Thursday, January 29, 2015

Episcopal Apostasy and the Decline of Christianity in the West

The generation that is alive right now is witnessing the apostasy of mainline Christianity in the West.  Every Christian tradition has an element--and in many instances a controlling element--that denies "the faith once delivered to the saints"--Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists--every Protestant tradition has been affected.

Roman Catholics are not immune either.  The radical theologies and skeptical approaches to Scripture that are taught in RC universities and seminaries (and embraced enthusiastically in some religious orders and clergy circles) are identical to those taught in their Protestant counterparts.  I have had Roman Catholic friends answer this assertion by saying, "Yes, but we have the Magisterium to protect us."  Frankly, that contention is laughable.  No authority of the Papacy or the Magisterium can long withstand the undermining of orthodoxy that is occurring in their institutions of higher learning.

But none of these traditions has gone as far in excluding and persecuting its faithful remnant as has occurred (and is still occurring) in the Anglican Communion--in particular in the Episcopal Church.

In light of developments in the Episcopal Church, I have had to ask myself, "Did my wife and I err in becoming Anglicans 29 years ago?  Was I wrong to serve as an Episcopal priest for 24 years?"  No, the Anglican expression of Christianity is still the finest expression of Christianity I know.   Recently, in teaching a Confirmation class in the parish, I made the point that Anglicanism does not have a faith of its own.  Rather it seeks to be a container for conveying biblical, apostolic, and catholic Christianity to all generations.  Anglicanism retains catholic faith and order; but, in purifying itself of the erroneous accretions of the middle ages, it is a Reformed Catholicism.

The Episcopal Church, in common with the other churches of the West, first began to go astray when it became a worldly church.  Others who have chronicled the departure of the Episcopal Church from orthodoxy have looked at the strange case of Bishop James Pike (and the Episcopal Church's failure to discipline the heretical bishop) as a turning point.

About the time my wife and I were looking at the Episcopal Church, Bishop John Shelby Spong was just finding his voice as a skeptic.  Spong went on to have an influential, though unfaithful, career.  Someone who wears a purple shirt while denying everything Christianity has always believed will always find a receptive audience, especially in the media.  It is a theological "man bites dog" story--or was before it became so commonplace.

Someone might say that before becoming an Anglican, I should have looked at the examples of Pike and Spong and the Episcopal Church's failure to deal with them the way a pilot looks for stress cracks in the airframe of an airplane.  But the attraction of a Church that still officially held an orthodox faith, together with the preciousness of the sacraments and the beauty of an ancient liturgy, was too strong.

Then, too, there were spiritual and theological giants in Anglicanism, some of whom became my very faithful mentors: John Stott, J.I. Packer, Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, and John Rodgers, along with bishops like Fitz Allison, John Howe, and Alex Dickson who convinced me there was still a place for a biblically faithful Christian in the Episcopal Church.  Later I met other US bishops:  Edward MacBurney (who ordained me deacon and priest), Donald Parsons, Keith Ackerman, John David Schofield, and Jack Iker--bishops of great faithfulness who provided sound leadership.

While on the faculty of Trinity School for Ministry I had the privilege of meeting a number of overseas bishops and primates (Maurice Sinclair, Peter Jensen, Greg Venables, Peter Akinola, Henry Luke Orombi--and of teaching some who are now bishops in the Global South--John Ruchyhana, Tito Zavala, Ben Kwashi.  In becoming an Anglican, I had been adopted into a good family.

But not all was well in the family.  John Shelby Spong continued to popularize the kind of skepticism one finds in liberal religious studies courses for college undergraduates, or (as Rowan Williams once said of Spong) to "ask the sort of questions that might be posed by a bright sixth former" (a senior in high school).  It is instructive to be reminded of Spong's Twelve Theses and Rowan Williams' response.

Even more troubling than Spong's militant skepticism was the Episcopal Church's complete failure to do anything about it.  During his episcopate, Spong also engaged in an aggressive campaign of ordaining gays, lesbians, and skeptics who shared his theological agenda, who went on to occupy positions of influence around the Church.  I said long ago that if one could undo all the ordinations by John Shelby Spong and about three-fourths of the ordinations by Paul Moore of New York, the liberalizing trend in the Episcopal Church could have been neutralized.

But Spong did his worst, and no one lifted a finger to stop him.  It would have been too radical, too tacky, too shocking to actually try a bishop for heresy!  Genteel Episcopalians just didn't do such things!  Walter Righter was brought up on charges for ordaining a gay man on Spong's behalf, and the court for the trial of a bishop determined that "no core doctrine" had been violated.  Soon there was a cadre of "me too" bishops, following the new agenda of ordaining skeptics, gays, and lesbians.

All of this was compounded by the radical theologies and liberal social agenda that were being taught in the seminaries.  Fast forward twenty years, and these inmates are now running the Episcopal asylum.

Trinity School for Ministry was founded in 1975 as a counterweight--and the orthodox stream of clergy being trained at Trinity did a commendable and sometimes courageous job of promoting biblical orthodoxy and spiritual renewal in American Anglicanism.

When I moved from the faculty of Trinity to become Dean and President of Nashotah House in 2001, my aim was not to make Nashotah into "Trinity West" (as I was sometimes accused of doing); but I did want Nashotah House to be similarly countercultural with regard to the prevailing liberal culture of the Episcopal Church and to be vigorously orthodox in promoting a biblical and spiritual renewal of the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Episcopal Church.  Thanks be to God for the transformation that occurred and for several classes of orthodox clergy who graduated during my ten years as Dean and President!

However, all the while, the rot continued to spread throughout the Episcopal Church.  I was a deputy to five General Conventions from 1994 to 2006 and watched the Church change before my eyes.  Another religion was taking over the Episcopal Church.

This religion denies that God has existed eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  That the eternal Son became incarnate through being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  That Jesus' existence as the eternal Son shows that God's plan of redemption for humankind was inherent in the Triune nature of God from before the world was created.  That Jesus suffered and died in our place for our sins on the Cross.  That he rose bodily from the tomb on the third day, thus securing our own bodily resurrection at the last day to live with him forever.

This subversive religion that took over the Episcopal Church cannot abide those who hold the biblical, apostolic, and catholic faith of the Church and must inevitably drive out and persecute those who hold it faithfully.  It is in the nature of things and has happened everywhere true Christianity has existed alongside another religion or competing ideology.

My last General Convention as a deputy was in July 2006, the convention where Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop.  As has been reported in numerous places, even before she was invested as Presiding Bishop, she ordered Bishop Peter Lee to renege on agreements with the cluster of northern Virginia parishes to leave TEc with their property.   Then came the Connecticut Six parishes.  Then came a hundred other parishes and five whole dioceses:  Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy, San Joaquin, and now South Carolina.

The Episcopal Church, though it is faced with an imminent demographic implosion, has spent tens of millions of dollars that should have been spent on mission suing departing faithful Anglicans.  TEc has spent countless more dollars in an effort to co-opt Global South provinces and dioceses into following its apostate agenda.

So, while those who know me well know that I am not an "angry person," as the term is sometimes used, I am angry.  I am angry that another religion has been allowed to take over a church that was once a wonderful spiritual home.  I am angry that almost every faithful bishop and dozens of clergy that I know have been marginalized, excluded, and finally driven out, sued, and deposed.  I am angry that a church that talks about giving to the poor will spend millions of dollars to deprive faithful Christians of their places of worship--places that TEc does not need and cannot use.

I am angry that naive bishops and clergy who are Episcopal Church careerists stubbornly refuse to recognize or do not care that there is a spiritual war going on.  I am angry that these same bishops and careerists play nicely with the Episcopal Church's leadership as if nothing is wrong.

Do we wonder why Christianity is in decline in the West and why so much of society now holds biblical Christianity in contempt?  A large part of the answer is the skepticism engendered by liberal religious leaders.

When the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church gives an interview to Time magazine and denies that Jesus is the only way to the Father, how can we expect the world to believe those Christians who say that he is?  If the Dean of an Episcopal seminary says, "Abortion is a blessing!" and Episcopal parishes support abortion providers, how can we expect the world to believe those Christians who say that all life is sacred from conception until natural death?  When the recently deceased Marcus Borg can be made a canon theologian, what confidence does it inspire in biblical authority?  One could go down a whole list of theological and social issues where there is a divergence between biblically faithful Christians and liberal elites whose denial of biblical truth undermines the Christian witness.

If denominational leaders and "reputable scholars" (reputable according to whom?) undermine confidence in the authority of Scripture and deny cardinal beliefs of historic Christianity, how can we expect the world to believe?  The reason why the Church is supposed to have faithful leaders is not only to lead the Church in being faithful but to be articulate in presenting the truth of the Christian faith to the world.  This is why orthodox seminaries that do not compromise or equivocate are so important.  If Christianity spoke with a united voice, it could influence the culture and answer its challenges.  Instead the uncertain trumpet of the Church's own leadership has brought the faith into disrepute.

God desires something better for his people--"that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love" (Ephesians 4:14-16).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Obama Backs Campaign to Defeat Netanyahu in Israeli Elections

In response to my earlier post about Obama's slap at Israel, A.S. Haley commented, "Now comes word that the President's hatred for Netanyahu has driven him to try to interfere in Israel's upcoming elections..."  The article referenced in Mr. Haley's link makes for some informative and shocking reading:  The President of the US' campaign team is working in Israeli elections to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The following article from PJ Media provides further information:

[Jerusalem Post Senior Editor] Caroline Glick picked up on one article the Israeli left-wing paper Ha’aretz didn’t bother translating into English that details Obama’s involvement in the upcoming Israeli elections.  A summary of the article is provided by IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis):
Haaretz reporter Roi Arad revealed in an article in the Hebrew edition today [January 26] that the foreign funded organization, “One Voice”, is bankrolling the V-2015 campaign to defeat Binyamin Netanyahu’s national camp in the March 2015 Knesset Elections.
One indication of the generous financing is that it has now flown in a team of five American campaign experts (including Jeremy Bird, the Obama campaign’s national field director) who will run the campaign out of offices taking up the ground floor of a Tel Aviv office building.
V-2015 is careful not to support a specific party – rather “just not Bibi”. As such, the foreign funds pouring into the campaign are not subject to Israel’s campaign finance laws.
Glick commented via Facebook:
Obama won’t meet Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו in Washington when he addresses the Joint Houses of Congress in March because of Netanyahu’s visit’s proximity to the Israeli elections.  And Obama, of course believes in protocol and propriety which is why he won’t get involved.  No, he’s not getting involved at all.  He’s just sending his 2012 field campaign manager to Israel to run a campaign to defeat Netanyahu.  That’s all.  No interference whatsoever.
Read it all.

In another article on the wesite Real Clear Politics, Glick makes clear the difference between the Obama team's involvement in Israeli elections and the invitation by House Speaker John Boehner for Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress five weeks prior to the Israeli elections:
Opposition leaders were quick to accuse Boehner and the Republican Party of interfering in Israel’s upcoming election by providing Netanyahu with such a prestigious stage just five weeks before Israelis go to the polls.

Labor MK Nachman Shai told The Jerusalem Post that for the sake of fairness, Boehner should extend the same invitation to opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

But in protesting as they have, opposition members have missed the point.  Boehner didn’t invite Netanyahu because he cares about Israel’s election.  He invited Netanyahu because he cares about US national security.  He believes that by having Netanyahu speak on the issues of Iran’s nuclear program and radical Islam, he will advance America’s national security.

Boehner’s chief concern, and that of the majority of his colleagues from the Democratic and Republican parties alike, is that President Barack Obama’s policy in regard to Iran’s nuclear weapons program imperils the US.  Just as the invitation to Netanyahu was a bipartisan invitation, so concerns about Obama’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear program are bipartisan concerns.

Over the past week in particular, Obama has adopted a position on Iran that puts him far beyond the mainstream of US politics.  This radical position has placed the president on a collision course with Congress best expressed on Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez.  During a hearing at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee where Menendez serves as ranking Democratic member, he said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.” 
[And recognize that this is a Hispanic Democrat Senator saying this, not a Republican!  Even the Democrats in Congress are beginning to realize there is something rotten in the White House.]
Read it all, where there is more about Iran's growing nuclear capability along with indications Iran is farther along in the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles than was previously thought.
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SOUTH CAROLINA: Another TEc Harassment Lawsuit

No, not a lawsuit over a case of harassment, but a case of harassment by lawsuit.  That's what this is about.  And it is so totally ridiculous!  The lower court in South Carolina is already in the process of deciding the entire matter of whether the Diocese of South Carolina, which voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church at its convention in 2012, could legally do so.  If, in fact, that disaffiliation was legal, then, obviously, the Diocese that left has a right to go on regarding Mark Lawrence as its bishop and to use whatever trademarks, titles, etc. that the court allows in its decision.

This appeal to a federal court, alleging that Bp. Lawrence is engaging in false advertizing!!! by continuing to call himself the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina is precisely the kind of thing that will be settled by the state court's decision, when Judge Goodstein issues it.   The Episcopal Church, fearing it is going to lose in the state court, is simply trying to preempt that decision by appealing to federal courts.  The US District Court in Charleston rightly recognized that the matter in question was going to be covered in the state court's decision and refused to take jurisdiction in the case.  We need to pray that the US Court of Appeals in Richmond sees the matter the same way.

One might wish that the leadership of the Episcopal Church would come to grips with reality.  The people of the Diocese of South Carolina voted by an overwhelming majority to leave the Episcopal Church.  Any church bureaucracy that would try to force its will on a Diocese where the majority of people have said they no longer want to be affiliated is manifestly evil.  They are just trying to suck the life out of the Diocese of South Carolina (and the other dioceses they are suing) by bleeding them dry through lawsuits.  (That's just my opinion, of course. But this kind of continued pernicious evil from the Episcopal Church's leadership has been going on long enough that it just makes you wonder what it will take to finally drive a stake through the vampire's heart.)

The allegation that this is merely a case of "Bp. Lawrence and Bishop Lawrence and other diocesan officials announcing they had 'withdrawn' from The Episcopal Church" is simply male bovine excrement!!!  This is not some unilateral action by Bp. Lawrence and other diocesan officials--it was a well-considered decision by the Diocesan Convention of South Carolina--a decision reaffirmed by a subsequent convention--and further affirmed by the congregations who voted that they wished to remain with the Diocese headed by Bp. Lawrence.  The state court, where the case has been heard, will cover the legality of all this in its decision.

Rather than await that decision, TEc is frivolously snipping around the edges, desperately hoping for some federal court decision that can derail their anticipated defeat in the state courts of South Carolina.  And, they--by which I mean primarily the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor--don't seem to care how many millions of dollars of the Episcopal Church's money they spend, since they figure they can outspend any parish or diocese that dares to contend with them. 

Oral arguments before the court in Richmond, VA, are scheduled to be heard tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28.  Please pray.

[The following press release has been issued by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (headed by Bp. vonRosenberg) and reflects their perspective.] 

From here:

SOUTH CAROLINA: Oral arguments set in federal court appeal

TECinSC
http://www.episcopalchurchsc.org/news-release-january-27-2015.html
January 27, 2015

Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard on Wednesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va. in vonRosenberg v. Lawrence, seeking to have the case sent back to U.S. District Court in Charleston to be decided on its merits.

Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., Chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, will present Bishop Charles vonRosenberg's case before a three-judge panel at the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Courthouse in Richmond.  Twenty minutes are allotted to each side for oral arguments and rebuttals.  No immediate ruling is expected.

The appeal focuses on the issue of false advertising under the federal Lanham Act.  Bishop vonRosenberg is the only bishop recognized by The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.  Mark Lawrence, by continuing to represent himself as bishop of the diocese, is committing false advertising, according to a brief filed with the appeals court in April.

The appeal asks the judges to rule that the District Court in Charleston erred in abstaining from jurisdiction on the false-advertising claim, and send the case back to the lower court to be decided on its merits.  It also asks the appeals court to award a preliminary injunction and stop Bishop Lawrence from representing himself as bishop of the diocese.

In 2012, Bishop Lawrence and other diocesan officials announced they had "withdrawn" from The Episcopal Church.  The Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church accepted his renunciation, and he was removed from the ordained ministry of the church.  The Presiding Bishop then called a special Diocesan Convention in January 2013.  There, delegates elected Bishop vonRosenberg, who is recognized by The Episcopal Church as the one and only rightful bishop of the local diocese.

"Despite his renunciation and removal from office, Bishop Lawrence continues to hold himself out as the Bishop of the Diocese, and continues to make other false representations of fact..." the brief says. Bishop Lawrence's actions interfere with Bishop vonRosenberg's right to communicate with people and carry out his duties as the sole bishop of the diocese, creating confusion and causing irreparable damage, according to the appeal.

The trademark issues involved in vonRosenberg v. Lawrence are not being raised in the appeal.  When U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck refused to hear the case, he dismissed the trademark issues without prejudice, noting that similar issues are part of a state lawsuit filed by the breakaway group.  Judge Houck's order left open the possibility that those issues still could be brought to federal court if the state courts do not properly resolve them.

The state court case went to trial in Dorchester County in July 2014 and is awaiting a decision from Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein.
 

Obama's slap of Israel is shameful, dangerous

A Savannah Morning News editorial:

President Obama is cementing his reputation as the least pro-Israel president this nation has ever had.  [One might as well say, "the only anti-Israel president this nation has ever had.]

Last week, the White House announced that Mr. Obama will not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he comes to Washington in March to address Congress.

It’s the first time an American has openly snubbed a leader of this nation’s closest ally in the Middle East.

That’s shameful.  It’s also dangerous to this nation’s security and to Israel’s.

It’s clear that the two leaders dislike — if not detest — one another.  But they always must be willing to talk, and at any time.  The only people who benefit when Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu don’t communicate are America’s and Israel’s enemies in this region.

There are plenty of them.

Especially Iran.

Iran is on a hot political roll lately.  So are its proxies.  Iranian-backed Houthi rebels control the Yemeni government.  Iran’s influence in Syria continues is rising, as Tehran seems to have saved the once teetering regime of Bashar al-Assad.  Hezbollah is making mischief in Lebanon and elsewhere, according to Iran’s bidding.

This political momentum isn’t just making Israel increasingly nervous.  Other U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are worried.  If events continue to go Iran’s way, and it is allowed to acquire its own nukes, that part of the world could explode.  Israel knows it.

But the White House doesn’t.

Mr. Netanyahu is speaking to Congress because House Speaker John Boehner invited him.  The White House wasn’t involved.

Members of Congress must be reluctant to play Secretary of State — that’s the job of the executive branch.  But Mr. Obama’s foreign policy, as it relates to Iran and the bomb, has the strength and vigor of a soggy noodle.

For example, the relief from economic sanctions given to Iran was supposed to be tied to scale-backs on that country’s nuclear program.  Yet Iran’s nuclear ambitions continue.  Deadlines have come and gone twice.  But sanctions haven’t been reinstated.  In fact, Iran’s leaders are acting like the lifting of sanctions were permanent — and you can’t blame them.

You can’t fault Israel’s prime minister for being more politically aggressive in the U.S. if his counterpart here is AWOL on Iran’s nukes.

So yes, his acceptance of Mr. Boehner’s invitation to speak on March 3 on Capitol Hill is a poke in the eye to Mr. Obama.  But it needs poking.

The president has opposed a bipartisan bill in Congress that would put teeth in the effort to force Iran to give up its nuclear program.  Although Mr. Obama has vowed to veto such a measure, there’s a chance that enough Republicans and Democrats could vote to override it.  That’s another reason why the White House won’t give Israel’s leader the time of day.

Mr. Obama’s leadership in the Middle East has been abysmal.  Maybe he’s not openly hostile to Israel.  Yet he’s not doing that nation — or, his own — any favors by snubbing Mr. Netanyahu or going soft on nukes.   The only beneficiary is the country that’s gaining strength — Iran.
 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

7 Reasons Introverted Men Are So Attractive

Okay, this is just for fun:

In an extrovert-centric culture, the natural attractiveness of introverted men often goes unnoticed. That said, when developed properly, the introvert’s charm is intoxicating.


Think of James Bond for a moment.  Quiet.  Pensive.  Confident.  Mysterious.  Do you think he was more of an extrovert or introvert?  Introvert, of course. 

If Bond were to follow the common pick-up advice of today, he would have a lot of trouble attracting women.  Can you imagine?  Tossing out jokes, making a loud and gregarious show, centering himself as the life of the party…  It feels a little off, doesn't it?  That's because it's just not him.  Instead, Bond is mysterious.  Intriguing.  Quietly confident.  That combination is irresistible to women everywhere, apparently.

Do you have to be James Bond to have the same genre of charm he has?  Not at all.  As long as you're an introvert, you can focus purely on bettering yourself in a way that feels good to you, and your nature will take care of the rest.  Here are seven reasons why you, as an introverted man, are naturally attractive:

1. You are mysterious.  You have a rich inner world, full of intriguing thoughts and feelings.  Women who like you want to know what you're thinking, but they can't possibly know so easily.  This sets up a playful, intense dynamic naturally.

2. You are easy to be around.  By nature, you are chill and relaxed.  You're not clamoring for attention, and you're a great listener.  These qualities make you pleasant and appealing.

3. You have a fresh perspective on the world.  Because you're not into passing fads but are attuned to a deeper reality, the way you see the world is often surprising and wonderful to others.  You have a fresh sense of humor and quirky playfulness.

4. Your introspection makes you a wonderful partner.  You have a habit of searching out where you're going right and where you're going wrong in life, so you can take responsibility and better yourself.  When developed, this is incredibly earnest and trustworthy to a woman.

5. You are in tune with subtle chemistry nuances.  This is so sexy.  Your quiet depth puts you in close touch with your body, her body, and the environment in a way that gives you a special edge.  Sometimes, just the slightest glance can make a woman melt, and your intuitive nature means you are especially primed to do that well.

6. You are intellectually stimulating.  Intelligent women are energized by meaningful conversations with intelligent men.  Because of your intellectually curious and exploratory nature, you know all kinds of different things to share with others.

7. You know yourself.  As an inwardly oriented man, you know what you like and what you don't like.  You know your values, your preferences, and what you want in life.  This makes you sophisticated and trustable.  Those are only seven reasons you are naturally attractive.  There are many more about you specifically that you may not even know. 

So I encourage you to go hunt for those naturally attractive qualities in yourself.  Recall meaningful compliments.  Reflect on your accomplishments.  Try to see yourself in each of the seven facets above.  Then, go do whatever it takes to turn up the dial on your most attractive qualities.

This story originally appeared on The Good Men Project
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saudi king 'halts flogging of blogger facing 1,000 lashes' after Middle Eastern country accused of 'outrageous inhumanity'

In an update to my last post, the media are now reporting:
An internet blogger facing 1,000 lashes for criticising clerics in Saudi Arabia was given new hope last night after the apparent intervention of the king.

Bowing to massive international pressure, King Abdullah has referred the case of Raif Badawi to the country's supreme court.

There has been no official statement from the Saudi government on the monarch's intervention, revealed by Mr Badawi's wife, Ensaf.
 
 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Saudi Blogger Sentenced To 1,000 Lashes May Not Withstand 2nd Round Of Flogging, Says Wife

If a Saudi blogger is killed by his government over free speech, how is this any different than the Charlie Hebdo massacre?

From here, where there is more:
A Saudi Arabian blogger imprisoned for starting a liberal online forum to encourage discussion and debate in his country may not be able to withstand a second flogging this Friday, his wife says.

Raif Badawi was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes by a Saudi court for “insulting Islam.”  Last Friday he endured the first round of lashes -- 50 strikes on the back of his body by a long, hard cane -- in a public flogging held in the city of Jiddah.  This Friday, he will reportedly be subjected to a second round of 50 lashes.

“Raif told me he is in a lot of pain after his flogging, his health is poor and I’m certain he will not be able to cope with another round of lashes,” Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haider, told Amnesty International.

Badawi was sent to prison and assigned weekly public canings for launching the Free Saudi Liberals website.  According to the Associated Press, he was also ordered to pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals, or about $266,000.  His website has been shut down.

Badawi's lawyer, human rights activist Waleed Abul-Khair, has reportedly also been sentenced to a lengthy jail term: 15 years imprisonment, as well as a subsequent 15-year travel ban. He was found guilty by a Saudi anti-terrorism court of "undermining the regime and officials," ''inciting public opinion" and "insulting the judiciary," per the AP.
Read the rest.

Okay, for those who keep saying acts of terrorism aren't Islamic terrorism, but merely acts being perpetrated by terrorists in the name of Islam or by those who are corrupting or misrepresenting Islam, try telling us that an official act by the government of Saudi Arabia is not representative of Islam.

How many Charlie Hebdos do we have to have?  How many examples of Muslim terrorism, repression, violence, and censorship do we have to witness before people in the West wake up and realize Islam is not your friend?  It is an insanely barbaric and repressive ideology.  If this Saudi blogger dies from his 1000 lashes, given in punishment for a blog that merely exercised free speech, how is this different from killing the staff of Charlie Hebdo?  Because it was done by an Islamic government instead of a Islamic terrorist network?

Even writing this piece could earn me a similar fate if I lived in Saudi Arabia.  The reality is, if you  are a blogger, you too could be a Raif Badawi but for a matter of geography.

Je suis Raif Badawi. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Coming soon to a workplace near you: 'wellness or else'

From here, where there is more:
U.S. companies are increasingly penalizing workers who decline to join "wellness" programs, embracing an element of President Barack Obama's healthcare law that has raised questions about fairness in the workplace.

Beginning in 2014, the law known as Obamacare raised the financial incentives that employers are allowed to offer workers for participating in workplace wellness programs and achieving results. The incentives, which big business lobbied for, can be either rewards or penalties - up to 30 percent of health insurance premiums, deductibles, and other costs, and even more if the programs target smoking.

[...]

For some companies, however, just signing up for a wellness program isn't enough. They're linking financial incentives to specific goals such as losing weight, reducing cholesterol, or keeping blood glucose under control. The number of businesses imposing such outcomes-based wellness plans is expected to double this year to 46 percent, the survey found.

"Wellness-or-else is the trend," said workplace consultant Jon Robison of Salveo Partners.
 Read it all.  The specific examples the article gives are scary.  The "incentives" seem well intentioned, which is always the way it begins. But Big Brother is watching your health, and he's less concerned about your health than making money and exercising control.

Friday, January 09, 2015

More Americans Say Muslim Extremists Are True Muslims Than Christian Extremists Are True Christians

From here, where there is more:
More Americans say that self-described-Muslims who commit violence in the name of their religion are real Muslims than say that self-described-Christians who commit violence are real Christians.
Eighty-three percent said violent people who claim to be Christian are not true Christians while only 48 percent said violent people who claim to be Muslim are not true Muslims.
Read it all.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Belligerent passenger ejected from La Guardia flight, bah humbug!

From here:
A belligerent American Airlines passenger was ejected from a plane at La Guardia Airport on Tuesday after becoming  belligerent because an American employee wished him a Merry Christmas.

The male passenger was waiting to boar flight AA1140 from LGA to Dallas (DFW) when a merry gate agent began welcoming everyone with the Yuletide greeting while checking boarding passes.

When the gate agent wished the gentleman a merry Christmas he responded with, “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas.”  Valid point, but what’s the harm in that?

The gate agent followed by saying, “Well, what should I say then?”

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’” the man shouted in frustration before brushing past the agent and to the jet bridge.

As the passenger was boarding the plane, he was warmly greeted by a cheerful flight attendant who yet again wished him a “merry Christmas.”  That was the last straw.

“Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man replied in anger before lecturing the attendants and the pilot about their holiday madness.

The passenger did not cool down and had to be escorted off the plane by airport authorities as other fliers cheered because Christmas was saved.
 --------------------
Bottom line:  December 25 is officially Christmas, whether one chooses to celebrate it or not.  If I choose to wish you a merry one, and you don't celebrate it, appreciate the thought anyway and respond graciously--like a civilized human being!  This is the danger we are approaching in this country, where someone's tendency to be offended is supposed to trump someone else's right to free speech.
  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

US Says North Korea Responsible for Sony Hack

The federal government has determined that North Korea is responsible for the hacking of computers at Sony Pictures Entertainment, according to a report on ABC News.

Is this the same federal government that "determined" that the Benghazi embassy attack was the result of a YouTube video?   Yeah, I thought so.

------------------------
In further developments:
North Korea seeks joint probe with US on Sony hack (14:51 ET)
North Korea has offered to hold a joint inquiry with the United States into a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, strongly denying US claims that it is behind it.

The United States stands by its assertion that the North Korean government was behind the massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council said on Saturday.

North Korea Warns U.S. Not to Take Sony Action (17:12 ET)
Warning of “serious consequences” if the United States retaliates against it over the damaging cyberattack on Sony Pictures, North Korea insisted on Saturday that it was not behind it, and it offered to prove its innocence by taking part in a joint investigation with Washington to identify the hackers.
It is going to be interesting to see how this thing plays out.  But whatever eventually proves to be the truth, right now it's a sad day when you have to wonder whether to trust what the North Korean government says over your what your own government says.