Mere Links 07.22.14
Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

ISIS to Christians in Mosul: convert, pay or die
CNN

Just days after the militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said they killed hundreds of Syrians, dozens of Iraqi Christian families are now fleeing the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, hoping to avoid a similar fate.

Europe Moves to Outlaw Organ Trafficking Worldwide
Matthew Robertson, Epoch Times

An official European representative body has promulgated a new convention outlawing the trafficking in human organs, calling on all countries to become signatories to it and criminalize the practice and punish offenders.

Uncle Sam Eavesdropping Outside the Confessional
Aaron Taylor, First Things

The state of Louisiana may be about to go where even rabidly anti-Catholic England in the seventeenth century dared not.

The Parent Trap
Ross Douthat, New York Times

The pattern — a “criminalization of parenthood,” in the words of The Washington Post’s Radley Balko — still looks slightly nightmarish, and there are forces at work here that we should recognize, name and resist.



Stratford Caldecott, R.I.P.
Monday, July 21, 2014, 10:41 AM

I came to Stratford’s work too late, but better late than never. He was one of the few men since Russell Kirk who really knew what a liberal education was all about, and who could show what he saw to others.

There are a few people in the cold Gobi Desert of academe who hold to something like a liberal education because they see its political utility, and they are right to believe that a healthy civilization requires the remembrance of what the wisest among us have had to say about the human condition. They read Thucydides, Petrarch, and Marcus Aurelius for profit.

Stratford Caldecott transcends them all, because, unlike them, he was in love with beauty and goodness, and so he could read and teach others to read Cicero not so much to learn about wise political action, as to learn about being human—or as Kirk puts it, being virtuous, being a man. He would never say that we should read history lest we repeat it, but that we should immerse ourselves in the wonder of creation and of that human creation we call art, so that we might lean towards the divine, as flowers lean towards the sun. In this sense he stands with Plato, Sidney, Johnson, Coleridge, Ruskin, Eliot, Lewis, and Kirk; a worthy battalion, against all the dreary utilitarians who have transformed our schools into ghastly and largely incompetent training centers.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat super eum.

—Anthony Esolen



Touchstone published three of his essays. The first, Speaking the Truths Only the Imagination May Grasp, had been planned as lead essay in a new volume of classic Touchstone articles, Creed & Culture II. Caldecott was the author of many books; his last: Not As the World Gives.



The Islamic State Caliphate Establishes “Justice”
Monday, July 21, 2014, 10:28 AM

Islamic State, the radical Islamist militants and al Qaeda offshoot, seeks to establish an Islamic “caliphate” that straddles Syria and Iraq, at least for the time being.  As part of their governance, they impose a 7th century view of Islam in society.  In the northern Syrian town of Tabaqa in the province of Raqa, the jihadists accused and convicted a woman of adultery, and stoned her to death last Thursday.  The stoning took place in a public square in the town’s market area.  The unnamed woman was reportedly in her thirties, and was sentenced to death by a “religious” court.  The woman’s family did not know that the sentence was going to be carried out.  Many residents are terrified of the Islamic State jihadists, but fear the consequences of reacting to and criticizing their harsh methods.

In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, now also controlled by the jihadists, the Islamists have issued an ultimatum to the few remaining Christians to either convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, the infamous “jizya,” or be executed.  (Interestingly the status of Christians as dhimmis was abolished during the Ottoman reforms in the mid-19th century.)  The order went into effect this past Saturday.  The order said Christians who remain in the “caliphate” must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract.  Under the status of dhimmitude, non-Moslems who were either Christians or Jews were “protected” in Moslem lands in return for a special tax known as “jizya.”  (Think of it as a protection racket.)  The announcement by the jihadists said that Christians were offered “three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.”  A resident of Mosul said that the statement, published in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh, was issued in the name of the Islamic State and distributed last Thursday, and read in mosques on Friday and broadcast through automobile loudspeakers.  A Saturday deadline was set for Christians who did not want to stay under those terms “to leave the borders of the Islamic Caliphate.”  The terms were announced by the jihadist group leader Caliph Ibrahim, or as he was formerly known, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  Fewer than ten years ago, the city of Mosul had more than 100,000 Christians living in the city, but today, estimates are that there are fewer than 200 Christians.

Some of my readers may be unaware that the Koran teaches Moslems not to make friends or allies with Jews and Christians (Koran 5:51), and that Moslems are to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission” (Koran 9:29), and to kill the disbelievers wherever Moslems find them (Koran 2:191).  The Koran further teaches that all those who disbelieve in Islam shall go to hell (Koran 5:10), even though Moslems are given no assurance of eternal life in Islam.  Further, all non-Moslems are najis (broadly defined as filthy and impure) (Koran 9:28), and Moslems are ordered to fight non-Moslems until no other religion except Islam is left (Koran 2:193).  Of course, much more could be said to show that Islam is not really a religion of peace notwithstanding the assertions of some in the United States and other Western nations.  Sadly, I don’t expect to hear President Obama or Secretary of State John F. Kerry say anything to oppose the horrors of jihadist rule in the pretend caliphate.  It is stunning to me that they don’t, but then again, perhaps they don’t see Islamist rule negatively.  The irony is that President Obama and his supporters say nice things about Islam and refuse to criticize Islamists other than in the most inane twitters (“Bring Back Our Girls”).  Yet they seem quite blind to the true desires of what some Moslems, including the jihadists, want: world domination and the destruction of everything you and I believe and hold dear.

Jihadists have no problem killing any of us (in the same gruesome way that they did with Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl), raping our wives and daughters, and then stoning them to death, and then taking our children from us for not raising them in their special way.  What will the leftists and secularists do when Islamists tell them to pay up, get out, or get killed?  I am not convinced that President Obama cares, as he might be focused on enjoying his holiday in Martha’s Vineyard in August.  It must be lovely though to be there to get away from the cares of a deeply fallen and dangerous world.  For our part, please continue to pray for the Christians throughout the Middle East, and for the repentance of the jihadists.



Mere Links 07.18.14
Friday, July 18, 2014, 9:25 AM

Why I’m Against United Methodist Schism
Mark Tooley, Juicy Ecumenism

Some evangelical United Methodist friends have suggested our denomination possibly enact a formal division between conservatives and liberals.

Sexual Assault: What Does the Hook-Up Culture Have To Do with It?
Adelaide Mena and Caitlin Seery La Ruffa, Public Discourse

The sexual assault epidemic on college campuses is created, in part, by the effects of the hook-up culture.

Hearings on S. 1696: The Planned Parenthood Protection Act
Susan E. Wills, Aleteia

Undermining 40 years of abortion regulation in one easy bill.

Help Your Kids Say ‘No’ to Porn
Jen Wilkin, The Gospel Coalition

We may stall on the sex talk, but the world will not.



Mere Links 07.17.14
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

Boko Haram Shows No Mercy in Nigeria, Wrecking Churches, Homes, Lives
Robyn Dixon, L.A. Times

When Boko Haram invaded her village last year, the Islamists extremists burned the churches, destroyed Bibles and photographs and forced Hamatu Juwanda to renounce Christianity.

Senate Considering Bill That Could Wipe Out Many State Pro-Life Laws
Sarah Torre, The Daily Signal

A sweeping bill that could eliminate many commonsense state laws protecting women from the harms of abortion was considered in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday.

The Progressive Appeal to an Imaginary Calendar
Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition

There’s no reason to assume that the position we hold to is right because it’s Tuesday and not Monday. And yet, that’s the kind of ”appeal to the calendar” we often witness in popular progressive circles.

What You Should Know About the Border Crisis
Joe Carter, Acton Institute

In 2013 the federal government housed about 25,000 minors who were going through deportation proceedings. This year, that number is expected to rise to over 60,000. There has also been an increase in the number of UAC who are girls and the number of UAC who are under the age of 13



Professor Takes University of North Carolina to School
Thursday, July 17, 2014, 9:20 AM

Dr. Mike Adams is a professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington (the “University”).  In 1993, he was hired by the University as an assistant professor.  Over his career, he received numerous teaching awards and earned accolades from his faculty colleagues.  In 1998, he was promoted to Associate Professor.  However, in 2000, Dr. Adams, an atheist, became a Christian believer.  Unsurprisingly, his conversion impacted his political and social views, which became more conservative and reflected traditional values.  However, his conversion and his subsequent change of views did not sit well with his esteemed University colleagues.  After his conversion, he became the subject of baseless accusations that led to numerous investigations by the University.  Further, he was denied promotion to full professor despite an award-winning record of teaching, research, and service to the University and broader community.  In fact, his scholarly work surpassed most of his faculty colleagues.  Dr. Adams believed that he was denied promotion because his nationally syndicated opinion columns espoused religious and political views that were in conflict with opinions held by University officials.

As a result of harassment against him, Dr. Adams filed a lawsuit against the University to vindicate his rights.  He was represented by attorneys affiliated with the Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”).  ADF fought a protracted legal battle on Dr. Adams’ behalf that has lasted seven years and ended this past Tuesday.  Following trial, a jury found that Dr. Adams had been illegally targeted by University officials, and the federal court ordered the University to promote Dr. Adams and to award back pay.  The University decided that it would appeal the federal district court’s decision in Dr. Adams favor.  However, on Tuesday, the federal court entered an order based upon an agreed settlement between the parties in which the University agreed to drop its appeal.  In addition, the University agreed to adopt procedures to protect Professor Adams from renewed retaliation and harassment, and to pay $615,000 in Dr. Adams’ attorneys’ fees.  So now the taxpayers of North Carolina are stuck with a $615,000 bill for retaliating against a conservative Christian by University officials.

ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham said the following regarding the final agreement in this case:

Public universities must respect the free speech rights of their professors, regardless of the points of view they express.  Public universities should be a marketplace of ideas, not places where professors like Dr. Adams face years of retaliation and discrimination for expressing views university officials do not like.  The court’s order reminds universities that disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views are not grounds for denying him a promotion.

In a very strange part of this case, Federal Senior Judge Malcolm J. Howard of the Eastern District of North Carolina, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a President Reagan appointee, ruled that the opinion columns written by Professor Adams were not protected by the First Amendment.  (Yes, I know; it makes no sense to me either.)  Fortunately for Dr. Adams and for those interested in academic freedom, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the decision by the Honorable Judge Howard and determined that the First Amendment did protect his published opinions.  (It might be a very good time for the 75-year-old Senior Judge Howard to give up the federal bench and take up shuffleboard instead.)  The appellate court held that “no individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment.”  Opinion columns, such as those in Mere Comments, the New York Times, the Federalist Papers, or the Anti-Federalist Papers, are classic examples of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

I join in congratulating Professor Adams and the students at the University of North Carolina – Wilmington for learning a valuable lesson about the meaning of free speech.  Kudos also to the attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom for their persistence and success for this seven-year legal battle!  Please pray for Dr. Adams and his family as he moves onto a new phase of his professional career.



Mere Links 07.16.14
Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 AM

New Tests for Five-Day-Old Embryos Raise Pro-Life Concerns
John Burger, Aleteia

Will techniques lead to more discarding of IVF-created unborn children?

9 Things You Should Know About Mormonism
Joe Carter, The Gospel Coalition

Nine things you should know about the beliefs of one of America’s fastest growing religions.

The Difference Three Percent Makes
Betsy Childs, First Things

In the article“Women forced to travel as Deep South closes doors on abortion clinics,”Al Jazeera America draws attention to a trend that is either heartening or ominous depending on your side of the abortion divide.

Is There Growing Confusion over Church Teaching?
William Oddie, Crisis Magazine

What exactly is going on, when Bishops and parish priests can so radically differ about the most elementary issues of faith and morals—about teachings which are quite clearly explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church—and when simultaneously one Cardinal describes such teachings as “crazy” and another simply expounds them as the immemorial teachings of the Church? Does nobody know what the Church believes any more?



Mere Links 07.15.14
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 10:32 AM

Church of England Says Yes to Women Bishops
Associated Press

The Church of England ended one of its longest and most divisive disputes Monday with an overwhelming vote in favor of allowing women to become bishops.

Supreme Court: Government Can’t Make People Into Religious Hypocrites
Travis Weber, The Federalist

The Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision recognized that who people are can’t be separated into separate ‘work’ and ‘faith’ boxes.

Is Evangelical Morality Still Acceptable in America?
Alan Noble, The Atlantic

People who disagree with same-sex marriage and birth-control use have been met with accusations of bigotry. Are some Christians being unfairly shamed out of the public sphere?

Why the Culture Wars Are Nothing New
John Zmirak, Aleteia

Meet one medieval woman of faith who faced down church, state, and neighbor in defense of religious freedom.



Mere Links 07.14.14
Monday, July 14, 2014, 10:00 AM

China beachhead
June Cheng, WORLD

Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church

We May Be Approaching Peak Porn
Brandon McGinley, The Federalist

Pornography is one vestige of sexual liberation that, despite wide use, people still aren’t willing to condone.

Romans 13 and the Immigration Crisis
Félix Cabrera, The Gospel Coalition

The principal New Testament text relating to government authorities is Romans 13. Does Romans 13 give unlimited power to the government to do what they want? History tells us that many notorious dictators and abusive governments have used Romans 13:1-5 out of context to abuse the power entrusted to them.

Senate Passes Special Envoy Bill to Prioritize State Department Engagement on Religious Liberty
Leanna Baumer, FRC Blog

The U.S. Senate took an encouraging step forward in the effort to force the State Department to prioritize the freedom of religion in diplomatic efforts globally. In a unanimous vote, the Senate cleared the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2014 (S. 653).



After Homosexual “Marriage”, Are Pedophilia and Incest Acceptance Next?
Monday, July 14, 2014, 9:33 AM

As a regular reader of Salvo magazine, I have seen the articles on efforts to “normalize” pedophilia.  But I have noticed that there have been some accelerating steps regarding the acceptance of pedophilia, and I wonder whether my readers have noticed.  First, there is the academic foundation for pedophilia acceptance.  Although efforts have been made to mainstream pedophilia since the early 1980s, last July, there was a conference on the subject held at the University of Cambridge in England.  Among the presentations at this conference were “Liberating The Paedophile: A Discursive Analysis,” and “Danger and Difference: The Stakes of Hebephilia.”  (I was unfamiliar with the term hebephilia, but it refers to the sexual preference for children in early puberty, typically 11 to 14-year-olds.)  Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, stated in his presentation about the “prevalence of pedophilia” and that the “majority of men are probably pedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males.”  Among the conclusions of his presentation was the following:

Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males.  At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children.

Who knew?  So now we have his statement as a central claim of an academic presentation.  One of the attendees at this conference was Tom O’Carroll, a multiple child sex offender, long-time campaigner for the legalization of sex with children, and the former head of the “Paedophile Information Exchange.”  On his blog after the conference, he wrote, “Wonderful!  It was a rare few days when I could feel relatively popular!”  Indeed I am sure that he did!

Then there are the “contributions” by the psychiatric profession.  The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM-5”) was published by the American Psychiatric Association (“APA”), on May 18, 2013.  The DSM-5 offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders, and is widely used and relied upon by clinicians, researchers, psychiatric drug regulation agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the legal system, and policy makers.  After a fierce battle at the APA, a proposal to include hebephilia as a mental disorder in the DSM-5 edition was defeated.  The proposal arose because many have observed that puberty in children has started earlier in recent years and, it was argued, the current definition of pedophilia missed out too many young people.  Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the DSM-5, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal.”  Thus, hebephilia is not deemed to be a mental disorder.

Finally, we also have the beginning of the judiciary contributing their two cents to this issue.  A district court judge in Sydney, Australia, has said that incest is on a par with homosexuality.  (Wouldn’t homosexuals consider that creepy?)  The Honorable District Court Judge Garry Neilson espoused his view during a trial involving the trial of a man accused of raping his sister.  Judge Neilson said that sexual contact between siblings or between adults and children should perhaps no longer be viewed as “unnatural” or “taboo”, according to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald.  He drew parallels with changing attitudes towards homosexuals, and said that in the same way as homosexual sex, “a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men, and was now ‘available’, not having [a] sexual partner.”  (Quoting Festus, we might say to this honorable judge that much learning has made thee mad!)  The honorable judge then added that incest is only criminalized in society because of the high chance that any resulting offspring will be born with serious birth defects, but added that fortunately in our modern world, “even that [risk] falls away to an extent [because] there is such ease of contraception and readily access to abortion.”  As a result of his comments, the Attorney General of New South Wales has referred the honorable judge to the Judicial Commission of New South Wales, and further requested that the judge be suspended from criminal trials until the probe is completed.  Don’t forget that it was just a few years ago in 2010 that the upper house of the Swiss parliament drafted a law decriminalizing incest.

So here we begin to see elements of more devolutionary societal change.  We may consider each of these views to be beyond reprehensible.  We are all also acutely aware of the dangers posed to victims of pedophilia by perpetrators, enablers, and supporters.  I found the honorable judge’s views on the use of abortion to be particularly despicable.  But we can begin to see more clearly what is coming.  I fear that once it begins, like homosexual “marriage,” it will move rather quickly.  Perhaps the next step might be a television comedy involving pedophiles or hebephiles?  Brothers and sisters in Christ, please watch your children and grandchildren carefully as the institutions of influence in our society will not protect them.


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