Friday, December 30, 2005

The ALA, NEA and Kitzmiller v Dover

In Kitzmiller v Dover, one of the paragraphs struck down by the judge included the statement:

“Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.”

Imagine that a school board mandated that the following sentence be read in science classes before a sex education section: "The book, Heather has two mommies is available for students to see if they would like to gain an understanding of an alternative lifestyle.” Imagine further that a group of parents go to court demanding the removal of this statement. You can bet your last dollar that the American Library Association and the National Education Association would be nearly hysterical with cries of censorship!
We'll see if the ALA and NEA speak out against censorship in the Kitzmiller case. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Falsifying Intelligent Design

In Kitzmiller v. Dover, the attorney against Intelligent Design argued that those in the Intelligent Design movement do not test its claims. He says, “Of course, there's an obvious reason that intelligent design hasn't been tested. It can't be. The proposition that a supernatural intelligent designer created a biological system is not testable and can never be ruled out.”

This attorney is obviously no dummy. Notice how he inserted “supernatural” into the discussion. By framing the issue in this way, he automatically places the entire issue out of the realm of science simply by definition. Unfortunately for him, his argument is simply not true. Intelligent Design scientists argue that there are biological systems that are inexplicable on the basis of current evolutionary theory. These scientists, therefore, propose the theory that these biological systems are better explained as a result of an intelligent designer. This theory is entirely falsifiable and capable of being ruled out.

All scientists have to do to disprove the Intelligent Design Theory is to take examples of irreducible complexity presented by the advocates of Intelligent Design and show how they can be scientifically explained, measured and tested on basis of evolutionary theory alone. I would think that scientists would be thrilled by such a challenge. What are they so afraid of?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kitzmiller v Dover and censorship

In Kitzmiller v Dover, the attorney for the school district said in his opening statement: “Your Honor, the evidence will also show that this four-paragraph statement is the total actual effect that the curriculum change has on science instruction in the district, because apart from that four-paragraph statement, science teachers teach evolutionary theory as required by Pennsylvania state standards. The use of texts presents the evolutionary theory. Biology by Miller and Levine, one of the coauthors, Ken Miller, is one of the plaintiffs' experts in this case. In this way, the evidence will show that while students are taught evolutionary theory, they are merely made aware of the existence of another theory, the intelligent design theory, and that while students are assigned a basal text that presents evolutionary theory, they're merely made aware of the existence of a reference text in the library that deals with intelligent design theory, if they care to check it out.”

It is a very sad day in America when it is illegal for a democratically elected school board to inform students of the existence of an opposing view and to direct them to the library for further information. This is not just censorship, it is tyranny.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Intelligent Design and Kitzmiller v Dover

In 2004, the Dover Area School District (Pennsylvania) required the following four paragraph statement be read in sciences classes prior to the evolution section:

“The state standards require students to learn about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and to eventually take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.”

“Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. They Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.”

Intelligent Design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves. As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind.”

“The school leaves the discussion of the Origins of Life up to the individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, the class instruction focuses on the standards and preparing students to be successful on standards-based assessments.”

On December 14, 2004, eleven parents filed a lawsuit against the school district on the grounds that these policies violated the first amendment.

One of the special interest groups that supported the lawsuit was (who else) the ACLU. Just this month (December 2005), the court decided against the school board. In America it is now apparently legal for a school board to force students (against the wishes of their parents) to sit through gay-lesbian brainwashing (see my post on 12/13/05), but it is unconstitutional for a school board to inform students that the current scientific dogma may have “gaps,” that they can explore other alternatives in the library, and that they should keep an open mind.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone from Recliner Commentaries!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Intelligent Design and Kitzmiller v. Dover

The teaching of Intelligent Design is unconstitutional. So says a Pennsylvania court in Kitzmiller et al. v Dover Area School District. In the closing arguments, the attorney arguing against Intelligent Design argued that:

“Professor Behe admitted that his argument for intelligent design was essentially the same as William Paley's, which is a classic argument for the existence of God. Who else could it be? Michael Behe suggests candidates like aliens or time travelers with a wink and a nod, not seriously. Intelligent design hides behind an official position that it does not name the designer, but as Dr. Minnich acknowledged this morning, all of its advocates believe that the designer is God. Intelligent design could not come closer to naming the designer if it was spotted with the letters G and O.”

So there you have it. It doesn’t matter whether Intelligent Design arguments are scientifically accurate. It doesn’t matter whether the idea that “God created” is true or not. It doesn’t matter that Intelligent Design would leave God out of the discussion (in a futile effort to appease the tyranny of those who would rob us of our freedom of speech). Forget open mindedness and tolerance. The high priests of the new dogma have spoken. It is apparently illegal in America to teach any theory of origins that is inconsistent with the idea that life originated entirely by chance apart from the design of any creator. Our country’s founders must be rolling over in their graves!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Spying and Presidents Bush, Clinton and Carter

Recently I’ve heard several TV pundits point out that President Bush is not the only president who signed executive orders authorizing spying on Americans. They say Presidents Carter and Clinton did it as well. I’m wondering if that’s supposed to comfort us. Judge Andrew Napolitano, in his excellent book, Constitutional Chaos spells out numerous horror stories and miscarriages of justice committed by President Clinton’s attorney General, Janet Reno, so comparisons between the current administration and President Clinton’s administration do not put my mind at ease.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The NSA and spying on Americans

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez all insist that the president’s use of the NSA to spy on Americans was legal. That’s good news because I really want to believe that my president is obeying the law and following the Constitution. On the other hand, ringing in my ears are the words of President Nixon who, shortly before resigning from office over illegalities, said, “I am not a crook.” So I hope you understand, Mr. President, that I need more than just vague assurances. On this one I’ll have to go with the words of the words President Regan who, in an entirely different context, said something like, “trust, but verify.’

On Monday, December 19, President Bush held a press conference in which he addressed this issue saying, “We use FISA still…Of course we use FISAs. But FISAs is for long-term monitoring. What is needed in order to protect the American people is the ability to move quickly to detect.” This certainly sounds reasonable. The president can’t wait for a special FISA court to convene every time some Al Qaeda operative makes a call to America. But he doesn’t have to! Under 50 US Code 1805f, when the Attorney General determines that an emergency situation exists he can authorize electronic surveillance as long as he informs the appropriate judge within 72 hours. This safeguard is to ensure that the government is really spying on foreign agents (or Americans working for foreign agents), and not just that the government want’s to keep tabs on someone like Michael Moore or Cindy Sheehan. I mean, Sheehan’s and Moore’s politics disgust me as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t give the government the right to spy on people like them without probable cause.

Personally, I trust President Bush. I think he honestly believes he is doing what is best for the country. But President Bush will not be president forever and to allow the executive branch of the government to unilaterally spy on Americans without checks and balances from congress or the judiciary, is not only unconstitutional, it could easily be the fast track to the end of democracy and the beginning of tyranny.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Churches 8.1—local governments 4.6

Louisiana State University recently conducted a study of Louisiana residents concerning their views of aid providers during Katrina. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “not effective” and 10 being “very effective,” churches received the highest rating at 8.1. New Orleans city and state agencies were rated the lowest at 4.6, even lower than FEMA (5.3) and insurance companies (5.2). The Salvation Army came in at 7.5, just slightly above the American Red Cross at 7.4. Churches and synagogues raised more than $100 million dollars in aid for Katrina victims (Washington Times, December 2, 2005).

Monday, December 19, 2005

NSA and President Bush

Almost everyone knows by now that President Bush has admitted signing an executive order requiring the NSA to spy on Americans, but it is not yet clear whether he has done so legally. The Constitution protects Americans from unreasonable searches, and even the much maligned Patriot Act re-asserts the necessity for the government to get approval from a special FISA court that rules on classified intelligence matters before the government can legally spy on Americans (FISA: Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act).

My understanding is that approval from this court is not difficult to obtain. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice seemed to imply that in many cases the president did not go through this FISA court but that he had “other” powers to authorize these wiretaps. Secretary Rice didn’t say what gave the President this authority.

But we are at war. Shouldn’t the President be able to defend us in time of war? Besides, law abiding Americans shouldn’t have anything to fear from the government anyway, should they? So this is really no big deal, right? Actually, it IS a big deal. The potential magnitude of this revelation is so enormous that both Republicans and Democrats have rightfully called for an investigation.

So what’s the big deal? Like the overwhelming majority of Americans, I have nothing to hide from the government, but that is entirely beside the point. Suppose for example, that members of congress or investigative journalists discovered illegal actions by a president (e.g. President Nixon). If the president had unrestricted power to use the NSA, FBI or CIA to spy on Americans, he could use these agencies to threaten to expose embarrassing personal information on his political opponents or their families in an effort to silence them. This could severely undermine freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in fact, the foundation of our democracy.

But shouldn’t the President be able to defend us in time of war? Of course he should, and the FISA court provides a way for the President to protect us without trampling on our civil rights. When the President believes that surveillance on Americans is necessary, the FISA court independently determines whether sufficient cause exists, thereby providing (at least in theory) the checks and balances to ensure that executive power doesn’t turn into dictatorial power. This is precisely why it would be so disturbing if a President bypassed this protection.

President Bush says he broke no laws and, like any other American, he should be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty. I certainly hope that President Bush is vindicated, but if it appears that he did in fact order the NSA to spy on Americans in violation of the Constitution, I believe he should be impeached and, if found guilty, removed from office. A president cannot be allowed to run roughshod over the Constitution even if he thinks it is in America’s best interest, not even in time of war.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Klingenschmitt and Navy intolerance

According to a television news report last night (Dec 15), a U.S. Navy chaplain may soon be fired. His offense? Praying in “in Jesus’ name (gasp!). Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt is a U.S. Navy chaplain for the Evangelical Episcopal Church (a conservative, Evangelical offshoot of the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church). According to an Associated Press article, this is not the first time Lt. Klingenschmitt has been in trouble with the Navy. He has also been disciplined for preaching “proselytizing sermons” and for complaining about the fact that the Navy did not provide enough Kosher meals for a Jewish sailor on his ship—the sailor lost 17 pounds! (“Navy investigating chaplain’s allegations of religious discrimination.” Matt Kelly, Associated Press, April 30, 2005).
Imagine that--A Christian chaplain having the audacity to actually obey the tenets of his faith! The Navy's intolerance toward Lt. Klingenschmitt is actually being done in the name of tolerance! Click here if you’d like to sign a petition asking President Bush to end this intolerance.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The ACLU and infanticide

“But the ACLU’s anti-life agenda does not stop at abortion. It has progressively moved toward infanticide. Nat Hentoff realized this when he was involved in the infamous ‘Baby Doe’ cases. One of these cases involved a couple in Bloomington, Indiana, who gave birth to a Down’s syndrome infant with a defective digestive system that could have been corrected by routine surgery, but the baby died of starvation on order of the parents.”

“In fact, these cases, and the ACLU’s position concerning them led to Hentoff’s splitting from the ACLU. As other similar stories occurred, Hentoff noticed the ACLU repeatedly stood on the side of protecting the ‘privacy’ rights of parents to kill their children.”

“Hentoff also shared the following incident: ‘And then I heard the head of the Reproductive Freedom Rights unit of the ACLU saying…at a forum, ‘I don’t know what all this fuss is about. Dealing with these handicapped infants is really an extension of women’s reproductive right to control their own bodies” (Quotes from The ACLU vs. America by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, 2005, 109-110).

So while the ACLU is strongly against the right of a democratically elected government to execute sadistic murderers or even serial killers, it appears that they are willing to protect the privacy “rights” of parents to kill their innocent children? Make no mistake about it—the ACLU is not about civil liberties. The ACLU is about forcing their ideological social agenda down the throats of unwilling Americans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Let them go to hell"

“Anyone who doesn’t appreciate what America has done, and President Bush…let them go to hell.”
(This is a quote from an elderly Iraqi woman after casting her vote in the latest Iraqi election. It was shown in a video clip aired last night, 12/13/05, on Fox News. For the record, I don't think they should go to hell for this...maybe they should just spend a few years in Saudi Arabia, southern Sudan, or North Korea :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The ACLU and cross-dressing

In a California elementary school some time ago, children were required to attend a mandatory assembly by a homosexual theater troupe which included, among other things, a poem read by a young boy (excerpts below):

“In Mommy’s high heals the world is beautiful,
Let the peasants choke way down below.
I’m standing high above the crowds,
My head is breaking through the clouds….”

“When I grow up I’ll have the cash
To go out and buy a bag to match!
So let them say that I’m a girl!
What’s wrong with being like a girl?!
And let them jump and jeer and whirl—
They are swine, I am the pearl!
And let them laugh and let them scream!
They’ll be beheaded when I’m queen!”

When parents heard their children had been exposed to this presentation without their knowledge or consent, they were outraged and filed a lawsuit against the school. After two years, the parents had to give up the fight, being outgunned by the substantial resources of the ACLU! (Quotes from The ACLU vs. America by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, 2005, 55, 56).

Excuse me, but exactly whose civil liberties were the American Civil Liberties Union protecting? Certainly not those of the parents or children! Imagine if the case had been different. Imagine that the school board had, without parent’s consent, forced children to listen to a group that called pro-choice or gay rights advocates “swine” and threatening to behead them.” If you think for one minute that the ACLU would have sided with the school, you are delusional!

So why is it that the ACLU will side with a parent’s “right” to keep their children from being exposed to a voluntary, non-sectarian prayer, but will not support parents right to keep their children from being exposed to intolerant homosexual propaganda as exemplified by the above poem? Make no mistake about it—the ACLU is not about civil liberties. The ACLU is about forcing their ideological social agenda down the throats of unwilling Americans.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The ACLU and NAMBLA

The book The ACLU vs. America recounts the story of a fifth grade boy who was abducted from his front yard by Salvatore Sicari and Charles Jaynes. These perverts took the boy to a public library where they accessed the web site of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). After choking the boy with a gasoline-soaked rag, they molested his dead body.

The attorney for the boy’s family said that “Jaynes wrote in a diary he had used NAMBLA’s Web site for ‘psychological comfort’ before he and Sicari killed and molested” the boy. According to the lawyer, NAMBLA is “not just publishing material that says it’s OK to have sex with children…[it] is actively training their members how to rape children and get away with it.” The ACLU then got involved—not because a child’s civil liberties had been violated, but to defend NAMBLA!

According to the authors of The ACLU vs. America, “This sad story is another example of the ACLU’s duplicity. On one hand, the ACLU states that NAMBLA cannot be held accountable for advocating sodomy of young boys on the internet. Yet after [a gay man, Matthew] Shepard’s murder by two thugs (who were neither Christian nor conservative), ACLU supporters have been among the many left-wing voices loudly calling for ‘hate-crimes’ legislations that could criminalize and punish speech that does not affirm homosexual behavior” (Quotes from The ACLU vs. America by Alan Sears and Craig Osten, 2005, 74-76).

Friday, December 09, 2005

Torture and allegations of torture

The news media seems completely obsessed over the alleged torture of terrorists by the U.S. Government, but they rarely seem to get around to investigating the many reports of even more serious atrocities around the world. For example, Voice of the Martyrs reports:

“An Iranian Christian convert was kidnapped from his home in northeastern Iran last week and stabbed to death. His bleeding body was thrown in front of his home a few hours later. Ghorban Tori, 50, was pastoring an independent house church of converted Christians in Gonbad-e-Kavus. Within hours of the November 22nd murder, local secret police arrived at the pastor's home, searching for Bibles and other banned Christian books written in the Farsi language. According to one source, during the past eight days representatives of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have arrested and severely tortured 10 other Christians in several cities, including Tehran. (Click here for original story posted on 12-05-2005, for most recent update, click here.)”
The December 7 Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin reports that in Sangla Hill Pakistan,

“A Muslim falsely accused a Christian of desecrating the Koran during an argument over gambling remittances. Exploiting the situation, Islamic clerics called Muslims to the mosques and incited them to 'defend Islam' and attack the Christians. The subsequent pogrom involving more than 2000 Muslims drove some 450 Christian families from their homes. Three churches along with manses and libraries were razed, as well as a convent and two church-owned schools. According to an editorial in Pakistan's Daily Times (28 November) the mob, armed with 'sticks, stones, big hammers and bottles of chemicals' went out to attack the churches. 'They raised cries of "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) and "Asai kuttay hai-hai" (Down with the Christian dogs).”

I don’t want my government torturing prisoners and I think the news media is entirely justified in investigating these allegations. I often wonder, however, why the reporting is so unbalanced. The stories above are not even the tip of the iceberg and yet they never seem to make the network news. Muslims in Sudan were kidnapping, enslaving, raping and torturing large numbers of Christians for years before the major networks even noticed (and then only briefly). Or, in a different illustration: In news reports that seemed to go on for weeks, if not months— the news media falsely implicated Christians in the tragic murder of the gay man, Matthew Shephard, yet atrocities committed against large numbers of Christians hardly make the news at all. Why is that?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Red state more generous than blue states?

Several days ago, radio talk show host Michael Medved pointed out that the overwhelming majority of states that had the highest per capita giving to charity were “red” states (voted for Bush). By contrast, nine of the ten states with the lowest per capita giving to charity were “blue” states (voted for Kerry). An atheist caller responded by arguing that the reason red states were more generous was because conservative religious people gave their money in an effort to bribe God.

It was obvious that the atheist caller has a profound misunderstanding of Christianity. One of the bedrock, foundational doctrines of Christianity is the idea that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” that is, that everyone has in various ways rebelled against God, and no amount of money, good works, or bribery can ever atone for this sin. New Testament writers taught that being made right with God is not possible through human effort but is an act of God’s grace, open to everyone who genuinely repents of their sin and turns to Jesus Christ in faith. Any idea that we could somehow bribe God with money or good works is practically the definition of what it is to not be a Christian.

I’ll leave it to the adherents of other religions to answer whether they are trying to bride God or not, but the caller to Mr. Medved’s show demonstrated a profound and fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity. So whatever the reason is for greater generosity among red states, I doubt that bribery of God is one of them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hezbollah and the PCUSA

Let’s play “name that group.” What group is responsible for slaughtering 241 Americans in Lebanon, 19 Americans in the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and dozens, if not hundreds of other people around the world? If you said Hezbollah, you move up to the next round.

What group sent a delegation to Lebanon a few weeks ago, praising Hezbollah and undermining America’s government? If you said, the Presbyterian Church USA, you win and move up to our bonus round.

Bonus question: What is the word for “adhering to [America’s] enemies, giving them aid and comfort?” If you said, “Treason,” congratulations, you get a free link to our Constitution in which that definition is found (Article 3, section 3).

Tragically, the fact a liberal church like the PCUSA would add legitimacy to a terrorist group is not much of a surprise. The real mystery is why so many Americans continue to attend and financially support a church like this (ABC News, FreeRepublic, Dhimmi Watch, Jerusalem Post).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jews and the Qur'an

Remember when rumors of Qur’an abuse at Guantanamo flooded the airways? (some of which truned out to be untrue). It seemed like the stories were repeated endlessly in the media, day after day, week after week, on all the network news shows--and the world was outraged. On Monday an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber killed five innocent people and wounded thirty-five others at a shopping mall in Netanya Israel! Last night I flipped back and forth between ABC, NBC and CBS news and didn’t find a single mention of the incident. How is it possible that the mainline media, the congress, Hollywood, and even the world seem to get more worked up over the alleged abuse of some terrorist's Qur’an, than they do over the wanton destruction of innocent Jewish lives?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Hollywood and global warming

Last month a virtual who’s who of Hollywood stars appeared at Caesar’s Palace for a live “environmental consciousness-raising” show focusing on global warming. I’ve read that the lineup included such superstars as Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio, Steve Martin, Dustin Hoffman, Ray Ramano, Will Ferrell, Jason Alexander, Ben Stiller, Bill Maher and others.

Quite honestly, I don’t know if there is a global warming crisis or not, but global warming opponents point to buildings, aviation and motor vehicles as significant causes of global warming. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t some of these celebrities live in buildings so large they would make that average American’s home look like servant’s quarters? Don’t some of them own more than one home? Don’t some of them regularly fly all over the world, sometimes just for “fun in the sun”? Don’t some of them even own their own private jets for their numerous trips? Don’t some of these stars own three, four, five or more gas guzzling cars, including a limousine or two?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all the stars at this event live in modest homes, drive fuel efficient cars, try to limit their travel and, when necessary, fly only on commercial airlines like the rest of us. In fact, maybe they all car-pooled to Caesar’s Palace in fuel-efficient cars. Actually, I don’t mind if they have huge mansions, drive gas guzzling cars or fly in their own private jets, but if they do, I find it somewhat annoying that they would then lecture America on the evils of global warming!

Friday, December 02, 2005

AIDS and Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the author of The Purpose Driven Church (a 20 million best-seller) and the pastor of the 20,000 member Saddleback Church in California. Last night ABC News reported that Warren recently spoke at a large AIDS conference, calling for Evangelicals to do more to help those with AIDS. The conference was co-hosted by Bill Hybels, pastor of the 18,000 member Willow Creek Church. Both men were once named by Time Magazine as being among the most influential Evangelical leaders in America.

Frankly, I really haven’t followed the ministries of Warren or Hybels’ and I’ve not jumped on Rev. Warren’s Purpose Driven bandwagon, but when they’re right, they’re right—and in this case they’re right. I’ve told students for years that Evangelicals need to do more to help those affected with AIDS. Its not that Evangelicals have never done anything for those with AIDS—long before there was an AIDS epidemic Evangelicals have had ministries providing food, clothing, shelter and medical care for the poor and homeless, including those with AIDS. But too many Evangelicals have avoided those with AIDS like the Pharisees avoided lepers in Jesus’ time. Hopefully, with Warren and Hybels’ help, that will now change. If I had a hat, it would be off to them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Night before Chrstmas

Tis the first of December
and Christmas is near
tho't I'd give you a poem
to bring you good cheer

That's about the extent of my poetic ability, but check out the great poem by John Leo on Christmas and the ACLU:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
There was Santa again, on his annual journeys,
Ensnared in a group of eight tiny attorneys.
They looked pretty grim and they threatened to sue,
So we knew in a flash -- "It's the ACLU!"

For the rest of this delightful little poem check out John Leo’s column.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Career Killing Blogs

Blogging may be hazardous to your career, according to the November 28th ACRLblog (ACRL = Association of College and Research Libraries). The ACRLblog cited an article entitled, “Attack of the Career-Killing Blogs” which warned that academic blogging may be detrimental to a professor’s career. The essay ends by warning that, “…current and potential academic librarian bloggers may wish to reflect on higher education’s response to blogging, and how it might impact on future employment and promotion opportunities” (Thank you to Ed Merwin for bringing this blog to my attention).
Isn’t it interesting that in the world of academia—that bastion of free speech, tolerance, academic freedom, and liberalism—faculty members would actually have to be concerned for their careers over what they write in a personal blog? This is the same liberal academic world, by the way, that regularly censors freedom of speech in the name of political correctness (see, for example, my June 7, 2005 post). Once upon a time liberalism stood for open-mindedness, tolerance, and academic freedom. Apparently today’s liberalism is just not what it used to be.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Aborted babies born alive

According to an article in the Sunday Times – Britain (November 27, 2005) a British government agency is investigating reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched abortions. Abortions in England are allowed up to 24 weeks, but a former professor of obstetrics and gynecology commented that “They can be born breathing and crying at 19 week’s gestation.” He continued saying, “I am not anti-abortion, but as far as I am concerned this is sub-standard medicine.”

Judging from the article, the doctor didn’t seem to mind the fact that 19 week old babies were being aborted. Rather the “sub-standard medicine” appeared to consist of the fact that doctors were not adequately insuring that the babies were in fact dead before removing them from the womb.

The doctors seemed to be concerned that they could be charged with infanticide if the babies who lived through their abortions died shortly thereafter as a result of the abortion. In other words, many of these doctors appeared to be much more concerned about their own potential legal liability than they were about the fact that many people believe they are killing babies.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Progress in Iraq

There are, of course, plenty of things to be concerned about in Iraq, and the news media has done an excellent job of reporting them. According to “Conservative Alerts,” however, there are some other things going on as well: (Everything below are excerpts from “Conservative alerts,” November 22, 2005):

* Five million Iraqi students are back in school, with 51 million new Ba'ath-free textbooks in circulation
* Academics forced into exile under Saddam are coming back to teach in Iraqi universities
* There are now over 200,000 trained Iraqi security forces personnel
* The Ministry of Industry has issued 7661 licenses for new businesses
* There's been a LARGE boost in economic activity due to tax-cuts
* A complete rebuilding and renovation of major telecommunications infrastructure
* A new sewer system is stimulating the Iraqi economy & improving health conditions
* Public Health Centers are bringing family healthcare to Iraqi neighborhoods

As columnist Rod D. Martin recently wrote:

From the day America moved to oust Saddam, the usual suspects -- from CBS to the New York Times -- eagerly predicted calamity and searched fervently for any signs of it. Yet virtually all their prognostications failed to materialize….

And since Saddam's removal, guess which part of Iraq has garnered virtually all of the Bush-bashing media's attention? Why, the Sunni Triangle, of course, Saddam's home turf. Never mind that nearly everywhere else, there is no "insurgency."

Never mind that across Iraq, the progress is overwhelming, as Americans and Iraqis together build schools, enhance security, empower civil society, and ensure a brighter economic and political future.

And never mind that the endlessly-reported U.S. death toll is half the rate even of U.S. training deaths each year.

Never mind that literally millions of Iraqis -- alone in the Arab world -- have twice stood up to terrorist bullies, voting first to elect new leaders and just recently to ratify their new constitution.

To the left-leaning media moguls and those in their employ, none of this matters, because all of it vindicates President Bush. Which is partly why so little of it gets reported.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving

Imagine that your doctor just told you that you will soon be totally blind. Think about it. You will never see another thing as long as you live. I don’t know about you but I’d be pretty shook up. For most of us, our eyesight is one of our most precious gifts and yet we usually take it for granted. What else do we take for granted? Every single day, for example, I have a place to sleep, a roof over my head, and something to eat. Most of us don’t give these things a second thought until we happen to see the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the Afghanistan earthquake on our color TV’s from the comfort of our recliner or easy chair.

Tomorrow—some time between the parades, football game and Thanksgiving feast—be sure to take some time to thank God for all those blessings we generally take for granted. Then, as an expression of thanks, it wouldn't hurt to go online and make a donation to those less fortuate through an organization like Samaritan's Purse, World Vision or The Salvation Army.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Recliner Commentaries will return on Monday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fundamentalism: The greatest evil

In a recent response to one of my posts, someone made the statement that “The rise of Fundamentalism is the greatest danger facing our world today.” Perhaps a short history lesson is in order. The origin of the word “fundamentalist,” as applied to Christians, dates to the publication of a set of essays in 1909 entitled, “The Fundamentals.” These essays were the response of Christians who argued for a more “literal” interpretation of the Bible in opposition to “Modernists” who were attacking the historic doctrines of Christianity.

By “literal” interpretation, these “Fundamentalists” (as they came to be known) believed that the Bible should be interpreted by determining—as much as humanly possible—what the original authors of the biblical writings were trying to communicate to their readers. This is done by interpreting these biblical writings just like any other ancient documents, i.e. by taking such matters into consideration as genre, grammar, figures of speech and historical background. The phrase “literal interpretation” is rather unfortunate because many people came to wrongly assume that “literal interpretation” meant a denial of all symbolism or figures of speech when in reality, the word “literal” was simply used in contrast to more wildly allegorical or metaphorical interpretations.

The early Fundamentalists agreed with the Reformers (Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc.) and with the Roman Catholic Church, that Jesus was the incarnation of God, that he died as an atoning sacrifice for sins, that he physically rose from the dead, and that the Bible was inspired by God, etc. Modernists tended to deny these historical and fundamental Christian doctrines (and, ironically, still wanted to be known as Christians--go figure!).

Although agreeing with the “fundamental” doctrines of the Christian faith, many Christians called themselves Evangelicals, to distance themselves from the narrow sectarianism that came to characterize Fundamentalism. Both Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, however, agreed not only on the “fundamentals,” they also emphasize the forgiveness of sin through repentance and a personal faith in Jesus Christ. They emphasize the importance of a loving devotion to Jesus Christ and of sharing this faith with others.

Politically, Fundamentalist / Evangelical Christians generally oppose such things as pornography, prostitution, child abuse, sex outside of marriage, abortion-on-demand, homosexual sex, drug abuse, etc. (it can be argued on purely secular grounds that all of these are fundamentally destructive to society). They also oppose the removal of Christian symbols from the public square, and the suppression of Christian voice in public schools.

While Evangelicals / Fundamentalists are often attacked for their political activism (i.e. for exercising their Constitutional rights) my guess is that for every Evangelical / Fundamentalist who is politically active, there are a hundred (if not a thousand) more who believe that our primary task is to preach the gospel and that we should stay out of politics. Although many people think Evangelicals are politically active, the fact is that it is a real challenge to get most Evangelicals to do anything political beyond voting. We are such a huge group that if even half of us became serious about political action, I suspect the result would make Jerry Falwall’s “Moral Majority” or Pat Robertson’s “Christian Coalition” pale in comparison.

There is little chance of that, however. Several years ago when an artist used public funding to depict a crucified Jesus dipped in urine, most Evangelicals barely raised a whimper (and I don’t recall the ACLU complaining about tax dollars being used for a religious display—apparently they are only concerned suppressing about positive religious messages).

Anyway, if the spending of tax dollars to portray a crucified Jesus in urine didn’t motivate most Evangelicals, nothing will (can you imagine what would happen if an artist, with the support of U.S. tax dollars, had publicly displayed a Qur’an dipped in urine? There would be blood in the streets worldwide! The vast majority of Evangelicals / Fundamentalists, however, just quietly pray, worship, engage in outreach programs and give lots and lots of money to various charitable causes (the victims of hurricane Katina and the Afghanistan earthquakes, being two recent examples).

The overwhelmingly vast majority of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists oppose vengeance and personal violence. In other words, while they may support the just use of police and military force, they do not believe in violently taking the law into their own hands and they do not use force to retaliate for wrongs done against them. Although the enemies of Christian Fundamentalists / Evangelicals endlessly refer to supposed Christian violence—like the IRA, crusades, abortion clinic bombers—these are examples of people who are/were for the most part either not Christians at all—at least not in the historical Fundamentalist / Evangelical sense described above—or who represent a tiny fraction of the whole.

Unfortunately, it is this relatively tiny fraction that gets all the press—after all, its news when some wacko claiming to be Christian tries to bomb an abortion clinic. It’s not news that hundreds-of-thousands of other Evangelicals / Fundamentalists went to church that week to worship and to generously give of their time and money to serve others.

How do I know all this? Because I am an insider. Over the course of my fifty-one years on this planet, I have been part of Evangelical or Fundamentalist churches for over thirty of those years. I have been a member or regular attender of seventeen Evangelical or Fundamentalist churches in eleven states from coast to coast. These churches have ranged in size from a few dozen to several thousand members. I’ve worked with them as pastor, youth pastor, board member, and in many other ministries. In addition to churches, I’ve also attended / taught / worked for over a half-dozen Evangelical or Fundamentalist colleges and graduate schools. I’ve personally taught and interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of Evangelical / Fundamentalist students and faculty members. These churches and schools include numerous denominations and range all the way from institutions that were proud to be called Fundamentalist to those that were on the far left wing of Evangelicalism. I've also read dozens (if not hundreds) of Evangelical books. I know Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism from the inside.

Linking Christian Fundamentalism with Islamic Fundamentalism happens regularly in the media. Some people link the two out of honest ignorance. After all, both groups are called “Fundamentalists” so they must be essentially the same, right? Wrong! Other people, however, appear to link the two in a deliberate attempt to link conservative Christians with terrorism. The second possibility is so dishonest and evil that it reminds me of stories about the Nazi demonization of Jews before World War II.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Censorship and the American Library Association

For decades, the American Library Association has been at the forefront in the battle against censorship. Their zeal to combat censorship extends even so far as to fight attempts to filter internet access to pornography on public library computers to which children have access.

Isn’t it strange, therefore, that the American Library Association has been virtually silent on the greatest censorship movement since McCarthyism? I’m speaking, of course, of political correctness. I receive American Libraries, the journal of the American Library Association and I have been unable to find a single article addressing this issue. Earlier this year I was on a panel, which included numerous librarians, discussing freedom of speech issues at Oxford University. Not a single paper addressed the danger of political correctness to free speech. In fact, the topic never once even came up.

So why is it that librarians in general, and the American Library Association in particular, are so silent when it comes to one of the most serious threats to free speech since our country began? Could it be that the whole idea of political correctness is liberal to the core and the American Library Association is so overrun by liberals that they are as oblivious to the threat as a fish is to water?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Persecution of Eritrean Christians

The following are excerpts from a report appearing in Compass Direct:

“The number of Eritrean Christians confirmed to be jailed for their religious beliefs has shot up to a total of 1,778, nearly double the documented count six months ago.”

“At least 26 full-time Protestant pastors and Orthodox clergy are in jail, their personal bank accounts frozen by government order. As a result, one source said, “Their family members are suffering [to] a great degree.”

"According to the latest breakdown, 561 Christians are jailed at Wi’a, 333 at Mai Serwa, 238 at Gelalo, 175 at Adi-Abyto, 100 at the Massawa police station, 95 at Track C Military Camp, 72 in Asmara police stations, 69 at Sawa, 46 at Assab, 35 in the Mendefera police station, 27 in the Keren police station and 27 in Asmara’s Wongel Mermera investigation center. "

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thomas Jefferson and the Supreme Court

“To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps…and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hand confided, with the corruptions of time and party, it s members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves” (Thomas Jefferson, quoted in Men in Black by Mark Levin, 33).

Jefferson seems to think that the Supreme Court has no business ruling on whether a law passed by Congress is constitutional or not. I wonder what made him so sure that Congress would never pass laws that violated the Constitution? I’m not an authority on Jefferson, but my guess is that he reasoned that if Congress passed laws that violated the Constitution, the people could vote their representatives out of power and change the laws.

Rightly or wrongly, the Supreme Court justices have appointed themselves as “the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions.” Given that power, our only hope of turning back the “despotism of an oligarchy” that Jefferson predicted, is to appoint judges who will not treat the Constitution as a “living breathing document,” i.e. a document which changes meaning as time goes on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Conservative Reference Desk

I'm taking a break from political and religous commentary this morning to make you aware of a new web page I've been working on. I'm calling it the "Conservative Reference Desk." It contains links to a large number of conservative websites dealing with issues like the culture wars (media, education, marriage & family, etc) and law& liberty. It also contains links to sites that may be helpful for research (polls, statistics, search engines, news sources, libraries, etc.). In fact, the CRD even contains a listing of left-wing websites.
There is an index to topics at the top of the page but you can also use your browser "find" button to find specific links. I am open to considering any other suggestions you might have for additional links.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Five Questions for Muslims

The following are excerpts from a op-ed piece published in the November 13th Los Angeles times by radio talk show host, Dennis Prager:

“The Rioting in France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam's sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims. Here are five of them:”

1) “Why are you so quiet?...We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.”

2) “Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?”…If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror?”

(3) “Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?
(4) “Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?... Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims — in the name of Islam — murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia…Muslim daughters are murdered by their own families in the thousands in "honor killings.”

(5) “Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?...No church or synagogue is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban destroyed some of the greatest sculptures of the ancient world because they were Buddhist. Sudan's Islamic regime has murdered great numbers of Christians”

“…I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S.”

Hundreds of millions of non-Muslims want honest answers to these questions, even if the only answer you offer is, "Yes, we have real problems in Islam." Such an acknowledgment is infinitely better — for you and for the world — than dismissing us as anti-Muslim” (Dennis Prager, Los Angeles Times, November 13, 2005).

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Wrath of God

While watching some TV preachers before church yesterday, I was reminded that there appears to be a growing movement in contemporary Christianity which seems to downplay or ignore anything having to do with judgment. The idea seems to be, just focus on the positive, be tolerant, tell people how God loves them and wants to improve their lives so they can be healthy, wealthy, happy and prosperous.

Contrary to the impressions left by some preachers, God’s judgment is a significant theme in biblical literature. The Garden of Eden story is a story of people who rebelled against their Creator and came under judgment (Gen 1-3). The story of Noah’s flood is a story of God’s judgment on human rebellion (Gen 7-8), as is the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), the plagues on Egypt (Exodus 7-11), the golden calf (Exodus 32) and the rebellion in the wilderness (Numbers 14). The Book of Deuteronomy warns of terrible judgments for persistent rebellion against God. The story of the conquest of Canaan is also a story of God’s judgment (Joshua) and the theme of judgment thoroughly pervades the book of Judges. God’s judgment is seen throughout the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles, in fact, the stories end with the forcible deportation of Israel from the Promised Land in a devastating act of God’s judgment. And of course the prophets, from Isaiah through Malachi strongly and repeatedly warn of divine judgment for idolatry and rebellion against the Creator.

Don’t even think about dismissing this theme of judgment as if it were only in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament! In the New Testament, John the Baptist is consistently presented as a fiery preacher of judgment. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus ends his Sermon on the Mount with warnings of eternal judgment (Matthew 7:13-29) and many of Jesus’ parables warn of future judgment, including weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13). What is particularly sobering to me personally is Jesus’ scathing denunciation of self-righteous religious leaders and scholars, with names like hypocrites, blind guides, whitewashed tombs, snakes, vipers and sons of hell (Matthew 23)!

St. Paul follows Jesus’ example in warning of judgment. For example, Paul sums up his argument in the first three chapters of his letter to the Romans by quoting from his Hebrew Bible: “No one is righteous, not even one…no one does good, not a single one. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies…they have no fear of God at all” (Romans 3:9-18). In those same three chapters, Paul says “a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:5), and that God “will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness” (Romans 2:8).

Similarly, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks of “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealously, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.” Paul continues, “Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living this sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). In Second Thessalonians the author speaks of the return of Jesus “with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know God.” The writer says, “They will be punished with eternal destruction” (Second Thessalonians 1:9).

The writer of Hebrews warns of “the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies” (Hebrews 10:27). The writer of Second Peter warns of a coming judgment in which “the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment” (2 Peter 3:10). The letter of Jude is filled with judgment and damnation, and of course almost everyone is familiar with the graphic depictions of divine judgment in the book of Revelation (which, by the way, sounds less and less far-fetched now than at any other time in history in light of the terrors of Islamofacism, state-sponsored terrorism, and the consequences of global warming).

Regardless of whether you dislike or disbelieve these stories, the fact remains that the Bible is, from cover to cover, filled with stories of divine judgment on human beings who, metaphorically speaking, have extended their middle fingers in the face of their Creator, saying, in effect, we will not worship or serve you and we will not follow your rules—we will do it our way!

The rest of the biblical story, of course, is about how God patiently and consistently warns people of the consequences of their rebellion and calls them to repentance. In the Bible, the story of God’s love is not about some abstract, warm-fuzzy feeling. It is a story about how, in spite of the fact that humans have essentially spit in the face of their creator, he patiently and persistently calls people to turn back to him in repentance and faith. The New Testament in particular is about how God enters humanity to save those who will genuinely repent of their rebellion (sin) and turn to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in sincere loving devotion (faith).

The New Testament never commands believers to engage in holy wars to execute God’s judgment, but rather to warn people of divine judgment, with the goal of calling people to faith and saving them from this wrath. The whole point of this little theology lesson is that preachers who only preach about the love of God, without also warning about the wrath of God, are simply not telling the whole truth about the message of the Bible. On the other hand, some people today are no different than those over 2,500 years ago who, according to Isaiah 30:10-10, told their prophets, “Don’t tell us what is right. Tell us nice things. Tell us lies. Forget all this gloom. Get off your narrow path” (All quotes are from the NLT).

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pat Robertson and tolerance

Does Pat Robertson have a mild case of “foot-in-mouth” disease? After the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania voted out their school board members who had advocated intelligent design, Robertson said, "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson also said, "God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," and finally, Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them." On the other hand, Robertson didn’t call the citizens of Dover any vicious names. Nor did he call the wrath of God down on them, and yet his comments created a media frenzy. But Robertson’s comments were rather tame in comparison with some of the following which were all said before Robertson’s comments on Dover:

“Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Fallwell’s followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to lead (Michael Weisskopf, Washington Post).

“Pat Robertson and Mel Gibson strike me as wackos…They’re crazy…Mel is a real nut case.” (Andy Rooney).

“Christians are ‘bozos’ and Christianity is a religion for losers” (Ted Turner, former owner of CNN).

“The Christian Coalition was a strong force in [Nazi] Germany” (Jesse Jackson. Note: The Christian Coalition did not exist during the time of Nazi Germany).

“Are any of the school board members in your school district known or suspected to be proponents of the radical right” (Survey sent out by the Ohio Education Association. Can you imagine the outcry if they sent out a questionnaire asking, “Are any of the school board members in your school district know or suspected to be gay?).

“It’s a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I’d rather not know.” (Linda Ronstadt).

“It’s just that their religion is so narrow, and it’s so mean, and its so ugly, and it’s so intolerant, and it’s so un-Christian” (CNN Crossfire cohost Bill Press).

“You know what else I can’t stand, is them people that are anti-abortion. F--- them; I hate them. They’re horrible; they’re hideous people” (Roseanne Barr).
(All quotations are from The Criminalization of Christianity by Janet Folger).

My guess is that you didn't heard much outcry about these comments. In fact, have you ever noticed that some of those who preach peace and tolerance the loudest are sometimes the most viciously hateful toward Christians? Just imagine how great the outcry would (rightfully) be if any the quotes above were said about African Americans, gays or Muslims! Yet when such hateful things are said about Christians, people barely raise an eyebrow. Tolerance indeed!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Diversity and the Riots in France

The following are excerpts from an article by noted economist Thomas Sowell (November 8, 2005) on the riots in France:

"Riots that began on the outskirts of Paris have spread into the center of the French capital and to other communities in other parts of the country. Thousands of cars have been set on fire and the police and even medical personnel have been shot at.”
“A substantial Moslem population lives in France but is not really of France. Much of that population lives in social isolation in housing projects away from the center of Paris, as unknown to many Parisians as to tourists.”

“European countries especially have thrown their doors open to a large influx of Moslem immigrants who have no intention of becoming part of the cultures of the countries to which they immigrate but to recreate their own cultures in those countries.”

“In the name of tolerance, these countries have imported intolerance, of which growing antisemitism in Europe is just one example. In the name of respecting all cultures, Western nations have welcomed people who respect neither the cultures nor the rights of the population among whom they have settled.”

“Not all Moslems, nor necessarily a majority of Moslems, are either a cultural or a physical danger. But even "moderate" Moslem organizations in the West who deplore violence and try to discourage it nevertheless encourage their followers to remain foreigners rather than become part of the countries they live in.”

“So do our own intelligentsia and political and cultural elites. Balkanization has been glorified as "diversity" and diversity has become too sacred to defile with anything so gross as hard facts. But reality is not optional. Our survival may in the long run be as menaced by degeneration within -- from many sources and in many ways -- as was that of the Roman Empire.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Al Qaeda and the riots in France?

According to the DEBKAfile, rioters in France are now referring to their riots as the start of “Eurpoe’s Ramadan Intifada.” Indications are that the riots are not just expressions of frustration by unemployed young people (as the media is reporting), but are an organized “intifada activated by Muslim networking.” France’s leaders are hoping that “sympathetic dialogue with moderate Muslims will calm the street, despite all the evidence that radical, activist Muslims do not heed established Islamic authorities.” Although the Union of Islamic Organizations in France issued a fatwa against the riots, it apparently had no effect. “The controlling hand, far from being legitimate Muslim authority, is beginning to emerge as the very organization that has for several years been recruiting young fighters in French Muslim ghettos fight al Qaeda’s wars against the West in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and other sectors.” As early as February, 2004 DEBKAfile had reported on “French intelligence statistics which estimated that “al Qaeda had recruited in France between 35,000 and 45,000 fighters and was organizing them in military-style units. They meet regularly for training in the use of weapons and explosives, combat tactics and indoctrination and are controlled from local and district command centers under the organization’s national French command.” French counter-terror sources admit that these terror cells may be behind the current riots. The fear is that these riots may spread to the rest of Europe as well. Al Qaeda’s numbers in German are estimated at between 25,000 and 30.000.

Senator Schumer and Justice Alito

Speaking of Justice Alito, Senator Schumer said recently, “It's sad that [Bush] felt he had to pick a nominee likely to divide America.” Apparently Senator Schumer thinks America is united and that President Bush’s nominee will break up that unity. Perhaps Mr. Schumer needs to look at some recent election results or watch TV news for awhile. He would then realize that there is no one President Bush could have nominated who would have united Americans. On the other hand, perhaps Mr. Schumer was just using hysterical rhetoric in an attempt to dishonestly influence those Americans who are not particularly adept at critical thinking.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

President Clinton at the U. of Minnesota

Last week former President Clinton spoke to an audience at the University of Minnesota. He said something to the effect that anyone who reads the Scriptures of any religious tradition knows that you can’t bring religion over into politics. Mr. Clinton is an intelligent man, but this was an incredibly unintelligent thing to say. Should I be against showing compassion to the poor simply because my religion teaches compassion for the poor? Should I be against racial equality just because my religion teaches racial equality? Should I be against justice simply because my religion teaches justice?

Religion is not simply about what takes place in our houses of worshp each week. All religions (even atheism) have something to say about how people should live their lives. In a Democracy where we are all supposed to have a voice in our self-governing, it is impossible that our deepest values would not affect our politics. Of course those who say religion shouldn’t affect politics really mean that religion shouldn’t be allowed to influence politics that they disagree with.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Riots in France

Last night was the eleventh straight night of riots in cities all over France. Last night alone, more than 30 police were injured, 1,400 vehicles were torched (in addition to the 2,000 vehicles burned on Friday and Saturday), two schools burned, and churches were set on fire. According to the Guardian Unlimited (England), “The violence is fuelled partly by resentment at France's discriminatory treatment of its north and black African communities, a far cry from the liberty, equality and fraternity of the country that likes to call itself the birthplace of human rights.” While most of the rioters appear to be Muslims, “The country's biggest Muslim fundamentalist organisation, the Union for Islamic Organisations of France, issued a fatwa forbidding those ‘who seek divine grace from taking part in any action that blindly strikes private or public property or can harm others.” (Guardian Unlimited, England, Monday, November 7, 2005).

Friday, November 04, 2005

Christians attacked in Guinea

Last week Christians in Guinea were attacked, apparently for worshiping too loudly:

“After decades of Marxist, pro-Islamic oppression and persecution, the Church in Guinea, West Africa, is now free and growing. However, in the Forest Region of southeastern Guinea, Muslim tribes who migrated from the north compete with Christian and animist peoples for land and resources. Compounding this ethnic tension is the increase in Islamic intolerance as Islam has radicalised. Exacerbating the pressure is the large influx there of Liberian Muslim rebels after the Liberian War ended in August 2003. On Wednesday 19 October 2005, Muslims attacked a Christian baptism ceremony in Nzerekore, angry that church music was 'disturbing' their prayers at the nearby mosque. Some believers were injured and several homes sacked. The Muslims rioted again on the Friday. Over 100 people were arrested. Please pray for the Church in this volatile region.” (RLP 351)

(From the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin. Previous RLPs may be viewed at http://www.evangelicalalliance.org.au/rlc/ You may receive future editions by sending an empty e-mail to join-rl-prayer@xc.org)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Religious holidays and Hillsborough schools

When Muslims in Hillsborough County, Florida asked their school board to make Eid Al-Fitr (the festival of breaking fast after Ramadan) a school holiday, the school board voted to eliminate all religious holidays from school recognition. According to an article by Jennifer Howe, student Hannah Hye argued, “In our schools we have a considerable population of Muslim students, so it is only fair to grant our day of celebration as a holiday along with Christmas, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah.”

I agree with this Muslim student that granting a day off for Al-Fitr is only fair in a school district with a large Muslim population. Such a holiday would not constitute establishment of any one religion and, therefore, could not be legitimately viewed as unconstitutional. On the other hand, I’m sure a good lawyer could argue that canceling all religious holidays at the school is intolerant, violates the ideals of diversity, and is unconstitutional because the only religion this action promotes is atheism.

If giving up one more school day for a holiday is a concern, they could add Al-Fitr and drop Columbus Day--After all, it was my Norwegian ancestors who discovered America anyway and we don’t even get a holiday for it. :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kerry, Scalia and Alito

Senator John Kerry recently asked, "Has the right wing now forced a weakened President to nominate a divisive justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia?"

In an address given at Chapman University a couple months ago, Justice Antonin Scalia said he “was saddened to see the Supreme Court deciding moral issues not addressed in the Constitution, such as abortion, gay rights and the death penalty.” He said these questions should be addressed by Congress or state legislatures which are elected by the people, not by unelected judges. Justice Scalia also attacked the idea of a “living Constitution”, i.e. one in which the meaning changes as society changes. This living Constitution idea is behind all the fuss about appointing “moderate” judges instead of just looking at qualifications. Scalia asks, “What in the world is a moderate interpretation of a constitutional text? Halfway between what it says and what we’d like it to say?”

Let’s be honest: Senator Kerry would probably label any justice “divisive” who didn’t agree with him. And as far as being in the mold of Justice Scalia—if Justice Alito’s views agree with those above—my answer to Mr. Kerry is, we certainly hope so.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

World Trade Center liability

Imagine the unthinkable—someone breaks into your home and kills your children! When the case goes to trail, the jury actually finds you more liable for the crime than the murderers because your home security system wasn’t as adequate as it could have been! Sound crazy? Prepare to enter the Twilight Zone!

In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed by terrorists in an attack that killed six people and wounded 1,000. On Wednesday of last week a jury ruled that the owners of the World Trade Center building (the Port Authority) were 68% liable for the bombing! In other words, the terrorists who planned, funded, and actually blew up the place were less than were less than 1/3rd liable!

I’m sure there must be some reason for this lunacy—maybe assigning liability to the Port Authority was a way to get more money for the victims—but the apparent stupidity of this decision, at least as it appears on the surface, just boggles the mind. I’m afraid this decision is indicative of a greater sickness in America, that is, that many Americans seem to be more critical of America (especially our government) than they are of the terrorists! We certainly need to hold our leaders responsible for how they respond (or fail to respond) to the terrorist threat, but we should never lose sight of the fact that Bill Clinton, George Bush, or Congress are not the enemies here. The real enemy is a radical, worldwide Islamic extremist movement that is absolutely determined to destroy us by any and all means possible.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Breaking news: Girls beheaded

The Associated Press is reporting this morning that three girls were beheaded in Indonesia today as they walked to their Christian high school. There is no official word about who the assailants were but some clues may be 1) the fact that this occurred in a region where many Christians have been bombed and assassinated by radical Muslims, 2) this is part of a wider conflict which intensified soon after the arrival of a group called the “Laskar Jihad” 3) according to another article the head of one of the girls was placed near a Christian Church. Remember that this comes from the same tolerant Muslim country that recently sentenced three Christian Sunday School teachers to prison for allowing some Muslims to attend their classes even though the kids had their parent’s permission!

Anyway, these beheadings happened just hours ago so lets see if any of the networks, major newspapers or news magazines pick this story up. Let’s see if we hear the outrage by Hollywood and the media that we hear when American soldiers “desecrate” the Qur’an or humiliate Muslim terrorist-prisoners (don’t hold your breath).

While we’re talking about radical Muslims, in yesterday’s post I mentioned the news reporting that tens-of-thousands of Iranians had taken to the street in support of wiping Israel off the map. The Associated Press is reporting today that the number was actually over one million! While there are certainly a lot of good, peaceful Muslims in the world (see my October 27 post on the riot for one example) the fact is that militant, radical Muslims are not just the tiny fringe that some people seem to believe.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Wiping Israel off the map

During a conference on Wednesday (called “The World without Zionism”), Iran’s president called for Israel to be “wiped off the face of the map.” He also said,

"There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world…" "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world." This morning’s news reported that tens-of-thousands of Iranians had taken to the streets—in FAVOR of wiping Israel off the face of the map!
What I find interesting is how, when President Bush overthrows a brutal monster (who had been in violation of UN sanctions for years), spends billions to rebuild that country and to give the people free elections and their own constitution—many of those on the left spew their vitriolic, acidic hatred against Bush as if he were evil incarnate (its one thing to disagree, but the left has gone way beyond disagreement). But when the president of Iran publicly calls for what amounts to genocide against a free and democratic ally, the silence by the left is deafening.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Breaking News: Harriet Miers

CBS News is reporting that Harriet Miers has withdrawn from consideration as a Supreme Court justice.

The riot in Alexandria

On Monday I commented on the riot of Muslims in Alexandria, Egypt against a Christian church. For an absolutely outstanding article on this riot written by an Egyptian Muslim journalist, see Asharq Alawsat; “the leading Arabic International Daily.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The United Nations and the internet

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is a private U.S. company that administers worldwide internet domains, like .com, .org, .edu, .gov, .ca, etc. It does not do anything with regard to governing or censoring content. There is a movement that would seek to transfer this control to the United Nations! Sure, that's just what we need--internet oversight by an organization with input from such freedom of speech giants as China, Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia! The idea that the organization that brought us the food for oil scandal would have anything at all to do with overseeing the internet, sounds like a potential censorship nightmare!

On October 17, 2005, Senator Norm Coleman introduced Senate Resolution 273 calling on the President “to continue to oppose any effort to transfer control of the Internet to the United Nations or any other international entity.” This resolution can be found at “Thomas.” If you’d like to express your support for this resolution you can contact Senator Coleman via his website. If you honestly think that United Nations oversight of the internet is a good thing, you might find this site helpful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The (final) solution to the race problem

Kamau Kambon was a visiting professor at North Carolina State University and, previously, a professor of Education at St. Augustine College in Raleigh. He was also the recipient of a “Citizen’s Award” by the Independent Weekly, a local left-wing (of course) newspaper. In a C-SPAN televised event at Howard University Law School, on October 14, Mr. Kambon told the audience that “White people want to kill us” and that white people:

"have retina scans, they have what they call racial profiling, DNA banks, and they're monitoring our people to try to prevent the one person from coming up with the one idea. And the one idea is, how we are going to exterminate white people, because that in my estimation is the only conclusion I have come to. We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem." (WorldNetDaily)

I should probably be furious at this—I know I would be furious if I heard some white guy express such views against blacks—but I really just feel sorry for Mr. Kambon. If he really believes this nonsense, I have to wonder about his mental state (paranoia?). What concerns me more, however, is how someone with violent views like this is hired in to teach students at a college and university.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Muslims riot in Alexandria

A riot broke out last Friday when thousands of Muslims in Alexandria, Egypt protested a play that had been performed in a Christian church two years ago, but was currently being distributed on DVD. The play was apparently about a young Christian who converts to Islam and becomes disillusioned. The word on the street was that the play was anti-Islamic, though few interviewed had actually seen the play or DVD. Security forces fired tear gas into the crowd in an attempt to protect the church from the Muslims who were trying to storm the building. That was like throwing gasoline on a fire and the mob started overturning cars, setting them on fire, throwing large stones, smashing storefronts and looting. Three people were killed and many more were injured.

Christianity is “tolerated” in Alexandria and while the government says Christians are treated as equals, according the New York Times, “Few Christians hold high positions in the military and security forces, for example, and efforts to build or repair churches are often blocked.” Several Muslims who were interviewed thought their “tolerance” for Christianity was being taken for granted and abused. One Christian who was interviewed thought there must be a mistake about the play, saying “We would never do something like that.” A Muslim agreed with him saying, “I am Muslim, he is Christian, we are like brothers…This is ignorant and irresponsible behavior that must have something to do with the upcoming elections.”

The story above is a summary of “Egyptian Police Guard Coptic Church attacked by Muslims,” by Michael Slackman (October 23, 2005, New York Times). I love the part where the Muslim says to the Christian, “we are like brothers.” I hope there are many more like him—May their numbers increase. I am concerned, however, about the thousands of protesters who seem to have a very warped view of “tolerance.”

Friday, October 21, 2005

Poverty and violence

A guest professor from Syracuse University, said on Hannity and Colmes (Wednesday, October 19, 2005) that poverty was an explanation for the recent riots in Toledo (You may recall seeing video on TV of a mob throwing big rocks at the windshield of an ambulance)!

As someone who knows something about poverty first hand, I get tired of these rationalizations. My parents (and most others of their generation) grew up in poverty during the Great Depression. Due to circumstances in my dad’s life, he never got beyond eighth grade and although he was a very hard worker, I doubt that our family ever lived much above the poverty level. My dad usually had an old used car, was often up to his neck in debt and even had to declare bankruptcy once. My parents, brothers and I once lived in a home that didn’t even have running water. Water had to be carried in from a well on my grandfather’s farm and the water for baths had to be heated up on the stove. My dad rigged up a makeshift toilet so we didn’t have to use the outhouse—but he had to carry the contents out in a bucket every day.

In my upper grade-school years our situation had improved significantly (we had running water!), but then a local economic depression resulted in my dad being laid off from work. Since there were no jobs in the area, he had to move away to look for work. At one point, the money got so scarce my brother and I had to shovel snow from sidewalks just to scrape together enough money for food.

Most people would say the house I lived in during Junior High and High School was a dump, but at least we had a regular paycheck coming in again. And speaking of my Junior High and High School, a guy I know who went through this same public school system was later sentenced to prison. Several years into his sentence he told me that prison life was not as stressful as life in that public school system! The total amount of money my parents contributed to my college education was twenty-five bucks so the only way I was able to finance college was through student loans and the G.I. Bill (which, by the way, was open to people regardless of race, religion, sex, national origin, or financial status).

During my university days, my wife and I lived in a small trailer that had been used as a storage shed just before we moved in. During my first professional position, we lived in a small house in an urban area where (I stongly suspect) drugs were being sold out of the house accross the street and where someone had been murdered in a nearby park where we had brought our kids to play.
Of course mine is only one story. Millions of Americans, both urban and rural, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, have experienced poverty (many much worse than mine), and yet have not robbed, raped, burned, or looted. As individuals and as a society we need to help people get out of poverty (I am extremely grateful for the G.I. Bill!), but excusing violent behavior by blaming it on poverty just perpetuates the problem by allowed the perpetrators to shift the blame to something other than themselves.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Condoleezza Rice for (Vice) President

I understand that rumors are flying in Washington to the effect that Vice President Dick Cheney may step down over leaks in the Valerie Plame incident (If Mr. Cheney had anything to do with leaking Ms. Plame’s name to the press, he ought to step down). If the rumors prove to be true and Mr. Cheney does step down, I’d like to put the full weight and influence of the Recliner Commentaries (that and five bucks can get you lunch at McDonalds :-) behind Condoleezza Rice for Vice President. In fact, although she has emphatically denied that she will run for president, I sincerely hope she changes her mind. I think she would make a great president!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Originalists and assisted suicide

On the radio last week conservative talk show host (and lawyer) Laura Ingrham argued that the Supreme Court needs the best constitutional minds that the conservative side has to offer, and that Harriet Miers is not one of them. I think Ms. Ingrham has a good point. On the other hand, I am a little concerned that some of the conservative attacks against Ms. Miers are simply due to the fact that she is not the judicial bulldog conservatives would have preferred. This makes me concerned that some of those on the right would be just as guilty of judicial activism as those on the left.

Take, for example, the assisted suicide case (Gonzalez vs. Oregon) now before the Supreme Court. Many conservatives want Supreme Court justices who will vote against assisted suicide even though (as far as I can tell) there is nothing in the Constitution that would prohibit Oregon (at least in principle) from implementing a voter-approved assisted suicide program. Therefore, regardless of my personal opinion on assisted suicide, if I were on the Supreme Court I would probably have to vote to let Oregon’s law stand (ignoring, for purposes of this illustration, other issues like interstate regulation of drugs, etc.).

Such a vote would outrage many conservatives because, like those on the left, what many conservatives really want is someone who will vote for their side of the issues. But when Supreme Court justices read their own personal preferences into the Constitution, it is a dangerous threat to our freedom regardless of whether such judicial activism comes from the right or the left.

I predict that if judge Roberts, our new Chief Justice, votes to let this Oregon law stand, many conservatives will immediately jump to the conclusion that he has betrayed the conservative cause. But as long as he rules based on what the Constitution actually says and—to the best of his ability to determine—what the framers intended, he will have remained true to conservative values, even if we don’t like the outcome.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Legislating morality

The Christian right generally supports laws against abortion, euthanasia, pornography, prostitution, the recreational use of drugs, etc. Many people are fed up with these attempts by the Christian right to “legislate morality.” What some don’t seem to understand, however, is that the “left” also tries to regulate morality. For example, the number of environmental, civil rights and workplace laws and regulations is mind boggling! The Federal Register, the official compendium of these regulations, is over 75,000 pages long (costing the American taxpayer $860 billion dollars to enforce)! I’m not saying all these laws are necessarily bad, but many of them are sacred cows to those on the left and anyone who thinks these laws are not legislating morality is deluding themselves.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rehnquist v. West Wing

West Wing is one of my favorite TV shows, but on Sunday night's episode, the new presidential candidate, Matt Santos, said something about how the framers of the Constitution knew that with all the different religions in America, our government’s official religion would have to be no religion at all. This blather is either a sorry display of ignorance or a blatant propaganda campaign. Contrary to the opinion expressed by the writers of West Wing, our former Supreme Court Chief Justice believed that:

“The Establishment Clause did not require government neutrality between religion and irreligion nor did it prohibit the Federal Government from providing nondiscriminatory aid to religion. There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the Framers intended to build the ‘wall of separation’ that was constitutionalized in Everson…The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned” (Chief Justice Rehnquist, quoted in Men in Black, by Mark Levin, 45).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Pledge of Allegiance and Declaration of Independence

If—as a California court decided—it is unconstitutional for public school students to recite “one nation under God,” in the Pledge of Allegiance, is it also unconstitutional for students to recite the Declaration of Independence? The Declaration of Independence speaks of “Nature’s God” and says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” It concludes by appealing to the “Supreme Judge of the world....”

If reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in a public school is unconstitutional, then surely it must also be unconstitutional to recite the Declaration of Independence in a public school. On the other hand, can you imagine anything more absurd than thinking that the framers of the Constitution
--men who founded this country--would think that it should be unconstitutional for children to recite their Declaration of Independence in schools?! It is just as absurd to think that they would have dissapproved of Ten Commandments in courthouses, Christmas songs in schools, or nativity scenes in parks. But frankly, I doubt that the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation really care what the founders of this great country wanted or intended.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

America, the great satan

Yesterday I spoke disparagingly of the Indian caste system that ingrains discrimination into the very fabric of their culture. But I shouldn’t just pick on Indian culture. Let’s take a peek at some other cultures as well:

The Shluh people (Morocco) lived in a stratified (racist) society that placed Jews and slaves at the bottom. The Aranda tribe (Australia) historically used rape and the spearing of limbs to punish crimes. The Masai tribe (Kenya and Tanzania) cut the clitoris off their girls and cut the lower incisor teeth out of both boys and girls. Polygamy was the ideal for the Hausa people (West Africa) and men could have up to four wives. Boys learned very early that they were considered superior to girls.

The Garo people (India) considered the position of women to be equivalent to the position of children. The Akan people (Cote d’Ivoire) traded in slaves (both children and adults) obtained from northern Muslim slave dealers. The descendants of slaves purchased by the Amhara people (Ethiopia) were at the bottom of the social scale in their culture. Slavery was abolished in Madagascar by the French in the 1800’s, but being a slave ancestor was considered a shameful thing and resulted in discrimination up to modern times.

The Igbo people (Nigeria) thought it was a bad thing for a mother to have twins, or for babies to be born feet first. In such cases, the mothers were blamed for these “unnatural births” and the babies were taken out of the village, placed in clay pots and left to die. Some of the Bororo tribes (Brazil) killed their infant daughters to make those who survived more in demand by men. The shortage of women, however, led Bororo men to kidnap women from other tribes. Other South American tribes were equal opportunity baby-killers, making no distinction between boys or girls with regard to infanticide. The Bororo, of course, were not the only ones who kidnapped women. For example, the Ahagmiut (Canada) dealt with a shortage of women by wife stealing. This, of course often led to blood feuds and murder.

Warfare was a way of life for the Yanoama people (Brazil). The goal of their numerous raids was to kill as many enemy as possible and to abduct the enemy’s women. Keeping their own women in line was probably easy since their culture considered it legitimate for husbands to beat, burn, cut or even shoot their wives with barbed arrows—as long as they shot their wives in non-lethal body parts. In fact, in Yanoama culture, men who were brutal to their wives were respected by other men.

For Bemba (Congo) women, being beaten by their husbands was accepted as a way of life. If the wife happened to get a drop of menstrual blood on her husband’s bed, she would be punished by having her skin burned. The Bemba chief maintained his power with methods like mutilation, slavery and death. In the Trkano tribe (Brazil) a researcher reported that a madman killed and ate his children, then cut off, roasted and ate one of his wife’s breasts. None of the tribe intervened because “it was his own wife and children.” At a victory dance in the same tribes, the men wore the smoked genitals of enemy warriors and gave the women of their tribe the severed penises to eat for fertility.

Warfare was also a way of life among the Aymara tribes (Bolivia and Peru). The victors often ate and drank the blood of their captives after the victims were tortured. The Azande people (Central African Republic and the Congo) also engaged in cannibalism. Treachery and murder was honored by the Orokaiva people (Papua New Guinea). In fact, men who had not yet murdered someone were sometimes mocked by the village women. In one case, girls were sent to marry men from an enemy tribe. They brought their new husbands home to a welcome party—after which the new husbands were killed and eaten. Beating women is an accepted part of this culture also.

All of this information comes from primary research reports contained in a database known as the Electronic Human Relations Area Files. I wrote the summary above in the past tense even though some of these practices apparently continue to this day. I haven’t even begun to touch on all the tribes covered in this database, neither have I mentioned the millions and millions of people who, at various times in history, have been tortured, starved, slaughtered or enslaved by countries like Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Iraq, Uganda, Cambodia, Japan, Sudan etc.

My purpose is not to demonize all these tribes and countries, nor is it to let America off the hook for our own national sins (and they are many)—but I suspect that some people have heard so much of the endless harangue against the evils of America that they began to conclude that America is the world’s great satan and source of the world’s evil. This is shear nonsense. St. Paul wrote that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and I am quite convinced that this is just as true of cultures as it is of individuals.