ISIS Delenda Est
Monday, January 26, 2015, 11:11 AM

In last week’s State of the Union (“SOTU”) address, Mr. Obama focused on domestic policy but glossed over many of the world’s troubled areas. In one example, earlier this year, Mr. Obama cited American policy in Yemen as a “model” in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”). However, in recent days, Shiite rebels aligned with Iran overthrew the Yemeni government. Yemen borders Saudi Arabia, and therefore Iran and its allies now directly threaten Saudi Arabia. The SOTU, however, did not mention one word about Yemen. Further, Mr. Obama declared progress in stopping Iran’s nuclear program. However, as I have written on these pages, the progress actually consists of an extension of negotiations on an agreement with Iran, after the previous round failed, and after billions of dollars have been released to Iran, with billions more to be sent in the coming months. Mr. Obama did briefly mention the Ebola epidemic of West Africa in the SOTU, but did not make any reference to Boko Haram, the radical Islamic terrorist group in Nigeria, which is expanding and committing ever-greater atrocities against Christian believers in northern and central Nigeria. Boko Haram has even announced its own caliphate modeled on ISIS. This is not to suggest that Mr. Obama pretends that no threats exist to world peace. In the SOTU, he did declare that “climate change” is an “immediate risk to our national security.” (No, I am not making this up.)

I have written on these pages about the war on women by ISIS, and how they are enslaving thousands of Christian and Yazidi women in areas under their control. Further, under the barbaric theology of ISIS, thirteen teenage boys in the Iraqi city of Mosul were recently executed for the “crime” of watching the Asian Cup soccer match between Iraq and Jordan. Media reports indicate that the teens were arrested and then publicly shot to death by machine guns. The boys’ bodies “remained lying in the open and their parents were unable to withdraw them for fear of murder” by ISIS. Moreover, this past weekend, ISIS beheaded one of two Japanese hostages it held because Japan refused to pay a $200 million ransom. ISIS released a photo in which one of the hostages, Kenji Goto, a journalist, is in shackles and holds a photo of what appeared to be the decapitated body of the other hostage, Haruna Yukawa. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the killing of Mr. Yukawa as an “outrageous and unforgivable act of violence,” and demanded the immediate release of the other hostage, Mr. Goto. Finally, Jurgen Todenhofer, the first Western reporter to embed with ISIS (and not be killed), spoke to Al Jazeera about his time with ISIS. Mr. Todenhofer said the following:

I always asked [ISIS fighters] about the value of mercy in Islam, but I didn’t see any mercy in their behavior. Something that I don’t understand at all is the enthusiasm in their plan of religious cleansing, planning to kill the non-believers. They also will kill Muslim democrats because they believe that non-ISIL-Moslems put the laws of human beings above the commandments of God.

Mr. Todenhofer then said how shocked he was about how “willing to kill” ISIS fighters are and even ready to commit genocide. “They were talking about [killing] hundreds of millions [of non-Moslems]. They were enthusiastic about it, and I just cannot understand that,” said Mr. Todenhofer. Emphasis added.

Well, we can no longer say that we were not warned about ISIS. In the 2nd century B.C., during the latter years of the Punic War against Carthage, Roman senator Cato the Elder would conclude his speeches with a short statement commonly abbreviated as Carthago delenda est, which is translated as “Carthage must be destroyed.” Carthage had been defeated twice before by Rome, but after each defeat, Carthage rebuilt its forces and engaged in further warfare against the Roman Republic. In his statement, Cato reminded the senate and people of Rome that a peace treaty with Carthage would never be enough. History records that in 146 B.C., after the Third Battle of Carthage, the city was razed (and according to popular legend, strewn with salt so that nothing could grow there ever again), and its entire population sold into slavery. Carthage never again posed a threat to Rome. Perhaps Mr. Obama in his Indonesian schools or at Punahou School in Hawaii did not focus much on ancient Roman history, which is a pity. But I say, ISIS delenda est.



Mr. Obama Travels to Hometown of Pastor Saeed Abedini
Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 10:39 AM

Following his State of the Union address last night, Mr. Obama will travel today to Boise, Idaho, for his first trip to Idaho as president. He will address what is expected to be a standing-room-only crowd at Boise State University’s Sports Complex at 2:45 p.m. Prior to his address, Mr. Obama will tour the University College of Engineering’s New Product Development laboratory, and is scheduled to spend an hour with the students. The students will show Mr. Obama some of the prototypes they have been working on. The University describes the laboratory as having helped “hundreds of Idaho inventors and entrepreneurs turn ideas into commercial products.” At the University, Mr. Obama presumably will highlight the innovative educational and entrepreneurial opportunities that he wishes to create for poor and middle-class Americans through nationwide tuition-free community colleges.

Abedini Testifying 3 15 13RGW 3548 480 300x295 Mr. Obama Travels to Hometown of Pastor Saeed AbediniBoise is also the home town of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence in Iran for his Christian faith. Over the years, Pastor Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, has pleaded with President Obama to meet with her. However, he has not even replied to her requests. Following the White House announcement that Mr. Obama would be visiting Boise, Mrs. Abedini wrote the following to Mr. Obama in pertinent part:

My heart leapt with hope when I heard that you would be visiting my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Since the Iranian government took my husband, Saeed Abedini, almost 3 years ago, I have been praying and wanting to meet with you. With each of my travels to Washington D.C., I hoped that I would get a call, or an invitation to see you and to speak with you. To have you look into my eyes and see the piercing pain that has been there since my husband’s imprisonment; to see my kids and to know that they have missed the warm embrace of their dad for nearly three years. . . . Serving as President of the United States, you have pledged to protect America – to protect our citizens. My husband loves this country. So much so, he became a U.S. citizen on March 11, 2010.  The following day he shared on Facebook these words: “Today is the first day I opened my eyes as an American. . . . I need to be an active citizen for my new country. Lord help me to do your will in my country America. Lord Bless America.” You speak about the need to protect religious freedom and human rights. Saeed is imprisoned merely because of his Christian faith. My husband has committed no crime – he chose to exercise his God-given right to choose his own faith. . . . Mr. President, my children and I respectfully request, as you come to our home town of Boise, Idaho, that you take a moment of your time to meet with us.

The Obama administration continues to release approximately $750 million in funds to Iran monthly as the United States, Europe, and Iran “negotiate” a nuclear weapons agreement. According to recently published U.S. Treasury reports, the United States and Europe have already released to the Islamic mullahs during these negotiations $7 billion through November 24, 2014, with an additional $4.9 billion forthcoming during the period November 25, 2014, to June 30, 2015. (I bet you didn’t hear that on Al Sharpton, Rachel Maddow, or Katie Couric’s “news” programs.) Further, as we are releasing funds to the Iranians, media reports indicate that Iran and Hezbollah plan forthcoming attacks on Israel. It would be good for Mr. Obama to meet with Mrs. Abedini and her two children. Sadly, I don’t think that this will happen. I guess that, as Mr. Obama stated last night, while some “pages” in our nation have turned, others will not be. But after having suffered years of fear and uncertainty, Mrs. Abedini and her children deserve to be heard by Mr. Obama. Please continue to pray for Pastor Abedini’s release from prison, for his wife, Naghmeh, and for their two beautiful children, and also please pray for the long-suffering people of Iran who live under the dictatorship of the mullahs that they will come to the Lord Jesus Christ.



Remembering the Victims of Abortion
Monday, January 19, 2015, 9:47 AM

Forty-two years ago, on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, a 7-2 decision, that a right of privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Under the U.S. Constitution, unborn children were not persons, and thus, had no right to “life.” The decision disallowed state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States. The decision prompted a long national debate about whether abortion should be legal, and the role of religious and moral views in the political and social sphere. Since 1973, it is estimated that sixty million abortions have taken place in the United States.

Of course, the wounds from abortion are deep. Abortion kills the innocent baby, and wounds the mother and everyone else involved. One in three American men are implicated in the abortion decision. In a recent press release, the Family Research Council noted the following:

The emptiness resulting from the sheer loss of innocent human life is vast. A mother’s womb should be the safest place on earth for her unborn child, yet it is often the battleground between life and death. Abortion not only tears a child from her mother’s womb, but tears away at the intimate fabric of the family unit.

Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, for all of the victims of abortion:

Our loving Heavenly Father, Who makes all people in Your divine image. You teach us in Your Holy Word that Your glory is evident in the faces of Your little ones, whose angels continually look to You, have mercy upon us. As a nation, we have turned our backs upon You for we have not only tolerated, but permitted, violent acts that shed the innocent blood of 3,700 children each day. In this nation, whose blessing by You is so abundantly clear to all, we permit abortion to be legal in all fifty states, through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason. We beg Your mercy upon us. As a nation, we have not considered little ones who are about to be born as worthy of life, but have rather discarded them as less than trash beneath our feet. Loving and Just Father, we plead for Your mercy upon us. Over the past 42 years, we have not held the lives of millions of unborn children as sacred to You, but rather, our nation has put them to death as a matter of convenience in order to pursue our selfish interests. For this bloodshed, we ought to be condemned and judged for their innocent blood is upon our hands. The innocent blood of the sixty million aborted unborn children has polluted the land, and our shores are drenched with the blood of the unborn. Our cities and towns, and our high places of government, drip red with the blood of the innocent. We beg You, Gracious Lord, to have mercy upon us. Because we who love You did not raise up an outcry against this monstrous sin, we too have become guilty through our silence and complacency. We, who are in Your Church, who are called by Your Holy Name, have loved our pleasure and our comforts far more than our neighbors, and much more than Your Holy Word. We know that we deserve Your righteous judgment, O Lord, for we are without excuse. Heavenly Father, we pray for those who advocate for abortion. Open their eyes that they may see that they are ending a life. We pray for those women, including some amongst us who follow You, who have had abortions. We pray for those of us who, as men, have encouraged women in crisis and the mothers of our unborn babies to have an abortion, or have paid for an abortion with our blood money. Father, we also pray that the day will soon come when innocent blood will be shed no more in our land, and that the halls of our government shall know righteousness, and that our courts shall be occupied by godly men and women. For we ask this with deep humility through the precious and holy Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, who lives and reigns with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.



You Might Have Missed This in the New York Times
Friday, January 16, 2015, 4:14 PM

Four courageous and strong adult children of homosexual parents have recently submitted briefs to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opposing homosexual “marriages.” This appellate court is considering whether to uphold one man-one woman marriage laws in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The oral arguments will be heard today in New Orleans. The four have written that growing up as children in homosexual households was neither normal nor pleasant.

Katy Faust wrote that there are “two rights” that every child shares when they arrive in this world. “First, the right to live. Second, the right to have a relationship with his/her father and mother.” (It is a matter of judicial notice that human beings come into existence from relationships between a man and a woman.) Dawn Stefanowicz said that her homosexual father was so obsessed with having sexual relations that she recalled at least one occasion when she was in high school and brought home a male classmate, both her father and his male paramour propositioned the male student for sex. (A bit like Sodom and Gomorrah, no?) B. N. Klein said that her mother and her lesbian partner disdained all heterosexual families completely, and Ms. Klein stated in her brief that she did not have any clue about the daily interactions of a husband and wife until she left her lesbian home and went into foster care. Robert Oscar Lopez said that his two lesbian mothers tried to be conscientious about his upbringing, but he became so emotionally confused that, as a teen, he became a male prostitute, and had numerous homosexual and bisexual relationships into his adulthood.

Poignantly, in her brief to the appellate court, Ms. Stefanowicz said that her life was anything but normal. She wrote in pertinent part:

You end up never having a real home. Our home environments have unique and unstable characteristics due to the presence or absence of biological parents, legal parents or guardians, and different sex partners of parents. Your childhood is divided to please the adults. Many adults — even former sex partners of a parent — feel they can talk about “where you live, who you visit, what schools you attend, which doctors you see, what medical procedures you have, what faith/religion you practice.”

Ms. Stefanowicz said that she loved her father, who died of AIDS in 1991, but also observed that he was a deeply troubled man who sexually abused both her and her twin brother, and brought countless men into the home. She further explained, “I was exposed to overt sexual activities like sodomy, nudity, pornography, group sex, sadomasochism, and the ilk,” and then added that her father would also take her “cruising” to homosexual art galleries, nude beaches, and public parks. She also expressed that her femininity was not valued at home. She wrote, “Ultimately, I was seeking his love and acceptance. [But] I was not allowed to freely question him, bring up moral arguments or hurt his feelings, or I would face long-term repercussions.”

Ms. Klein wrote the following:

While I do not believe all gays would be de facto bad parents, I know that the gay community has never in my lifetime put children first as anything other than a piece of property, a past mistake or a political tool to be dressed up and taken out as part of a dog-and-pony show to impress the well-meaning.

Ms. Klein said that she could now write the truth because her mother and her lesbian partner were both dead, and could “never hurt me again.” Mr. Lopez astutely observed that he and other children of homosexuals and lesbians feel “pain,” but it was because there is a “missing biological parent,” and not because homosexuals lacked the legal status of “marriage.” He commented that his childhood exposure to radical Roman Catholic liberation theology and talk about “the beauty of homosexual relationships” led him into years of sexual experimentation, including male prostitution. However, he further stated that it was a reunion with a long-estranged father that led to his escape from the “toxic” homosexual life. Ms. Faust differed from the other three in that she had no specific criticism of her mother and her lesbian partner, but still is urging the appellate court to uphold traditional marriage.

It was observed long ago by Tolstoy in his novel, Anna Karenina, that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Of course, Tolstoy was speaking about heterosexual families. I was blessed to have grown up in a loving family with a loving and kind mother and father. Both encouraged me to become a follower of the Lord Jesus at an early age, and to grow in my relationship with Him. I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak, confusion, and pain of growing up in a home with persons in homosexual or lesbian relationships, let alone those with repeated promiscuity. In your prayers, please remember the oral arguments today at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the subsequent deliberations by the justices, and please also pray for the children of those who grow up in homosexual and lesbian households. Jesus warns us in Matthew 18:6, that “whoso shall cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to fall, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” That is, sadly, true for heterosexual parents, but truer for “parents” in homosexual and lesbian relationships as those are inherently sinful and abnormal relationships. There, I said it.



President el-Sisi of Egypt Makes an Epochal Speech in Cairo
Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 9:12 AM

On these pages earlier this week, I wrote about the surprise visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, to wish the congregants a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This was the first time that an Egyptian president came to honor a Coptic Christmas Eve Holy Liturgy. Also present that evening was the Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawandros II. In response to my blog, a dear friend, who is a devout Christian believer from Egypt, wrote the following to me in pertinent part, “[President el-Sisi] is a very powerful man. I’m sure the Lord put him in the right place in such time as this. May the Lord be with him and protect him from the evil people.” In his remarks at the Cathedral, he called upon all Egyptians to put aside their religious differences in building their nation. The congregation was enthusiastic at the visit from President el-Sisi.

One week prior to his Christmas Eve appearance, President el-Sisi spoke to a conference organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments (“Awqaf”) at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. Al-Azhar University is more than one thousand years old, and is considered to be the center of scholarly Islam. In his remarks, President el-Sisi called upon the Awqaf, which oversees the approximately 200,000 Egyptian mosques, and Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni authority in Egypt, to do more to combat extremist ideology and to promote a moderate understanding of Islam. In addressing the gathering of imams and Islamic scholars, President el-Sisi called for a “religious revolution” in which Moslem clerics take the lead in rethinking the direction of Islam in recent decades. In pertinent part, he said the following:

I am referring here to the religious clerics. … It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing, and destruction for the rest of the world. Is it possible that 1.6 billion Moslems should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live? Impossible! That thinking — I am not saying “religion,” but “thinking” — that corpus of texts and ideas that we have made sacred over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It is antagonizing the entire world! All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective. I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this umma is being torn. It is being destroyed. It is being lost — and it is being lost by our own hands.

During his speech, President el-Sisi called on Al-Azhar Islamic scholars to lead the process of revitalizing Islamic discourse in Egypt and to confront extremist ideology and incitement to violence, an implicit reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government and most other observers hold responsible for the terrorist attacks in the country following the revolution that led to the ouster of Islamist Moslem Brotherhood puppet Mohamed Morsi.

Jonah Goldberg, writing in USA Today regarding President el-Sisi’s talk to the Islamic scholars, wrote the following:

Words are cheap, particularly in a region where the currency is measured in blood. . . . Is el-Sisi the “Muslim Martin Luther” people have been waiting for? Almost surely not. . . . [M]aybe we’re just in uncharted territory? Who knows? What is clear, however, is that this is a big deal. El-Sisi is doing exactly what Westerners have been crying out for since at least Sept. 11, 2001, if not before that. And yet his speech has been almost entirely ignored by the mainstream new media. . . . [T]here’s been silence from The New York Times, Washington Post, the news networks and other major outlets.

That is quite a pity for the silence from the major media outlets. But, of course, it doesn’t play into their worldview that the United States and Israel are the root cause of Islamist violence. However, I am glad that regular readers of Mere Comments can learn about President el-Sisi’s epochal speech in Cairo. George Will, the mostly conservative commentator and columnist, recently said the following, “El-Sisi occupies an office once occupied by Anwar Sadat, who was murdered by Islamic extremists for his opening to Israel. This [speech] was an act of tremendous bravery by el-Sisi, and if the Nobel Peace Prize committee is looking for someone who plausibly deserves it, they could start there.” Indeed. As my Egyptian friend wrote to me, “I’m sure the Lord put him in the right place in such time as this. May the Lord be with him and protect him from the evil people.” Amen.



A Simple, But Important, Recent Cairo Speech
Monday, January 12, 2015, 11:26 AM
Abdel Fattah el Sisi 241x300 A Simple, But Important, Recent Cairo Speech

Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, current President of Egypt

On June 4, 2009, Barack Obama delivered his famous “A New Beginning” speech at Cairo University. During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Obama had promised that he would give a major address to Moslems from a Moslem capital during his first months as president. In his widely-anticipated speech, he opened by seeking a common ground between Moslems and the United States, and described Moslem contributions to Western civilization. (Can you name a Moslem contribution to Western civilization from the past 1,000 years?) He further described his own personal experiences with Islam, and in his remarks, apologized for United States foreign policy toward Islamic states. The widely-anticipated speech was deemed by the American media as a watershed in American foreign policy that magnified Mr. Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. However, the promise of that speech was greatly diminished because of Obama’s perceived hypocrisy in praising human rights immediately after meeting with Egyptian and Saudi leaders who suppressed those same fundamental human rights.

However, a short, simple, and mostly unreported, speech was given last week in Cairo. On January 6, 2014, the date which hundreds of millions of Christians around the world celebrate Christmas Eve, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made a surprise visit to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. This was the first time that an Egyptian president came to honor a Coptic Christmas Eve Holy Liturgy. Also present was the Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawandros II. President el-Sisi arrived as the Liturgy had begun, and apologized for arriving late. The Holy Liturgy was shown live on Egyptian television, and President el-Sisi was greeted warmly by the congregation.

On these pages, I have written often about the persecution of Egyptian Christians at the hands of radical Islamic militants. During the so-called “Arab Spring,” many Christian churches and holy sites in Egypt were attacked following the revolution that ousted President Mubarak in 2011. The Moslem Brotherhood puppet, Mohamed Morsi, propped up in power by billions of dollars from the Obama administration, was deposed in July 2013 by a revolution supported by tens of millions of Egyptians. Following Morsi’s removal from office, pro-Morsi protestors burned many Christian churches. General el-Sisi, who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, was overwhelmingly elected president of Egypt in May 2014 with 22 million votes out of nearly 23 million counted. During his presidential campaign, General el-Sisi positioned himself as a uniter of all Egyptians.

Although not widely reported in the United States or in Europe, at the Coptic Cathedral on Christmas Eve, President el-Sisi said the following:

I would like to say a few brief words. Please, allow me. It was necessary for me to come and present my wishes to you. I hope that I am not interrupting your prayers. I wanted to tell you something… Throughout millennia, Egypt brought humanism and civilization to the whole world….  And I’d like to tell you that the world is looking to Egypt even now, in this day and age and in the present circumstances. I thank you very, very much, but honestly, I don’t want His Holiness the Pope to be upset with me. Listen, it is very important that the world should see us… that the world should see us, Egyptians… and you will note that I never use a word other than “Egyptians.” It’s not right to call each other by any other name. We are Egyptians. Let no one ask, ”What kind of Egyptian are you?” or “From what religious denomination?” Please, please, listen to me. With these words, we are showing the world the meaning of …we are opening a space for genuine hope and light. As I said, Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia, and we are here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again. Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. This is why we must not call ourselves anything other than “Egyptians.” This is what we must be — Egyptians, just Egyptians. Egyptians indeed!

And with loud cheers from the congregation, President el-Sisi concluded as follows:

That’s right, hand in hand! I just want to tell you that Allah willing, Allah willing, we shall build our nation together, accommodate each other, make room for each other, and we shall like each other, love each other, love each other in earnest, so that people may see. So let me tell you once again Happy New Year, Happy New Year to you all. Happy New Year to all Egyptians, Happy New Year to His Holiness the Pope. Thank you but please… I won’t take more of your time… Happy New Year!”

Christians Copts are said to represent 10% of Egypt’s population, but more recent estimates have placed the number of Coptic Christians in Egypt at 16 million persons, or 20% of the total population. This is a truly momentous step for all of the people of Egypt, Christian and non-Christian, for which Christians outside of Egypt should rejoice greatly. But I fear that President el-Sisi’s simple remarks have made him a prime target of Islamist fanatics, just as President Sadat became a target for assassination by radical Islamists for making peace with Israel. Please continue to pray for President el-Sisi, and for our long-suffering Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt.



Giving Away a Free Holy Bible Will Get You Fired
Thursday, January 8, 2015, 9:33 AM

bible 300x264 Giving Away a Free Holy Bible Will Get You FiredWalt Tutka is a substitute teacher in the Philipsburg School District in New Jersey, “Home of the Stateliners.” (Go Stateliners! Yes, it isn’t quite as catchy as “Go Mustangs,” but I digress.). Mr. Tutka is also a member of the Gideons International. On these pages, I have written about some of the recent travails that have faced the Gideons, an international, Christian not-for-profit organization actively involved in the dissemination of God’s Holy Word, the Bible, free of charge. (Bible distribution by the Gideons takes place in over 194 countries and in over 93 languages). A number of months ago, you may recall that the United States Navy sought to remove Gideons-provided Bibles from Navy lodges and hotels, a policy that was subsequently reversed following an outcry by the general public. In any event, on October 12, 2013, Mr. Tutka told a straggling student at the end of the line, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” (Imagine the umbrage if Mr. Tutka had told the student, “Jesus said, You must be born again!” or had even quoted Ecclesiastes 12:12.) The straggler then naturally asked where that aphorism came from, and eventually, Mr. Tutka whispered that it was from the Bible. When the student told him that he did not possess a Bible, Mr. Tutka gave the straggler a Bible. (Does anyone know whether government school libraries still have Bibles in their collections?)

Of course, giving a Bible to a student, straggler as he was, fanned the rumor mill like a wild fire across the Stateliners’ campus. Within the week, Mr. Tutka was summoned to the principal’s office where he was accused of violating two important school policies. The first forbids the dissemination of any religious materials, and the second requires the government school teachers to be “neutral” when discussing any topic related to religion. However, following months of prolonged and anguished discussion among school administrators and their attorneys about giving a Bible to the student, on January 14, 2014, Mr. Tutka was fired. As a result of his firing, which Mr. Tutka believed was unjustified, he filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) office in Newark. Following its investigation, the EEOC determined that Mr. Tutka presented strong evidence that he was fired for discriminatory, religious, and retaliatory reasons. (A copy of the EEOC letter is available here: http://personal.crocodoc.com/o0t5CF8.) The EEOC further determined that the School District “failed to produce key documents that could potentially support its defense despite being requested to do same.” I can see why the School District might be averse to sharing its documents and communications with the EEOC regarding the Gideons and Mr. Tutka. As one example, the Middle School Assistant Principal John Stillo wrote the following in a memorandum to School District staff:

It has been brought to the administration’s attention that Gideons may be near our campus to distribute literature to our students. Please make sure they DO NOT step foot onto our campus at any time. There will be added police and security presence at dismissal.

Emphasis in the original. Mr. Tutka is being represented by Liberty Institute, a Christian law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases. Mr. Tutka’ attorney, Hiram Sasser, said the following, “This is a great indication the EEOC is taking religious liberty seriously and they are going to enforce the law – and in this case make sure [Mr. Tutka’s] rights are protected.” Of course, if the School District does not reinstate Mr. Tutka with back pay, then the School District administrators, School Board members, and the taxpayers of New Jersey may face even greater monetary damages following a trial. It would be a pity, but then again, sometimes in America, ignorance and trying to destroy people’s livelihoods can be very expensive. If you wish to contact George Chando, the superintendent of the Phillipsburg School District, you can reach him at 908.213.2500. I am sure that he would enjoy hearing from us.



A New Era for Cuban-American Relations
Tuesday, January 6, 2015, 9:04 AM

Among the 2014 winners are the infamous Castro Brothers of Cuba. On these pages, I have written about the persecution of Christians under the Communist regime of Cuba. In late October, I described how 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. Regulations were enacted by the Communists that forbid the sale of paper, ink, typewriters, computers, and mechanical parts for photocopiers and printing presses to any religious organization. And in spite of all the imprisonment, persecution and onerous regulation, today Christian churches in Cuba are flourishing, and are filled to overflowing. Last October, the Cuban Communist government announced that they would allow construction of the first new Roman Catholic parish church in 55 years. The new church, funded by Roman Catholics from Tampa, Florida, is expected to hold 200 worshipers when completed.

Before Christmas, Mr. Obama surprisingly announced that the United States and Cuba will once again enter into diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. Mr. Obama’s decision could pave the way for a number of agreements between the two nations, but importantly for Mr. Obama and his allies, will facilitate remittances to Cuba by Americans and will expand commercial sales and exports of American goods and services. Under Mr. Obama, the export of goods to Cuba from the United States have dramatically declined to $359 million last year, compared with a high of $711 million in 2008. (Did you really think that there was an embargo?) The decrease in trade has troubled corporate supporters of Mr. Obama. Following Mr. Obama’s announcement, The New York Times reported:

PepsiCo wants in. So do Caterpillar and Marriott International. Within hours of President Obama’s historic move to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, companies in the United States were already developing strategies to introduce their products and services to a market they have not been in for the better part of 50 years — if ever. “Cuba is a potential market for John Deere products and services,” Ken Golden, a spokesman for Deere & Company, a leading maker of farm and construction equipment based in Illinois.”

Of course, Mr. Obama, as much as he might like to do so, cannot unilaterally end the embargo against Cuba with the stroke of a pen. (Ending the present embargo requires a change in the law, and while Messrs. Obama and Raul Castro have begun the process to restore diplomatic relations, legislation allows the president to lift the economic embargo only if full democratic elections are held and a free-market economic system introduced. And can we really expect that a Republican-controlled Congress will provide funding to build a new embassy in Havana?) So why are the Castro Brothers winners? As a result of this announcement, Mr. Obama has thrown an economic lifeline to the Castros and the Cuban communists. The Cuban economy is deeply troubled. Although some mild reforms were instituted by Raul Castro in 2010-2011, but the results have been disappointing with no improvement in Cuba’s economic decline. Average monthly salaries remain less than $15, meat consumption per capita is lower than it was in the 1950s, and even cell phone subscriptions per capita are among the lowest in the world. Further, notwithstanding the assertions of filmmaker Michael Moore, Transparency International has determined that Cuba has pervasive corruption in this socialist paradise. Venezuela’s waning support for the authoritarian Cuban kleptocracy has, in light of Venezuela’s economic collapse, made the Cuban economy much worse.

Writing in Foreign Policy, Javier Corrales recently wrote the following:

Remarkably, an important group in this conservative, pro-normalization coalition has been organized religion. The conservative evangelical lobby, a key constituency of the GOP, is fully behind normalization. Christian Conservatives look with envy the fact that the Vatican has negotiated with the Cuban government a sort of monopoly over Christianity. (No organization enjoys more autonomy in Cuba than the Roman Catholic Church.) Protestants and Evangelicals in the United States want to end this and begin evangelizing. But they need the embargo to be lifted in order to make inroads into Cuba’s Christian market.

I am not so confident of Mr. Corrales’ conclusion, and Mr. Corrales provides scant support for his contention. However, I am sure that Christians worldwide want to see all Cubans presented with the claims of Jesus Christ, and to see many Cubans come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But they have been following Christ throughout the regime of the Castros. Nevertheless, while the United States and Cuba were in talks to restore diplomatic relations, an independent Cuban human rights group said yesterday that the Cuban government carried out a record number of detentions of dissidents and political activists last year. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation recorded 8,899 short-term detentions of dissidents and activists in 2014. That was about 2,000 more than the previous year, and four times as many as in 2010, said the group’s head, Elizardo Sanchez. The report also said dissidents inside Cuba do not know who is on the list of 53 whom the United States asked Cuba to release as part of the initial agreement announced by Mr. Obama. Neither the United States nor Cuba have made the list public. (Yes, why hasn’t that list been made public?) Further neither nation said openly whether any of those on the list have been released so far. However, a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that the release of all dissidents (the 53 are merely a subset of all incarcerated dissidents) wasn’t a prerequisite for planned talks in Cuba between the Obama administration and Cuba, scheduled for later this month.

As examples of obnoxious Cuban law enforcement, among those arrested in recent weeks are expatriate artist Tania Bruguera, who was arrested three times since her return to Cuba to organize a performance art piece involving the installation of an open microphone in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution. The open microphone was set up so that Cubans could speaking openly about their country. However, the planned “performance” did not take place. In addition, there was also the arrest of graffiti and performance artist Danilo Maldonado, who was arrested in central Havana. What was his crime? He attempted to release two pigs labeled “Fidel” and “Raul.” He is charged with the crime of “disrespect for authority,” which carries a prison sentence of up to three years. It just seems to me that having survived the administration of ten American presidents, the Castro Brothers do not deserve our nation’s lifeline. And the people of Cuba, including the many Christian believers, Roman Catholic and non-Roman Catholic, deserve so much better from our nation. Please continue to pray for the Cuban people, and in particular for those on this prison island who are of the household of faith. I say, as Mr. Obama should have said, Viva la Libertad Para el Pueblo Cubano!



The Real War On Women And Children
Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 10:42 AM

We awoke this morning to learn about the horrific and tragic attack by Taliban terrorists against a high school in Pakistan which caused the death and injury to hundreds of children.  This comes on the heels of the sixteen-hour siege in Sydney, Australia, which resulted in the deaths of two hostages and injuries to others by a radical Islamist.  Tori Johnson, the Lindt Café manager, and Katrina Dawson, a mother-of-three, were killed in that terrorist attack.  Mr. Johnson, 34, was killed as he tried to wrestle the gun from the Islamic terrorist and ISIS supporter, Man Haron Monis, inside the café.  May God give peace to the memory of the victims of these cowardly acts, and comfort to the families of those killed and injured.

Although reported by only a few international news outlets, and mostly unnoticed in the United States, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”) distributed in its territory a pamphlet titled, “Questions and Answers on Taking Captives and Slaves.”  The pamphlet was published by the “Research and Fatwa Department of Islamic State.”  (No, I am not making that up.)  It describes in a clear question-and-answer format for the ignorant ISIS followers how to deal with issues arising from the slavery of non-Moslem women.  The English language translation was completed by the Middle East Media Research Institute (“MEMRI”).  One question asks whether all “unbelieving” (i.e., non-Moslem woman) women can be taken into captivity.  The answer, “There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to capture unbelieving women.”

If you are an Islamic terrorist, you might be thinking, if I have a slave, may I have intercourse with her?  The answer: “It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive.  Allah the almighty said: ‘[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or [the captives and slaves] that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame [Koran 23:5-6].’” And then in a follow-up question, what kind of sex is permitted with one’s female slave(s)?  “If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately.  However, if she isn’t, then her uterus must be purified first.”  However, the procedure to “purify a uterus” is not explained in the pamphlet.  Perhaps there is more information to come from the Research and Fatwa Department.

Now you might be wondering what about child sex slavery?  Islamic State has the answer to that simple question, and instructs its followers:

Question: “Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?”  Answer: “It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.

Emphasis added.  After all, according to traditional Islamic hadith sources, among his many wives, Mohammed married his favorite wife, Aisha bint Abī Bakr, when she was six or seven years old.  According to Mohammed’s quasi-official biographer, Ibn Hisham, their “marriage” was consummated, not at the time of marriage, but rather when she was nine or ten years old and Mohammed was 53.

In other useful gems of wisdom, beating the women is allowed, but only for disciplinary reasons.  Further, the buying, selling, and gifting of slaves are also permitted “for they are merely property.”  The 27 questions and answers in the pamphlet delves into many other important questions applying Islamic “wisdom,” such as the question of whether one can engage in sexual intercourse with two sisters, and  how to cover up properly a slave during prayer.

It is well documented that ISIS fighters have taken thousands of women and children as captives, particularly both Christian and the minority Yazidi sect in Iraq.  Last month, a United Nations report said that some of these women were taken to Syria where they were sold to ISIS fighters, or were given as “gifts” to ISIS leaders.  Most undoubtedly are being used for sex.  Haras Rafiq, an expert at the British counter-terrorism think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, said of the new ISIS pamphlet: ‘It is a sick and disgusting document, and it takes the world back to the Dark Ages.”  Indeed.  Please pray for the Christian and Yazidi women and children held by ISIS during this Christmas season, and the families of the Taliban victims in Pakistan.  May the one true God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ be close to all of them during these horrific days.



Another Case of Excessive Force by Police?
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 10:03 AM

622x350 300x280 Another Case of Excessive Force by Police?Since the events this past summer in Ferguson, Missouri, involving Michael Brown, or the more recent events involving Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York, much has been written and discussed about overly-zealous police officers.  The failure by two grand juries to indict police officers involved in these two cases has led to violence and large-scale protests, both in the United States and abroad, a situation encouraged by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.  As another recent example of excessive police tactics, Jacob Herrera, an eighth-grade student at Sam Houston Middle School in Amarillo, Texas, was arrested and detained overnight in late October. Prior to his detention, he was reportedly slammed face-first in the ground by a police officer during a school football game.  What was the young man’s crime?  He refused to remove his rosary beads from his neck.

Now one might wonder why Jacob’s rosary was so troubling to police officers.  According to the Amarillo Police Department, rosary beads are symbols for association with gang violence, and students in the Amarillo Independent School District are not permitted to wear them on school property.  However, Jacob’s rosary was given to him by his now-deceased brother, and it held great religious and sentimental value to him.  As a result, Jacob had prior approval from the school’s principal that allowed him to wear rosary beads underneath his clothing while in school or at school events.  But at the football game in October, Jacob was challenged by a police officer who told him to remove his rosary.  Reportedly, Jacob did not want to remove the rosary, and tried to explain to the officer that he had permission from school officials to wear his rosary.  But when Jacob refused to remove the rosary beads, police told Jacob to put his hands behind his back, which he then refused to do.  As a result, Jacob was arrested, and required medical attention at a local hospital from injuries inflicted by the police officer.

Jacob’s mother, Lori Martinez, told a local television station the following:

My son passed away two years ago, 2012, and he was teaching Jacob, you know about God and how you know, he should wear the rosary to protect him.  So Jacob believes that that rosary protects him and it is his remembrance to his brother.

Coming to Jacob’s aid, The Rutherford Institute, a Christian civil liberties law group, sent a demand letter to the Amarillo Independent School District on December 4, 2014, demanding that the district rescind its dress code policy that states that students may not wear anything deemed as “gang apparel” by local law enforcement.  The letter also asked the school district to encourage law enforcement to drop its criminal prosecution of Jacob.  Further, the lawyer letter asked the school district to issue a statement condemning the police department’s use of excessive force on young students.  The Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead said in a recent interview with The Christian Post:

I think it was excessive force.  The school should not be allowing this to happen.  He is just an eighth grader.  I understand that this [could be seen as] a gang symbol, but you can’t repress the symbol.  It is a matter of religious freedom and is a First Amendment right.  I think that they are overreacting to the gang issues, and if you have somebody wearing it legitimately, yes, they should be allowed to wear it.  I think it is an important issue or we wouldn’t be involved.

The Rutherford Institute has given the Amarillo School District until December 12th to respond, but no lawsuit has been filed at this time.  I will continue to follow this story, but I do not think that most police are bad or racist, or that they are targeting black or Hispanic young men.  But I learned long ago, growing up in a major Midwestern city, not to argue with a police officer if you don’t want to get hurt.  I hope that Jacob will as well.


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