Pastor Saeed Abedini and Nuclear Negotiations With Iran
Thursday, November 20, 2014, 9:11 AM

This week, the eyes of Americans are focused on Mr. Obama’s forthcoming amnesty for the almost 30 million illegal aliens living in the United States, and on events in Ferguson, Missouri.  Many expect large-scale civil disturbances after the grand jury decides, according to most media reports, not to indict Officer Wilson.  However, history is likely to record that the gravest threat to world peace at this time arises from the negotiations among the United States, European Union, and the Islamic regime of Iran over Iran’s nuclear program.  The deadline for a “comprehensive” accord is set for this coming Monday, November 24, 2014.

The principal negotiators are Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, U.S. Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry and European Union envoy Catherine Ashton.  The United States and Europe seek to defuse a long confrontation with Iran that ultimately threatens nuclear war between Iran and Israel.  Iran’s top aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati, has said that Iran would not abandon its nuclear “rights,” but still was committed to the negotiations.  This means that the Iranian mullahs, being shrewd negotiators, will develop nuclear weapons while the United States and Europe continue to negotiate.  Of course, Iran denies any secret nuclear weapons program, and says that it only wants peaceful nuclear energy, notwithstanding its immense reserves of petroleum and natural gas.  Iran refused to curb nuclear enrichment capacity, and as a result, has been hit by crippling sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, and United Nations Security Council.  The present negotiations seek to put verifiable limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment work that provide a path to nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.  According to media reports, Western and Iranian diplomats involved in the negotiations stress that the major unresolved issues are the size of Iran’s enrichment program, the length of any long-term agreement, and the pace at which international sanctions would be phased out.  The Obama Administration seeks verification and monitoring measures to ensure Iran is living up to its end of the bargain.  Good luck with that as there is much to negotiate in the coming few days.

Related to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, I have often written on these pages about the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American pastor who is wrongly imprisoned in Iran.  After more than two years in captivity in Iran’s notorious prisons, his family reports that he is suffering great pain from internal injuries from frequent prison beatings by both guards and other prisoners.  And while the feckless Obama Administration is sitting across the table from Iran with the November 24th deadline that is likely to release billions of dollars and Euros to Iran, the plight of Pastor Abedini is ignored.  Can we naively trust the mullahs of Iran who are committed to the destruction of Israel as their regime wrongfully imprisons and torments an American pastor (and many other Christians)?  I don’t think so either.

When soldier Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, was exchanged earlier this year for five Taliban members held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Obama promised that he would leave no American behind.  We must now hold Mr. Obama to his promise.  Please pray for Pastor Abedini, his wife, and their two beautiful children.  I encourage each of my readers to please call or write Mr. Obama regarding this matter.  The telephone number to the main White House switchboard is 1.202.456.1414, or you can email him here.  As you may have heard, Mr. Obama has repeatedly said that he is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history.  So I think he would enjoy hearing from regular folks about the plight of Pastor Abedini.  And as we move towards the Thanksgiving Day holiday, let us be mindful that we are admonished in Hebrews 13:3 to “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”



Another Historic First at The National Cathedral
Monday, November 17, 2014, 9:36 AM

Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. Another Historic First at The National CathedralLast June, on these pages, I wrote about an historic first at Washington, D.C.’s National Cathedral when the Rev. Dr. Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University, became the first openly transgendered priest to preach from the Canterbury Pulpit at the cathedral.  The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual Episcopal bishop, presided at that service, which was part of the cathedral’s celebration of LGBTQ pride month.  The service included readings and prayers from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.  The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of the cathedral, said that he hoped that Rev. Dr. Partridge’s participation would “send a symbolic message in support of greater equality for the transgender community.”  The National Cathedral, which is officially The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, boasts an important image both in the United States and around the world.

This past Friday, there was another historic first at the National Cathedral when several hundred Moslem worshipers gathered for the first recitation of weekly Moslem prayers to Allah at the cathedral.  The National Cathedral was, in effect, turned into a mosque, and the Moslem worshipers were called to worship by the Arabic call to prayer, and they bowed toward Mecca, while shielding their eyes from Christian crosses.  Prayer carpets were arranged diagonally so Islamic worshipers could face the direction of Mecca without seeing any of the crosses or other Christian symbols.  Apparently, this is because Moslems are not to pray in view of non-Islamic sacred symbols.  So now, the National Cathedral has become the first church in America to host a Moslem-led prayer service.  Among the sponsors of this event were the infamous Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and the Islamic Society of North America, also known as ISNA.  Both CAIR and ISNA are known front groups for the Moslem Brotherhood, which has long had strong ties to senior figures in the Obama Administration.  (The two groups were named as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2009 Holy Land Foundation trial, the largest terrorism funding trial in U.S history.  CAIR and ISNA were directly involved in laundering money through fake charities to fund Hamas operations.)  Friday’s Islamic sermon was preached by His Excellency, Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, described as a Moslem “scholar,” who is the ambassador from South Africa to the United States.  In his remarks, Ambassador Rasool called on Moslems, Christians, and others to come together and make “common cause” in the fight against extremists who appropriate Islam.  In his remarks, Ambassador Rasool said:

We come to this cathedral with sensitivity and humility but keenly aware that it is not a time for platitudes, because mischief is threatening the world.  The challenge for us today is to reconstitute a middle ground of good people . . . whose very existence threatens extremism.

The Islamic prayer service was closed to the public, and media reports indicate that there was heavy security, with police checking every name and bag.  (I suppose the organizers feared that a Christian suicide bomber might set off a bomb, or send one or more Christian children wearing a bomb-vest.)  Organizers said there had been concerns about security and threats after the event was publicized, and the organizers and cathedral officials wanted to limit it to a small and select group.  However, as an imam was about to give the call to prayer, a Christian woman stood up, pointed to the cross, and proclaimed:

Jesus Christ died on that cross.  He is the reason we are to worship only Him.  Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.  We have built enough of your mosques in this country.  Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone?  America was founded on Christian principles.  Leave our church alone!

Indeed.  She was immediately taken into custody and forcibly removed from the cathedral by two men whereupon she was beheaded.  (OK, that didn’t really happen, or at least not yet in the United States, but it could have happened that way in many other countries.)  Our unidentified Christian sister’s interruption of the travesty was captured on video and posted online at PamelaGeller.com.

Of course, in Islam, Jesus Christ is not the Son of God.  The Koran 4:171 declares in part:

O People of the Scripture!  Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth.  The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a soul from Him.  So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not “Three” – Cease!  [It is] better for you!  Indeed, Allah is only One Allah.  Exalted is He above having a son.

Moreover, as Christians who recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s Holy Son, Islam teaches we are accursed and worthy of destruction.  The Koran 9:30 declares in pertinent part:

[T]he Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.”  That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved.  May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

The leaders of the National Cathedral have now permitted a grave blasphemy in this church.  But now, I will look forward, in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect that was promised by this event, that this coming Christmas, we can celebrate the Feast of the Nativity at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and then, at Easter, celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Kaaba in Mecca.  In light of the Moslem persecution of Christians worldwide, it seems to me that it would be far more appropriate to promote love and respect by having Christian prayers in a mosque.  But don’t hold your breath.



Homosexual “Marriage” Heading Back to the Supreme Court
Friday, November 7, 2014, 2:17 PM

As much as the Supreme Court sought to avoid this result, the question of homosexual “marriage” will now inevitably return to the Supreme Court.  This is because there are now polar-opposite decisions in the courts of appeal, and therefore, a dispositive decision regarding the right of states to make their own decision regarding homosexual “marriage” will need to be decided by the Supreme Court.  Yesterday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has federal law jurisdiction over the states of Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, and Tennessee, overruled lower court decisions that struck down state constitutional amendments passed by popular vote that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that states have the right to set rules for marriage, and that changing a definition of marriage that dates to “the earliest days of human history” is better done through the political process, and not the courts.  Its decision breaks ranks with the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, the 10th Circuit in Denver, the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, and the 7th Circuit in Chicago, that have all overturned homosexual “marriage” bans in the West, South, and Midwest since this past summer.  The 6th Circuit’s appellate decision follows reasoning used to affirm traditional marriage in Puerto Rico by a federal judge.  On these pages, I recently wrote about the federal court ruling last month in Puerto Rico that concluded that there is no Supreme Court precedent that requires the federal judicial redefinition of marriage.  Moreover, both the court in Puerto Rico and the 6th Circuit appellate court found that the Supreme Court’s ruling last June on the federal Defense of Marriage Act case supports the authority of each state to make marriage policy.

Although the appellate court’s full decision is available here, there are some excerpts that merit the attention of my readers.  One of the stunning hallmarks of this decision is the judicial humility and the respect for the decisions of our citizens.  Although often forgotten today, our nation’s founders believed in the ability of virtuous, moral, and reasonable persons to govern themselves, and that a society could be built on limited government and great personal freedom.  In the first excerpt from the appellate court decision, it observed:

Of all the ways to resolve this question, one option is not available: a poll of the three judges on this panel, or for that matter all federal judges, about whether gay marriage is a good idea. Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us – just two of us in truth – to make such a vital policy call for the thirty-two million citizens who live within the four States of the Sixth Circuit.”

Emphasis added.  Then, at pages 19-21, the opinion states:

A dose of humility makes us hesitant to condemn as unconstitutionally irrational a view of marriage shared not long ago by every society in the world, shared by most, if not all, of our ancestors, and shared still today by a significant number of the States . . . One starts from the premise that governments got into the business of defining marriage, and remain in the business of defining marriage, not to regulate love but to regulate sex, most especially the intended and unintended effects of male-female intercourse.  Imagine a society without marriage.  It does not take long to envision problems that might result from an absence of rules about how to handle the natural effects of male-female intercourse: children. . . . Once one accepts a need to establish such ground rules, and most especially a need to create stable family units for the planned and unplanned creation of children, one can well appreciate why the citizenry would think that a reasonable first concern of any society is the need to regulate male-female relationships and the unique procreative possibilities of them…. People may not need the government’s encouragement to have sex.  And they may not need the government’s encouragement to propagate the species.  But they may well need the government’s encouragement to create and maintain stable relationships within which children may flourish.  It is not society’s laws or for that matter any one religion’s laws, but nature’s laws (that men and women complement each other biologically), that created the policy imperative. And governments typically are not second-guessed under the Constitution for prioritizing how they tackle such issues.

Emphasis added.  Finally, at page 21, the appellate court held:

What we are left with is this: By creating a status (marriage) and by subsidizing it (e.g., with tax-filing privileges and deductions), the States created an incentive for two people who procreate together to stay together for purposes of rearing offspring.  That does not convict the States of irrationality, only of awareness of the biological reality that couples of the same sex do not have children in the same way as couples of opposite sexes and that couples of the same sex do not run the risk of unintended offspring.  That explanation, still relevant today, suffices to allow the States to retain authority over an issue they have regulated from the beginning.

Much will be written in the coming weeks about the wisdom of this decision, but I was struck by the comment of Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione regarding this decision.  Mr. Babione stated:

The people of every state should remain free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws.  As the 6th Circuit rightly concluded, the Constitution does not demand that one irreversible view of marriage be judicially imposed on everyone.  The 6th Circuit’s decision is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court’s acknowledgement in Windsor that marriage law is the business of the states.

As old-fashioned as it might seem to some, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Federal District Court Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez of Puerto Rico may well have gotten this decision right: let the people decide, and not unelected federal judges.



Election Day 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014, 1:33 PM

Next Tuesday, November 4, 2014, will be Election Day in the United States.  Although there are many local and state-wide offices being contested, for many, the election for the new Senate is drawing the most attention.  My friends who live in states where there are hotly-contested senatorial elections, such as in Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Kentucky, are overwhelmed with the number of political advertisements they face daily.  The cost of these campaigns will ultimately be in the billions of dollars, and yesterday, Senator Harry Reid (Democrat from Nevada) literally “begged” me to send money.  He wrote, “I’m begging for your help to close the [financial] gap IMMEDIATELY.”  (Emphasis in the original.)

I recently read an excerpt from Rev. Israel Evans’ 1791 sermon that was delivered to the Grand Court of New Hampshire (the State’s House and Senate).  You can read his sermon in a two-volume jewel of a book compiled by Ellis Sandoz, entitled Political Sermons of the Founding Era: 1730-1805, available here.  Rev. Evans preached the following in his sermon:

Religious liberty is a divine right, immediately derived from the Supreme Being, without the intervention of any created authority. It is the natural privilege of worshipping God in that manner which, according to the judgment of men, is most agreeable and pleasing to the divine character. As the conscience of man is the image and representative of God in the human soul; so to him alone it is responsible. In justice, therefore, the feelings and sentiments of conscience, and the moral practice of religion, must be independent of all finite beings. Nor hath the all-wise Creator invested any order of men with the right of judging for their fellow-creatures in the great concerns of religion.

As Christian citizens, we have a particular and shared responsibility in our modern American republic.  Consistent with being “salt” and “light,” Christians must choose our national and local leaders with values and integrity consistent with God’s Holy Word.  On some occasions, electoral races involve candidates of high quality and high integrity.  The candidates conduct a tough but fair campaign about the issues.  Voters in those electoral races, although they may have a difficult choice, can know that no matter who is elected they will be well represented by someone who won’t embarrass their community.  Sadly, such is not always so.  Our founders fought and died to establish and preserve our liberties, including the freedom to choose our own leaders.  However, the Church has had a poor voting record.  It may be due to apathy or sad ignorance, or perhaps a lack of gratitude for the privilege that Christians have been given by God for the privilege to live as citizens in this country.  Yet when we have the opportunity to help guide our nation by selecting men and women of righteousness, many Christians do not vote.  I was always deeply troubled by the fact, for instance, that of the more than 80 million American evangelicals eligible to vote in 2012, fewer than 32 million actually voted.  I believe that Christians fail to love our neighbors and our nation when we fail to vote, and then we fail our neighbors when we do not vote for men and women who will uphold righteous and just laws.  This coming Tuesday, I urge my readers to prayerfully and thoughtfully study the issues and to vote for the best candidate.  I remind you that all candidates are flawed men and women, but as we learn in Exodus 18:21, we must use our vote to elect “capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.”  Amen!



Is Religious Freedom Flourishing in Cuba?
Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 2:52 PM

A number of years ago, I spoke on a panel at a large church near Chicago regarding the persecution of Christians in other countries.  Seated to my right was a young pastor from Cuba, a refugee to the United States, who had been imprisoned for “abusing religious freedom” in the socialist paradise.  He spoke powerfully about the tortures many Christians faced on the island prison of Cuba.  Today, more than 55 years since the establishment of the Western Hemisphere’s first revolutionary socialist state, religious freedom remains deeply suppressed in Cuba.  After Fidel Castro, Cuba’s dictator, seized power in 1959, all Christian broadcasts were canceled.  The next year, all Christian publications were halted, and all Christian schools, whether Roman Catholic, Protestant, or non-denominational, were closed.  Ordinary Christians and their leaders were labeled “social scum” and jailed in Cuba’s notorious labor camps.  Even Christmas and Easter were abolished, with Christmas replaced with a secular holiday.  Even as late as December 1995, regulations were enacted that forbid the sale of paper, ink, typewriters, computers, and mechanical parts for photocopiers and printing presses to religious organizations.  Technicians who helped churches repair their machinery risked losing their jobs.  And yet, in spite of all the imprisonment, regulation, and persecution, today the churches in Cuba are flourishing, and are filled to overflowing.  At the International book Fair in Havana in recent years, the Bible has been the best-selling book by far.

In advance of St. John Paul II’s visit to Cuba in 1998, relations between the officially atheist government and the Roman Catholic Church began to improve slightly.  The government revived observance of Christmas (which was always celebrated by the people), and in fact, Castro allowed masses and homilies to be broadcast on Cuban state media.  The Cuban Communist Party also dropped a ban on church membership for its members that had been adopted after the 1959 revolution.  However, the new relative “freedom” did not extend to non-Roman Catholic churches.

On Monday, Cuban government authorities announced that they would allow the construction of the country’s first new Roman Catholic church in 55 years.  The new church, funded by donations from Roman Catholics in Tampa, Florida, will be built in Sandino, a small town in the western province of Pinar del Rio.  It is expected to hold 200 people.  Enrique Lopez Oliva, a professor of the history of religions at the University of Havana, was quoted, “The construction of a church is a clear demonstration of a new phase, of an improvement, in relations between the church and the state.”  Of course, it is a small positive step.  But I thought about the many militant non-Christians who complain about the pervasive nature of Christian thought and expression in the United States.  I wonder how much happier they might be living in a revolutionary socialist workers paradise of Cuba.  For me, I continue to support an embargo on Cuba until all of its people, including all Christians, are truly free.



Puerto Rico Affirms Traditional Marriage
Thursday, October 23, 2014, 2:22 PM

Ada Conde Vidal and Ivonne Alvarez Velez, two women, were married in Massachusetts.  They then moved to Puerto Rico, where they became Puerto Ricocouple 300x177 Puerto Rico Affirms Traditional Marriage’s first married lesbian couple.  However, their “marriage” is not recognized in Puerto Rico.  That is because, since 1999, an amendment to Puerto Rico’s civil code declared that Puerto Rico does not recognize same sex “marriages.”  This includes those “marriages” performed in other jurisdictions.  Ms. Conde, a lawyer by training, filed a lawsuit against the Commonwealth seeking to put an end to the same-sex “marriage” ban.  She said that she would be barred from making medical decisions regarding an ailing daughter.  (Of course, whether she is married to a man or woman, or not, has no bearing on medical decisions regarding her daughter, but I digress.)  Last March, Ms. Conde said in an interview with the Washington Blade, described on its website as “celebrating 45 years as America’s gay news source,” “If [my daughter] dies, I want my marriage legally recognized.  If I am not recognized, I will not have any rights to request her estate.”  (Sounds a bit crass, but you know how some lawyers can be.)

On October 21, 2014, Federal District Court Judge Juan M. Perez-Gimenez, a Carter appointee,  issued his ruling in which he upheld Puerto Rico’s ban on same-sex marriage and dismissed the legal challenge by Ms. Conde and Ms. Alvarez, and three other “couples.”  Lawyers for the plaintiffs immediately made plans to appeal the judge’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which has yet to rule on a challenge to a state’s power to prohibit same-sex “marriages.”  In his opinion, Judge Perez-Gimenez wrote the following in pertinent part:

The plaintiffs have brought this challenge alleging a violation of the federal constitution, so the first place to begin is with the text of the Constitution.  The text of the Constitution, however, does not directly guarantee a right to same-gender marriage, for “when the Constitution was adopted the common understanding was that the domestic relations of husband and wife and parent and child were matters reserved to the States.”  [Citations omitted.]  Without the direct guidance of the Constitution, the next source of authority is relevant Supreme Court precedent interpreting the Constitution.  On the question of same-gender marriage, the Supreme Court has issued a decision that directly binds this Court.  The petitioners in Baker v. Nelson were two men who had been denied a license to marry each other.  They argued that Minnesota’s statutory definition of marriage as an opposite-gender relationship violated due process and equal protection – just as the plaintiffs argue here.  The Minnesota Supreme Court rejected the petitioners’ claim, determining that the right to marry without regard to gender was not a fundamental right and that it was neither irrational nor invidious discrimination to define marriage as requiring an opposite-gender union.  [Citation omitted.]  . . . A clear majority of courts have struck down statutes that affirm opposite-gender marriage only.  In their ingenuity and imagination they have constructed a seemingly comprehensive legal structure for this new form of marriage.  And yet what is lacking and unaccounted for remains: are laws barring polygamy, or, say the marriage of fathers and daughters, now of doubtful validity?  Is “minimal marriage”, where “individuals can have legal marital relationships with more than one person, reciprocally or asymmetrically, themselves determining the sex and number of parties” the blueprint for their design?  [Citation omitted.]  It would seem so, if we follow the plaintiffs’ logic, that the fundamental right to marriage is based on “the constitutional liberty to select the partner of one’s choice.”  For now, one basic principle remains: the people, acting through their elected representatives, may legitimately regulate marriage by law.  This principle is impeded, not advanced, by court decrees based on the proposition that the public cannot have the requisite repose to discuss certain issues.  It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds . . . Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people.  [Citation omitted.] . . . For the foregoing reasons, we hereby GRANT the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  The plaintiffs’ federal law claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

Emphasis added.  In response to Judge Perez-Giminez’ opinion, Alliance Defending Freedom Litigation Counsel Caleb Dalton stated the following:

The people of Puerto Rico – and the people of every U.S. state and territory – should be free to affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  The district court in this case was right to conclude, as the U.S. Supreme Court recognized in its Windsor decision last year and in its previous Baker decision, that marriage law is the business of the states.  Echoing last month’s decision from a Louisiana federal district court that affirmed the states’ authority over the definition of marriage, the court said that “[i]t takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance.to interpret Windsor‘s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.”

Indeed it does.  I am reminded of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who stated in a speech, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”  It seems to me that Judge Perez-Giminez, a wise Latino, could be even better suited for our nation’s Supreme Court.



A Christian of Integrity Resigns His Office
Monday, October 20, 2014, 9:35 AM

John Kallam, Jr., is a Rockingham County, North Carolina, magistrate.  The county is referred to as “North Carolina’s North Star.”  In North Carolina, magistrates typically adjudicate smaller legal cases and conduct preliminary matters in criminal cases, such as setting bail.  Magistrates also conduct civil marriages.  One of the shining stars of this county is Magistrate Kallam, who is a devout Christian believer.  Late last week, Magistrate Kallam resigned his office because he did not wish to violate his oath, and “marry” homosexual and lesbian couples as such “marriages” are now permitted in North Carolina.  In his resignation letter to Chief District Judge Fred Wilkins, Magistrate Kallam wrote the following in pertinent part:

It is with deep regret that I must inform you of my intent to resign from my current position as Magistrate effective 31 October 2014.  It is my intent to use my remaining administrative days for the remainder of this month.  When I took my oath of office, I understood I would be required to perform weddings and have done so throughout my tenure.  I did not however take that oath with any understanding that I would be required to marry same sex couples.  It is my personal belief and a position of my Christian faith that doing so would desecrate a holy Institution established by God Himself.  Since performing marriages is an integral part of being a Magistrate and in light of recent changes in North Carolina law. I can no longer fulfill my oath of office in good faith.

Emphasis added.  The Honorable Judge Wilkins said that Magistrate Kallam is “a good honorable man and a good man who stuck by his convictions.”  Notwithstanding the gracious words of Judge Wilkins, he went on to say that if Magistrate Kallam refused to “marry” homosexual or lesbian couples, then he would be suspended.

Magistrate Kallam’s resignation merits deep respect and admiration.  It often seems that there are few Christians in modern-day America who are willing to take a principled, moral stand that affects their professional standing and livelihood.  Far too often, American Christians, particularly as compared to Christians in other countries who face daily persecution and violence against them, simply go along to get along, and avoid rocking the boat.  I don’t say that to impugn an improper motive; rather in our politically correct world, American Christians are often intimidated not to speak.  And as has been observed by many, such intimidation is accomplished because Christians are often not informed and are uncomfortable with these issues.  After all, no Christian wants to be seen as a “hater.”  In Magistrate Kallam’s resignation letter, he concludes powerfully:

I am reminded of the last words of David who said, “He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”  Where there is no “fear of God,” there can be no justice!”

Homosexualists and other evildoers have long sought to silence Christians who have stood courageously against what Jesus described as unbelieving and perverse generations.  Ancient sources tell us that the Roman Emperor Nero, who sent St. Peter and St. Paul, and many other now-unknown Christians, to their martyrdom, was “married” to two men, Sporus and Pythagoras.  Please pray for Magistrate Kallam and his family as he begins a new stage of his life on November 1, but let us thank God for his Christian witness, strength, and courage.  He is truly a shining, bright light in North Carolina’s North Star.  May God continue to bless you richly, Magistrate Kallam.



High Court Affirms Death Sentence for Asia Bibi
Thursday, October 16, 2014, 4:05 PM

On these pages, I have written a series of blogs regarding the plight of Asia Bibi.  My regular readers will recall that 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 47-year-old Roman Catholic rural farm worker and a married 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.  One of the great differences between the Holy Bible and Islamic teaching is that the Holy Bible teaches in Ephesians 2: 8 and 9 that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and our salvation does not depend upon our good works or any personal merit.  In contrast, the Qur’an teaches that salvation is by sincerity and good works (see, e.g., Qur’an 3:135; 7:8-9, 21:47, 66:8-9).  Thus, Islam teaches that one cannot know and experience God’s assurance of eternal salvation unless one dies in jihad.

Six days after the water incident, a violent mob came to Asia Bibi’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 princely sum in rural Pakistan.  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.

In my blog from last July regarding Asia Bibi, I wrote the following:

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.

However, in recent days, the High Court in Lahore rejected her appeal and upheld her death sentence.  Over the past four years, Christian lawyers in Pakistan have been working on the appeal of her case, along with numerous others who sit on Pakistan’s “blasphemy death row.”  Although Asia Bibi was represented in court by her legal team and had support from the Provincial Minister for Minorities Affairs, as well as support from human rights activists from other NGOs, the courtroom at her appeal was packed with lawyers from the Islamic Organization, Khatam-e Nabowat, and an estimated twenty mullahs who were there to support the complainant.  The New York Times reported:

The Lahore courtroom was packed with clerics and members of extremist groups who supported the prosecution, and they erupted in celebration upon hearing the two-judge panel’s decision to dismiss Ms. Bibi’s appeal.  “Let us celebrate by distributing sweets!” said one cleric who was reciting verses from the Quran throughout the almost two-and-a-half-hour court proceeding.  “I am very happy,” said Qari Salaam, a co-worker of Ms. Bibi’s and the main complainant in the case.  “The judges have given a verdict on merit, and Asia deserved it.”

Ms. Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, expressed disappointment after the verdict.  As he left court, he poignantly said, “We were hoping for some relief, but alas.”  Asia Bibi now has 30 days to appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.  The New York Times, quoting unnamed analysts, noted that given the huge backlog of cases at the Supreme Court, it could take at least three years before her appeal will be heard.

Last Christmas, Asia Bibi wrote a letter to Pope Francis, in which she thanked him and all the churches praying for her.  She credited the prayers of God’s people for her survival after years in prison.  In her letter to Pope Francis, she expressed her desire to be in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to pray with Pope Francis for Christmas 2014.  Lord Jesus, may it be so.  Please continue to pray for Asia Bibi and her family, and her legal team, and let us work together so that she can worship or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Rome later this year.



Indiana State Trooper Sued for Witnessing to Jesus Christ
Monday, October 13, 2014, 9:28 AM

On August 9, 2014, Ms. Ellen Bogan, 60, was pulled over by Indiana State Trooper Brian Hamilton for an alleged illegal pass while speeding.  During the traffic stop, Trooper Hamilton issued a warning ticket.  (A warning ticket for speeding and an illegal pass?  They are so nice in Indiana!)  However, Ms. Bogan has now alleged in a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the American Civil (Criminal?) Liberties Union (“ACLU”) against Trooper Hamilton that he asked her if she had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior, and whether she attended church.  She further alleged that he gave her a pamphlet that outlines “God’s plan for salvation,” which includes a recommended suggestion to “realize you’re a sinner” and to “realize the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins.”  (Yes, it is true that all speeders are sinners.)  The pamphlet, published by the First Baptist Church of Cambridge, Indiana, advertised a radio program called “Policing for Jesus Ministries” hosted by “Trooper Dan Jones.”  In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Ms. Bogan said, “It’s completely out of line and it just — it took me aback.  The whole time, his lights were on.  I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning.”  You can read the lawsuit here.

Indiana University Professor of Law Jennifer A. Drobac, who holds a doctorate in law from Stanford University Law School, told the Indianapolis Star, “The most important thing for people to understand is that the First Amendment specifies that the government shall not prefer one religion over another religion, or religious adherence over anything else.  The police officer is representing the government … so that means, as a representative, this person, while on duty, while engaged in official action, is basically overstepping and is trying to establish religion.”  Of course, Professor Drobac did not speak to the issue of the Trooper’s free speech rights.  In fact, Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana, told USA Today, “I have people pass out religious material all the time, and it doesn’t offend me.  [This case] might not be the most persuasive time to talk to someone about their faith, but I don’t think that a police officer is prohibited from doing something like that.”  Mr. Clark is questioning whether a police officer should lose his right to free speech merely because he is wearing a badge.  After all, according to Indiana State Police spokesman Captain David Bursten, there is not a specific policy that addresses officers who distribute religious materials.

Over the years, I have attended a number of events sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (www.fcpo.org), and I know that we have many devout brothers and sisters in Christ who deal daily in a sordid and dangerous world that is unimaginable for most of us.  (According to the National Law Enforcement Officers organization, through October 12, there have been 91 police officers killed in the line of duty across the United States in 2014.)  But I have to admit that if I were pulled over and an officer asked me to consider conversion to Islam, the Church of Euthanasia, or the Creativity Movement, I would be deeply troubled.  However, if he were to ask me to consider Scientology, or The Church of All Worlds, or even the Prince Philip Movement, it would simply be a funny story to tell my buddies at work and at the gym.  In my recent blog about the Fields of Faith event at government-run schools, one commenter noted, “One English teacher asked [my son] on the first day what the religion of every student was and made it clear she did not believe in God.  Knowing her stance and the way she required self-disclosure left [my son] feeling pressured and defensive about his faith.”  In contrast, Ms. Bogan was able to drive away from Trooper Hamilton with a warning ticket within a few minutes, but my commenter’s son and his classmates will have to sit through her class for an entire academic year.  But if the State of Indiana decides to punish and/or fire Trooper Hamilton, then so should lots of teachers and school administrators in government schools, and professors in state universities be punished as well.  After all, as Professor Drobac claims, a government employee, “while on duty, while engaged in official action,” should not be allowed to impose their religious (and consistent with Professor Drobac’s logic, a non-religious) worldview.  In any event, Ms. Bogan, a gaggle of ACLU lawyers, at least one judge, and a jury of Ms. Bogan’s peers will now be eternally responsible for their study and response to the Holy Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Please pray for Trooper Hamilton and for Ms. Bogan.  I know that attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom are also reading this blog, and I think that Trooper Hamilton may need some help from you very soon.  And if you wish to contact Indiana Governor Mike Pence, you can reach his office via email at http://in.gov/gov/2333.htm.  I already let Governor Pence know how I stand on this matter.



Fields of Faith Day
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 8:52 AM

Yesterday, October 8, 2014, was “Fields of Faith” day, in which students and teachers participated in an annual, student-organized, and student-led gathering at school athletic fields at the end of their school day.  At the Fields of Faith, students read the Holy Bible together, heard Christian testimonies, worshipped together, and prayed for one another.  A school athletic field is used because it provides a neutral place where an entire community can come together.  First organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2004, it is beautiful to see many young people boldly proclaim their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You can watch a promotional video here.  Hundreds of Fields of Faith events took place throughout the United States.  For information on the rallies near you, please go to www.fieldsoffaith.com.

Since the first Field of Faith, however, some government school officials have sought to unconstitutionally keep teachers and students from sharing about and participating in the event.  This was usually done under the pretense that schools were prohibited from holding such events by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.  In actual fact, the opposite is true.  Student groups have the constitutionally protected freedom to participate in Fields of Faith prayer and worship activities, and to inform their fellow students about the event to the same extent that other student groups are allowed to promote, participate, and use school facilities for other types of activities and events.  Importantly, coaches, teachers, and yes, even school administrators can participate in the event as private citizens.  Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”), a major civil liberties law organization with thousands of allied attorneys throughout the United States, has published a legal memorandum to support the rights of students to gather for such an event.  (It is also an excellent summation of the constitutional rights of religious students beyond Fields of Faith.)  The law memorandum is available here.  The ADF memorandum states in part:

The Supreme Court has squarely stated that a student’s free speech rights apply ”when [they are] in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours.” . . . This includes prayer: “nothing in the Constitution as interpreted by this Court prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday.”

The memorandum also notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “religious speech is protected by the First Amendment and may not be singled out for discrimination.”  It is truly astounding to me that so many government school administrators and teachers do not understand these simple and well-established principles of American jurisprudence. ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco recently stated, “Christians don’t abandon their constitutional freedoms at the schoolhouse gate.  Their freedom to peacefully express their beliefs extends to after-school events, and that certainly includes activities like those at Fields of Faith.”

Let us join together to pray for the powerful witness of so many young people who gather to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  For there is no legitimate basis for government school officials to prohibit or impede students and teachers from engaging in the activities for Fields of Faith.  Students, may God bless you and your schools richly.  I sure would have liked this event when I was in school.


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