The Plight of Pastor Behnam Irani
Monday, March 10, 2014, 8:44 AM

IMG 0080 150x150 The Plight of Pastor Behnam IraniBehnam Irani is an Armenian-Iranian Christian currently in prison in Iran.  He became a Christian believer in 1992, and has served as a pastor since 2002.  In December 2006, he was arrested for the first time for “crimes” against Iranian national security.  Such “crimes” involve holding house church services and inviting Moslems to follow Jesus Christ.  At his first trial, he was given a five-year suspended sentence.  On April 14, 2010, he was arrested a second time on the same charges as he continued to minister.  On that occasion, police officers broke up a house church service, and took him into custody.  Each in attendance at the church meeting was interrogated by security officers, and the police confiscated Bibles, Christian literature, and other materials, as evidence against him.  Following his arrest, Pastor Irani was imprisoned for two months, and then released on bail in June 2010.  At his trial in January 2011, he was convicted for his crimes, and sentenced to one year in prison.  As he approached the end of his prison term, as part of their psychological torture against him, prison officials told him that his sentence would be extended until at least 2013.  He is still in prison today.

During his imprisonment, Pastor Irani was subjected to sleep deprivation, and was beaten regularly by his fellow prisoners under the watchful eye of prison officials.  His health is failing.  He is losing his eyesight, has untreated Inflammatory Bowel Disease, is suffering from a serious ulcer, and is barely able to speak, and has great difficulty walking.  Under international pressure, Iranian authorities allowed him to undergo surgery on February 22, 2014.  According to media reports, the surgery was successful, and he returned to prison on February 26th.   His wife, teen daughter, and young son miss him very much.  If you, your church or study group, want to send him a letter of encouragement, please write to him at the following address:

Pastor Behnam Irani
Ghezel Hesar Prison
Karaj, Albourz State
Islamic Republic of Iran

Please do not send him any money or gifts.  I encourage you to quote Holy Scriptures in your letter, but please do not disparage the depravity and utter evil of the current government of the Iranian mullahs.  Pastor Irani wrote a deeply moving and powerful letter at Christmas 2011, reminiscent of St. Paul’s letters.  I commend the study of his letter, which is available here.  (I have also linked to a second letter by Pastor Irani describing prison life, and encouraging Christians to return to their first love of Christ, available here.)  Please pray fervently for our brother in the Lord, of whom this world is unworthy, and for his family who also suffer terribly during this difficult time.

International Day of Prayer for Burma is March 9, 2014
Friday, March 7, 2014, 9:30 AM

In the past week, I have been in correspondence with Wunna, a young man who is a new Christian believer from Burma.  This coming Sunday, our friends and colleagues at Christians Concerned for Burma have designated March 9th as the Global Day of Prayer for Burma.  (Please see and read the uplifting report of Rev. Franklin Graham’s visit to the internal refugee camps in Burma.)  Most of us know little about Burma.  Burma, the largest nation in Southeast Asia, is desperately poor due to decades of mismanagement and corruption by an oppressive military government.  Although richly blessed with natural resources, such as natural gas, most Burmese live on $1 or less per day.  Two-thirds of Burma’s children are malnourished, and Burma has been afflicted by more than 60 years of civil war.

Although 80% of Burma’s population is Buddhist, many are also in bondage to spiritism and the occult.  Approximately ten percent of Burmese are Christians.  Of those, most Burmese Christians are found among the ethnic minorities, and they face great persecution for their faith.  The Karen, Kachin, Shan, and Chin ethnic groups have been singled out for the harshest treatment by the national government.  The importation of Bibles printed in indigenous languages and worship in house churches is prohibited.

Since an election in 2010, there has been some hope for change.  On the positive side, many political prisoners were released, and Burma Army leaders have signed an agreement to end forced labor.  Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, and now holds a position in parliament.  Although since that election, there have been reductions in the fighting and displacement of ethnic minorities, but new attacks, indiscriminate killing, and displacement of innocent villagers from a number of the ethnic groups continue.  The Free Burma Rangers, who provide relief, mobile medical assistance to as many of the displaced as they can reach, as well as a Christian witness, report that 100,000 Kachin people have been displaced since 2011.  In November and December 2013, the Burma Army attacked a Kachin refugee camp, and burned shelters, looted rice stocks, and displaced over 2,000 people who now had to flee again.  Attacks continued in this area into January 2014.  In northern Shan State, fighting and displacement continue against the Kachin, Shan and Ta’ang people throughout 2013 and into 2014.  In Karen State, the Burma Army continues to use forced labor, and in December 2013, soldiers fired on villagers on nine different occasions in Luthaw Township, Muthraw District, in Northern Karen State.

This coming Sunday, I ask that you pray for the people of Burma.  Please pray for my new friend Wunna as he begins his new walk with Jesus Christ, and also pray:

For peace in this war-torn land with genuine democracy and an end to the authoritarian military regime.

That the oppressed people not be governed by fear, but that they would receive faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to overcome the evil that ravage them, including forgiveness towards the evildoers.

That innocent Burmese villagers would finally receive relief from relentless persecution, both religious and otherwise.

That the Holy Gospel would continue to spread throughout Burma along with relief efforts.

A Day of Great Rejoicing
Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 8:13 AM

It is said that the night is darkest before the dawn.  On these pages, I have written a number of blogs about the plight of Uwe and Hannelore Romeike.  The Romeikes, an evangelical couple from Germany, wanted to home school their six children in Germany as they had grave concerns that the German government schools taught non-Christian values.  In Germany, homeschooling has been banned continuously since the Nazi era.  It is the only European nation where homeschooling is banned outright.  Because they homeschooled, the Romeikes faced significant fines, imprisonment, and the loss of custody of their children.  As a result, the family fled to the United States in 2008, and applied for asylum.  In 2010, Judge Lawrence O. Burman (God bless Judge Burman!) granted political asylum in the U.S. for the Romeikes.  The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) then appealed Judge Burman’s ruling, arguing that German laws banning homeschooling do not violate the family’s fundamental human rights, and DHS withdrew the family’s asylum status.  In late April of last year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on appeal from the Romeikes, and then upheld the Obama Administration’s reversal of asylum granted to the Romeike family.  Following that loss, the Romeikes then appealed the appellate court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This past Monday, our Supreme Court rejected the family’s final appeal.  At that point, they had lost every step of the legal process, and had no more options to remain in the United States legally.  So, despite the 30 to 40 million illegals in the United States not living in the shadows, the Romeike family could now be deported.

But less than 36 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case, late yesterday afternoon, the Romeike family received a reprieve.  In a surprise move, the DHS granted the Romeikes “indefinite deferred status,” allowing them to remain in the United States as long as they want.  Michael Farris, the Home School Legal Defense Association attorney representing the family, wrote the following on the group’s Facebook page:

This is an incredible victory that can only be credited to our Almighty God.  We also want to thank those of [you] who spoke up on this issue—including that long ago White House petition. We believe that the public outcry made this possible while God delivered the victory.

Today, we rejoice with the Romeike family and thank God for His miraculous provision and victory, and I thank my readers who prayed and wrote letters on the family’s behalf.  Now we can continue to work and pray for the Wunderlich family of Darmstadt, Germany, about whom I have written on these pages.  The Wunderlichs are not allowed to leave Germany because they also desire to homeschool their children in violation of their fundamental human and legal rights.

“Tim” and I Discuss Religious Liberty and Arizona
Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 8:35 AM

Since I posted my recent blog about the proposed legislation in Arizona about amendments to Arizona’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), vetoed by Governor Janice Brewer, I have also received a number of emails from friends and colleagues regarding this topic.  One was an email from a dear friend and brother in Christ, “Tim.”  Tim and I worked closely together a number of years ago, and we also worked on some community activities as well.  Over the years we have been friends, I have enjoyed watching him embark on marriage to his beautiful wife, watched him help to start an urban church, and then to raise a lovely family.  If I had a younger brother, I would wish that it was my dear friend Tim.  Over the years, I have deeply appreciated his many kindnesses to me and his friendship.  He and his family live in Arizona, and so he told me how he followed both his local and national news sources on the raging debate regarding the proposed RFRA amendments.  He expressed his belief that enactment of the proposed law would be very bad at many levels.  Although we have not spoken often about political matters, my sense was always that Tim was liberal, and I have merely attributed his liberalism to the fact that he grew up in Massachusetts.  And so in an email exchange with Tim this past weekend, I wrote this in pertinent part regarding Governor Brewer’s veto of the proposed amendments to RFRA:

Dear Brother Tim,

It is always so good to hear from you, and thanks for reading my blog. . . . As to the Arizona proposed law on religious freedom: yes, there was a lot of stupid stuff said about the proposed law.  According to ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, if Arizona allows bakers to refuse to bake cakes for gay couples, gays may have to wear “yellow stars” like the Jews of Nazi Germany.  It was an outrage to me that wedding cakes and wedding photographs for homosexual couples would be equated with the Holocaust.  This was particularly disgusting to me as my father was a prisoner of the Nazis, and Mr. Kornheiser ignorantly trivialized the Holocaust.  Moreover, it was said that if Governor Brewer signed the law, it would be Jim Crow for gays, according to too many people to list.  So, I did expect Governor Brewer to veto the law.  As others have noted, the media and institutions of influence sought to condition the public with some success into automatically equating religious faith with bigotry.  To make religious faith in the public square illegal and dangerous, homosexual activists need lawsuits against small, powerless business owners based upon the notion that those who act on genuine, sincerely-held religious faith are bigots per se.  So, Governor Brewer was under a great deal of pressure to veto, and had little incentive to sign the bill.  After all, even the tax-exempt NFL apparently threatened to take the Super Bowl away from Arizona if she signed the legislation.  (Why, as one of the commenters to my blog asked, is the NFL tax exempt anyway?  Did you know how much the NFL Commissioner is paid annually?  Look it up, you might be surprised.)  As I wrote in my blog, the intention of the proposed law was to clarify for the Arizona judiciary what the burdens of proof should be.  So, someone claiming a defense against a lawsuit, such as the baker/florist/photographer, as to why they should NOT be punished for refusing to work at a homosexual or lesbian wedding, could give evidence of their sincerely-held religious belief.  And then, after the baker/florist/photographer has asserted their defense, then the government must show to the court why it is a compelling interest to force that business owner be punished.  So as I asked in my blog, does Jesus have to build the bedroom set for a homosexual couple?  Can He be compelled to do so?  Does the Jewish deli owner have to serve pork, or must the deli be open to serve me on Saturday?  Can the government compel a Moslem restaurant serving halal meat to also offer me non-halal meat, or even a pulled pork sandwich?  Does the Moslem taxi-driver have to transport people who carry alcohol or pork products, or even dogs?  Going onto even more egregious examples, can a gay baker be required to bake a cake for the Westboro Baptist Church that has asked that the icing on the top of the cake say “God Hates Gays.”  Does an African-American baker have to bake a cake for the Ku Klux Klan?  Or can an African-American photographer be compelled to photograph a KKK rally?  As messy as it might seem under our constitutional system, the members of Westboro Church and the KKK also have rights, just as the Christian baker and florist do.  And the Arizona bill would simply have affirmed the legally-recognized rights in the First Amendment “free exercise of religion” clause of our Constitution.  So, I supported the proposed legislation because it sought to make sure that people of all faiths would not be forced to violate their religious beliefs in the event someone demanded that they do so.  I find the idea that any state or the federal government that can force people to violate their conscience without a compelling reason beyond repugnant.  So, I hope that makes some sense, my dear friend and brother!!

With respect and love to you all,


Thus, with the veto of this proposed legislation by Governor Brewer, the homosexual bullies and their allies have diminished the liberty of each person of faith in our nation.  As Dr. Billy Graham observed in his broadcast on the occasion of his 95th birthday, the reason that the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is so offensive to many people is because the reality of the cross demands a new lifestyle, and it is only the cross of Christ that can heal the disease of sin in the human heart.  Please continue to pray for the eternal salvation of homosexual activists and their allies, and that their eyes may be opened to the true meaning of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus, Would You Build Our Bedroom Set?
Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 11:09 AM

I had a dream yesterday morning about the ancient Roman world.  (This past weekend, I have been re-reading Michael Grant’s The Twelve Caesars.)  In my dream, two men, Caligula and Nero, go to a small business owner, who is an excellent and highly-regarded carpenter in Palestine.  The carpenter is a young man in his late 20s, and works in Nazareth.  He is well-liked by everyone in his community.  When the lads come to Jesus, they announce triumphantly that they love one another and want to marry, and ask Jesus to build them a really nice bedroom set.  However, Jesus, a Jew, holds a sincerely-held belief in the teachings of the Bible.  So, does Jesus build the matrimonial bed for the newlyweds?  And if He doesn’t want to do so, should He be compelled to do so?

Governor Janice Brewer of Arizona is considering signing a bill that would amend Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), a law originally passed in 1999.  She is under great pressure to veto this bill.  Currently, under Arizona state law, it is legal for a business to deny service to someone because they are homosexual.  Although some towns in Arizona have ordinances against this, there is no state law against it.  This is also the case in many other states.  RFRA provides Arizonans with religious freedom protection, but not everyone who claims that their religious freedom is violated will win a court case using RFRA as a defense.  (Incidentally, there is also a federal RFRA.)  Late last year, on these pages, I wrote about a case involving a wedding photographer in New Mexico who refused to work at a homosexual wedding because of her religious beliefs.  In that case, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the state’s RFRA law only applied when the government is a party in the case, and concluded that she should be punished.  However, the legislative history of RFRA makes clear that the law was never intended to be so limited.  To avoid this New Mexico problem, the Arizona legislature wanted to make the Arizona law more specific and protective of religious liberty.  You might be mildly surprised to know that businesses can legally refuse to serve heterosexual, Christian breeders because the owner dislikes Christian values.  For example, David Cooley, owner of Abbey Food and Bar in West Hollywood, California, recently announced that he would deny entry to any legislator from any state who has voted for “bills to allow for discrimination against LGBT people.”  Mr. Colley stated, “I want to send a message to all those out there who conflate Christian values with discrimination; we don’t want your kind here.”  (Emphasis added.)  The Arizona bill clarifies that any business would be covered by RFRA, and that government does not have to be a party in the case.  However, to prevent frivolous RFRA claims, the bill requires that any person claiming a religious freedom violation show that there is a strongly-held, sincere religious belief behind their actions, and that the government has placed a substantial burden on their religious belief.  You may recall that beginning in 2007, following the issuance of a fatwa by the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society, numerous Moslem taxi drivers in both the United States and Canada refused to transport persons carrying alcohol or dogs (including dogs helping persons with disabilities), and such actions continue.  (You know the important, but simple, principle of Western progressive governance: Christians bad, Moslems good.)

Mere Comments readers know that a few Christians have refused to provide services for homosexual “weddings.”  These cases have involved wedding photographers and bakers.  In those cases, the Christians said that they would gladly serve homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons, but only outside the context of a homosexual “wedding.”  So, I woke up from my dream before hearing whether Jesus would build the bedroom set for the lads.  But I do think that He would not have built an altar or a chuppah for their homosexual “wedding.”  And He would be proper not to do so.  We should do the same in our country as well.

Ukraine’s New Interim President May Surprise You
Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 10:12 AM

In recent weeks, I have asked for prayer for the upheaval in Ukraine.  An agreement was signed on February 21st and endorsed by mediators from France, Germany, and Poland.  Under the new agreement, the Ukrainian parliament voted this past Saturday to impeach and remove from office Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow ally, by a vote of 328-0.  Parliament also voted to free jailed opposition leader and former president, Yulia Tymoshenko.  Mr. Yanukovych then fled Kiev, the capital, vowing that he was the nation’s rightful president and that he would not resign his office.  A warrant has now been issued for the arrest of Mr. Yanukovych on murder charges related to his orders to fire upon protestors.

The geopolitical turmoil between Russia and the West will continue as Russia questions the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new interim government.  The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the agreement that curtailed Mr. Yanukovych’s power was being violated “with the tacit consent of its external sponsors.”  As a result, the Foreign Ministry concluded that the February 21st accord “is being used only as a cover to promote a scenario of forced change of power in Ukraine.”  Serial liar and National Security Advisor Susan “No Regrets” Rice warned that Russia would make a “grave mistake” if it sent military forces to Ukraine.  She did not elaborate on the consequences, but I am sure that President Putin was appropriately frightened.  Nevertheless, intelligence reports indicate that there were no outward signs of such a move by the Putin government.  However, at this time, the situation continues to be fluid and dangerous.

On Sunday, the Ukrainian Parliament named Oleksandr Turchynov as the interim President.  Dr. Turchynov, 49, a leading and well-respected opposition lawmaker, served as interim prime minister in 2010 after the resignation of Yulia Tymoshenko, the predecessor of the ousted president.  Dr. Turchynov also served as the Deputy Prime Minister from 2007 through 2010.  Of particular interest to Mere Comments readers is the fact that Dr. Turchynov is also a devout brother in Christ, and serves as one of the ministers in a Baptist church in Kiev, where he occasionally preaches.  In my prior blog about the upheaval in Ukraine, I reported on how Orthodox priests and other Christians, including physicians, nurses, cooks, students, and others helped both security forces and protestors in the face-off at Kiev’s Independence Square.  Many churches throughout Ukraine united in prayer and fasting for peace, asking for God’s intervention and protection in this crisis.  As a result, people cried out to God, and many news and media reports in Ukraine focused on the role of the Church and Christian believers in resolving the crisis.  Even Ukrainian television news frequently quoted the Holy Scriptures in informing viewers of developments.

Although many lives were lost in the past three months of this crisis, I want to quote from an email I received this weekend from a friend who is Christian attorney in Ukraine.  He wrote the following:

Unfortunately, many people have much anger and hatred for opponents.  People are disappointed in all politicians and do not want to forgive anyone.  Many are determined just to revenge, burn and bring about injuries.  But we need to face this challenge with Christ.  What Ukraine needs is not just a change of people in authority, but a change of the system and the relationship of the authorities to ordinary citizens.  Ukraine needs love, mercy and forgiveness.  Ukraine needs Christ!

Indeed!  God is using many to provide assistance to the suffering people of Ukraine.  If you or your church want to help any of the wounded, the sick, the families of those killed, or with other social projects to begin restoration of Ukraine, please leave me a message at the Fellowship of St. James offices at (773) 481-1090.  I will then put you in touch with channels to assist some of the Ukrainian victims of oppression.  Please continue to pray for the situation in Ukraine, and for their upcoming elections, presently set for May 25, 2014, that God will continue to work mightily in this great, but suffering, nation.

More Christians Attacked and Martyred in Nigeria
Monday, February 24, 2014, 10:07 AM

On these pages, I have written about some recent attacks in predominantly Christian villages in northeast Nigeria by Boko Haram, the Islamist terror group.  Boko Haram’s goal is to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.  (The term “Boko Haram” is Hausa for “Western Education is Sinful.”)  Yesterday, Boko Haram gunmen returned in the middle of the night to the village of Izghe in northeast Nigeria.  On February 15th, 106 people in the village of Izghe were murdered by terrorists.  On their return Sunday morning, terrorists set fire to the remaining homes, shot residents, and set off explosives in the village, leaving all in ruins.  It is estimated that approximately 10,000 residents of Izghe and neighboring villages fled in the wake of the February 15 attack.  The United States and the United Nations condemned the attack of February 15.  Boko Haram responded by returning to Izghe to complete the village’s destruction.

At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, about which I wrote on these pages, President Barack Obama stated, “I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror.”  So, once again, magic platitudinous words were spoken.  In recent years, Nigeria has faced some of the worst persecution of Christians in our time.  Some human rights experts have estimated that more Christians have been killed in Nigeria in recent years than in the rest of the world combined.  The list of Nigerian martyrs for Jesus Christ continues to grow as hundreds have been murdered during the first seven weeks of 2014.  Notwithstanding Mr. Obama’s magic words, the US Agency for International Development only funds education programs for Islamic educational institutions in northern Nigeria.  (Yes, really.  Your hard-earned tax dollars at work!)  During a Congressional hearing last October, Congressman Christopher Smith, Republican from New Jersey, asked Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, about victim assistance programs in Nigeria supported in some way by the US government.  She was unable to identify any.  (This was particularly unfortunate as earlier in her diplomatic career, Secretary Thomas-Greenfield served in Nigeria.)  Even though Boko Haram has been at war in Nigeria since 2002, it was only on November 13, 2013, that Boko Haram was finally designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. Department of State.  It seems to me that until some tangible support is offered to the many victims of Boko Haram’s attacks, Mr. Obama’s pledge remains unfulfilled, and he merely continues his use of magic words.  However, I am sure that my readers agree with Mr. Obama that those of all faiths should be allowed to worship and practice their faith free from terror, both in Nigeria and elsewhere.  Please pray for those persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ in Nigeria, and for the families of the thousands of victims of Boko Haram.  May their memories be eternal.

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.

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