Tag Archives: PBS World

ISIL OR ISIS? WHAT’S IN A NAME?

ISIL or ISIS

Chuck Todd is the host of America’s longest running television series, “Meet the Press.”   Sometime ago he interviewed the President on his program.

Mr. Todd has an interesting explanation as to why the president insists on calling ISIS, ISIL.   The terrorist group called themselves ISIS until they shortened their name to IS, meaning “Islamic State.”

ISIS stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”   These are the two countries in which the organization has been most successful, now controlling over 50% of Syria and substantial areas of Iraq.

ISIL stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”   This is a name the terrorists have never used, though it’s doubtful they will object to it as it actually makes them seem even more important than they already are.

The term “Levant” embraces a wider territory than just Iraq and Syria.   It includes those two countries and, in addition, Lebanon and Jordan.   ISIS has no territory in either country.  It would find Lebanon a very difficult country to conquer as it would come up against another terrorist group, Hezbollah, which is Shia Muslim.

So why does President Obama insist on ISIL?

Chuck Todd believes it has a lot to do with the mistakes the Obama Administration has made in Syria and his reluctance to face up to them.

An alternative theory, put forward on Fox by Harris Faulkner, is that using ISIL instead of ISIS gives the terror group a boost, implying they will soon control those countries, too, as they seek to expand their Islamic State.   This could suggest the president has some sympathy with them and their aims.

However, after watching PBS’s “Frontline” this week, Chuck Todd’s explanation has greater credibility.   (“Obama at War” should still be available at PBS.org and may be shown again on your local PBS station or PBS World.)

The one-hour documentary chronicled the mistakes the Administration made in Syria that led directly to the creation of ISIS (ISIL!).

It was early in 2011, during the euphoria of the Arab Spring, that demonstrations against the Assad regime began.   When President Assad’s forces cracked down on the demonstrators it triggered off the civil war, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

Because the Administration decided not to support the “moderate” rebels, Sunni Muslims (the majority) in Syria needed protection from the ruling Shia.   This provided an opportunity for ISIS.

American weakness soon became obvious when the American president drew a line, making it clear that if Assad used chemical weapons there would be serious consequences.   The world has watched the Syrian government use chemical weapons more than once, witnessing children in their death throes from chlorine bombs and Washington has repeatedly failed to do anything.   This double mindedness has been to America’s shame!

“I would say, Mr. President, that you are going to go down in history if you continue like this, as somebody who has tarnished the reputation of the United States.   You have created many more enemies in the Middle East and you have unwittingly assisted global terrorism,” claimed Murhaf Jouejati, a member of the Syrian opposition to President Assad.

(Presumably, this program was produced prior to the recent summit in Washington DC with no-show Gulf Arab leaders. Even America’s traditional allies in the Middle East no longer trust the US over its dealings with Iran.)

Perhaps it is out of guilt that the Administration has allowed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Syrians to resettle in the US, even though this poses a potential security risk at home.

But it’s no wonder the President of the United States does not want to mention Syria and prefers ISIL to ISIS.

His confused Middle East policy also helps us understand why he will not use the term “Islamic extremists,” thereby showing a link between religion and terrorism.

This would suggest the alternative theory is correct – that he wants to give a boost to ISIS.   The Bible tells us that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

Whatever the explanation, the western world is in trouble.   The next twenty months could be very challenging ones for the West, as this double minded foreign policy plays out.   A lot more can happen in the next few months.

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EVOLUTION AND THE GAY DIVIDE

ZachHarrington
Zack Harrington

Exactly seven months after the publication of Charles Darwin’s book On The Origin of Species, a famous debate occurred at Oxford University. A number of people were involved but the two main protagonists were Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, a descendant of William Wilberforce, who led the fight against slavery, and Thomas Henry Huxley.

Wilberforce did not handle the debate very well, trying to ridicule Huxley for believing monkeys were his ancestors.  Sadly, this was typical of churches at the time, who dismissed fossils as being planted by Satan.

Religious belief has been in decline ever since.

I fear conservative churches are about to make a similar mistake in the next few years over the issue of same sex attraction, or homosexuality.

“America Reframed” is a PBS World television series that highlights significant changes taking place in the United States.  Last week’s program focused on Norman, Oklahoma, which soon found itself deeply divided following the suicide of a 19-year-old man who took his life after a Council meeting.  The episode, “Broken Heart Land,” profiled teen Zack Harrington, a young gay man with HIV/AIDS.  The Council meeting discussed a request to commemorate LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgendered) History Month.  The attitudes shown by people he had known all his life upset Zack and led directly to his taking his own life.

Zack’s parents were conservative Republicans who were suddenly faced with the worst crisis in their lives.

Another significant player was a local pastor running for election.

Without realizing it, the documentary got to the crux of the matter.

Homosexual acts are always a choice and always a sin . . . as are heterosexual acts outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.  But are homosexual feelings always a choice? A great deal hangs on this question and its answer.

And this is where churches are in danger.

In my ministry, I helped a number of people struggling with homosexual feelings. Every single one of them told me they knew they were different as young as 3.  They did not choose to be attracted to the same sex.   Some felt they were born with SSA (Same Sex Attraction); others that it was caused in the first three years of life, within the family dynamic. Either way, the feelings were not their fault.  However, they had to learn how to live with them.

As Christian adults, they wanted to obey God but found themselves struggling with their sexual feelings. They struggled with “Desires in Conflict,” the title of a book by Joe Dallas. This conflict was not easy to resolve. What was particularly hard to accept was the attitude of other Christians, who blamed them for having the problem in the first place. They soon learned to hide, to keep it all to themselves. For many, it was a very lonely existence.

A couple of weeks ago, The Economist cover was titled “The Gay Divide,” showing how divided the world is over this issue. Roughly half the world is accepting while the other half is condemning. It’s a dialogue of the deaf.

It was clear from the documentary on Norman, Oklahoma, that most Christians are convinced people choose to be homosexual. This is the root of the great divide.

It’s not so much that churches will be persecuted for taking a hard line stance; what seems more likely is that churches will be ridiculed for holding to the position that it’s a choice. Again, sexual acts are a choice but should be treated equally with illicit heterosexual acts, something the civil law already does. The Apostle Paul did the same in I Corinthians 6:9-11, listing adultery and fornication in the same passage with homosexual acts. “ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

When churches accept that same sex attraction, in most cases, is not a choice, it will at least lead to Christian compassion and love, qualities that were seriously lacking in Norman, Oklahoma.   It may also help the churches avoid becoming like the fossils they ridiculed 150 years ago.