Mr. Obama Is “Deeply Disappointed” With President Museveni of Uganda
Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 2:22 PM

On these pages, I have written about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. On the 50th; anniversary of his nation’s independence from Great Britain in November 2012, President Museveni publicly repented of his personal sins and those of his nation. At that time, he also dedicated Uganda to God, and prayed the following in pertinent part:

We want to dedicate this nation to You so that You will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord. A people You have chosen as Your own. . . . I renounce all the satanic influence on this nation. And I hereby covenant Uganda to You, to walk in Your ways and experience all Your blessings forever. I pray for all these in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

President Museveni’s entire prayer of repentance and dedication is available here.

Late last week, President Museveni indicated that he plans to sign a bill into law that prescribes imprisonment for certain homosexual acts. Mr. Obama took a short break from his three-day golfing weekend in sunny southern California’s desert courses to warn President Museveni. (Drought? What California drought? Were you aware that each of the golf courses played by Mr. Obama uses, on average, nearly 1 million gallons of water each day due to the hot and dry climate? The once great Time magazine reports that this is 3-4 times more water than is used on the average American golf course. And Mr. Obama’s Air Force One uses an estimated 3,378 gallons of fuel per hour, emitting many tons of carbon dioxide during each hour of flying time. Interesting, isn’t it?) In any event, Mr. Obama warned President Museveni that enacting this law would “complicate” relations with the United States. However, he did not say how. Serial liar and national security advisor, Susan Rice, said via Twitter that she had spoken by phone to President Museveni on Saturday night to protest enactment of this law. Further, a senior Obama administration official said if this legislation is enacted, the United States would “review” U.S. relations with Uganda. It was reported that the United States sends $400 million a year to Uganda. So I presume that this means that Mr. Obama says that Uganda must either let people have proctologic fornication or get no American cash; a foreign policy towards Africa based upon “sodomy for dollars.” Of course, the United States does not seem to have any problem with sending tens of billions of your tax dollars to countries that behead and jail Christians for expressing their religious beliefs.

God is pouring out His Holy Spirit throughout Africa, and millions are becoming Christ-followers with churches bursting with growth. (As one small example, please see this short video of some evangelistic meetings in Nigeria.) Practically each day, I receive emails from new Christian believers from throughout Africa asking how they can grow in their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So, it should not surprise us that many in Africa are looking to uphold God’s standards in their lives and in the broader society. Today more than 30 countries in Africa have laws that criminalize homosexual conduct, including four nations that prescribe the death penalty for homosexual acts. Given his cultural and ancestral roots, and dreams given from his father, one could expect Mr. Obama, of all people, to try to avoid cultural imperialism. While some in our nation think that open homosexuality is the greatest thing since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, does Mr. Obama truly believe he can dictate to other countries what they must do regarding their moral and cultural values? And why does he have to threaten other countries to embrace a homosexualized culture if it is such a great thing?

In any event, what I find particularly abhorrent is that we have Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, who has been held under horrific conditions in Iranian prisons, and who has been refused medical treatment for injuries suffered in prison from brutal beatings, for whom Mr. Obama’s administration has done precious little. Although Mr. and Mrs. Obama relish calling individuals who “come out of the closet,” even inviting some to state dinners, have Mr. or Mrs. Obama ever called Pastor Abedini’s wife? Has Secretary of State John F. Kerry or Mrs. Kerry? Or did former Secretary of State Hillary “What Difference Does It Make?” Clinton or Mr. Clinton? Is it any wonder that the leaders of other nations and tyrants throughout the world mock Mr. Obama’s feckless incompetence and lack of sophistication? As George Will recently observed about Mr. Obama, whose presidency grew from his celebrity status and whose sole qualification for public office were his telepromptered campaign speeches, “[Mr. Obama] should not be blamed for thinking that saying things is tantamount to accomplishing things.” Governing is harder work than playing golf, and talking with obsessive excitement about homosexual “love” in Africa is easier still.

Tragedy in the Central African Republic
Monday, February 17, 2014, 8:55 AM

In the coming days, I will publish a number of articles regarding some recent developments in Africa that affect Christians world-wide.  Today I begin with the human tragedy in the Central African Republic (“CAR”).   CAR is a land-locked country in the heart of Africa, and its people are among the poorest in the world.  In recent weeks, there have been clashes between Christians and Moslems in the town of Boda.  These clashes have killed 75.  As a result, local pastors say that thousands of people are now seeking refuge in churches, and are in desperate need of help.  The BBC News reported that Father Cassien Kamatari said that most of the dead in Boda were Christians.  It is not known how many Moslems were killed, as their bodies are quickly buried.

The Christian ministry, Open Doors, has ranked the Central African Republic 16th on its 2014 World Watch List of countries where Christians face the greatest persecution.  One of the Open Doors field directors sent The Christian Post the following information:

We would need the help of other organizations and an escort to visit those sites.  So until we can have that organized, we decided to stick to the areas more easily accessible which include some of the refugee camps scattered across [Boda].  First, we visited the displaced at two church compounds.  As we entered the first camp, I was moved with compassion when I saw the difficult circumstances people are enduring. . . . New families keep arriving in the camps, indicating that security remains a problem in many areas in town.  For camp staff, major challenges include the provision of water, sanitation and food.  The UNHCR has provided some large shelters, and the Red Cross has dug some pit latrines and set up improvised washing areas.

Obviously, the potential for the spread of disease, such as malaria and cholera, is a grave threat to these Christian brothers and sisters, especially as the rainy season is coming in a few weeks.  During the rainy season, mosquitoes flourish, and the camps are filled with mud.  The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 200 hundred million documented cases of malaria annually that kill one million people.  Of those killed by malaria in Africa, most are children.  The BBC News noted that France presently has more than 1,600 soldiers in the Central African Republic; the French troops are also working with another 4,000 regional African Union troops attempting to end the deadly violence.  One million people, or 20 percent of that nation’s population, have been displaced, and forced to flee their homes.

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has asked for another 9,000 peace-keeping troops to intervene in the CAR.  France and Poland are sending additional troops, and Estonia and non-EU member nation, Georgia, have also offered to send troops.  What has been the response by the United States?  On this government holiday weekend when President Obama flew to California to play golf, the United States government has responded to Secretary General Ban’s request for an increased military presence by expressing reservations about its costs.  (Yes, really.)  Further, although Mr. Obama said yesterday that he was “deeply disappointed” for Uganda’s stance is considering the criminalization of homosexual conduct, he said nothing regarding the religious violence in the CAR.  Please pray for these suffering people in the CAR, both Christians and Moslems.

A Valentine for President Obama
Friday, February 14, 2014, 10:07 AM

Late last week, President Obama spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.  This was the same meeting where last year Dr. Benjamin Carson, the noted pediatric neurosurgeon, created a bit of a stir with his remarks.  This year, Mr. Obama gave a lovely speech with many beautiful words (available here).  Mr. Obama touched on a number of subjects.  He spoke of his religious background and how faith influences much of his domestic agenda, and of his quest to improve human rights around the world, with a specific emphasis on expanding religious freedom.  (Yes, he really said that.)  But why hasn’t a reporter from any media outlet ever asked him, “Why don’t you speak out against Islamist terrorists who massacre Christians throughout the Middle East and North Africa?”  Kathleen Parker, writing in the Washington Post, observed about Mr. Obama’s remarks, “Without a hint of irony, the president lamented eroding protections of religious liberty around the world.  Just not, apparently, in America.”  Mr. Obama, however, failed to mention any of the legal challenges to religious liberty between his administration and the Roman Catholic Church and other religious groups.  He also did not mention the challenge by private businesses against the contraceptive mandates in Obamacare.  Apparently, some in the audience were surprised at the President’s remarks.  When asked about the general reaction of the audience, Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was quoted as saying that the audience appeared “stunned.”  Steve Green, president of the Hobby Lobby stores that have challenged the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, also attended.  One person sitting at Mr. Green’s table described the experience as “surrealistic.”  It appears that no one from the Little Sisters of the Poor attended the breakfast.  (I presume that they were much too busy tending to the impoverished elderly to listen to Mr. Obama’s insipid banalities.)  The Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases clearly demonstrate to me that Mr. Obama seeks to challenge, rather than protect, religious liberty in the United States.  Oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case will be heard by the Supreme Court in March, with a decision expected by June.  The Little Sisters of the Poor have been granted a temporary reprieve from compliance with the Obamacare contraception mandate by the Supreme Court.

Some have suggested that Mr. Obama is a facile liar.  In thinking about Mr. Obama’s remarks at the prayer breakfast, I was reminded of the recent observation by George Will in the Washington Post:

Barack Obama, the first president shaped by the celebratory culture in which every child who plays soccer gets a trophy and the first whose campaign speeches were his qualification for the office, perhaps should not be blamed for thinking that saying things is tantamount to accomplishing things, and that good intentions are good deeds. So, his presidency is useful after all, because it illustrates the perils of government run by believers in magic words.

(Emphasis in the original.)  You can read Mr. Will’s complete article here.  Mr. Will does not mention many of Mr. Obama’s magic words, but as a service to my readers, here are a few: “The health care law will not increase the deficit by one dime.”; “If you like the health care plan you have you can keep it.  No matter what.”; “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  Period.”; “Obamacare will cost less than your monthly cell phone bill.”; “I didn’t set a red line in Syria”; “I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage.”; “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed.  It is something that Congress has proposed.”; “We don’t have a domestic spying program.”; “Benghazi violence was caused by an internet video & demonstrations.”; “The IRS never targeted specific groups.”; “I’ve done more for Israel’s security than any President ever.”; “The fence between the United States and Mexico is practically complete.”; “Obamacare fee is not a new tax.”; “We have run out of places in the US to drill for oil.”; Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”; “There are 57 [U.S.] states.”; “Canada has a president.”; Mr. Obama also declared it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to invalidate a law passed by Congress; and I could continue ad nauseum, but I think you might remember some of Mr. Obama’s statements.  (Incidentally, were you aware of the massive, four-decade study published in 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences, titled “Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife,” which followed more than 1,000 subjects from birth until age 38?  What was the researchers’ core finding?  Repeated marijuana use by teenagers lowers their IQ – permanently.)

Mr. Obama in his remarks noted without apparent sarcasm, “History shows that nations that uphold the rights of their people — including the freedom of religion — are ultimately more just and more peaceful and more successful.”  Is it any wonder that a majority of Americans no longer find Mr. Obama to be admirable, sincere, honest, or trustworthy?  Please continue to pray for Mr. Obama.

What Do Women Want For St. Valentine’s Day?
Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 9:17 AM

St. Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year.  It is a lovely and romantic day, and I am sure that my readers have some wonderful memories of St. Valentine’s Day.  I still get nostalgic about those silly, penny cards we would get in elementary school.  A dear friend of mine intended to propose to his girlfriend in Verona, Italy, on the balcony of a home-turned-museum that is said to have inspired Shakespeare’s House of Capulet in Romeo and Juliet.  Unfortunately, my friend’s father became ill, and so he had to cancel their trip to Italy.  Undaunted, he arranged to have large model of Rome’s Trevi Fountain built, which was set up in her parents’ front yard.  And there he proposed to her with the fountain flowing.  Of course, his girlfriend was shocked.  (By the way, she did accept his marriage proposal.)  Nice story, eh?  St. Valentine’s Day is, of course, a holiday that is more than about romantic love, and is deeply rooted in Christian tradition.  The day commemorates one or more Christian martyrs named Valentinus.  One of the better known stories is of Saint Valentinus of Rome, who was a priest and physician.  St. Valentius was imprisoned for performing weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.  Emperor Claudius Gothicus decreed that his soldiers could not marry as he believed unmarried soldiers were better fighters.  He thought that married soldiers might be more concerned about what would happen to their wives and families if they were killed in battle.  Although ancient Rome was a morally permissive society, the Church considered marriage as sacred between one man and one woman for life, and encouraged marriage.  And St. Valentinus secretly married the soldiers.  So when he was caught, St. Valentinus was imprisoned and tortured.  The story is told that one of his jailers was Asterius, whose daughter was blind.  St. Valentinus prayed with the young girl, and she regained her sight.  As a result, Asterius became a Christian.  In 269 A.D., St. Valentinus was sentenced to die because of his stand in support of traditional Christian marriage.  In one of his last acts, he wrote a letter to the daughter of Asterius, concluding “from your Valentine.”  But St. Valentine’s Day is not merely about romantic love, as it should also remind us of God’s love.  Jesus commanded us to love God, and to love our neighbor.  For Christians, love is not something one earns; rather, it is given freely.

So, what do women want for St. Valentine’s Day?  Of course, few of us have the perspicacity to plan a romantic trip to Verona, or to build a replica of the Trevi Fountain.  But one could reasonably expect that Valentine’s Day might be accompanied by a romantic dinner and card, chocolates, flowers, and jewelry.  But according to Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, nothing says St. Valentine’s Day better than an abortion.  She recently tweeted this vine showing what women truly want for St. Valentine’s Day:  Yes, that’s correct.  Between “cancer screenings” (which are only a small fraction of Planned Parenthood services) and “well woman visits,” is abortion.  And to think, I thought St. Valentine’s Day was about celebrating love, and not about tearing apart an unborn baby.  So, on this St. Valentine’s Day, let us remember the example of St. Valentinus who teaches us that there could come a time when we might have to lay down our lives for what we believe about Christian marriage.

Cameron Franks, A Modern-Day Hero of the Christian Faith
Monday, February 10, 2014, 9:07 AM

On the occasions that I have enjoyed the great privilege to address young people about the persecution of Christians in other countries, I will ask those in attendance two questions: How many of you have suffered persecution for your Christian faith?  Second, if you were charged with the crime of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?  This has always led to interesting discussions and, I pray, some thoughtful reflection on the depth of their Christian faith.  Jesus taught us that the natural order for Christians is persecution, and the American experience, for the most part, has been an historical anomaly.  In the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:11, Jesus teaches us, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.”  In the Gospel of St. John 15: 19-21, our Lord declares, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first . . . If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also . . . They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.”  St. Paul, who suffered great persecution and was martyred for his Lord Jesus, warned in II Timothy 3:12, “And all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

In Cherokee County, Texas, a high school teacher recently removed a poster showing a Bible verse from a classroom after a student took offense.  The offended student sent a photo of the poster to the Freedom from Religion Foundation (“FFRF”).  I have often written on these pages about the extremism and bullying tactics of the FFRF.  The FFRF sent one of those infamous lawyer letters to Rusk Independent School District superintendent Scott Davis, who then ordered the teacher to remove the offending poster.  Superintendent Davis said that the poster had to be removed because “a teacher acting in that manner is in violation of the establishment clause” of the Constitution’s first amendment.

Rusk High School senior Cameron Franks disagreed with the removal of that poster.  He decided to hang the offensive poster at his home to remind him of his mission to take a bold stand for Jesus Christ.  Cameron told Houston television station KTRE, “We’ve walked our halls for four years and we’ve been persecuted, and called hypocrites.  Everybody who is a Christian, I’m sure, they have had that time in their life when they’ve been persecuted, and I knew it was time to take a stand.”  Since FFRF stated that first amendment rights were being violated at Rusk, Cameron decided to exercise his own first amendment free speech rights.  So he designed a t-shirt.  Cameron stated:

I didn’t think this was such a good idea at first, but then I was like you know what I don’t care anymore.  I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of hiding in the corner, and so I was like I’m going to do it, and I’m going to see how the reactions are, and if they’re negative, so-be it, and if they’re positive, so-be it.  It’s not about me.  It’s about God.  This is for the school.  This is the Lord’s will, and this is what needed to be done a long time ago.

Cameron’s red t-shirts have quickly gained community, church, and business support across Cherokee County, and from across the country, with thousands of orders for the t-shirts.  In my brazen act of commercialism, you can see their Facebook page “Take a Stand for Jesus, We Won’t Be Shaken” available here.  The t-shirts are sold for the low price of only $5, but Cameron is also receiving donations and sponsorships from his community, so that anyone who wants a shirt and cannot afford one can receive one for free.  (Just be careful, Cameron, that Mr. Obama’s petty and vindictive IRS doesn’t find out because under 26 USC Section 61, you can be taxed on giving away free stuff.)  The beautiful red t-shirts say “Let GOD RULE your world, if you want GOD TO ROCK your world!”  The t-shirt also displays a cross.  So if you, or the youth group at your local high school, church, or parish, want to obtain some of these t-shirts, the order form is available on the Facebook page.  God bless you, Cameron, for taking a bold stand for the Lord Jesus.  You serve as a role model for older Christian believers, and your t-shirts send an important message to Christians about standing up for what we believe.  You remind us to declare God’s salvation through the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For as St. Paul teaches us in Romans 1:16, we should never be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

Please Pray for the Sochi Olympics
Thursday, February 6, 2014, 10:35 AM

In the coming days, the winter Olympiad will open in Sochi, Russia.   The attention of the entire world will be focused on the athleticism and skill of the participants.  The costliest Olympics ever (over $51 billion in a number of media reports) still have some operational problems.  Some hotels are not finished; others are not expected to open on time.  Not only is the water in Sochi undrinkable, hotels warn guests not to use the bathroom water to wash their faces.  Some have suggested that much of the excess cost of the Sochi Games is because of corruption, with tens of billions allegedly stolen by President Putin’s cronies and political favorites.  Some have gone so far as to suggest (without any direct evidence so far) that many of the International Olympic Committee members were bribed to choose Sochi over the runner-up city of Salzburg, Austria.  (Yes, Sochi, the first city to host an Olympics in a war zone, was chosen over Salzburg, the city of Mozart, great desserts, and a well-established infrastructure.  Nothing to see here, of course.)

Today I want to call for prayer for Russia as the Sochi Games are located in one of the most violent areas of the world.  The Kremlin has mounted the most extensive security operations ever in the history of sporting events to guard against militant Islamic terrorists.  The Sochi Olympics have focused the world’s attention on Russia’s most-wanted terrorist, Doku Umarov, and the threats posed by terrorist attacks, such as the ones in Volgograd that killed 34 people in December when Islamic terrorists attacked mass transit.  Today in Russia, men, women, and children are trafficked for forced labor and prostitution, with Russia women trafficked around the world.  Russian organized crime gangs have a stranglehold on the Russian banking system, and Russian gangs heavily influence many businesses.  Corruption in Russia is endemic, as is alcoholism and drug use.  Russia has the highest level of HIV/AIDS in Europe, where it is spread primarily through the use of shared needles, and infections are growing at Europe’s fastest rate.  Tragically, Russia reports more abortions per year than live births, and the Russian population drops by an estimated 500,000 people each year, notwithstanding the government’s attempts to reverse that trend.  At the same time, an estimated 800,000 orphans in Russia live in utter squalor.  One million more children live on the streets, and earn their subsistence by begging, prostitution, and by working as drug runners.

In the coming weeks in particular, please pray for Russia and its people.  As the eyes of the world are focused on Russia, please pray that tens of millions in Russia will embrace spiritual change that leads to a biblical faith, and that they find a true future hope that exists only in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And please remember to pray also for the safety of the Sochi Olympics.

Please Pray for Ukraine
Monday, February 3, 2014, 9:46 AM

Several years ago, I was asked by the government of Ukraine to speak to a group of investors about the advantages (and disadvantages) of investing in Ukraine.  Many of the potential investors were Ukrainian-Americans, and each had considerable wealth to invest.  Among the advantages of foreign investment in Ukraine (most people are unaware that Ukraine is the largest country entirely in Europe) is its great wealth of rich farmland and natural resources, but it also  has modern factories, excellent transportation links, and most importantly, a well-educated, highly-skilled, and motivated population.  In my remarks, I stated how Ukraine was moving towards closer cooperation and greater integration with the European Union, and was moving away from its substantial economic links to the former Soviet bloc nations.  This gave Ukraine, in my view, a positive economic outlook.  The current turmoil in Ukraine has received trivial attention in most Western media (though the BBC, The Economist, and the Canadian Globe and Mail have been exceptions).  The gravamen of the turmoil grows out of the actions of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych late last year that scrapped an Association Agreement with the European Union.  This Agreement was a trade pact that provided a pathway to EU membership for Ukraine.  The Agreement, negotiated in 2012, was a great hope for Ukrainians at many levels; Ukrainians hoped that the Agreement would lead to reformation of its institutions, courts and police, and its economy, resulting in higher standards of living for the Ukrainian people.  However, Russian president Vladimir Putin demanded that Mr. Yanukovych choose between open borders with Europe, or trade with Russia.  The current issue of The Economist observes, “Ukraine is essential to Mr. Putin’s ambitions of creating Russia’s own Eurasian Union, a diminished version of the Soviet Union that was.  The Kremlin . . . is trying to draw Ukraine into Russia’s orbit with money, gas and counter-intelligence.”  However, Russia faces a slowing economy, a demographic decline, and almost no exports besides oil and gas.  Ukrainians understand that Russia now matters far less than it once did.

My friend and esteemed colleague at Mere Comments, James Kushiner, recently posted on these pages photographs of courageous Orthodox priests in Kiev standing between protestors and government forces.  (These powerful photographs are available here .)  Although over 80% of Ukrainians are Orthodox Christian believers, other Christians have also asked for prayer for their nation.  Pastor Oleg Magdich and his parishioners have walked the streets around Kiev’s Independence Square wearing vests that say, “Pray for Ukraine.”  At the beginning of the crisis last November, Pastor Magdich, a youth pastor at one of Kiev’s large evangelical churches, erected a prayer tent at the center of the protest zone.  Pastor Magdich said, “Our main message is that God is the only answer, not politics, not violence.  We have to rely on Him to see us through this crisis.”  Zenya Venidiktova, a university student and volunteer at the prayer tent, said the political uncertainty has left many of her fellow Ukrainians disillusioned.  She spends her time on the streets handing out copies of the New Testament and the Gospel of St. John.  Ms. Venidiktova recently told CBN News, “It’s minus 23 degrees, and cold out here, but the inconvenience is a small price to pay to share the Gospel with people searching.”  At the prayer tent, Christian volunteers are praying, and distributing free tea and food around the clock, along with New Testaments and Gospels of St. John, to both protestors, police, and soldiers.  Christian physicians are also in the tent serving the sick and wounded.  One of the volunteers, Marina Kerusenko, a mother of two, said, “Protestors have been on the streets in freezing conditions for months, so when they come for a cup of tea, I encourage them, saying ‘God bless you. We are praying for you and our country.  Don’t give up.’”  Pastor Magdich said that hundreds of Ukrainians have stopped by the prayer tent, and that many have given their lives to Jesus Christ.  Andrey Tolstokoriy was among those who came for prayer.  He said, “I’m praying for God to bring righteous leaders to our government, people who can lead our country forward.”  Pastor Magdich and his volunteers plan to stay on the streets of Kiev as long as it takes to bring peace to Ukraine.  Pastor Magdich said, “The Church has to play a role in this crisis.  We have to be salt and light.”  Indeed!  I urge all liberty-loving Christians to pray for the freedom and justice for the people of Ukraine.  For as Pastor Magdich and the Orthodox priests clearly recognize, this battle is a spiritual one, and so it needs to be bathed in prayerGod has given the Church the command to be light and salt in the earth.  Even in the face of possible revolution in Ukraine, the Church continues to fulfill its mission and promote peace between conflicting parties.  The Church is doing what it should do, and I ask you all to pray for Ukraine, asking for God’s wisdom for all parties involved in this difficult situation, and for the ongoing advance of the life-changing Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord!

Islamist Terrorists Attack Nigerian Christian Villages and Churches
Friday, January 31, 2014, 9:19 AM

Islamic terrorists attacked two Christian villages in the northeastern Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa in recent days.  The attacks killed at least 99 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.  These are among the highest death tolls from Islamic attacks in the past year.  Some of my readers may be aware that more Christians have been martyred in Nigeria that in any other country in recent years.  The Nigerian government has declared a state of emergency to deal with Islamic terrorism.  In Kawuri village in Borno state, more than fifty terrorists assaulted the local market launching explosives which killed 52 persons and injured 16 others.  The entire village of 300 homes was also destroyed.  Further, two improvised explosive devices were left behind to explode the following day.  However, the IEDs did not kill or injure any others, though press reports indicated that the bombs narrowly missed first responders who were collecting the bodies of the victims.

In Adamawa state, Islamic terrorists attacked a Roman Catholic church during Mass in the village of Wada Chakawa.  The Islamists fired their weapons into the church, set off explosives, and took hostages during the five-hour siege.  Local officials recovered 45 bodies, including those of two police officers.  ABC News reported that Moses Apogu, a witness to the attack, said, “They used explosives during the attack on worshippers, and many people lost their lives.”  Further, another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his life, said at least some of the hostages were later killed.  Nearly 200 people have been killed during January 2014 by members of the Boko Haram terrorist network.  “Boko Haram” means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language.  Other attacks have forced hundreds of villagers from 30 farming communities to leave the area.  The United Nations now estimates that more than 10,000 refugees from the violence have fled to Cameroon and Niger in recent months.  These refugees need tents and camping supplies (flashlights, stoves, ponchos, solar lamps, first aid kits, portable toilets, and sleeping bags).  However, World Vision, World Relief, and Samaritan’s Purse are presently not operating in Nigeria.

In response, at the State of the Union speech following these attacks, President Obama said nothing.  However, the American Secretary of State John F. Kerry said in a recently issued statement, “The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act.  Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians.”  Further, with no apparent irony, Secretary Kerry’s statement also said the following about homosexual “marriage”:

People everywhere deserve to live in freedom and equality.  No one should face violence or discrimination for who they are or who they love.  We join with those in Nigeria who appeal for the protection of their fellow citizens’ fundamental freedoms and universal human rights.

Yes, Secretary Kerry, no one should face violence for who they love, especially the Lord Jesus.  Finally, in the aftermath of the attacks against Christians in Nigeria, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights convened a meeting late last week to condemn the alleged racism of the National Football League’s Washington team, the Redskins.  (No, I am not making this up.)  In the face of all of the horrific evil against Christians taking place at the hands of Islamists in Nigeria, and the second-ranking official in charge of human rights at the United Nations called a meeting about the Redskins?  Makes me wish the Redskins were in the Super Bowl this Sunday evening, and that the United Nations moves from New York City to northeast Nigeria.  Please pray for our Nigerian brothers and sisters that they may stand strong in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Peace to the memory of Christ’s beloved martyrs of Kawuri and Wada Chakawa villages.  And if you have any thoughts about how we can help the Nigerian refugees, please post the information in the comments here below.

My Response to the German Embassy Regarding the Wunderlich Family
Monday, January 27, 2014, 9:06 AM

Last week, I shared on these pages my exchange of correspondence with the German Embassy regarding the Wunderlich Family.  Here was my response to the letter from Karlfried Bergner, Minister of Communications and Culture at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.  A copy was sent to both Ambassador Peter Ammon and to Chancellor Angela Merkel:

Dear Mr. Bergner:

Thank you very much for your recent letter regarding the German government’s view on the Wunderlich matter.  In your letter, you cite how Germany is following the 2006 European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) decision in Konrad and others v. Germany “ to assert that “the German requirement to attend school is not a violation of human rights and that EU member states have the right to regulate their individual educational systems.”  However, I remind your government that the Chamber decision in Konrad came down in spite of the spirit of the more recent Grand Chamber decision in Folgero and Others v. Norway, No. 15472/02 (ECHR, 29 June 2007, affirmed most recently in Case of Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey, No. 1448/04 (ECHR, 9 October 2007).  As you know, in Folgero the court held that exemptions had to be allowed for students from religious education that offended the parent’s religious beliefs. The natural progression of this holding would be to allow for exemption from education that parents believe infringes upon their Convention rights, and is harmful to the educational development of their children.

Moreover, the decision in Konrad ignored the increasing trend of legislating in favor of parental rights and the right to home educate.  As your government is aware, ample European treaty law exists to support parental rights in determining both the means and methods by which children are educated.  In your letter, you cite the fact that parents have a range of choices for educating children in Germany, except for home education.  However, your contention is a false freedom, for your government deliberately fails to recognize that home education is not a refusal of education, but rather is merely another mode of transmitting knowledge that falls within the spectrum of the definition of education.

I remind your government that in Folgero and Others v. Norway, No. 15472/02 (ECHR, 29 June 2007), the ECHR held:

It is in the discharge of a natural duty towards their children – parents being primarily responsible for the “education and teaching” of their children – that parents may require the State to respect their religious and philosophical convictions. Their right thus corresponds to a responsibility closely linked to the enjoyment and the exercise of the right to education.

Id. at § 84(e).  Citations omitted.  Emphasis added.

Second, and equally pertinent, the ECHR has further held:

Although individual interests must on occasion be subordinated to those of a group, democracy does not simply mean that the views of a majority must always prevail: a balance must be achieved which ensures the fair and proper treatment of minorities and avoids any abuse of a dominant position.

Id. at § 84(f).  Citation omitted.  Emphasis added.

Minister Bergner, I remind your government that any nation in which parents do not have the final authority over what and how their children learn is not a truly free country.  The denial of fundamental freedom that is occurring in Germany in the Wunderlich matter is particularly shameful in light of Germany’s 20th century history, and as stated by the ECHR in Folgero, the entire world sees that the German state continues to abuse its dominant position of arrogance and power against the Wunderlich family.  This is why the case of the Wunderlich family is so important to many liberty-loving people around the world.  Please let the Wunderlichs go!

Most respectfully yours
s/Michael Avramovich

Please continue to pray for the freedom of the Wunderlich family.

An Exchange of Letters Regarding the Wunderlichs
Friday, January 24, 2014, 9:51 AM

On these pages, I have written about the plight of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich, whose children, aged 7 to 14, were taken forcibly from their home in Darmstadt, Germany, last August by a SWAT team of twenty police, special agents, and social workers as the children began their morning home school classes.  The children were taken into custody because their parents insisted on the children being homeschooled.  Following a court hearing, the Wunderlich children were returned to their parents after the parents promised that they would send their children back to a government school.  At that time, I urged my readers to express their opposition to the heavy-handed tactics of German authorities.  On November 21, 2013, I wrote to the German Ambassador to Washington, D.C., Peter Ammon.  In my letter, I wrote the following in pertinent part:

I am deeply concerned about the plight of Dirk and Petra Wunderlich of Darmstadt.  Mr. and Mrs. Wunderlich are Christian believers who sought to home school their four children, aged 7 to 14.  Last August, the children were taken forcibly from their home early one morning by a battalion of twenty police, special agents, and social workers as the children began their home school classes.  Judge Koenig of the Darmstadt family court authorized the seizure of the children finding that seizure was proper because the children had “adopted the parents’ opinions’ regarding homeschooling and that no cooperation could be expected” from either the parents or the children.  After three weeks, the children were returned to the parents, but only on the condition that they enroll in a government school.  The family has now sought to emigrate from Germany to another country where homeschooling is legal.  However, their right of free movement has been curtailed until, at least, a December court hearing.  For many Christian Americans, homeschooling is an important religious liberty issue, and reflects a fundamental human right of parents to teach their children what they believe.  As your government is aware, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Article 26(3) states that parents have a “prior right” over the government to choose their children’s education.  I remind you that although Germany is a party to numerous human rights treaties that recognize the right of parents to provide an education distinct from the government schools, this fundamental human right has been infringed with regard to the Wunderlich family and others who are similarly situated.  We urge your government remedy the violation of Germany’s human rights commitments to the Wunderlich family.  I look forward to hearing from you.

I recently received a response to my letter from Karlfried Bergner, Minister of Communications and Culture at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., in which he wrote the following:

Dear Mr. Avramovich,

Thank you very much for your letter to Ambassador Ammon, dated November 21, expressing your concerns about the Wunderlich family’s case.  Please allow me to elaborate on the German views and positions regarding homeschooling.  Mandatory school attendance ensures a high standard of learning for all children.  It protects children against social discrimination and isolation, contributes to integration, and fosters dialogue within society.  In 2006, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the German requirement to attend school is not a violation of human rights and that EU member states have the right to regulate their individual educational systems.  The Court noted that the German authorities and courts had carefully reasoned their decisions and mainly stressed the fact that not only the acquisition of knowledge but also social integration and interaction with other children are important goals in primary school education.  The German courts found that those objectives cannot likewise be met through home-schooling even if children are thus able to acquire the same knowledge level as provided for by primary school education.  The ECHR accepted this assumption as correct and consistent with the prerogative which the Contracting States’ (sic) enjoy in setting up and interpreting rules for their educational system.  That notwithstanding, German parents still have a wide range of educational options for their children.  They may choose between public, private, and religious schools, including those with alternative curricula such as the Waldorf or Montessori schools.  Beyond school attendance on weekdays, they are furthermore at liberty to provide their children with any additional private or family education on weekends.  Sincerely yours,

In my next blog, I will share my response to Mr. Bergner.  Please continue to pray for the Wunderlich family that they will be “allowed” to leave Germany, where their fundamental right to teach their children as they see fit is curtailed.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »