that the West as it is now is the direct result of more than five decades of liberal and leftist thinking that has created the multicultural, mixed race, mixed religions, environment we are now living in.  It’s a disaster.  Yet the creators of this mess insist on more of the same.

The BBC World Service (radio) Monday broadcast an interview with Dominic Grieve, a British Conservative politician and Member of the Privy Council, therefore very much a member of the British Establishment.   He was asked a number of questions relating to security in light of the Belgian attacks, in the series “HardTalk.”  His position was predictable, that the vast majority of Muslims, including Syrian immigrants, are appreciative of living in the West and don’t want to cause trouble.

The news then followed with an update on the Pakistani bombing.

It is clear that there is a very anti-Christian element in Islam.  The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised to defend British Christians against all such threats, but this will be difficult to do when over three million Muslims live in the country.

It’s glaringly obvious to a growing number of people that these two religions cannot mix.   But Mr. Grieve implied there is a need for greater efforts to achieve “assimilation.”  Somehow, as with everything else, the West is at fault.

The incident in Brussels inspired an article by Raheem Kassam, which appeared in the Middle East Forum.  It was originally written for Breitbart, a conservative publication.  The title of the article was: “Enough with Teddy Bears and Tears:  It’s time to take our civilization back.”

Mr. Kassam writes:  “Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more.  These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack.  We are our own sickness.”

This is so true – because we don’t know what to do, or rather because we are afraid to take the necessary steps, we hold all-night vigils, pile up the flowers and the teddy bears, sing “We shall overcome” and promise to tell Muslims that we love them, thinking that will change everything.   Even the Pope, for many the leader of the Christian West, prayed for western countries to embrace more refugees on Easter Sunday, rather than clearly condemning the persecution of Christians in Islamic countries.   One day later came news that a Catholic priest was crucified on Good Friday by Islamic State.

In 1095, Pope Urban II called for a “crusade” to the Holy Land to end the persecution of Christians.  Pope Urban’s reaction to reports of massacres was more understandable than Pope Francis’ reaction a thousand years later.

People in the West today, after seven decades of cultural appeasement, will do anything except fight.

I’m not talking about fighting a war, necessarily.  But there’s no fight to even stand up for our ideals, our history, our values, our culture. Instead, we simply wait for the next attack.

Mr. Kassam’s article also said:  “Our security services and our police, hamstrung by political correctness, are just as interested (or more?) in rounding up Twitter “hate speech” offenders than criminal, rapist, or terrorist migrants. Our borders are as porous as our brains. We refuse to realize that there are now literally millions of people amongst us who hate us.  Who hate our way of life, and who will, one day, dominate our public life.”

The teddy bears that are being left at memorials to suicide bombers owe their origin to President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, whose foreign policy was summed up in the expression “speak softly and carry a big stick!”   Diplomacy, in other words, must be backed up by force.   Western leaders today seem only capable of speaking softly, if at all.

Breaking news, as I write, has Hillary Clinton criticizing Donald Trump over his wanting to end Muslim immigration.  She then asked: “What would that mean for a nation founded on religious freedom?” Mrs. Clinton must know that religious freedom was not extended to Muslims until 1965.  Before that, immigration was strictly restricted mostly to people of European descent.  It was the Clinton’s friend, Senator Edward Kennedy, who sponsored the bill that liberalized immigration in 1965.

We are building up to a major clash between the Islamic world and the post-Christian West.   Today’s Western leader, seems content to do little or nothing. It’s up to the Europeans to save western civilization.

At the weekend, the McLaughlin Group on PBS discussed the Brussels attacks and the responses of US presidential candidates, who seem disillusioned with NATO (whose headquarters are in Brussels) and feel the Europeans need to do more to defend themselves.   Germany specifically was mentioned as a wealthy nation that can do more.  Note the following:

“On Wednesday, the German cabinet adopted a four year budget plan that would dramatically increase spending on the military, police, and intelligence services.

“German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democrats, CDU) did not mince words at a press conference Wednesday, declaring,  “The central points of this budget and finance plan are of course the internal and external security of our country.” (World Socialist Web)

Bible prophecy shows that the reaction to the rising threat from radical Islam is going to come from a union of ten nations in Europe, a union only Germany can lead.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.” (Daniel 11:40)

Revelation 17 is a chapter about the historical revivals of the Roman Empire.  One still lies ahead.  “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.   These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.” (verses 12 & 13).   The “beast” is the supreme European leader of the revived Roman Empire, a European centered union of ten nations with great military power.  This power is destined to fill the vacuum left by the United States.

I don’t normally agree with anything Eleanor Clift says on the McLaughlin Group, but this week I did.  She told the much younger British regular, Tom Rogan, there was a very good reason why we don’t want to rearm Germany.  He was the first one to suggest it.   As the post-World War II generation dies off, few will think of World War II and the dire threat Germany and Japan posed to the world. Instead, they will simply say America can’t do it all, rich countries like Germany and Japan should spend more.  The result is not likely to be a good one.

RELIGIOUS DISPUTES DOMINATE THE NEWS

 

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Religion is very much in the news these days.

Donald Trump, the leading contender for the Republican nomination in the US, made a somewhat disparaging remark about Dr. Ben Carson’s religious affiliation.   Carson is the closest rival to Trump. Whereas Trump is a mainstream Presbyterian, Carson is a Seventh Day Adventist.   Mr. Trump said he knew nothing about the SDA’s, but said it in such a way that it made the church and its members decidedly odd.

For the record the Seventh Day Adventists share many beliefs in common with the Presbyterians and other mainstream Christian denominations.   The difference between them is that the SDA’s worship on the seventh day (Saturday) as Jesus did.

Coincidentally, the new President of Fiji is a Seventh Day Adventist. His role is largely a ceremonial role, similar to that played by Queen Elizabeth, who was Fiji’s Head of State until 1987.

Four years ago, in the United States, Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, was a factor in the election.   It was not to his favor.

It’s a pity leaders do not heed the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:12 to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”   Each individual needs to work on his own relationship with God. Christians should be careful not to judge others who may hold to a different Christian tradition.

It’s not just Christian beliefs that have come up in this election. Earlier in the current election campaign the issue of a Muslim president came up.   Neither of the two leading contenders was in favor, but the issue gave the media an opportunity to once again portray both men in a negative light.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the Hungarian Prime Minister has again expressed the fear that the flood of immigrants arriving in Europe will destroy the continent’s Christian (i.e. Catholic) roots.

Europe certainly does have Christian roots, but there is little evidence of those roots these days, as most people have embraced secular humanism.   Only Russia’s leader seems to hold any serious Christian beliefs.   Fortunately, he seems set on saving Christians in the Middle East from Islamic extremism.

In today’s USA Today, an article carries the headline, “Under ISIL’s brutal rule, Iraqis are in constant fear,” written by Kiran Nazish.     A schoolteacher who escaped last month is quoted as observing:   “In more than one year, the Islamic State has created a society where it’s normal for children to watch their elders being murdered by them.”

If you didn’t get it the first time, be sure to read that sentence again.   What it’s saying is that children are watching other children murder adults.  Other articles in recent months have claimed that children not only shoot adults, they are even being trained to behead them. This is the kind of world we now live in.

Fearful of Islam and those refugees from Islamic lands crossing their borders, Poles voted yesterday for a more conservative government.  This is likely to be a trend across Europe as people put security at the top of their concerns.

By far the worst and most serious religious conflict has flared up again in Jerusalem, where Palestinians have been waging a renewed intifada against Israel.   The first intifada was in 1987.   They are trying to drive the Jews out of the West Bank.   If they succeed, it would be a prelude to driving them into the sea.

Palestinians have been angry over the Israelis not allowing young men on to the Temple Mount, which they call Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary).   It’s also a part of the general frustration they feel after seventy years of the nation of Israel.

Meanwhile, an old issue has resurfaced – the role of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during World War II.

“Philadelphia, PA – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn criticism for comments about the role of al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, in conceiving and perpetrating the Holocaust.   Indeed, leading Nazi aides testified that al-Husaini was one of the instigators of the genocide.  In his 1999 autobiography, a senior Nazi official admitted how he advised Hitler and other leading Nazis, and that he acquired full knowledge of the ongoing mass murder.

Middle East Forum scholar, historian, and author Wolfgang G. Schwanitz added, “It is a historical fact that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem al-Hajj Amin al-Husaini was an accomplice whose collaboration with Adolf Hitler played an important role in the Holocaust.   He was the foremost extra-European adviser in the process to destroy the Jews of Europe.”  (“Mufti Advised Hitler on Holocaust”, Middle East Forum, October 21st.)

The Mufti’s successor, Sheikh Muhammed Ahmad Hussein, is now saying that the Temple Mount never housed a Jewish Temple and that the al-Aqsa mosque has been there “since the creation of the world” (Times of Israel, Monday).

If these words were intended to be the last word on the most disputed piece of real estate in the world, he may be surprised at the reaction.

The latest uprising by Palestinian youth has led to the murder of Jews on the streets of Jerusalem.   The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now allowing Palestinian youths on to the Temple Mount, even though it poses a security risk.

There are increasing calls from religious and regional leaders for international supervision of the Temple Mount.

To think that fifty years ago, when I was a teenager, it was widely thought that religion and religious conflict were things of the past!

 

 

A LOOK BACK AT 9/11

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September 11th will long be remembered as the date of a major setback in the struggle between Islam and the West.

September 11th, 1683, that is.

The forces of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire had continued their expansion into Europe and had arrived at the very heart of Europe, Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire.

They were met by a combined force of Austrian, French, German and Polish troops, an alliance of Catholic emperors, princes and kings.

Together, they stopped the Islamic takeover of Europe.

Over the next two centuries, Muslim forces would be pushed back into modern day Turkey, which has a small foothold in Europe, but not much else.

Mindful of their defeat, Muslims significantly chose the same day to perpetrate 9/11 exactly fourteen years ago.   This time, they scored a victory and hope to go on to bring about the Islamization of the western world.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush launched an attack on Afghanistan, commencing the longest conflict in American history.   This was followed by a war in Iraq.   The negative consequences of these two wars remain with us and are likely to continue indefinitely.

Amazingly, after the terror attacks on 9/11, the first new president chosen by the American people was the first one with definite Muslim connections!   Refusing to allow members of the Administration to use terms like “Islamic extremism,” most Americans remain clueless as to the seriousness of the threat Islam is once again posing to the western world.   Multiculturalism is another factor that contributes to this blindness, as western nations welcome hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees into their countries.

Ancient Rome suffered many setbacks before it finally fell, but the last blow came from the new religion of Islam, which swept all before it.   We now see history repeating itself.

Michael Morrell, author of “The Great War of Our Time,” a book that helps us understand the very serious threat from militant Islam, was interviewed on CBS Thursday morning.   Mr. Morrell is a former Assistant Director of the CIA.   In his interview he was asked how the fight against extremism is going.   He replied that there are three battlefields.   One is a military battle in Iraq and Syria.   Here, he said, we have a “stalemate.”   The other two are the ideological battle to win the hearts and minds of young people in the West; and the battle against other militant organizations around the world linking up with ISIS.   These two, he said, we are losing.   In other words, we are not doing well against this very serious threat.  One reason for this is that intelligence reports are being doctored to make it look as if the US is winning against ISIS.   A report on this appeared in today’s Daily Beast.

He also discussed increasing Russian encroachment into Syria. Building an air base, with a view to making air attacks on behalf of Syria’s President Assad.   The flow of Russian arms over Bulgaria and Greece has now been stopped, but Russia can still send arms via Iran.   Moscow and Tehran are working together to keep Assad in power.

Although there are only 16 months left of the present Administration, there is no guarantee of any improvement under another.   Political correctness has made it very difficult for anybody to see clearly the threat from militant Islam.

9/11 in 2001 was just the start of the latest Islamic push against the West.

It may yet turn out to be the “push” the biblical Book of Daniel predicts will happen “at the time of the end.”

40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.” (Daniel 11:40).

This prophecy is about a powerful Islamic leader who “pushes” against the King of the North, a revived Roman Empire.

Interestingly, in the midst of the migrant crisis, where hundreds of thousands are fleeing Islamic lands and moving into Europe, there are increasing European calls for a united effort to deal with this crisis.   The root of the crisis is the Syrian civil war.   Russia is increasingly involved in the conflict, which means it will go on even longer.

It’s also possible that many of the refugees are being sent deliberately by ISIS into Europe, giving them a far greater advantage than they ever had in 1683.   In the last hour, Saudi Arabia, which has taken no refugees from Syria, announced it will help those fleeing to Germany – by building 200 mosques in which they can worship.   This will, of course, advance the cause of Islam even further.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was in London this morning where he told British Prime Minister David Cameron that the “Middle East is disintegrating.”   The region remains the world’s most dangerous neighborhood.   Recent developments and increasing threats pose real dangers for the West in general and Israel in particular.

The Middle East and Europe are still at the center of world events, just as they were on September 11th, 1683.

 

REFUGEE CRISIS OR A HIJRAH?

Refugees arrive at the main station in Saalfeld, eastern Germany, on 5 September by train from Austria. Photo: AFP
Refugees arrive at the main station in Saalfeld, eastern Germany, on 5 September by train from Austria. Photo: AFP

In July 1683, troops of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire attacked Vienna.  The number of troops was estimated to be between 90,000 – 300,000.   Catholic forces from Austria, Poland and other countries fought them and kept Vienna a major city of Christendom. They had stopped the advance of Islam at the very heart of Europe.

Last week, roughly three times as many Muslims entered Austria and Germany, enthusiastically welcomed by the descendants of those Catholic forces over three centuries earlier.

This is the triumph of multiculturalism.   People in the West no longer differentiate between the peoples of different nations, religions or cultures.  We are all the same.  Every life must be saved, even when it means taxpayers feeding and clothing them, with the state providing education and medical care.

Germany is at the heart of this mission of mercy.   It’s ironic, but the last time this number of people was being transported by trains from one part of Europe to another was during the Holocaust, when Jews were shipped to extermination camps.   In taking in 800,000 migrants this year, adding 1% to its population of 80 million, Germany is redeeming itself. The country has gone from being a pariah seven decades ago, to being the perceived savior of much of mankind.

Closer to home, in Europe itself, just a few weeks ago Germany was seen as very harsh toward Greece and other debtor nations, but is now extolled for its generosity.   All thanks to Chancellor Angela Merkel!

But, will it last?

The Times of Israel today has a number of front-page articles on Jews being attacked in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and elsewhere.   A special report highlights increased anti-semitism and Islamophobia in London.   A major article explains why Syrians flee to the West and not to other Arab countries where they are hated and treated very badly.

Ethnic conflict is a major problem everywhere.   History shows that Islam and Christianity are not going to peacefully co-exist.   The Syrians and others joyfully arriving in Munich and Berlin are not likely to assimilate, though they will give a boost to Germany’s economy and help fill the half a million job vacancies in the country. Germany has a low unemployment figure of 4.6% — that’s a real unemployment figure, not to be compared to the US figure, which is calculated very differently.

Already, there are signs of a negative reaction on the part of ethnic Germans.   There was another incident today, of accommodation intended for immigrants burned down by extremists.   According to CNN, “as the number of immigrants increases, so does the number of attacks.   There have been 340 so far this year.”  (“Quest on Business”, CNN International.)   CNN’s Richard Quest warned that the massive influx of new and younger workers could have a depressing effect on German wages.

In the euphoria of the past week’s events, no thought has been given to national security.   Is the migrant surge composed of genuine refugees or is this a hijrah, a mass migration of Muslims to spread Islam to other countries?   This has happened a number of times in history.

From World Net Daily (WND), comes the following:

“To emigrate in the cause of Allah – that is, to move to a new land in order to bring Islam there, is considered in Islam to be a highly meritorious act,” author Robert Spencer wrote.   He cited the following Quranic text:

“And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance,” says the Quran. “ And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him, his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah.   And Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful” (Quran 4:100).

And now, looking at Europe and America, a migration invasion of a much greater magnitude is underway.

Evidence of that invasion came in February when an ISIS operative confirmed what many already suspected – the Islamic State is using the refugee crisis to form a fifth column of Muslim fighters inside Western nations.”

The western world has reacted emotionally to the photographs of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi who drowned, along with his 5-year-old brother and mother when their small boat capsized while trying to flee to Europe from Syria.   Voters have put a lot of pressure on leaders to take in more Syrian refugees.   Little thought has been given to the implications of this.

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.   The strength of this most extreme of all Islamic militants lies in Syria and Iraq.   Just a few months ago, ISIS said it would send 500,000 of their fighters to Western Europe.   It’s quite likely that many of those terrorists are in the midst of those now being resettled in Europe.   The security implications are dire.

Arabs believe that they are descended from Abraham through Ishmael, the son born of Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar.   The book of Genesis predicted that Ishmael’s descendants would live amongst other descendants of Abraham and pose a major security risk to them.   Note Genesis 16:12:

“He shall be a wild man;
His hand shall be against every man,
And every man’s hand against him.
And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”

 

OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE ORDER

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President Obama’s speech on Thursday announcing his executive order on illegal immigration was not watched by many people. Most of the usual television stations did not show it.

It’s just as well.   It was misleading.

He referred to the fact that America has always been a land of immigrants (true) but it is misleading to imply that there is a correlation between the present situation and the past.

At the time of independence, the US was 98% Protestant, 1% Catholic, and 1% “Other,” including Jews. This means that, in the 175 years of the colonial period that came before independence, almost all immigrants came from the Protestant countries of NW Europe.   They mostly came from the British Isles.   This trend continued well into the nineteenth century.   When Irish Catholic immigrants started arriving in significant numbers, they were not made very welcome. Washington DC even witnessed anti-Catholic riots.

Today, according to the Pew Research Center, 51.3% are Protestants and 23.9% Catholic. “Others” number 4.7% — this includes Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, three religions not represented in America’s early years.   That’s quite a change in a little over 200 years. The United States is well on the way to becoming a minority Protestant country.

Religious tolerance developed in majority Protestant countries, the nations of NW Europe and especially England. This was due mainly to the proliferation of different denominations. “If there were only one religion in England,” wrote Voltaire in his Philosophical Letters, “we should have to fear despotism; if there were two, they would cut each other’s throats; but there were thirty and they live in peace and happiness.” (The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood, 1991, page 14.)   The number of denominations in both England and the American colonies was the same.

The fact that Protestantism is in decline in the United States will likely lead to greater religious intolerance. It has already contributed to significant changes.   Not so long ago the Protestant Ten Commandments were taught in school (the Catholic Ten Commandments are different; really, check out a Catholic Bible!)   The Bible was considered the Word of God. I grew up in England. I remember us being taught Bible stories as young children in school. I remember asking one of my teachers how you got three days and three nights into the period between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I don’t remember exactly what he said but I do remember he attempted to answer the question.   This would be unheard of today in a state run school.

Some of the religions entering the US today are known for their intolerance. Many immigrants come from countries violently divided between different religious factions. Those divisions are in danger of spilling over into the US.

“America by the Numbers” is a PBS series dedicated to highlighting the “major demographic change” that is taking place in the United States. It makes the changes seem so positive, yet geography and history show that different ethnic groups and religions will not get along once they are present in significant numbers.

The President’s speech was also misleading in another way.

When immigrants came to the US in previous centuries they were very much on their own. Churches and charities might have helped to a limited degree but immigrants had to find work fast to take care of themselves. Today, government helps. At the very least, free medical care is provided (no one can be turned away from ER) and free education for children, courtesy of tax-payers who are largely unaware.

Government even helps with accommodation, food, and transport.

This is not just in the United States. Other western countries do the same. Is it any wonder that hundreds of thousands, even millions, annually, are leaving their own countries and moving to western nations? Without the freebies, most would not attempt the journey.

Mr. Obama’s executive order will help to fundamentally change the country, a process that started 50 years ago with the 1965 immigration act. In time, it will also guarantee the Democrats five million more votes!

WHAT WOULD ST PETER MAKE OF THE CHURCH?

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I’m nauseated by the coverage of the change in the papacy.

It’s not that I have a problem with the new pope, because I don’t.  He seems a very humble man and his focus on the poor is commendable.

What’s wrong is not even his fault.

I’m talking about the constant references to the “fact” that he is the personal representative on earth of Jesus Christ.

It’s also frequently said that he is the 266th pontiff, a direct successor to St. Peter, who started the Catholic Church.

If that’s true, then Peter has a lot to answer for!

The Catholic Church today sets a very good example in some respects, adhering strictly to conservative teachings that most churches long since abandoned – just as their members have, in turn, abandoned them.  Pope Francis I is only going to boost the church with his stated interest in the poor and his very approachable manner.   Leaders of other churches should take note – not all churches are led by what you might call “people-people.”  Certainly, religious leaders are not generally humble.  At the same time, it has become the accepted norm for religious leaders to live in big houses and enjoy a high standard of living.

But the Catholic Church, the wealthiest organization on earth, has not always had the image it has now.  Its history has been violent and sordid.  You only have to watch Showtime’s The Borgias to see this.  (Please note:  The Borgias is remarkably historically accurate for a television series.)   The Borgias were a wealthy Italian family in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who got control of what was a very corrupt church – and made it even more corrupt.  Pope Alexander VI, a Borgia, left his wife behind and took a mistress whom he kept in the Vatican.   His son, meanwhile, was made a Cardinal and had a reputation for constant debauchery.  Alexander got to the papacy through bribery, threats, and even murder.  The political shenanigans that went on would embarrass most politicians in the world today.

Even that wasn’t the worst period in the church’s history.  In the ninth and tenth centuries, a Catholic monk labeled the government of the church “the pornocracy,” the government of filth.  Google that word sometime and you can read all about it.  There was even a female pope – a woman masquerading as a man who rose to the highest office and was only discovered when she gave birth to a child while surrounded by a crowd in Rome.

“If Peter came back as a pilgrim, how would he judge what goes on in the Vatican by the standards of the gospel?”  This question was asked by a former priest and graduate of Gregorian University in Rome, Peter de Rosa, in his 1988 book “Vicars of Christ” (page 26).

He then notes the contrast between the relative poverty of the disciples with the great wealth of today’s church.   “Jesus was born in a stable.  In his ministry, he had nowhere to lay his head.  Today, his Vicar inhabits a palace with eleven thousand rooms.  And then there is Castelgandolfo, overlooking the Alban Lake where pontiffs go to escape the summer heat.”  Here, in a palace bigger than the Vatican, Pope John Paul II had a private swimming pool installed.

“Jesus renounced possessions … Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, he said, where neither rust nor moth can spoil it.  Christ’s Vicar lives surrounded by treasures, some of pagan origin.  Any suggestion that the pope should sell all he has and give to the poor is greeted with derision as impractical.  The rich young man in the gospel reacted in the same way.”  Will Pope Francis be different?  He has already said he wished the Church was poor.

On the next page he points out another contrast.  “The celibacy of the clergy, popes included, might also surprise Peter, seeing that Jesus chose him, knowing he was married.”

He expresses consternation at the pope’s grand title “Pontifex Maximus,” “for in his (Peter’s) time, that was the title of the pagan high priest of Rome.”

At great length, he explains that the papacy’s claim to go right back to Jesus Christ is inaccurate and a convenient misreading of scripture.   (I will post something on this on another day.)  The legitimacy of the Church is based on this claim and gives them a big advantage over other churches – but it is totally, biblically and historically without basis!

Can Pope Francis really make a difference?  Two thousand years of history suggests not.  His age (76) is also against him.

But, if nothing else, he may be able to encourage some self-examination on the part of the government of the Church – the Roman Curia, the bloated bureaucracy that effectively controls the Church.   Looking at history, he is unlikely to make it worse.

As for television reporters, please read more history and get some depth!