During Ramadan, God Pours Out His Holy Spirit
Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:51 AM

Earlier this week Moslems around the world celebrated the feast of Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.  During Ramadan, Moslems set aside time to seek their god by abstaining from earthly pleasures.  Moslems pursue the cleansing of their souls through fasting from sunrise to sunset, and refrain from bad habits (I guess blowing up stuff and killing folks doesn’t count as bad habits for some).  At the beginning of Ramadan, I wrote on these pages asking for prayer for Moslems around the world that God would move in the lives of millions of Moslems to introduce His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior.  This Ramadan, the Moslem world is in great chaos.  Christians are being driven from their homes and are being martyred daily throughout the Middle East and parts of Africa.  Fighting between Islamists in Gaza and Israelis threatens to engulf that region in a larger and more dangerous war.

In addition to writing for Mere Comments, one of the great privileges in my life is to correspond with and disciple new Christian believers from around the world who were formerly Moslems.  As I wrote on these pages at the beginning of Ramadan, today there are areas of the Moslem world that never had one church before, but now there are dozens that started in the past several years.  Unbeknownst to most Christians, missiologists estimate that more Moslems have become Christ-followers in the recent past than in the previous 13 centuries.  During this year’s Ramadan, I have exchanged email correspondence with numerous new Christians from the Moslem world.  (Although I have changed the names to protect both their security and privacy, the cities and countries cited are correct.)  Among the new Christians, there was Farhad and Daniyal from Teheran, Iran; Aahil from Islamabad, Pakistan; Aaban from Al Sulaymaniah, Iraq; Rehan from Rabat, Morocco; Rayyan from Shiraz, Iran; Usman, Bilal, and Zaroon from Dhaka, Bangladesh; Zeeshan from Qusantinah, Algeria (incidentally, the most beautiful city you have never heard of); Hamza from Kabul, Afghanistan; Arisha from Kuwait City, Kuwait; Imran from Tunis, Tunisia; Ali from Sanaa, Yemen; Shahzaib from Doha, Qatar; Ashaz from Khartoum, Sudan; and Ibrahim and Waqas from Jakarta, Indonesia.  We can rejoice that God is pouring out His Holy Spirit throughout the Moslem world.  As St. Paul taught us in his epistle to the Romans, where evil doth abound, grace even more doth abound.

One of my observations in corresponding with these new Christian believers is how much their hearts and minds parallel what St. Paul wrote about the Jews of his generation in Romans 10:2, “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”  As we learn from 1 John 4:8, the God of the Holy Bible is love, an impossibility for Allah.  In fact, among Allah’s 99 attributes, love is not one of them.  The Koran never says that Allah loves all mankind, much less sinners.  But the God of the Bible is loving and merciful, and ready to forgive anyone who will come humbly and in repentance to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And Moslems are drawn by the love and forgiveness offered by Isa Ibn Maryam, the al-Masih (the Messiah).

We rejoice with the angels in Heaven over each lost sinner who comes to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  I urge you to please remember in prayer our new brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ from Moslem backgrounds.  As one can expect, the formerly-Moslem Christian believers will be severely persecuted.  But despite great persecution, imprisonment, and martyrdom, with many others losing their homes and loved ones, my prayer for them is that these new Christians will boldly serve our Lord Jesus without fear.  They have truly counted the cost, and know the pearl of great price of their newfound faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  May God bless each of them richly.



Please Pray for Asia Bibi
Monday, July 28, 2014, 9:56 AM

101206ff68d51dc7393ddec436495735277ccf Please Pray for Asia BibiMany around the world rejoiced at the arrival in Rome last week of Mariam Ibrahim, accompanied by her husband and their two beautiful children.  Many of us were moved at seeing the family’s meeting with Pope Francis.  And while we rejoice that she and her family will be coming to the United States soon (her husband is an American citizen), we must remember that there are many who continue in chains for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  On these pages over the past several years, I have written about the plight of one such victim of anti-Christian persecution, Asia Bibi.  Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman who was sentenced to death under Pakistan’s notorious criminal code section 295(c), which prescribes the death penalty for “insulting” Mohammed and Islam.  She is a Roman Catholic rural farm worker and mother of five.  In June 2009, while working in the fields, she was sent to bring water for the other farm workers.  Some of the Moslem workers refused to drink the water she brought as they considered water touched by Christians to be “unclean.”  Her co-workers then complained to the authorities that she made derogatory comments about Mohammed.  What was the derogatory comment she purportedly made against Mohammed?  The Moslem women claimed Asia Bibi said: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind.  What did your prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”  Asia Bibi is illiterate, and is considered an uneducated woman, but she asked a deeply profound question.  Islam teaches that one cannot know and experience assurance of eternal salvation.  Of course, her hearers had no ready answer to her simple question.  But six days after this incident, a violent mob came to her family’s home, damaged it, and assaulted and beat her and members of her family.  In response, Pakistani police arrested her, and she spent more than one year in jail awaiting trial.  Finally, in November 2010, The Honorable Judge Muhammed Naveed Iqbal sentenced her to death by hanging, and he fined her the equivalent of $1,100, a large sum in rural Pakistan.  Her verdict was later upheld by the Lahore High Court.  Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari refused to pardon her after large demonstrations were held against her.  My readers may remember that several Pakistani government officials who publicly called for Asia Bibi’s release and the abolition of the Pakistan’s blasphemy law have been assassinated, including the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, who was murdered by his bodyguard.  Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet, was assassinated for speaking out on her behalf as well.  Moreover, each time that a Christian villager is accused of blasphemy, Christian neighbors are forced to flee the area out of fear that they are next in line to be accused of the same “crime.”

Asia Bibi’s case is now up for further appeal by the High Court of Lahore, Pakistan.  In fact, for the fifth time over a number of years, the hearing for her appeal didn’t happen.  No reasons are ever given for the delay, and no new hearing dates are set.  The excuses given for the delays have been varied; there have been sick judges and sick lawyers who couldn’t make it at the appointed day and hour.  As you can well imagine, the government fears the people if she is released, and the government further fears that financial donors from the international community will cut off or curtail foreign aid if she is executed.  Pakistan, an erstwhile ally of the United States in what used to be the war against terrorism, has received tens of billions of our tax dollars in foreign and military aid over just the past decade, and continues to receive large sums.  Thus, with the moral courage of Pontius Pilate, the High Court judges find every excuse not to give Asia Bibi her day in court.  And justice delayed is justice denied.

Mariam Ibrahim’s recent visit with His Holiness in Rome reminds me of a Christmas letter sent to Pope Francis by Asia Bibi last November.  She thanked Pope Francis and all the churches praying for her and credited the prayers of God’s people for her survival after more than four years in prison.  She wrote the following in pertinent part:

I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom.  If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me.  I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible.  Only God will be able to free me.  Holy Father, I want for you to accept my best wishes for the New Year.  I know you pray for me with all your heart, and this gives me confidence that one day my freedom will be possible.

She expressed her desire to be in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to pray with Pope Francis for Christmas 2014.  Please pray for Asia Bibi and her family, and let us work together so that we can see her worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Rome later this year.



100 Days of Captivity for Nigerian Students
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 10:56 AM

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirls 100 Days of Captivity for Nigerian StudentsJuly 24, 2014, is the 100th day of captivity for the remaining 219 teenage girls still held by Boko Haram terrorists.  On April 14, nearly 300 school girls were kidnapped from a school near Chibok in northeast Nigeria.  Approximately 57 students managed to flee shortly after they were captured when Boko Haram terrorists went to attack another village.  According to a mediator working with Boko Haram, two of the girls have died of “snake bites,” while another twenty are seriously ill.  Rallies to support the young women will take place today around the world.  There will also be a rally today at noon at the Nigerian embassy in Washington, D.C.  Among the invited speakers at the Washington, D.C., rally will be Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas.  Chibok and nearby villages are particular Boko Haram targets because they are enclaves of devout Christian believers in the predominantly Moslem northern Nigeria.  Further, the leader of Boko Haram released a video in which he mocked the #BringBackOurGirls campaign famously championed by Mrs. Obama and Secretary John F. Kerry’s Department of State.

Sadly, since April, international attention for the school girls has waned, and media reports indicate that the 219 students are being held captive in the Sambisa Forest, which is an area of thick jungle and open savannah, bordering on sand dunes at the edge of the Sahara Desert.  There have been reported sightings of the girls and their captors in neighboring Cameroon and Chad as well.  Adding further tragedy to the kidnappings, eleven parents have died since the mass kidnapping.  Seven of the girls’ fathers were among 51 killed earlier this month after another attack by Boko Haram in the village of Kautakari.  Further, at least four more parents have died of heart failure and other illnesses blamed on the trauma caused by the kidnapping.  The British Daily Mail reported that community leader, Pogu Bitrus, said one father of two of the kidnapped girls simply went into a coma-like condition, where he repeated the names of his daughters until he eventually died.  Every village in the area of Chibok has been attacked and ransacked, along with all the villages bordering Cameroon.  The Boko Haram attacks continue despite the fact the Nigerian military has placed the area under a state of emergency since May 2013.  Although the Nigerian military presence has increased dramatically in the area, soldiers often refuse to deploy to villages under attack even when there are advanced warnings, which is typically the case.  In addition, transportation in the area is hampered because the frequent Boko Haram attacks have left the roads impassable with burned-out automobiles and other debris.

On this 100th day of the captivity of the school girls, please remember to pray for their release, and to pray for their families who are suffering greatly.  Please also pray for their persecutors that they might turn from their wickedness, and come to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.



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.



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.



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.



Coming Soon To A Bakery Near You
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 4:51 PM

The British media have reported that a Christian baker is facing legal action from a government agency for refusing to bake a cake carrying the picture of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan “support gay marriage.”  (By the way, can Muppets really be homosexual?  Or are the homosexualists saying that those who have loving, platonic relationships are secretly gay?)  The Ashers Baking Company of Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland, cancelled an order for the special love cake because it went against the religious beliefs of its owners.  The special love cake was also to include the logo of QueerSpace, a homosexual group supported by the customer, printed into the icing of the love cake.  The Christian bakers consider that baking this cake would endorse homosexual “marriage” in Northern Ireland, and would violate their religious convictions.  Of course, the bakery could have been targeted for a form of “entrapment” by the homosexualists.  (Do you ever wonder why Moslem bakers are never targeted?)

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (the “Commission”) has now written Ashers Bakery claiming that it is breaking the law and ordered the bakery to “remedy your illegal discrimination” within seven days, or be taken to court.  The Commission is claiming that the baker, in refusing to bake this special love cake, has discriminated against the customer based upon his sexual orientation.  The baker is supported by the Christian Institute, a British evangelical advocacy group.  The Christian Institute has responded that it is not discriminatory for a business to endorse a political campaign.  Importantly, Northern Ireland is the only province of the United Kingdom where homosexual “marriage” is not legal, though strenuous efforts are being made to establish homosexual ‘marriage” in Northern Ireland.

Colin Hart, chief executive of the Christian Institute, recently stated:

This is a sign of things to come exactly as we predicted.  The Government repeatedly failed to listen to members of the public, lawyers, constitutional experts, even its own MPs, when they called for safeguards to protect those who back traditional marriage, especially those who work in the public sector.  Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector.  This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide goods or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.  It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.

Of course, the baker could simply have pointed out that baking the love cake would violate the intellectual property rights of Jim Henson Productions, Inc.  In addition, importantly to us, but perhaps less so to homosexualalists, the baker could have said that it is deeply offensive to sexualize characters from a television program for young children.  (This might have worked in that there have been a spate of British celebrities accused and convicted of pedophilia in recent years.)  British Prime Minister and Conservative Empty Suit David Cameron was asked about the baker’s situation during the Prime Minister’s question time in Parliament.  You can see his non-responsive answer here.  Perhaps the next step is for an abortion mill in the United Kingdom to find a devout Roman Catholic baker and ask him to make “We Love Abortion” cakes to give away as post-abortion novelties.  I have a sense that the Equality Commission would be writing letters to those bakers as well.  Please remember to pray for the owners and staff of the Ashers Baking Company.



A Young Arab Pastor Leads the Way
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 9:03 AM

The recent tragic events in Israel have led to new rounds of attacks and reprisals, with more than 230 missiles fired into southern Israel, leading to a forceful Israeli military response.  The current attacks started on June 12, 2014, with the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli Jewish teens, one of whom was an American citizen. In retaliation, an Arab Moslem teen, Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, from the town of Shofat in East Jerusalem was also kidnapped and murdered by being burned alive.  Israeli police have arrested six Jewish Israelis for the murder, and three of them have now admitted their involvement with the teen’s torture and murder. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Mohammed’s father to offer his condolences to the family. It is unlikely that the Palestinian police will act with such dispatch as did the Israeli police.

Steven Khoury A Young Arab Pastor Leads the WayMy dear and deeply respected friend Steven Khoury is pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Shofat.  Pastor Khoury is an Arab-Israeli Christian who also serves as Vice President of Holy Land Missions, which supports six churches throughout Israel.  Over the past decades. Pastor Khoury has witnessed members of his churches attacked and persecuted.  His own father was shot by Moslem militants, and his uncle was martyred for the sake of Jesus Christ. Several young girls from his church were also martyred for their Christian faith. What was their crime? The girls invited other children to attend the church’s Vacation Bible School. Pastor Khoury is a published author, and he writes frequently for Al-Quds, the largest Arabic newspaper in the Holy Land.

Pastor Khoury and his congregations have endured numerous threats and attacks, and on June 30, 2014, after eight years of active ministry and evangelistic outreach in the Shofat area, the church closed at that location. Within hours, with the kidnapping and murder of the Moslem teen, riots, shootings, street fires, and great anger erupted in the neighborhood of the church. A Moslem, obviously sensing something was now different in his neighborhood, came to one of the leaders of the now closed Baptist church, and said, “Did you see what happened when you left the neighborhood? You took your covering of blessings and grace from our neighborhood with you?” Christians realize that the cover of God’s blessings is brought to a neighborhood and nation through a praying fellowship of Christian believers.

During the coming days and weeks, Pastor Khoury and his congregants plan to meet with the families of both of the murdered Moslem and Jewish teens. Among the Jews and Palestinians in Israel, the depth of hatred and animosity runs deep. It is expected that retaliation and revenge can lead to another intifada in short order. Here you can a short video of Rev. Khoury visiting Shofat this past weekend, and speaking with a Moslem teen. You can hear that the young man has no forgiveness in his heart. It is quite jarring to hear the youth speak.

It is only the true Love of Jesus Christ that brings real peace to the heart of man, and transforms our natural inclination for hatred, retribution, and revenge. It is through efforts of Pastor Khoury and members of his congregation, like the saints of the first century who choose to be salt and light in a hostile Jerusalem, bathed in the prayers of Christians around the world, who can make known the Love and Light of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who desperately need Him. As you watch events unfold in Israel, please remember to pray for the witness and ministry of this young and courageous Arab Christian pastor and his fellow Christian believers in Israel. Please also remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as we are instructed in Psalm 122:6.



Happy Independence Day 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014, 8:59 AM

It was 238 years ago, on July 4, 1776, that the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia.  It marked the birth of this nation which, under God, was destined for world leadership.  Of course, the Declaration was only the first step: Great Britain was not going to give up its 13 colonies without a terrible and fierce fight that was to last for six years, and took the lives of 4,435 American patriots in battle at a then unimaginable cost of $104,000,000.  We often forget that, in declaring independence from an earthly power, our founders made a forthright declaration of dependence upon Almighty God.  The Declaration, written principally by Thomas Jefferson, acknowledges that “all men are created equal and are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights.”  The closing words of the Declaration solemnly declare, “With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”  What kind of men were our founders?  Twenty-two were lawyers and judges.  Eighteen were merchants and businessmen.  Fourteen were farmers and large plantation owners.  These were all men of means and education.  Seven were educated at Harvard, four at Yale, four at the College of William and Mary, and three at Princeton.  John Witherspoon, the only clergyman, was president of what is today Princeton University, and George Wythe was a professor at the College of William and Mary, whose former student was Thomas Jefferson.  Dr. Benjamin Rush, considered the father of American medicine, also started the Sunday School movement in the United States.  Dr. Rush graduated from Princeton at the age of 14, and then completed his medical studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  Charles Carroll began his formal education at the age of 8, when he was sent to attend Jesuits’ College at St. Omer, France.  He graduated from the College of Louis the Grande in France at the age of 17.  Afterwards, he apprenticed as a lawyer in London.  Of the 56 signers, 21 were 40 years of age, or younger, with the youngest, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, was 26 years old.  The British marked every signer for treason, and each became the object of vicious British manhunts.  Space does not permit me to tell the often tragic story of many of the Declaration’s signers, but a short biography of each of the signers is available here.

In addition to referring to the Creator and Divine Providence, the Declaration also appeals to “Nature’s God” and “the Supreme Judge of the World.”  A number of years later, when the Constitution was published, something new had been created: a system of self-government by the consent of the governed.  Our founders created a constitutional republic with individual liberty to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, elected representatives and limited government.  Our founders created a republic in which the power to govern was checked and balanced by procedures designed to stop tyranny in its tracks.  In contrast to what many believe, our founders did not create a democracy, but rather a republic.  They knew Plato’s warning that unrestricted democracy must logically result in a dictatorship.  They knew from the study of Greek history that a fanatical majority can deprive the individual of his rights, his life, and his property.  They had all studied Roman history, where after many centuries, the Roman republic gave way to the “bread and circuses” and the rise of the corrupt despotism of the Roman emperors that lasted until the collapse of the Roman Empire.  The founders firmly believed that the republican government they were creating could last only if it was rooted in biblical morality and religion.  John Adams said, “A republic can only be supported by pure religion or austere morals.”  George Washington said, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.”  Indeed!  As early as 1811, the Supreme Court of New York, in a decision by Chief Justice Kent, for whom the Kent Law School in Chicago is named, stated, “The people of New York, in common with the people of this country, profess the general doctrines of Christianity, as the rule of their faith and practice” and then continues, “we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity.”  People v. Ruggles, 8 Johns. 290, 294-295.

Notwithstanding the assertions to the contrary of Mr. Obama, a former lecturer in constitutional law, in 1892, our Supreme Court, after giving example after example of the foundational importance of Christianity in public life from the discovery of the New World by Columbus throughout the history of United States, declared:

This is a religious people.  This is historically true.  From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation . . . we are a Christian people, and the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity . . . . we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth . . . These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass or organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 465-71 (1892).  Emphasis added.

In 1931, the Supreme Court again reaffirmed its earlier view: “We are a Christian people . . . and acknowledge with reverence the duty of obedience to the will of God.”  U.S. v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 625 (1931).  In 1952, the liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the Supreme Court in the decision of Zorach v. Clauson, wrote, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.  We guarantee the freedom to worship as one chooses . . . We cannot read into the Bill of Rights such a philosophy of hostility of religion.”  Zorach, 343 U. S. 306, 313-15.  Of course, over the past six decades, this view has perhaps now vanished.  To almost any observer, notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the official policy of both the federal government and its courts today is state-sponsored atheism that holds an anti-Christian animus.  Of course, the concept of a secular or atheistic state did not exist in 1776, when the Declaration was published, or in 1787, when the Constitution was adopted.  To read the Constitution as a charter for a secular or atheistic state is to misread our American history radically.  Our Constitution was designed to perpetuate an order based upon the Bible, biblical ethics, and a Judeo-Christian worldview.  At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Dr. Franklin, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?”  Mr. Franklin famously and wisely responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Independence Day 2014 should not solely be about fireworks, parades, and a cold drink on a hot summer day.  Rather, it is a celebration of a system of self-government by the consent of the governed.  It is about a constitutional republic with individual liberty, elected representatives and limited government.  For this Independence Day celebration, I will read again the Declaration of Independence.  If I read it slowly, it might take 15 minutes.  If you haven’t read the Declaration in a while, you might be surprised at how many parallels exist with our day.  Happy Independence Day, Everyone!  Yes, Hobby Lobby won their case at the Supreme Court 5-4.  For this, we are thankful to God for His mercy.  But this case also reminds us that our religious liberty hangs on a very thin thread.



Fellowship of St. James Needs Your Support
Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 1:44 PM

Last week, I had the privilege to attend for the fourth time Acton University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where more than 1,000 persons from 67 nations gathered to speak and learn about how our Christian faith informs our understanding of freedom and economics.  It was an exhilarating experience, and I would encourage my readers to begin to plan to attend the next session in June 2015.  One evening as I introduced myself to a young man at dinner, he said, “You write for Mere Comments, right?”  It was an affirming comment.  I certainly appreciate my many blog readers from around the world, and also deeply value the ministry of Touchstone and Salvo magazines, and the St. James Daily Devotional Guide.  On occasion, I have been asked why I don’t start my own blog instead of writing for Mere Comments.  However, my answer has always been the same: Writing for Mere Comments is a wonderful privilege to share my Christian faith with many, and the website serves as a strategic tool to encourage others to grow more deeply in their faith in Jesus Christ.

That is the ministry of the Fellowship of St. James, the publisher of Touchstone and Salvo magazines, and of Mere Comments.  The Fellowship, founded in 1976, seeks to promote fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, and encourages greater Christian unity based upon shared belief in the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith as revealed in Holy Scripture and taught in the ancient creeds of the Church.  As a recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization, subscriptions alone do not cover the costs of publishing the magazines.  As a result, the Fellowship relies upon generous gifts from its readers and supporters.  My wife and I have long been supporters of the Fellowship as we recognize the great value of a clear, consistent, ecumenical platform for thoughtful and learned Christians to share how our Christian faith informs an understanding of modern-day life in these spiritually dark times.  I would ask you to prayerfully consider a generous donation to the Fellowship as we approach the end of the Fellowship’s fiscal year on June 30, 2014.  As of today, the Fellowship needs $35,000 to balance its budget.

You can make an online donation here.

Thank you very much for your prayer consideration of this request.


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