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.