Memorial Day 2014
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 9:51 AM

Memorial Day is the most solemn of our national holidays.  The solemn tribute began in 1866 when three Christian women from Columbus, Mississippi, decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers there and at the same time laid flowers on the graves of the Union soldiers buried in the cemetery.  At the insistence of his wife, General John Logan, then Army Chief of Staff, issued an official order shortly thereafter proclaiming Memorial Day an annual day of remembrance for our nation’s war dead.

From the days of the Revolution, through the struggles of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the first Gulf War and the present War on Terror, the strength of our nation is in the spirit of its men and women who fought and died for a nation determined to know its ancient liberty.  4,435 combat deaths in the Revolutionary War, 2,260 in the War of 1812, 1,733 in the Mexican War, 140,415 on the Union side in the Civil War, 74.524 on the Confederate, 385 in the Spanish-American War, 53,513 in World War I, 292,131 in World War II, 33,667 in the Korea War, 47,393 in the Vietnam War and 148 in the Persian Gulf War.  Over 4,410 have died as a direct result of hostile action in Iraq since March 19, 2003, with 2,184 more in Afghanistan.  The loss of life to American military men and women in all of our nation’s wars exceeds 1,340,000.

On the first few days after D-Day in June 1944, 6,603 Americans died in combat; 4,000 alone on the first day.  Iwo Jima, lying midway between Guam and Japan, is less than five miles long.  On that island, a detachment of Japanese troops were ordered to dig in the mountain fortress and to die to the last man.  The assault on Iwo Jima was the fiercest landing fight the world has ever seen.  The Japanese kept up an incessant rain of death upon the attacking American troops on the beaches.  Navy and Marine casualties exceeded 22,000; the Japanese counted more than 20,000 dead.

On the sacred soil of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the battlefield was a sea of carnage.  In three days of fighting, Confederate losses were 3,900 killed, and 24,000 wounded and missing; Union losses were 3,100 killed, and 20,000 wounded or missing.  Those soldiers listed as missing simply vanished, ground up in battle disappearing into the soil.  In November 1863, several months after the battle of Gettysburg, its military cemetery was dedicated, at which President Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address.  There are 120 national military cemeteries in our nation.  From Arlington on the Potomac to the Golden Gate , from St. Augustine in Florida to Sitka, Alaska, as well as on many other burial grounds elsewhere around the world.  The war cemeteries in Normandy hold the remains of 9,386 American soldiers.  On hallowed soil, as in the hearts of the American people, the memory of these gallant men and women, who made the supreme sacrifice, is enshrined forever.  In a letter written by President Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby, who lost five sons in the Civil War, the President wrote: “May our Heavenly Father assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

On this Memorial Day, we must not mourn that these men and women died, but rather, we must thank God that such as they lived.  This is also why the Veterans Administration scandal involving the lack of care for our neediest veterans is so despicable.  The veterans survived, but many have been treated with utter disdain and shameful callousness by governmental bureaucrats.



Sudanese Christian Sentenced to Death
Monday, May 19, 2014, 9:24 AM

photo 300x169 Sudanese Christian Sentenced to DeathMariam Ibrahim Yahia, a pregnant woman of 27, was sentenced last week to death by hanging in Khartoum, Sudan, for converting to Christianity.  Mrs. Ibrahim was also convicted of adultery for having married a Christian man.  Her husband, Daniel Wani, is an American citizen.  (Yes, you read that correctly.)  The sentence for her “adultery” will be 100 lashes.  The Honorable Judge Abbas al Khalifa asked Mrs. Ibrahim whether she would return to Islam.  She replied that “I am a Christian,” upon which Judge al Khalifa handed down his death sentence.  In response to the verdict, the embassies of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands have issued a joint statement expressing “deep concern” about the case, and urged Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion.  Sudan, however, follows Islamic sharia law.  In response to the “deep concern” expressed by the Western embassies, a Sudan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abu-Bakr Al-Siddiq stated that “Sudan is committed to all human rights and freedom of faith granted in Sudan by the constitution and law.”  That is good to know, but deeds speak much louder than words.  And Mrs. Ibrahim is the wife of an American citizen.  In an emailed statement to Mere Comments, the Embassy of Sudan in Washington, D.C., stated the following:

The Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan in Washington DC has noticed with regret some of the  official statements and media coverage on the case of the Sudanese citizen Mariam Ibrahim  Yahia, as some of them have mistakenly jumped to conclusions and accused the government of Sudan of violating human rights and preventing Mariam from her civil rights as a Sudanese  citizen.  The Embassy would like to confirm that the Sudanese Judiciary System is totally independent and the government has no any influence on it by any means and its judges are  qualified enough and dignified!  Having Saying this, the Embassy would like to confirm that:

NO government agency ever was behind the case of Mariam Yahia, and her case has been  failed and brought to the court by her immediate family.

The ruling of the judge was made at the primary court after hearing to the all parties involve,  and its subject to be implemented in not less than two years, if confirmed from higher courts.

In such case and according to Mariam’s lawyers the ruling might be raised to the appeal court then to supreme court and finally to the Constitutional court for the final judgment.

There is no room for politics on this case and those who accused Sudan Government of violating  the Human rights should check their records and submit to the rule of law specially in Guantanamo, and should be a abide by the Universal  Declaration of Human Rights and the civil  rights of those detainees.  While reaffirming the commitment of the Government of Sudan to all  human rights and freedom of beliefs, the Embassy of Sudan in Washington would like to thank  all those who have contacted the Embassy in this regard, and assure them that it will follow this issue and will keep them informed.

Reportedly, Mrs. Ibrahim’s father was Moslem, but abandoned the family during her childhood, and she was raised by her mother, an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia.  She was given several days to recant her Christian faith in order to escape the death sentence.  However, when she declared that she is a Christian, she was sentenced to death.  Mrs. Ibrahim and her husband were married in a church wedding in 2011, and have an 18-month-old son, Martin, who, of course, is eligible for American citizenship, and is now with her in jail.  Amnesty International said, “The fact that a woman could be sentenced to death for her religious choice, and to flogging for being married to a man of an allegedly different religion, is abhorrent.”  Indeed it is.  Her conviction will be appealed.  But she should simply be released.  If you wish to write to the Sudanese Charge d’Affaires in Washington, D.C., (the Ambassadorship is presently vacant), you can write to him at the following address:

His Excellency, the Honorable Maowia Osman Khalid
Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington D.C. 20008
Ph: 202.338.8565 Fax:202.667.2406
Email: amb.maowia@sudanembassy.org

Our sister in Christ, Mariam, reminds me of the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in his famous letter to the Romans, “All the pleasures of this world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing.  It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ than to reign over all the ends of the earth. . . . Him I seek, who died for us; Him I desire, who rose again for our sake.  This is the gain which is laid up for me.”  Please pray for Miriam and her husband, Daniel, and for their children during these difficult days.



Common Core Educational Standards and the Southern Poverty Law Center
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:21 AM

Last Wednesday, I addressed a lawyers’ group in downtown Chicago about the new Common Core educational standards.  One of the conditions for giving my talk was that it would be open to members of the broader community, and not merely to those in the legal profession.  So in addition to many attorneys, there were people in attendance who were teachers, school administrators, and just plain folks, as Mr. Obama likes to say.  The topic turned out to be of such great interest to so many that it was standing room only.  I don’t think that the interest was because I was addressing the group, but rather because parents and those interested in education want the very best for our children.

In my talk, I presented various points of view, but in essence, I was skeptical about Common Core, and its attempt to improve the success of students’ education.  (I have previously written the same on these pages about Common Core.)  I urged those present to do their own homework about Common Core, and to pray and think about what they had learned.  The next day one of the attorneys in the audience emailed me with information that the Southern Poverty Law Center (“SPLC”) had just issued a report that condemned opposition to Common Core as a propaganda effort by “far-right extremists” to destroy the public schools.  (Who knew?  I just thought that in a democratic republic, educational policy imposed by education bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., and funded primarily by corporate interests (The Gates Foundation and others) might be a proper topic of interest to the citizenry.)  I did know, however, that the SPLC also labeled the Boy Scouts, the Illinois Family Institute, and the Family Research Council as “hate“ groups.  The report, “Public Schools In the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards,” is available here. The report declares, “Across the United States, a fierce wave of resistance is engulfing the Common Core State Standards, threatening to derail this ambitious effort to lift student achievement and, more fundamentally, to undermine the very idea of public education.”  The SPLC report further insists that opposition to Common Core arises out of fears that it will “indoctrinate young children into ‘the homosexual lifestyle,’” and “turn children into ‘green serfs’ who will serve a totalitarian ‘New World Order.’”  Of course, I don’t think that Common Core will do that because many government schools have been trying to do that very well for years without Common Core.

SPLC mentor Saul Alinsky Rule 11 for radicals states, “Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it. . . . Identify a responsible individual.”  In keeping with this rule, the SPLC report shows photographs of some of the people utterly despised by Progressives and Leftists: the infamous Koch brothers (I have now finally seen their photographs, and the brothers look nothing like I expected.  I expected to see spitting images of Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four), Phyllis Schafly, historian David Barton, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Cal Thomas, Senator Rand Paul, tea party patriots, and just plain, regular American folks expressing their views in opposition to Common Core.  Why the report even included a photograph of a good friend to Touchstone, Salvo, and Mere Comments, Professor Robert George of Princeton University.  The report states that Professor George “echoes the conspiracy theories of the radical right, warning that the Common Core advances the ‘utopian, grandiose planning for a managed global economy.’”  Say, it ain’t so, Professor George!

Having read the report, I noticed that the SPLC report ignores critics on the American political left, including the Chicago Teachers Union, whose president is likely to challenge Rahm Emanuel for mayor of Chicago in 2015.  Novelists Judy Blume and Maya Angelou, and actor Matt Damon, have also issued critiques on Common Core.  Several weeks ago, the so-called “comedian” Louis C.K. tweeted to his 3.3 million followers: “My kids used to love math.  Now it makes them cry.  Thanks standardized testing and common core!”  He followed that with several pictures of third-grade math problems that he deemed incomprehensible or just plain dumb.  Within a day, his original protest had been retweeted more than 7,000 times.  One of the prophets of our age, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert showed a segment in early April that ridiculed befuddling Common Core math questions.  Colbert aired a series of clips of parents explaining how the tests had rattled and stressed their children.  His wry conclusion: “Common Core testing is preparing students for what they’ll face as adults – pointless stress and confusion.”

In my talk, I sought to show that Common Core’s educational standards are, at best, of mediocre quality, and for many of us who care deeply about our children and grandchildren’s education, disappointingly so.  They rest on questionable philosophies, and are completely untested by any empirical studies.  (In fact, I would like to read the empirical peer-evaluated studies that show how reducing the study of classic literature, which Common Core does, or how asking befuddling math questions help students.)  Professor Sandra Stotsky, one of the Common Core Validation Committee members who refused to sign on to the standards, and went on to testify in state legislatures and other forums against Common Core, succinctly criticized “that the Common Core choice of novels for grades 9/10 are on average at a 5th grade readability level, and the novels used in grades 11/12 are at a readability level of 8th grade, with the exception of The Scarlet Letter and Pride and Prejudice.”  Moreover, given that the Common Core standards apply to all students, including those in parochial and private schools, and to homeschoolers, it also intrudes on student and family privacy.  And in addition to the weakness and academic illegitimacy of Common Core, it eliminates state and local autonomy in educational matters, and forces states and their taxpayers to incur large costs (estimated to be over $16 billion) to implement Common Core.  The route to an excellent education goes towards universal school choice that provides high standards, accountability, and flexibility.  In summary, the Common Core “educational” standards only make matters far worse to the detriment of our children and our nation’s future.  So unbeknownst to me, I have now officially been designated, according to the SPLC, a Christian right-wing extremist.  But I am honored to be in the same company as Professor Robert George.



A Film Pre-Screening Tonight in Support of the Abedini Family
Monday, May 12, 2014, 9:51 AM

On these pages, I have written a number of blogs regarding the plight of Pastor Saeed Abedini.  Many of my readers know that Pastor Abedini, an American citizen, is currently serving eight years in prison in Iran.  Pastor Abedini was arrested in July 2012 while working on an orphanage project, and was accused by Iranian Islamic authorities of “threatening national security.”  Inspired by his story, a new film will be released this summer based upon an Americanized version of his story.  For a variety of reasons, I don’t often attend films.  Primarily it is because there are few that hold any interest to me.  In fact, the last film I saw in a theater was the French silent film classic by Carl Theodor Dreyer of The Passion of Joan of Arc, first released in 1928.

“Persecuted,” the new political thriller will be pre-screened tonight (May 12, 2014) at 7 PM at the Rancho Mirage 16 Theater in Palm Springs, California.  (In a shameless commercial plug, tickets are only $10.)  The screening will take place in partnership with Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel, with proceeds from the screening to support the Abedini family.  The Chapel has raised over $190,000 to date, and hopes to raise enough money to buy a home for the family.   Daniel Lusko, writer and director of “Persecuted,” recently said:

We’re honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with such a courageous family.  Movies come and go, and filmmakers like me don’t face much persecution.  But men and women like the Abedinis face persecution and death every single day.  I hope the news of our standing with Pastor Abedini, and his wife and children, reaches him in his prison cell and gives him strength and courage to keep fighting for truth and freedom.

“Persecuted” tells the story of a modern-day evangelist named John Luther, played by James Remar.  Luther is the last holdout to support sweeping “reforms” to our 1st Amendment freedom of speech.  In the film, as the government is mandating political correctness, it is also covertly waging a war against religious organizations.  (Crazy plot, eh?)  A U.S. Senator, portrayed by Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Davison, and his political allies create a sinister plan of denial and scandal to frame John Luther for murder.  Suddenly his once normal life is turned upside down as he becomes a fugitive vowing to expose those responsible.  It is a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of Christian persecution that will threaten the moral ethics and freedoms in America.  Of course, it is only a movie and such things could never happen here, could they?

The cast of “Persecuted” includes Dean Stockwell, former senator Fred Thompson, Brad Stine, Raoul Trujillo, Natalie Grant, and Gretchen Carlson of Fox News.  You can view the trailer here.  The film is scheduled for release on July 18th on 600 screens across the United States.  I am looking forward to viewing this film this summer.  And if you are in the Palm Springs area this evening, it is a good opportunity to watch an interesting film and to support a persecuted Christian family.  Please continue to pray for Pastor Abedini and his family, along with our other persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in Iran.



Happy Mother’s Day 2014
Friday, May 9, 2014, 3:13 PM

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day in the United States, and in a number of other nations.  Today, in fact, is the 100th anniversary of the first national Mother’s Day proclamation signed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 9, 1914.  As is the case with many things in our nation’s history, the roots go back to the efforts of a devout Christian woman, Ana M. Jarvis.  Ana M. Jarvis deeply loved her mother, Mrs. Ana Reese Jarvis.  Mrs. Ana Reese Jarvis was a pastor’s daughter and a Sunday School teacher in her Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.  When Mrs. Jarvis died in 1905, the Sunday School superintendant in her church asked Ana to arrange a memorial service for the women who had been so influential to so many in that church.  This led Ana to think that children then did not often show appreciation to their mothers during their lifetimes.  The Grafton church held a special memorial service on the second Sunday of May 1907, which was the anniversary of the passing of Mrs. Jarvis.  The following year, Ana convinced her church in Philadelphia to hold a Mother’s Day memorial service on May 10, 1908.  For that service, Ana supplied her church with white carnations, which had been her mother’s favorite flower.  After the great success of that memorial service, Ana began to write letters advocating for a national Mother’s Day.  Six years later, after many letters and much hard work, on May 8, 1914, both houses of the United States Congress passed resolutions establishing a national Mother’s Day.  The next day, exactly 100 years ago today, President Wilson issued the following proclamation:

Now, Therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United  States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.

So thanks to the effort of one Christian lady seeking to memorialize the strong Christian witness of her mother, Mother’s Day is now observed on the second Sunday of May.  It is also celebrated in other countries as well, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and various other nations of Africa and South America.  This year, as we celebrate Mother’s Day and give thanks to God for our mothers, please remember to pray for the countless mothers around the world who sacrifice everything to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.  In particular this year, please remember the mothers of the kidnapped young women in Nigeria, and the mothers of the thousands of murdered victims of the radical Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria.



Chinese Christians Lose Their Church Buildings
Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 10:59 AM

chinese church1 300x208 Chinese Christians Lose Their Church BuildingsLast month on these pages, I wrote about how thousands of Chinese Christians mounted an extraordinary, round-the-clock defense of Sanjiang Christian Church in Wenzhou, China.  The Christians, including the elderly and disabled women, occupied the church to prevent demolition teams from moving in to bulldoze their church building, which dominated the city’s skyline.  The 24-hour guard began weeks ago when a demolition notice was posted on the newly-constructed church that took six years to build and cost up to 30 million yuan (approximately $4.8 million).  Chinese Communist officials declared that the church had been built illegally and posed “serious safety risks,” and further used red paint on the towering white façade to write “Demolish” and “Illegal construction.”  However, church officials said that the construction plan and design were approved by the Wenzhou municipal government, and in fact, was cited as a “model project” by the local government when the church was completed late last year.  Despite the acts of civil disobedience by the Chinese Christians, as of April 28, 2014, the church building has now been demolished.  In addition, media reports indicated that other smaller churches in the same province have also been demolished.

Prior to demolition of the Sanjiang Church, Communist officials removed the Christians defending the church building, and arrested more than twenty Sanjiang Church leaders, as well as some neighboring pastors supportive of the Sanjiang Church.  Some have surmised that the worldwide publicity from this incident caused petty local Communist officials to lose so much face that action had to be taken to avoid appearing weak.  To the unbridled utter foolishness of Communist officials, this has led to a complete rupture of the little remaining trust between Chinese Christians and their government, and will drive Chinese Christians deeper underground.  Further, rather than stopping the growth of Christian faith in China, history teaches us that we can expect even faster growth in the future for, as Tertullian observed long ago, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.  In fact, one could easily imagine that the cadres’ actions could lead to an ultimate collapse of China’s Communist Party’s monopoly of unchecked political power.  Please pray for the Christians of China, and in particular, for the worshippers at the Sanjiang Christian Church.  They had sought a peaceful resolution to this dispute, but now, they are literally left with ashes.  To see a short video containing comments by Bob Fu, founder and president of Texas-based China Aid (www.Chinaaid.org), please see this link.  And if you wish to write to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States about this matter, you can reach him at the following address:

The Honorable Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C.   20008

Email: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn

 



More Tragedy in Nigeria
Monday, May 5, 2014, 9:57 AM

The other morning a dear brother in Christ in Nigeria emailed me that there had been another bombing in Abuja, Nigeria, the scene of some of the worst terrorism against Christians in the world today.  Late last week, the car bomb attack killed at least 19 people and injured 60 more in Nyanya, a suburb of Abuja, close to the bus station where at least 70 people died in another bomb blast on April 14.  In last Thursday’s attack, the Islamic terrorists targeted a police checkpoint near the bus station.  In the April 14 attacks, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility.  No group has yet claimed responsibility for last Thursday’s attack; however, Boko Haram terrorists are again the primary suspects.  Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is evil” in the local Hausa language, has staged a wave of terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years, and more than 1,500 persons have been murdered by the terrorists this year alone.

Also on April 14, Boko Haram terrorists abducted 276 teenage girls from a high school in Chibok, Borno State, in northeast Nigeria.  In a video released in May 2013, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, threatened to kidnap female students with the express purpose of treating the captured girls as slaves.  The kidnapped girls, overwhelmingly Christian, are now being sold as “wives.”  Under Islamic sharia law, lawful enslavement can only occur when a person is captured in “war,” presuming that the prisoner is not Moslem, or by giving birth during slavery.  Thus, the Boko Haram terrorists adhere to the evil Islamic belief that women captured during war are slaves with whom their “masters” can have sex.  The students were about to take their final year exams, and thus, the young women are all between 16 and 18 years old.

For my readers in the Washington, D.C. area, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, from 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M., there will be a rally organized by the Nigerian diaspora and our good friends at Jubilee Campaign (www.jubileecampaign.org), at the Embassy of Nigeria, located at 3519 International Court, NW, in Washington, D.C.  If you can, please come to pray and support the kidnapped students.  And wouldn’t it be a powerful signal to Christians and other peace-loving people around the world if Mr. Obama, after yucking it up at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night, made a strong statement in support of the kidnapped young women and in opposition to the Islamic war on women?  Remember that these girls could be your daughters, sisters, or cousins.  One day, the kidnapped women might be in our communities.  At that time, who will speak for us?  Please pray for the safe return of these young women.  Please pray also that the Nigerian government shows courage to find the girls and return them to their families.  If you wish to write to the Nigerian Ambassador to Washington, D.C., about this matter, you can write to him at the following address:

His Excellency (Prof.) Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 986-8400, Ambassador Adefuye’s direct line is extension 1091 or 1097
Fax: (202) 362-6541
Email: info@nigeriaembassyusa.org



In Memory of the Martyred Seminarians of Buta, Burundi
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 10:44 AM

During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the dominant Hutu majority killed as many as one million Tutsi and other Hutus.  The Genocide killed 70 percent of Tutsis then living in Rwanda, representing 20 percent of Rwanda’s population.  However, for a number of years afterwards, there was a spillover into other nations from the Genocide.  Among those, on this date, April 30, 1997, a group of Hutu terrorists from the Orwellian-named “National Council for the Defense of Democracy” attacked the Roman Catholic Seminary in Buta, southern Burundi, at daybreak.  The Hutu terrorists then murdered 36 seminarians, along with eight members of the seminary staff.  The seminarians were ordered to separate into two groups, Hutu and Tutsi.  It was clear that the terrorists wanted the Tutsis to die.  The seminarians refused to come apart and, as a result, all were martyred.   Eight of the seminarians were from Rwanda, six were from Congo, and one was from Nigeria, while the others were from Burundi.

The seminarians had just completed an Easter season retreat weeks before their martyrdom.  Father Nicolas Niyungeko, rector of the Sanctuary of Buta, wrote the following regarding the seminarians:

At the end of the retreat, this class was enlivened by a new kind of spirit, which seemed to be a preparation for the holy death of these innocents.  Full of rejoicing and joy, the word in their mouths was “God is good and we have met Him.”  They spoke of heaven as if they had just come from it, and of the priesthood as if they had just been ordained …. One realized that something very strong had happened in their hearts, without knowing exactly what it was.  From that day on, they prayed, they sang, they danced to church, happy to discover, as it were, the treasure of Heaven. The following day, when the murderers surprised them in bed, the seminarians were ordered to separate into two groups, the Hutus on one hand, the Tutsi on the other. They wanted to kill some of them, but the seminarians refused, preferring to die together.  Their evil scheme having failed, the killers rushed on the children and slaughtered them with rifles and grenades.  At that point some of the seminarians were heard singing psalms of praise and others were saying “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.”  Others, instead of fighting or trying to run away, preferred to help their distressed brothers, knowing exactly what was going to happen to them. Their death was like a soft and light path from their dormitory to another resting place, without pain, without noise, nor fear.  They died like Martyrs of the Fraternity, thus honoring the Church of Burundi, where many sons and daughters were led astray by hatred and ethnic vengeance.

The seminary in Buta is what is referred to as a “minor” seminary.  It offered basic education and religious formation to younger men of high school age, who were considering vocation to the priesthood before moving to a “major” seminary.  As to their courage, great love, and deep faith, the seminarians showed that they were already in the majors for they taught us God’s love and courage far beyond their years.  Jesus taught us in the Gospel of John, chapter 15, verse 13, that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Almighty God, You call Your witnesses from every nation and reveal Your glory in their lives.  Make us thankful for the example of the Martyrs of the Christian Fraternity of Burundi, and strengthen us by their example, that we, like them, may be faithful in the service to Your kingdom unto death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  May God give great peace to the memory of the martyred seminarians of Buta, Burundi, who went into the presence of our Lord Jesus on this day seventeen years ago.



National Day of Prayer
Monday, April 28, 2014, 10:11 AM

Thursday, May 1st, 2014, will be the National Day of Prayer.  The annual observance is held on the first Thursday of May, and has been designated by the United States Congress as a day when people are asked to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”  This year’s theme is taken from Romans 15:6, “so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Traditionally, the president signs a proclamation in which he encourages all Americans to pray on behalf of our nation.  As one example, President Reagan declared in his 1983 proclamation:

From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently     sought and received divine guidance as it pursued the course of history.  This occasion provides     our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His     help for the challenges we face today and in the future.

Although this specific national day of prayer goes back to 1952, days of prayer, repentance, and public humiliation have been called since at least 1775.  In David McCullough’s masterful book, 1776, he narrates how God’s Providence was invited and welcomed, and clearly present, in the first year of the founding of the United States.  In recent decades, however, regular readers to my blog, as well as readers of Touchstone and Salvo are acutely aware of how God’s presence has been removed day by day, and today, many tens of millions in our nation walk in great spiritual and moral darkness.  And yet, we know that God’s righteous judgments are true and righteous altogether, as President Lincoln reminded us in the immortal words of his second inaugural address of March 1865, as he quoted from Psalm 19, verse 9.

On that day, many will gather to pray throughout our nation for local and national leaders, and for those in our civic institutions of influence, such as educators, police, firemen, and other emergency responders, the military, our business leaders, and our nation’s clergy, and others.  Some churches will be open throughout the day for people to gather and pray.  Although the constitutionality of a congressionally-authorized national day of prayer has been challenged in the courts, so far at least, it has been found to be constitutional.  An interesting aspect of this year’s National Day of Prayer is its international expansion; Australian prayer leaders have called for 100 nations to join together in 48 hours of prayer and fasting on behalf of the United States during April 30th and May 1st.  Here is a short video in which Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, senior pastor of the historic Moody Church in Chicago, prays for our nation.  To find a gathering place for prayer in your community, please see this link here.  If you are unable to attend a particular event, you can also join in this year’s national observance, available here that will be broadcast live on Thursday morning, from 9 A.M. until noon, EST.

This year, let us again join together in prayer for the United States.  Let us pray, in the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, that our nation and its people repent of our pride, wickedness, and self-idolatry, and beg God to enter our government, legal system, churches, families, education, military, business, media, and the arts.  Even more importantly, let us pray that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ would reject her often lukewarm, superficial, uncaring, and trivial attitude, and arise to her God-given responsibilities to the Lord Jesus Christ, and return to her first love for God, as we read in Revelation 3.  May God bless the United States of America, but far more importantly, may the people of the United States bless God and His Holy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.



Some Thoughts On Martial Law
Friday, April 25, 2014, 9:29 AM

The mostly conservative columnist George Will observed in a recent interview, “I’m quite certain that we’re going to rebel against this abusive government.”  Was that statement merely an explosive comment from a reasonable and thoughtful observer of the modern American scene who sees something unusual in our nation?   In the past few weeks, many Americans have been watching with great interest the events unfolding in Nevada involving approximately 200 heavily-armed Bureau of Land Management agents and rancher Cliven Bundy and his 400 head of cattle grazing on land that his Mormon pioneer ancestors first ranched in the 1870s.  Fortunately, in the end, the federal land managers backed down, and Mr. Bundy got most of his cattle back.  But it would have taken little for the entire scene to explode into violence and death.  And it was certainly unhelpful when the Majority Leader of the United States Senate labeled supporters of Mr. Bundy as “domestic terrorists,” rather than the militarized government bureaucracies that increasingly wreak havoc on non-violent citizens.  (Incidentally, John Fund recently observed that today dozens of federal agencies have Special Weapons and Tactics (“SWAT”) teams, including the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board (really?), the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  (I guess that the FBI and Secret Service weren’t quite enough.)  Last week Dr. Benjamin Carson opined:

For our nation to once again be a thriving metropolis of freedom and innovation, the people and the government must peacefully coexist in an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.  This can only occur when laws are equally enforced and political favors are a thing of the past.  When obvious governmental corruption is discovered, it must be swiftly and openly dealt with, and the perpetrators must face easily verifiable punishment. . . . We the people of the United States are the only ones capable of preventing uncontrolled government expansion and abuse. Like the ranchers in Nevada, Americans must find the courage and determination to maintain a free and vibrant nation. Government should be our friend and ally. When it is, we should support it wholeheartedly.

Yet increasing numbers of Americans have grown leery of the accumulation of power by the federal government under this president, and his willingness to limit individual liberty.   In a recent Rasmussen poll, 37% of likely voters now fear the federal government, while another 17% are not sure.  (Count me among the fearful.)  Late last month, a Homeland Security document was leaked that revealed details of a joint Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and Federal Emergency Management Agency national exercise.  In the exercise, martial law is imposed on the United States following a major earthquake in Alaska.  One of the components involved in the exercise, beginning at page 125, is an effort to counter online dissent by a disgruntled group called “Free Americans Against Socialist Tyranny.”  A copy of that leaked document is available here.

Further, DHS is buying 704,390,250 rounds of ammunition over the next four years.  Based upon its 70,000 DHS agents and officers, this would be roughly 2,500 rounds per agent per year.  Quite a bit of target shooting, no?  This led me to think of some events from 100 years ago, which are mostly unknown today.  The majority of Americans are unaware that martial law has been imposed in many parts of the United States on a number of occasions.  In the fall of 1913, Colorado Governor Elias Ammons ordered the National Guard into the coalfields to preserve peace by striking miners.  Exactly 100 years ago, on this past Easter Sunday, April 20, 1914, troops fired on a striking miners’ colony in Ludlow, Colorado, killing 20, including seven miners, two women, and eleven children.  President Woodrow Wilson then ordered federal troops into the Colorado coalfields to restore order.

Several months later, on June 23, 1914, the Miners Union Hall in Butte, Montana, was dynamited.  This led to seven years of martial law in that area.  In 1920, mine guards fired upon striking miners, killing two and wounding another dozen, and again, federal troops were called in to restore order.  Both governors acted in accordance with a 1909 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Moyer v. Peabody, 212 U.S. 78 (1909), which gave the government broad authority to imprison without probable cause citizens of the United States, and to deny citizens the right of habeas corpus.  That broad authority was later cut back in another Supreme Court decision called Sterling v. Constantin. 287 U.S. 378 (1932).  Then, in 1934, a national strike by more than 400,000 textile workers took place.  The National Guard was called out in Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and South Carolina.  In Georgia, 100 picketers were held in a former World War I prisoner-of-war camp for trial by a military court.  Ultimately, President Franklin Roosevelt intervened, and the workers returned to work following the recommendations of the newly-formed National Labor Relations Board.

More recently, in 1955, the Indiana National Guard was called to a dispute between the Perfect Circle foundry in New Castle, Indiana, and the United Auto Workers.  The Indiana governor declared Henry County a military district under military rule.  National Guardsmen set up roadblocks around the city, searched automobiles, and seized firearms and liquor.  Individual rights were curtailed.  Rights to bear arms, to peacefully assemble, to be secure against unreasonable search and seizures were restricted by the military.  Merchants authorized and licensed to sell liquor or firearms were forbidden to do business.  Even the right of licensed persons to carry concealed weapons was denied.  In effect, civil process was supplanted by an authoritarian military government.

There is, at best, a tenuous relationship between the American, and his federal and state government, and it is the tendency of all governments to encroach upon the liberties of the people.  Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words in The Declaration of Independence noted that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Even Barbie from Toy Story 3 knew that “authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of force!”  So be forewarned: such has happened before.  Even George Will and Barbie are seeing something unusual in our country today, but it has all happened before.  So, please remember, as our Lord Jesus taught us, to watch and pray.


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