|December 27, 2009
|Behold, a White Horse|
I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;
And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;
And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming
These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus *said to him, "What you do, do quickly." Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, "Buy the things we have need of for the feast"; or else, that he should give something to the poor. So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
|Shalom in Christ Jesus, |
The opening of the first
seal, the white horse and it's rider, most Bible expositors agree is the great
apostasy and deception that is and has been overtaking the world for sometime.
How few among believers understand a truth that is so clearly spelled out in
Jesus warns us not to be
deceived four times in the Olivet Discourse and yet "America's Pastor" Rick
Warren uses what Jacob Prasch calls in the current Moriel Quarterly Newsletter
feature a "Highlight-and Delete/Cut-and-Paste" form of exegesis .
Rick Warren teaches that we are not to be concerned with End Times prophecy and
his Scriptural reference is this:
"When they asked Jesus what will be the end of the
age and what will be the sign of Your coming, He said, 'It's not for you to
know times or seasons the Father's fixed by His own authority, but you shall
receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be My
As Jacob continues on
teaching, "[w]hat Rick Warren actually did was take verse 3 from Matthew 24
and substitute it for Acts 1:6. And then he instructs not to study the Last
I would call this a
"Franken-scripture". It is sick, twisted and Rick Warren should be in serious
fear of the wrath of God unless he repents for messing with what God holds even
above His name. However, even worse this kind of Scripture manipulation is
the direct mark of the workings of Satan.
There is an excellent
commentary on this sort of scripture manipulation by Irenaeus in Against Heresies,
Chapter XXI in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1:
But he [Satan], being thus vanquished by the law,
endeavoured again to make an assault by himself quoting a commandment of the
law. For, bringing Him to the highest pinnacle of the temple, he said to Him,
"If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down. For it is written, That God
shall give His angels charge concerning thee, and in their hands they shall
bear thee up, lest perchance thou dash thy foot against a stone;" thus
concealing a falsehood under the guise of Scripture, as is done by all the
heretics. For that was indeed written, [namely], "That He hath given His angels
charge concerning Him;" but "cast thyself down from hence" no Scripture said in
reference to Him: this kind of persuasion the devil produced from himself. The
Lord therefore confuted him out of the law, when He said, "It is written again,
Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God;" pointing out by the word contained in
the law that which is the duty of man, that he should not tempt God; and in regard
to Himself, since He appeared in human form, [declaring] that He would not
tempt the Lord his God. 
This is proof that the early
church fathers considered the type of scripture twisting Rick Warren does to be
heresy. Sadly, in these last days this is just the tip of the proverbial
apostate iceberg that has ripped an enormous hole in the haul of the church
bow, likened as a ship in storm tossed waves in scripture.
Below are a number of recent
articles that continue to chronicle just how close we are to the return of our
Lord Jesus Christ as the apostasy in the Church coinciding with all the nations
turning against Israel and in particular, the dividing of Jerusalem put us at 1
minute before midnight.
One article I would like to
highlight below is the one entitled "Americans More Likely to Credit Obama
for Verse on Justice than Bible".
If you ever wondered how
paganism began, this is it. The original accounts, truth and acts of The
Creator of the Universe were distorted and then credited to those of mere men,
those such as Nimrod, and Pharaoh from where we get our modern word 'hero'
and modern "hero worship".
There is no doubt we are in
the midst of the some of the greatest darkness the world has seen, however,
incredible light and grace abounds for those who have the eyes and ears to see
May the Lord bless you and
 Jacob Prasch, "Parable
of the Wedding Feast," Moriel Quarterly, December 2009, 7.
 Ibid., p. 8.
Philip Schaff, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1 Christian Classics Ethereal Library
|Death of a Wolf|
The Legacy of Oral Roberts
by Jackie Alnor
With his 900 foot tall Jesus Christ threatening to kill him if he did not raise millions of dollars by the end of the month fund raising, Oral Roberts was indeed a deceiver. This tradition of deception is perpetuated by his son Richard, the Toronto Experience freak show hype-artist. While we do not delight in his death neither can we honestly mourn it. We recommend the following article by Jackie Alnor.
As the acclaim for Oral Roberts is seen all over the Internet and all media, let's not forget his true legacy. He is the man who presented the Christian television station owners with their magical spell for fleecing the flock of Christ - the seed-faith heresy. Seed-Faith is a twisted perversion of the parable of the Sower of the Seed in which Jesus identified the seed as the word of God that would multiply if sown in good soil. Oral Roberts adapted that to his prosperity message saying that anything being sown would be multiplied back, money in particularly. TBN founders Jan and Paul Crouch grabbed onto that false teaching and built their world-wide network on that false message that has not made anyone rich but them and those televangelists who wield the teaching to get riches for themselves while bilking the public.
I document this in my new book, The Fleecing of Christianity
. Here is a link to a portion of that book in which I spell out Oral Roberts' record on hearing directly from God:
While I sympathize with those who have lost a loved one, the damage to the true Gospel continues to go forth on Christian television - Oral lives on.
Sincerely, in Christ,
An Excerpt from "The Fleecing of Christianity"
APOSTASY ALERT - By Jackie Alnor - December 16, 2009
TBN's September, 1999 newsletter tells the story. "The first glimmer came one night after a PRAISE THE LORD program," wrote Paul Crouch to his supporters. "Pastor John Hinkle, of Christ Church in Los Angeles (who went to be with the Lord a few weeks ago), had been our guest . . . . John told us that while he was driving home after the program that night, the Lord spoke to him so powerfully he literally had to pull his car to the side of the freeway and stop. The heavens lit up and he saw in a vision the words, "100 TV STATIONS." We rejoiced to hear of this revelation."  (emphasis in original)
"The next great revelation came some years later," Crouch continued, "as Jan and I were hosting a PRAISE THE LORD program at one of the great Oral Roberts' campmeetings. . . As he began to speak, a strange new expression came over his face. He paused for several seconds as he looked heavenward and said, 'Paul, the Lord says, 'The day will come when you will see ONE THOUSAND TV STATIONS -- and MORE before the Lord returns.' Jan and I sat there, stunned and transfixed for several moments before we could even speak." 
Yet, contrast this newsletter's proclamation with that of a TBN newsletter 10 years earlier. The January 1989 TBN newsletter noted, "The Lord is still speaking through His Prophets to His people TODAY! . . . Brother Oral Roberts gave us a prophetic Word from the Lord -- that the TBN Network would grow to be 100 STATIONS and, yes, surpass even that! The Lord also revealed this to Pastor John Hinkle . . . at a time when TBN was only one station!" 
So with Oral Roberts it was both 100 and then 1,000 stations. Yet Oral Roberts, according to Paul Crouch's statement at a 1984 camp meeting at Melodyland, the prophesied 100 stations would "usher in the coming of Jesus Christ."  And, today TBN has over 5,000 television stations  and over 33 satellites. So what might have looked like a valid prophecy at one time is invalidated by Roberts' time frame into which it was locked.
Oral Roberts is still touted by the Crouches as some great prophet/healer. They do this even though his record as both is very poor. His hearing of audible voices has proven to be false so that even if anything he predicts comes true it cannot be thought of as coming from God. But as noted earlier, the Crouches have Roberts to thank for giving them the key to the viewer's wallets -- the seed-faith heresy. Christian media expert Al Dager, of Media Spotlight, gave a very accurate summary of Oral Roberts' ability to hear from the Lord in his own prophetic record. 
- "1960: Roberts claimed that God had told him to make His healing power known throughout the earth.
- 1977: Roberts said he had received a vision from God telling him to build the City of Faith. He later claimed to have seen a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him that the vision would soon be realized and that the hospital would be a success. The City of Faith opened in 1981.
- 1983: Roberts announced that Jesus had appeared to him in person and commissioned him to find a cure for cancer (Time, July 4, 1983).
- 1986: Roberts said God had told him, 'I want you to use the ORU medical school to put My medical presence in the earth. I want you to get this going in one year or I will call you home. It will cost $8 million and I want you to believe you can raise it.' (Abundant Life, Jan/Feb. 1987).
- January 1987: Roberts said God had told him . . . he had to raise $8 million by March 1 or God would take him home. Roberts said the money would be used to provide full scholarships for medical missionaries who would be sent to Third World countries. . . He said $3.5 million had been raised and all he needed was $4.5 million before March 1 that year.
- April 1, 1987: Roberts announced that he had raised $9.1 million -- $1.1 million more than needed. Of the money raised, $1.3 million was given by a dog track owner, Jerry Collins.
- November 1987: Roberts announced that the City of Faith medical clinic will close in three months.
- January 1988: Roberts canceled the university's free medical tuition program despite his claim that God had told him to make the medical school a world outreach program.
- March 1988: The medical scholarship fund went bankrupt. Students were required to repay scholarship funds at 18 percent annual interest if they transferred to another school rather than stay at ORU medical school and start paying the high tuition.
- September 1989: Roberts decided to close the medical school and the City of Faith hospital to pay off debts."
"When Oral Roberts says that God told him that he was going to take him home if he didn't get 8 million dollars, he lied to the public," noted the late Bible Answer-man Walter Martin. "God never told him that at all. Don't you get the feeling that something's going wrong? It is and it's found for you in scripture. We're told in scripture to reprove, rebuke, and exhort . . . for the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine . . . It's here." 
This makes Oral Roberts a certified false prophet, false teacher, and lying wolf in sheep's clothing. And his son Richard Roberts, the current president of Oral Roberts University (ORU), is following in his father's footsteps. On Richard and Lindsey Roberts' show, "Something Good Tonight," that aired in March, 2000, Richard Roberts spoke to the ORU students in the chapel service and claimed that God said "'I want you to get my university out of debt.' Students, I prophesy and I'm not a man that prophesies very often unless God gives me a word. I prophesy to you. . . I prophesy that we are very near to the day when this university is going to be totally debt-free. . . Every one of you who are sowing seed. . . Students, if you've not been sowing seed you don't have a right to this prayer. God is not going to multiply what you don't sow. But if you have been sowing seed then I want you to lay your hands on my hands... we're going to break the spirit of debt off of you who are giving."
Of course, none of these students were part of the now defunct medical program at ORU, but were merely liberal arts students, many of whom gave up their spending money so that the Roberts family could get ORU out of its reported 33 million dollar debt.  False prophesying worked for his father, so no doubt it would work for the younger one as well. The biggest losers in the deal were those struggling ORU students.
None of this should come to any surprise. Richard Roberts made it quite clear that his policy was to work the same tricks as his dad taught him. He often brags "when you see me, you've seen my father."
Note that Paul Crouch still endorsed John Hinkle after it was already shown that he was a false prophet. Crouch would never want to acknowledge he was wrong -- that would be too humbling.
Paul Crouch, TBN newsletter, September, 1999, Vol. XXV, No. IX.
TBN Newsletter, January 1989, Vol. XVI, No. I.
Paul Crouch, Vintage 1984 Camp Meeting at Melodyland, video on file.
Al Dager, quoted in O Timothy magazine, Vol. 7, Issue 3, 1990.
Walter Martin, audio tape "Schismatic Sheep"--pt. 2, tape on file.
Per Oral Roberts at the ICBM Conference 6/20/2000, video tape on file.
Oral Roberts Memorial a Stage for 'Seed Faith' Message
THE CHRISTIAN POST - By Michelle A. Vu - December 22, 2009
The stage for the "seed faith" message was set when TV evangelist Pat Robertson ascended the steps at the Oral Roberts memorial service Monday to give the opening prayer.
"Lord, you sent us a man with the knowledge of your healing power. You sent us a man who taught us the greatness of faith and the principle of seed faith," said Robertson within the first few minutes of the speaking segment of the memorial at Oral Roberts University.
Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, along with Oral Roberts University President Mark Rutland, and the late evangelist's children, Richard and Roberta Roberts, propagated the popular yet controversial theology during each of their tributes.
Rutland recalled Roberts' "magnetic presence" on screen and in life and said his mentor made people believe in a God who "blesses blessers and gives to givers."
"His simple and entirely biblical doctrine of seed faith was not some unusual or bizarre idea from the edge of Christianity," asserted Rutland. "Jesus himself said give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together and running over."
"Oral Roberts didn't make those words up, Jesus did," he said. "But Oral made them manageable to us. He made them bite size and we believed."
Roberts, a pioneer televangelist and a leading figure in the charismatic movement, died last Tuesday at the age of 91, due to complications from pneumonia following a fall in which he broke several bones.
The healing evangelist, a title given to him because of the hundreds of healing crusades he conducted around the world, is known for founding the 500-acre Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., and through his more than 130 books, including his most popular title, The Miracle of Seed Faith.
The seed faith message is the teaching that if people give money to the church or the ministry, God will multiply it back to them 30, 60, or 100 times more than they gave.
Rutland, in his address, spoke about how Roberts taught a "simple doctrine of faith that we cannot outgive God."
"That God was a loving and giving God who proved His love by giving, and who blesses us when we gave, and He wanted to prosper and bless us," explained the ORU president.
"This is a remarkable doctrine [at the time]," Rutland said, noting that those in the classical denominations (Rutland is from a United Methodist background) and classic Pentecostalism are used to "a pretty dusty doctrine: give and maybe somehow or another God will make it up to you in the next world, maybe."
But Roberts made people believe in "a generous God who lubricated our lives with blessings."
Rutland called Roberts an "extraordinary" but not perfect man. Roberta Potts, Roberts' daughter, similarly said her father is not perfect but "did everything he knew to obey God."
Though speakers at Monday's memorial enthusiastically praised the seed faith doctrine, other theologians and pastors have spoken out against the doctrine since Roberts' death. They all acknowledged the tremendous influence Roberts had on Christianity worldwide, but they asserted that the seed faith message is not the true gospel.
"Was the message he proclaimed the unadulterated gospel?" posed John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., in a commentary Friday. "No."
"In all the many times I saw him on television I never once heard him preach the gospel," the evangelical pastor pointed out. "His message - every time - was about seed faith."
MacArthur went on to lament that the seed faith message "usurped and utterly replaced" whatever gospel message was in Roberts' preaching.
"The reason for that is obvious: the message of the cross - an atoning sacrifice for sins wrought through Jesus' sufferings - frankly doesn't mesh very well with the notion that God guarantees health, wealth, and prosperity to the righteous."
Likewise, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., called Roberts' message "problematic."
"In his prime years, Roberts was the most significant agent for prosperity theology," Mohler wrote in a commentary. "Prosperity theology teaches that God promises His people financial gain and bodily health. It is a false Gospel that turns the Gospel of Christ upside-down."
"Following Christ demands poverty more often than wealth, and we are not promised relief from physical ills, injury, sickness, or death," the theologian maintained. "Christians die along with all other mortals, but we are promised the gift of eternal life in Christ."
Mohler noted that Oral Roberts University had in recent years suffered from financial scandals. The most well-known scandal is that involving Roberts' son, Richard Roberts, who was accused of using school funds to live a life of luxury at a time when the school was $50 million in debt. Roberts resigned in 2007 amid allegations and the school has since recovered financial stability.
Monday's memorial service was attended by about 4,000 people, including prominent leaders of the charismatic movement, such as John Hagee, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, James and Betty Robison, and Kenneth and Lynette Hagin, among others. Some televangelists arrived in stretch limousines, Jaguars, and Cadillacs, according to The Associated Press.
The event was broadcast and webcast live by several television networks, including Christian Broadcasting Network.
"[I]f we actually picked up our Bible concordances and looked up every instance of "worship" appearing in Scripture, we would quickly discover that "worship" rarely has anything to do with music."
The Modern Gateway for Deception's Foothold
|MORIEL MINISTRIES - By Danny Isom - October 23, 2009
So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt." He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.
- 1 Kings 12:28-30
Throughout all of Scripture which documents that period of Israel's history from the time the original Temple was built until it was destroyed centuries later, there is a unit of measure by which God holds all leaders accountable. Their righteousness is contrasted to the faithfulness of King David and their wickedness is compared to King Jeroboam, seen in these verses initiating what will later be repeatedly referred to as "the sins of Jeroboam". Jeroboam does not create something completely new from day one. Instead, he ultimately takes everything connected with the One True God and systematically twists each and every item into a shadow of its former self. This activity is particularly evil in that it is not directed at everybody in the whole world but exclusively toward God's people alone. Jeroboam twists every single direction God gave for how His people should serve and worship and replaces them with a duplicate which looks very similar on the outside, but is a complete apostasy on the inside. And where does this apostasy start? What was the first step taken to achieve total corruption of God's people? Worship. And I believe it is most often the way that deception and apostasy enter into Western churches today. There may be cases where it makes its first appearance through the pulpit or an ancillary ministry activity, but it most often first enters through the worship team.
One of the constant battles with which all believers deal is the meaning of words. Having been born and raised in the old life prior to coming to faith in Christ, our vocabulary was shaped by the world. When we become a new creation one of the things we have to do is re-learn the definition of words according to God's view. The world defines "love" quite differently than God defines it. The dictionary definitions of "faith" and "hope" are quite different from the Bible. One of Satan's favorite and most prolific tactics is to take the basic words used throughout the Bible and get the world to teach just enough of a variation so as to render them ineffective. The commandment to love others is not to act according to the world's definition of love but according to how love is defined by God's Word. I say this so that you might understand the full weight of my assertion that in this present age there may be no term more twisted and removed further from its true biblical meaning than "worship". I do not believe that the average Christian today can articulate what it means to "worship" as defined by God's Word.
For the average church-goer reading this, they are already thinking about music. This is what "worship" has come to mean today. "Worship Time" in the Sunday morning order of service now means the amount of time devoted to singing and/or musical performance. Many modern worship teams begin each session with, "Are you ready to worship?" as a signal that there will now be a time of music. But the old story goes that a pastor and worship leader were meeting to plan the upcoming week's service and the worship leader asked the pastor, "How long do you want to worship?" The pastor said, "Three days would be nice." The worship leader responded, "I don't think I can play guitar that long". The wise, old pastor replied, "That is because you are talking about music; I am talking about worship."
Allow me to insert at this point that I am not anti-music or unhappy with a particular style or category of music. I just want to challenge each and every Christian to be sure for themselves that they know what they do, why they do it, and that their confidence rests in the fact that these things conform to God's Word. We can "recontextualize" the Gospel so as to present it in many different ways. It can be done with preaching, singing, a puppet show, a dramatization, a ventriloquist act, flaming batons, and so on and so on as long as the message never varies from the biblical definition. But once something begins to stray from God's definition it begins to mimic instead of mirror. The issue I am exclusively addressing is whether or not you know the biblicaldefinition of the term "worship".
Why am I making this assumption that most Christians don't know the biblical definition of "worship"? Because the only thing they do when they "worship", the only activity they engage in when they "worship", the only thing they think of and talk about and plan for when it comes to "worship" these day is music. And if we actually picked up our Bible concordances and looked up every instance of "worship" appearing in Scripture, we would quickly discover that "worship" rarely has anything to do with music. Seriously, now. Open your concordance and start looking up the verses. Count the number of verses which explicitly reference music in any way. Since almost none of them do, start to count how many verses forward or backward from each verse you have to go in order to even find an actual reference to music. There are biblical examples to provide us with the right application of music in the church, but nowhere do we find that "worship" is broadly defined, much less exclusively associated, with music.
Let's look at the very first use of the word "worship". It is first mentioned by Abraham during the account of his offering Isaac as a sacrifice. ...
Read Full Report Posted on the Moriel Ministries Website
|Americans More Likely to Credit Obama for Verse on Justice than Bible|
THE CHRISTIAN POST - By Joshua A. Goldberg - November 24, 2009 |
A Bible verse about caring for the poor and the oppressed was wrongly attributed by a majority of U.S. adults to celebrities, politicians and other prominent figures including President Obama, Oprah, Bono and Angelina Jolie.
Only 13 percent of Americans surveyed by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Bible Society was able to correctly credit the Bible as the source of Proverbs 31:8-9, the Contemporary English Version of which states: "You must defend those who are helpless and have no hope. Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless."
Fifty-four percent, meanwhile, credited the passage to other sources, with President Obama cited as the most likely author by Americans (16 percent). Behind Obama, the Dalai Lama was cited as the most likely author by survey participants (nine percent), followed by Martin Luther King Jr. (eight percent), Oprah Winfrey (four percent), and U2 frontman Bono (three percent).
"The survey illustrates the reason we created 'The Poverty and Justice Bible,'" commented R. Lamar Vest, president of American Bible Society, "to highlight God's concern for the poor, marginalized and oppressed."
"The Poverty and Justice Bible seeks to challenge the notion that the Bible is outdated and proves that God - not politicians, celebrities or even our greatest activists - was the first to speak out on today's most pressing issues," added Richard Stearns, president and CEO of World Vision, an international relief organization and collaborator on the Bible project.
Other findings of the Harris Interactive survey included the percentage of adults claiming to be familiar with the Bible (80 percent) and the percentage adults who think the Bible offers the most teachings on heaven, hell, adultery, pride or jealousy (46 percent).
The survey also found that one in four men (23 percent) do not think it is their responsibility to help the poor though there are more teachings on poverty and justice than on any of the topics previously mentioned.
They Harris Interactive survey was conducted to coincide with the release of the new Poverty and Justice Bible, which highlights the more than 2,100 verses that refer to poverty and justice.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil
Religious Leader Tells Planned Parenthood Rally Abortion a "God-Given Right"
LIFESITENEWS.com - By Steven Ertelt - December 3, 2009
Washington, DC -- During the rally yesterday sponsored by the Planned Parenthood abortion business and other leading pro-abortion groups, Rev. Carlton Veazy told the small gathering of hardcore activists that abortion is a "God-given right." Veazy is the head of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
The rally was a time for abortion advocates to rally together to press for taxpayer funding of abortions and saw a small crowd of just a few hundred people -- compared to the 100,000 or more who attend the March for Life.
Veazy was the closing speaker for the Stop Stupak rally and he told the activists they had more than merely a so-called constitutional right to an abortion.
"Don't let anybody tell you that religious people don't support choice," Veazy said, according to CNS News. "You not only have a constitutional right for abortion, but you have a God-given right."
Veazy went as far as calling on the abortion advocates to "take on" the nation's Catholic bishops, who have pressed for removing the abortion funding from the congressional health care bills.
"We are also here to call out the U.S. Conference of [Catholic] Bishops, because no one religion, no theological perspective should get the kind of weight that they can [to] put pressure on the Congress," he said, according to CNS.
"Hold the whole Congress up and say, 'If we don't get our way, we will work against health reform,'" said Veazy. "We in the religious community resent that. We believe that no religion should carry that kind of weight in legislation."
The "God-given rights" comment is already drawing guffaws across the Internet, but it comes as no shock to longtime pro-life advocates.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice represents such denominations as the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ that have promoted abortion for decades.
Veazy himself has not only sponsored letters calling for forcing taxpayers to fund abortions, but his pro-abortion position is so extreme that he criticized pro-abortion President Barack Obama for supposedly seeking common ground on abortion.
Even though Obama has crafted a staunchly pro-abortion record as president, for abortion advocates like Veazy, there can never been common ground on abortion because it should be an unfettered right.
"My experience of 13 years in the pro-choice movement is that 'common ground' has become another term for compromise on reproductive choice," he wrote in an editorial at a pro-abortion blog in May. "In other words, achieving common ground will be accomplished by diminishing the ability of women to make decisions about abortion, whatever the personal cost. That's unacceptable."
"It's unacceptable for even one woman to suffer in order for opponents of abortion to be appeased," he claimed.
|Insurance for Child Abuse claims -- But what will you do in the end?|
Irish Catholic Church covered up abuse, report finds
A three-year government inquiry into the church and state's handling of abuse cases in Dublin from 1975 to 2004 reveals a policy of cover-up. Officials even took out insurance to pay future claims.|
LOS ANGELES TIMES [Tribune Company] - By Janet Stobart - November 27, 2009
Reporting from London - Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Dublin engaged in a widespread cover-up of abuses by clergy members for decades, a "scandal on an astonishing scale" that even saw officials taking out insurance policies to protect dioceses against future claims by the victims, a commission reported Thursday after a three-year investigation.
The commission, which investigated how the church and state agencies handled three decades of endemic child abuse by priests in the Irish capital, also criticized police and social and health authorities who, with a few exceptions, it said, ignored complaints or simply referred allegations back to the church hierarchy.
Presenting the government-commissioned report at a news conference in Dublin, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern spoke of his "revulsion" on reading the findings and called them a "scandal on an astonishing scale."
Ahern promised legislation on child-protection systems in institutions by the end of the year.
"These dreadful crimes no matter when they were committed will be pursued," he said. "There will be no hiding place."
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who took office in 2004, presented an abject apology on behalf of the church for the inaction of his predecessors. The report, which covers the period from 1975 to 2004, focuses on 46 priests in particular and 102 in general, all working in the archdiocese of Dublin.
"I offer each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame," Martin said.
At another news conference, victims of abuse said the devastating report was not enough.
"This is not meant to be the full picture . . . 102 priests is the number that they settled on even though there are allegations against 172 . . . this is only a representative sample," said Andrew Madden, a member of One in Four, a nonprofit group for sexual abuse victims that campaigned for the inquiry. "There appears to be no appetite to ascertain the full extent of this problem within the Catholic Church in this country."
It's taken so long, Madden said, because there was no interest by successive governments in investigating the Catholic Church.
The report, written by a four-member commission led by Judge Yvonne Murphy, reveals a policy of systemic clerical cover-up:
"Some priests were aware that particular instances of abuse had occurred," the report states. "A few were courageous and brought complaints to the attention of their superiors. The vast majority simply chose to turn a blind eye. The cases show that several instances of suspicion were never acted upon until inquiries were made. Some priest witnesses admitted to the commission that they had heard various reports on the grapevine."
In 1987, for instance, the report states, Dublin clergy took financial precautions that show they were aware of the problem. "All archbishops of Dublin in the period covered by the commission were aware of some complaints. This is true of many of the auxiliary bishops also.
"At the time the Archdiocese took out insurance in 1987, Archbishop Kevin McNamara, Archbishop Dermot Ryan and Archbishop John Charles McQuaid had had, between them, available information on complaints against at least 17 priests operating under the aegis of the Dublin Archdiocese.
"The taking out of insurance was an act proving knowledge of child sexual abuse as a potential major cost to the Archdiocese and is inconsistent with the view that Archdiocesan officials were still 'on a learning curve.' "
The prevailing attitude, the report says, was, to use an American phrase, one of "don't ask, don't tell," despite knowledge of abuse.
"The church authorities failed to implement most of their own canon law rules on dealing with clerical child sexual abuse," the report says, even though many of them were qualified lawyers.
Further apologies came from Police Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, who said the report made "for difficult and disturbing reading, detailing . . . the failure on the part of both Church and State authorities to protect victims."
He said that most of the abuses had taken place at a time when a "misguided or undue deference" was often shown to religious institutions.
The report also talks of a lack of police vetting procedures for clerics working with children within the Catholic Church until 2002, when lobbying began.
|Damning report reveals Catholic abuse cover-ups|
|Horrific details of child sex abuse by Irish Catholic priests and the way the offences were covered up by the Church have been revealed in a sickening report.|
ITN (Independent Television News, UK) [DMGT, Thomson-Reuters, United Business Media plc] - November 26, 2009
Dublin authorities enjoyed a cosy relationship with the Church and did not enforce the law as four archbishops, obsessed with secrecy and avoiding scandal, protected abusers and reputations at all costs.
Hundreds of crimes against defenceless children from the 1960s to the 1990s were not reported while Irish police treated clergy as though they were above the law.
In a three-year inquiry, the Commission to Inquire into the Dublin Archdiocese uncovered a sickening tactic of "don't ask, don't tell" throughout the Church.
While the Dublin Archdiocese inquiry found no evidence of a paedophile ring, some findings included: One priest admitted sexually abusing more than 100 children - Another accepted he abused on a fortnightly basis during his 25-year ministry - One complaint was made against a priest who later admitted abusing at least six other children.
Four archbishops - John Charles McQuaid who died in 1973, Dermot Ryan who died in 1984, Kevin McNamara who died in 1987, and retired Cardinal Desmond Connell - did not hand over information on abusers.
Other bishops knew about the child abuse for many years. Bishop James Kavanagh, Bishop
Dermot O'Mahony, Bishop Laurence Forristal, Bishop Donal Murray and disgraced Bishop Brendan Comiskey, a reformed alcoholic who failed to control paedophile priests when in charge of the Ferns Diocese were all named.
The 700-page report includes 45 potted histories of priests from 1975 to 2004 who were investigated by the Commission.
Also: Older Reports
Sex abuse 'endemic' in Catholic institutions
LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH [Barclay] - By Auslan Cramb - May 21, 2009
More than 800 priests, nuns, monks and teachers created an "endemic" culture of child sex abuse in Catholic schools and residential homes over almost 80 years, an inquiry has found. ...
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Revealed, six decades of 'ritual' child abuse: Catholic schools and orphanages damned in report
LONDON DAILY MAIL [Associated Newspapers/DMGT] - By Tom Kelly - May 21, 2009
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|Thousands gather as Virgin Mary set to make major statement at Knock shrine|
IRISH CENTRAL [IrishCentral LLC.] - By Kelly Fincham - October 27, 2009 |
Thousands of Irish people claim to have witnessed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in the skies over Knock shrine in Co Mayo.
About 5,000 people gathered at the holy Catholic shrine earlier this month amid a Dublin-based clairvoyant's predictions that an apparition would appear on October 11.
They reported that they could see images of the Virgin Mary shimmering in the sky as the sun danced nearby.
Another apparition has been predicted by the same clairvoyant, Joe Coleman, for this weekend and several thousand people are expected to make the pilgrimage to Knock.
Mr Coleman claimed: "I have seen her twice in recent months in the Gable chapel at Knock. The statue comes alive, she opens her arms, a lovely pink cloak comes around her, there are stars above her head, she turned into Jesus, then to Padre Pio and then back to herself. While the vision is happening, I can see nothing else in the chapel.
"She has told me she wants to make the biggest statement she has ever made on this earth. Knock is the spiritual heart of Ireland."
Now, Catholic officials have moved to clamp down on the claims saying the faithful are in danger of being misled.
Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary has said the gatherings at the Mayo pilgrimage site should be discouraged because they could undermine faith in Ireland.
"Unfortunately, recent events at the shrine obscure this essential message. They risk misleading God's people and undermining faith," he said.
"Such events are to be regretted rather than encouraged. The shrine of Knock will be best served by retaining its authentic identity."
"Such faith makes Knock pilgrims firm in hope and active in love for the sick and suffering. They do not expect visions or seek further apparitions," he said.
The shrine dates back to August 1879 when local people said they saw apparitions of Our Lady, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist outside a parish church there.
The archbishop said there were huge differences between the apparitions of 1879 and what, if anything, was happening now.
"The apparition of 1879 was neither sought nor expected by the humble, honest people who were its astonished witnesses. Their faith reveals the patience and humility that characterises true belief. The shrine of Knock is living witness to that faith," he said.
|The Bigger Scandal: Catholic Church Funding of ACORN|
|ACCURACY IN MEDIA - By Cliff Kincaid - September 22, 2009|
Federal funding of ACORN is not just a Democratic Party or Obama Administration problem. As a chart (PDF) produced by House Republican Leader John Boehner shows, most of the federal money going to the organization was provided under President George W. Bush. This is not something that most Republicans want to talk about, especially now that they can use ACORN funding as a weapon against Obama and the Democrats. To Boehner's credit, however, he had sent a letter to Bush asking him to block all federal funding of ACORN. The Bush Administration did not comply.
While Obama has strong ties to ACORN, they were originally established through the U.S. Catholic Church, which has also funded ACORN and similar organizations to the tune of millions of dollars. This is another taboo topic for most of the media. Even conservative news organizations are afraid of raising the issue, apparently fearing being tagged with the "anti-Catholic" label.
But the truth has been seeping out in mysterious ways. In a Politico.com story about Barack Obama's friendly meeting with the Pope, reporter Josh Gerstein featured information that made it clear that the President's Catholic connection goes back to his days as a community organizer and that Obama's associates understand and appreciate this fact.
Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough was quoted as saying that Obama's work as an organizer on the South Side of Chicago "was funded partly" by the "Catholic Church campaign for human development..." He was referring to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), an annual collection authorized by the U.S. Catholic Bishops which is advertised as a charity to "break the vicious cycle of poverty" but in reality has funded left-wing political organizations such as ACORN to the tune of millions of dollars.
McDonough , a former Senior Fellow at the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP), was the moderator of a May 10, 2006, CAP event on "How Catholic Progressives View the Role of Faith in Governance."
Conservative Catholics concerned about this problem have documented that millions of dollars of Catholic money over the last four decades has gone into Saul Alinsky-style networks which pursue their own brand of socialist direct action. CCHD itself acknowledges funding ACORN projects with grants totaling more than $7.3 million during the last 10 years.
Filling in more of the details of the story that Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough referred to, conservative Catholic writer and activist Stephanie Block has documented that Obama was lead organizer in Chicago for the Alinskyian Developing Communities Project. It received a $40,000 Catholic Campaign for Human Development grant in 1985 and another $33,000 grant in 1986.
The Capital Research Center has just published "Left-wing Radicalism in the Church," a major report on this topic by Matthew Vadum.
While he was in Chicago, Obama was trained by top Alinskyian organizers. One was the ex-Jesuit, Greg Galuzzo, lead organizer for Gamaliel. The Developing Communities Project operated under the Gamaliel Foundation, a network of Alinskyian organizations that also received CCHD grants.
The Developing Communities Project, which hired Obama as lead organizer, was an offshoot of the Calumet Community Religious Conference of Alinsky-trained Jerry Kellman. The network of community organizations Alinsky founded, known as the Industrial Areas Foundation, also received CCHD grants.
The grants are being used, however, not just to seize power, but to change the minds of traditional Catholics. Indeed, this is a necessary prerequisite for taking power.
Alinskyian training sessions in the religious context are designed not to develop or cultivate a personal relationship with Christ and promote traditional values and cultural institutions but to engage in Marxist political activity and radical change. Stephanie Block puts it this way: "Their worldview is marred by visions of class struggle and perpetual revolution. They are systematically trained to renounce moral truth in favor of consensus-based 'values.'"
What has happened over the course of years, some of these experts say, is that Catholics trained in Alinskyian thought have become confused about moral issues and problems. They think, for example, that opposition to the death penalty is on the same moral plane as opposition to abortion, even though Catholic moral teaching has never precluded capital punishment. They believe that fighting "global warming" is as important as saving the lives of unborn children or preventing the killing of the elderly. They are trained to fight for abortion and homosexual "rights" in violation of traditional Catholic Church teaching.
The BigGovernment.com videos of questionable ACORN activities have outraged taxpayers and members of Congress. Many Catholics will be angered by the revelations-if Fox News dares to publicize the evidence-of how their money has been funneled to ACORN and similar organizations by the official Catholic hierarchy.
The evidence of Catholic collaboration with Marxist and "progressive" networks is substantial. A documentary, "The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy," notes that "Alinsky envisioned an 'organization of organizations,' comprised of all sectors of the community-youth committees, small businesses, labor unions, and, most influential of all, the Catholic Church." A website devoted to the documentary cites the Catholic Campaign for Human Development as one of several organizations "actively practicing Alinsky's techniques."
The Citizen's Handbook to radical organizing notes that "Much of IAF [Industrial Areas Foundation] organizing occurs through Christian churches particularly the Catholic church."
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops cut off funding to ACORN last November, citing allegations of corruption at the organization. But money to other Alinsky-style groups has not been terminated.
If ACORN's federal funding is cut-off-and that's still a big "if"-some conservative Catholics believe that the damage has already been done. They say the proof is in the fact that most Catholics voted for Obama. They say the proof is in the fact that Obama was welcomed as a conquering hero when he visited Notre Dame, the premier Catholic university in the U.S.
In the same way that Obama's friendly meeting with the Pope has to be understood, his enthusiastic reception at Notre Dame can only be appreciated in the context of his hiring and training by Jerry Kellman, an apostle of Saul Alinsky and convert to Catholicism at the CCHD-supported Industrial Areas Foundation. Kellman's Calumet Community Religious Conference had itself been created and supported by several local Catholic churches.
Like Frank Marshall Davis, the Communist Party member who guided Obama's early years in Hawaii, Kellman has been called a "mentor" to the future President.
Alinsky had his own Catholic connection, having had the support in Texas of Catholic Bishop Bernard J. Sheil and the Catholic Diocese in the San Antonio area. This then became a center of support for Marxist-oriented Liberation Theology and opposition to the Reagan policy of preventing Communist takeovers of Central American countries in the 1980s.
Father J. Bryan Hehir, who in 1983 delivered a series of lectures at the far-left Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) entitled, "Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John" illustrates the continuing left-wing drift of the Catholic Church in foreign affairs. Hehir, who served on the staff of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops in Washington, D.C., from 1973-1992 and now teaches at Harvard, appeared on an October 15, 2007, Center for American Progress panel on "pursuing the global common good." Obama's adviser McDonough was also on the panel.
This "common-good approach to foreign policy" will be on display at the United Nations this week as President Obama and his advisers personally greet the dictators and despots of the world.
Some of the advance publicity has focused on figures such as Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi showing up at the U.N. But take a look at who's already there. The presidency of the U.N. General Assembly has been transferred from a Communist Catholic Priest, Miguel D'Escoto, who received the Lenin Peace Prize from the old Soviet Union, to a Libyan government official, Ali Treki.
Who Will Investigate the U.N.-Vatican Connection?
|ACCURACY IN MEDIA - By Cliff Kincaid - July 14, 2009
The Boston Globe won a 2003 Pulitzer Prize for covering the Catholic Church's decades-long cover-up of priests who sexually abused children. There is a Pulitzer Prize waiting for the reporter who can figure out why the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church, considered by Catholics the personal representative of Jesus Christ, has emerged as an advocate of one of the most corrupt and non-Christian organizations on the face of the earth-the United Nations.
The U.N. has been rocked by scandals involving U.N. "peacekeepers" who sexually abuse women and children, the failure to protect populations in danger of genocide, and financial corruption. It is an anti-American institution founded by a Soviet spy that is currently headed by a Communist Catholic Priest, U.N. General Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto, who recently gave a speech at a U.N. financial conference on the need to protect "Mother Earth."
So when the leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI, endorsed a "World Political Authority" in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, it was big news that could only be understood in the context of the growing power and influence of the U.N. The timing was also significant. The Papal statement was issued just before a meeting of the G-8 nations, including the U.S., Russia and China, and before the Pope's meeting with President Barack Obama.
Conservatives who should know better have tried to play down the nature of the Pope's dangerous proposal. In a July 10 Wall Street Journal article, American Roman Catholic Priest Robert A. Sirico of the conservative Acton Institute ignored the controversial "World Political Authority" passage and wrote that "People seeking a blueprint for the political restructuring of the world economy won't find it here."
In fact, the Pope stated that the goals of this World Political Authority should be "To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration..." This is a fairly detailed blueprint that sounds precisely like some of the functions of the U.N.
The Pope went on, "In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth."
So the "reform" of the U.N. is designed to strengthen it. Hence, the U.N. is clearly destined, from the Vatican point of view, to become the World Political Authority.
On the July 10 edition of "The World Over" program on global Catholic television network EWTN, Sirico said that he was confident that the Pope was "not calling for a central government bureaucracy." But the host, Raymond Arroyo, was unclear how a World Political Authority was compatible with the Pope's commitment in the same encyclical to "subsidiarity," a form of local control. "They seem to be in conflict," Arroyo said. In fact, as the Pope himself warned, the World Political Authority could become "tyrannical" in nature.
The exact quote from the Papal statement, a major teaching document of the Roman Catholic Church, was that "there is urgent need of a true world political authority, as my predecessor Blessed John XXIII indicated some years ago." Pope John XXIII declared in his April 11, 1963, encyclical, Pacem in Terris, "Today the universal common good presents us with problems which are world-wide in their dimensions; problems, therefore, which cannot be solved except by a public authority with power, organization and means co-extensive with these problems, and with a world-wide sphere of activity. Consequently the moral order itself demands the establishment of some such general form of public authority. But this general authority equipped with world-wide power and adequate means for achieving the universal common good cannot be imposed by force. It must be set up with the consent of all nations. If its work is to be effective, it must operate with fairness, absolute impartiality, and with dedication to the common good of all peoples."
He added that "It is therefore our earnest wish that the United Nations Organization may be able progressively to adapt its structure and methods of operation to the magnitude and nobility of its tasks."
If the Pope had endorsed just a "World Authority," some Christians might have considered it a reference to the return of Christ to earth. But the use of the term "political" puts the Pope squarely on the side of those promoting a world government of some kind. And his references to the U.N. clear up any possible doubt as to his intention.
John Zmirak, the writer-in-residence at Thomas More College, a Catholic Institution in New Hampshire, recognizes the obvious danger. He writes that the World Political Authority could become a global "super-state" and persecute the Catholic Church. He explains, "I know that the pope suffered deeply, and personally, from the sick excesses of nationalism. Perhaps if I'd been drafted into the Hitler Youth, and seen my nation ruined and dishonored by a cancerous tribal cult like National Socialism, I might also daydream about a universal benevolent State. But there's only one thing worse than a national bureaucratic tyranny-and that's an international one. A reading of Orwell's 1984 might have reminded Benedict that centralization rarely leads to liberty. And a world-state administered by the kind of people who currently get involved in supranational organizations like the EU and the UN would make its first order of business the liquidation of the Church-which wouldn't even have a Liechtenstein where it could hide."
George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, is alarmed as well but blames the World Political Authority reference on the Vatican agency known as the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace. He writes that "It is one of the enduring mysteries of the Catholic Church why the Roman Curia places such faith in this fantasy of a 'world public authority,' given the Holy See's experience in battling for life, religious freedom, and elementary decency at the United Nations. But that is how they think at Justice and Peace, where evidence, experience, and the canons of Christian realism sometimes seem of little account."
But what is behind this "mystery," as Weigel calls it?
Who's in Charge?
Despite the implication that the Pope is being manipulated, this is a Papal document signed by the Pope and he has to take responsibility for articulating a vision of a World Political Authority that operates through or with the sanction of the United Nations. Yet, this is a non-Christian institution where officials gather in an official "Meditation Room" in the U.N. building to achieve what they call cosmic consciousness.
The U.N.'s brand of religion can also be seen in the fact that a few blocks from the U.N. is the Quest Book Shop, where U.N. officials also gather to meditate. The bookstore's website advertises gift items that include "a large selection of Tarot decks, one of the best selections of incense in the New York City, candles, semi-precious gemstones, mala beads, greeting cards, statues, essential oils, Tibetan singing bowls, pendulums, bells, Yoga mats and bags, meditation cushions, feng shui crystals, runestones, and more."
The U.N. Environmental Program once promoted the idea of an "Environmental Sabbath," encouraging children to hold hands around a tree and meditate. In his own encyclical, the Pope seems to warn of this kind of activity, saying that "it is contrary to authentic development to view nature as something more important than the human person" and that "This position leads to attitudes of neo-paganism or a new pantheism..." He nevertheless also calls for "a worldwide redistribution of energy resources" and says that "The technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption, either through an evolution in manufacturing methods or through greater ecological sensitivity among their citizens."
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace may in fact be responsible for the environmental messages in the encyclical. It held a "Climate Change and Development Study Seminar" in Vatican City on April 27, 2007, based on the assumption that there is man-made global warming. One of its authorities for this assumption was, of course, the U.N.
The Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, whose official duty is to promote justice and peace in the world in accordance with the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church, produced a 2000 document, The Social Agenda, which included several statements favorable to the U.N. and other global causes. Under the heading of "Transnational and International Organizations," it declared that:
"It is therefore our ardent desire that the United Nations Organization in its structure and in its means may become ever more equal to the magnitude and nobility of its tasks, and may the time come as quickly as possible when every human being will find therein an effective safeguard for the rights which derive directly from his dignity as a person, and which are therefore universal, inviolable, and inalienable rights.
"International collaboration on a worldwide scale requires institutions that will prepare, coordinate and direct it, until finally there is established an order of justice which is universally recognized.
"...We called for the establishment of a great World Fund, to be made up of part of the money spent on arms, to relieve the most destitute of this world... Only worldwide collaboration, of which a common fund would be both means and symbol, will succeed in overcoming vain rivalries and in establishing a fruitful and peaceful exchange between peoples."
Whatever role this Vatican agency may have played in the encyclical, Pope Benedict himself made a speech in front of the United Nations in April 2008 that made it absolutely clear that he believes in the U.N. mission. Our April 20, 2008 column, Pope Genuflects Before the United Nations, went into detail about this.
Jesus and the U.N.
Pope Benedict even associated Jesus Christ with the work of the U.N., saying that the "search for the right way to order human affairs" is "motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ" and "That is why the Church is happy to be associated with the activity of this distinguished organization, charged with the responsibility of promoting peace and good will throughout the earth."
In fact, this "distinguished organization" has been dubbed "the House that Hiss built" because of the role that Soviet spy and State Department official Alger Hiss played in founding the organization.
What's more, the Pope explicitly endorsed the Responsibility to Protect, known by the acronym R2P, a doctrine endorsed by the U.N. in 2005 and designed to help the world body assume the powers of a world government. The World Federalist Movement, which has promoted world government, global taxes and a United Nations Army, has cultivated international acceptance of the concept.
In the most explicit part of the speech explaining and accepting the R2P concept, the Pope said that "Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty."
Ironically, the development of the R2P principle has been attributed to former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who, as director of peacekeeping at the world body, failed to authorize U.N. troops on the ground in Rwanda to stop genocide there.
A Danish documentary, "And the U.N. Came," blames U.N. troops for creating the AIDS crisis in Cambodia, after the "peacekeepers" were supposed to bring political stability to the country. The film documents how U.N. soldiers spread the disease by having sex with local citizens, children, and prostitutes. Asked about the conduct of U.N. soldiers, one U.N. official is shown saying, "Boys will be boys."
The Pope's failure to mention any of these scandals in his address to the U.N. or his encyclical is itself scandalous. It is a matter worth pursuing by the media, especially the conservative and Catholic media.
Pope John Paul II 'whipped himself in remorse for sins'
These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. - Colossians 2:23
LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH [Barclay] - By Nick Pisa in Perugia - November 23, 2009
Pope John Paul II regularly whipped himself in a sign of "remorse for his sins", a nun has claimed.
The Pope, who died five years ago, is being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.
As part of the Vatican's investigation thousands of documents have been collected and examined by officials from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Among them is the testimony of Tobiana Sobodka, a Polish nun of the Sacred Heart of Jesus order, who worked for Pope John Paul in his private Vatican apartments and at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome.
Sister Sobodka said: "Several times he (Pope John Paul) would put himself through bodily penance.
"We would hear it - we were in the next room at Castel Gandolfo. You could hear the sound of the blows when he flagellate himself. He did it when he was still capable of moving on his own."
The flagellation is also confirmed by another bishop who has given testimony. Emery Kabongo was a secretary for Pope John Paul.
"He would punish himself and in particular just before he ordained bishops and priests," he said.
"I never actually saw it myself but several people told me about it."
Self flagellation is sometimes used by devoted Catholics as it reminds them of the whipping endured by Christ at the hands of the Romans before he was crucified.
It is still common in the Philippines and Latin America, some members of strict monastic orders and some members of the lay organisation Opus Dei - who feature in the Dan Brown blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.
In the film - which was condemned by the Vatican - murderous Albino monk Silas, who is a member of Opus Dei is seen in a brutal scene whipping his back and drawing blood as he prays on his knees.
A Vatican spokesman said: "The investigation and documentation is still secret and as such we can make no comment on it until the final report is published. ...
The late Polish pope's beatification is expected to take place sometime next year, perhaps in April, to coincide with the fifth anniversary of his death or in October to coincide with his election in 1978.
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|For an Episcopal Parish, a Path to Catholicism|
|NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Laurie Goodstein - October 24, 2009 |
ROSEMONT, Pa. - When the Vatican announced last week that it would welcome groups of traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church, leaders of one Episcopal parish celebrated as if a ship had arrived to rescue them from a drifting ice floe.
"We'd been praying for this daily for two years," said Bishop David L. Moyer, who leads the Church of the Good Shepherd, a parish in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia that is battling to keep its historic property. "When I heard the news I was speechless, then the joy came and the tears."
This parish could be one of the first in the United States to convert en masse after the Vatican completes plans for a new structure to allow Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining many of their spiritual traditions, like the Book of Common Prayer and married priests.
The arrangement is tailor-made for an "Anglo-Catholic" parish like this one, which has strenuously opposed the Episcopal Church over decisions like allowing women and gay people to become priests and bishops. Mass here is celebrated in the "high church" style reminiscent of traditional Catholic churches, with incense, elaborate vestments and a choir that may sing in Latin.
"The majority of our members will be on board with this," the Rev. Aaron R. Bayles, the assistant pastor, said as he finished celebrating a noon Mass devoted to church unity in a small side chapel lighted with blue votive candles.
He said he was exultant when he heard the news from the Vatican because he had always hoped to see the unification of Anglican, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christianity.
"This may be a step in that direction," said Father Bayles, the parish's new curate and a chaplain in the Air National Guard Reserve. (The previous curate left to become a Roman Catholic.)
The Church of the Good Shepherd has long been at loggerheads with the Episcopal Church, the American branch in the global Anglican Communion. This year, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania sued to take over the church's building, a magnificent stone replica of a 14th-century English country parish that was built in 1894. The church's property is estimated by its accounting warden to be worth $7 million.
For 17 years, the parish has refused to allow the local Episcopal bishop to come for a pastoral visit or confirmation, and then stopped paying its annual financial assessment to the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Even the parish priest's title and status are a sign of the conflict. Bishop Moyer is not a bishop in the Episcopal Church, but he uses that title because he was made a bishop in the Traditional Anglican Communion, a conservative splinter group that played a crucial role in persuading the Vatican to welcome the Anglicans.
In his office sitting room, where he keeps framed photographs of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Moyer said he was one of the 38 bishops in the Traditional Anglican Communion who signed a petition to Pope Benedict XVI in October 2007 asking for an arrangement that would unite Anglicans with the Catholic Church.
He said the bishops even ceremonially signed a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to signify their full acceptance of Catholic doctrine. Meanwhile, the global Anglican Communion, with 77 million members, struggled to stay intact as conservatives splintered off or protested from within. Some were Anglo-Catholic, but others were evangelical Anglicans, dedicated to a conservative interpretation of Scripture but wary of Rome and papal authority. ...
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Most Improbable Dialogue
Mormon Tabernacle revival service is latest sign of openness to evangelicals
CHRISTIANITY TODAY [CTI Publications] - By Richard N. Ostling - October 30, 2009
Robert Millet would do things differently if he were carefully strategizing how fellow Mormons could best pursue interfaith contacts.
"I probably wouldn't have started with evangelicals," said the Brigham Young University (BYU) professor, considering the antagonism between the two groups since Mormonism's beginnings. "If we can have more civil and respectful relations with evangelicals, we can do it with anyone."
Not many years ago, evangelicals would have deemed substantive contact with Mormonism equally improbable. Yet since 2000, small scholarly teams of Mormons led by Millet and evangelical teams led by Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw have managed to hold 17 intense, closed-door dialogue sessions. The latest, held in mid-October at Wheaton College, centered on proselytism, a topic on which the two sides are intense rivals.
Millet said this is the only ongoing doctrinal dialogue with any outside religious group that occurs with the knowledge-though not yet public authorization, much less participation-of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' (LDS) top leaders, whom Millet advises on ecumenical strategy.
The talks are not the only breakthrough. LDS president Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors permitted Standing Together, an alliance of 90 Utah evangelical churches, to use the historic Salt Lake City Tabernacle for a September 13 revival meeting. Throngs of evangelicals and Mormons enjoyed gospel songs and prayed together.
The emcee, Standing Together president Gregory Johnson, called the event "historic." Evangelist Nick Vujicic said it was "one of the most memorable nights" in a ministry that has taken him to 25 nations, and warmly thanked the LDS leaders.
Mormon leaders specified that his message would need to be "generic and nondenominational." But Vujicic challenged LDS orthodoxy by insisting that "every human being is born with an evil nature," and by emphasizing that salvation cannot depend on a person's goodness because "you can't even forgive yourself."
More than 100 people stood in response to his appeal for personal commitments to Jesus Christ, then filed to the rostrum to register decisions and hug Vujicic, who was born without arms or legs.
Public and private talks
Adding to the unusual aspects of the emotional encounter, Johnson is a Conservative Baptist minister who forsook Mormonism at age 14. He has become a crucial bridge builder through evolving friendships, first with Millet and eventually with Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Mormon leaders are not trained in academic theology, but Holland-the hierarchy's point man with evangelicals and former BYU president-is one of the few apostles to earn a liberal arts Ph.D. (in American studies, from Yale). At 68, he is younger than many colleagues and thus could head his church someday. (The longest-serving apostle automatically becomes "President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.")
In another new step, Johnson and Millet have met in 58 public dialogues across North America. They also help broker meetings between evangelical and Mormon college students and initiate the scholarly dialogues involving such evangelical stalwarts as Christianity Today editor in chief David Neff, Biola University apologetics professor Craig Hazen, and Denver Seminary New Testament professor Craig Blomberg.
Two dialogue books from evangelical publishers were pivotal. Blomberg laid early groundwork for closer relations in 1997 when he co-wrote How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (InterVarsity Press) with BYU's Stephen Robinson. In 2005, Mouw contributed a friendly foreword and afterword to Millet's A Different Jesus?: The Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Eerdmans).
Vujicic's appearance was preceded in 2004 by LDS officialdom's remarkable go-ahead for an address in the Tabernacle by well-known apologist Ravi Zacharias. His theologically orthodox presentation of Christianity, which some Mormons attended, was overshadowed by Mouw's introduction. He declared that "we evangelicals have often seriously misrepresented" Mormon beliefs and practices. "We have sinned against you," he said.
This offended many evangelicals, particularly those in ministries dedicated to opposing LDS doctrine and seeking converts. For instance, Bill McKeever, veteran director of the Utah-based Mormonism Research Ministry, attended the Zacharias address and issued a lengthy rebuttal to Mouw. McKeever says while he doesn't oppose dialogues as such, they must be "brutally honest" in addressing historical and theological problems.
Mouw explains that individual Mormons may have "genuine faith in Christ" but that he "could never give endorsement to Mormonism as a Christian theology" due to its "significant departures from the Christian tradition and Christian orthodoxy, by its own testimony." Likewise, Johnson is "open to the possibility" that individual Mormons "have a relationship with Christ," but said, "Mormonism does not legitimately receive the label Christian."
A Heterodox History
Difficulties with acceptance date to Mormonism's origins in the 1820s. According to the LDS scriptures, God the Father directly commanded the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. to shun existing Christian churches because "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight" and their "professors were all corrupt." God subsequently commissioned Smith to re-establish "the only true and living church."
Smith not only claimed unique God-given authority for his "latter-day" institution but also added the Book of Mormon and other texts to the Bible and issued increasingly heterodox doctrines. For example, the LDS God is married and has "a body of flesh and bones," one reason the Vatican ruled in 2001 that converts from Mormonism must be re-baptized. The LDS Christ is the Old Testament's divine Jehovah, but not God the Son within the eternal Trinity.
The LDS scriptures teach a plurality of gods (in the Book of Abraham, though Mormons reject the label polytheistic) and the millennial prospect that human saints will be "made equal with" God.
Smith asserted other radical beliefs in an 1844 discourse shortly before he was assassinated while running for U.S. President. He revealed "the great secret" that God the Father "was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man," and that humans will progress to "become Gods ... the same as all Gods have done before you." His discourse was transcribed by four aides, published by the church, later included in its compilation of his teachings, and officially reaffirmed thereafter.
Mouw believes such thinking "has no functioning place in present-day Mormon doctrine," based on statements from Millet and church leaders. He also noted that in How Wide the Divide?, Robinson said these controversial beliefs are not official doctrine and were never incorporated into Mormon scriptures. But LDS officialdom has never repudiated Smith's tenets.
To McKeever, all of this typifies problems with the friendship efforts. "If Mouw really believes that, it shows he's not qualified to be in these discussions," he said. "That is still a major teaching in LDS theology." He also rebuts Mormon assertions that the church's ban on full membership and priesthood for blacks-which was abolished by a 1978 revelation-was never an official doctrine. "That's just utter nonsense," he said; if it weren't doctrine, no revelation would have been needed.
Evangelical optimists note that Mormonism has in fact changed, not only by allowing black members and priests but also, most famously, by suspending Smith's scriptural commandment of polygamy in 1890 under federal government pressure, much to evangelicals' satisfaction. The Worldwide Church of God's wholesale shift to orthodoxy following the death of founder Herbert W. Armstrong also heartened optimists.
Mouw is not alone in perceiving that Millet and other "neo-orthodox" thinkers at BYU have been migrating closer to belief in salvation by grace alone apart from human works. However, McKeever contends that Millet and other BYU professors may "want to sound evangelical" but that they carry no doctrinal authority, and that traditional LDS beliefs still emanate from headquarters.
What next? Hush-hush chats occurred between ranking LDS authorities and nationally prominent evangelicals in 2004, 2007, and earlier in 2009, though those familiar with the meetings won't name names. Participants hope for a publicly known conference between leaders, perhaps as early as next year. Another prospect is a series of formal statements on agreements and differences along the lines of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, though that will require LDS officialdom's sanction.
No Rivals in Foxholes
One undoubted factor in the search for better relations is that evangelicals and Mormons today unite on various moral issues and feel on the defensive, especially in shared opposition to same-sex marriage. Whatever differences they may have about the nature of God, "when you've been in the trenches together, it often generates new respect," said evangelical attorney David French, who leads the Alliance Defense Fund's (ADF) campus religious freedom project. "The LDS commitment to core values is one that betters our country, without question."
Apart from his ADF work, French privately ran an "Evangelicals for Mitt" campaign to aid Romney's bid for the presidency. Millet said Romney's race unearthed widespread hostility toward Mormonism, which "was a very cold slap in the face" and underscored that Mormons remain misunderstood. Millet depicted a lack of understanding as the main motive for pursuing evangelical contacts well before the race, though he knows that many evangelicals fear the real purpose was "tacit legitimization of Mormonism as a Christian group."
As for evangelicals' goals, Standing Together's Johnson says that of course he would like Mormon individuals to share his beliefs and for the Mormon church to someday embrace Christian orthodoxy. After all, he said, "God is in the transformation business." In the short run, friends may tell him that "the Mormon church is trying to use you," said Johnson. "[But] maybe God is using me in their lives."
Richard N. Ostling, a former religion writer with the Associated Press and Time magazine, co-authored Mormon America (HarperOne, revised edition 2007).
Are Mormons Christian? How Christian groups answer the question?
Don't know 17%
Don't know 15%
Don't know 15%
Don't know 27%
Don't know 19%
Uganda Pastors Chide Rick Warren; Defend Anti-Gay Bill
THE CHRISTIAN POST - By Lillian Kwon - December 21, 2009
Pastors in Uganda recently chided evangelical pastor Rick Warren after he urged them to speak out against the country's Anti-Homosexuality bill.
A group of 20 denominational heads recently formed the Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality and demanded that Warren "biblically issue an apology for having wronged us."
"Your letter has caused great distress and the pastors are demanding that you issue a formal apology for insulting the people of Africa by your very inapropriate (sic) bully use of your church and purpose driven pulpits to coerse us into the 'evil' of Sodomy and Gaymorrah (sic)," the pastors, which include Martin Ssempa, state in a letter emailed to Warren.
They also note, "As you yourself have said, '..the Bible says evil has to be opposed. Evil has to be stopped. The Bible does not say negotiate with evil. It says stop it. Stop evil'. (12/2007) Since homosexuality is evil, you cannot possibly be against a law that seeks to stop it unless you have misunderstood it."
Warren, who works with pastors in Uganda on the "Purpose Driven" campaign and P.E.A.C.E. Plan, had addressed Ugandan pastors in a video earlier this month. He condemned the criminalization of homosexuality, particularly the death penalty as proposed in Uganda's proposed legislation, and called it unjust and un-Christian.
The Purpose Driven pastor was among a number of U.S. religious leaders who expressed opposition and concern over the bill.
But Ugandan pastors state in their letter to Warren that the bill has been "greatly misrepresented by some homosexual activists causing hysteria."
They stress that the proposed death penalty applies only in special cases termed "aggravated homosexuality," which include those convicted of unlawful homosexual rape of a child or handicapped invalid.
"This is a conviction of paedophilles!" they exclaim, noting that the country has for 15 years had a death penalty in place for those who sexually abuse a girl under the age of 18 years. The proposed measure simply extends the protection to boys, they say.
Attempting to clarify what they believe is misinformation regarding the Anti-Homosexuality bill, the pastors task force says the proposed requirement that people report offenses of homosexuality was included because of high levels of unreported heterosexual/homosexual rape and harassment especially in single-sex schools. School officials and some police officers "maintain a conspiracy of silence" and ignore the pleas of the children and victims who report such crimes, the task force points out.
Many, including Warren, had criticized the bill for placing "everybody" at risk - including parents, teachers, landlords, doctors, media and religious leaders who provide counseling to someone struggling with their sexuality, work with those infected with HIV/AIDS, or do not report an offense within 24 hours of knowledge.
Warren believes it would hurt the church ministry of caring for people with HIV/AIDS. Out of fear of being reported, those infected would be reluctant to seek care or comfort from churches, the southern California pastor pointed out.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and can be punished with life imprisonment. But the anti-homosexuality legislation was designed to "fill the gaps" in the provisions of existing laws and "strengthen the nation's capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family."
The pastors task force - which represents the National Fellowship of Born again Churches, Seventh Adventists Church, Orthodox Church in Uganda, Roman Catholic Church in Uganda, Islamic Office of Social Welfare in Uganda, and Born Again Faith Federation - argue that the Anti-Homosexuality bill was "necessitated" by the increasing incidents of homosexual abuse of children, the growing promotion of homosexuality in Uganda, and western societies "waking up too late" on realizing that homosexuality affects the entire society including what children are taught at school.
"We note with sadness the increasing levels of accepting of the evil of homosexuality," they state. "In these increasingly dark days, we encourage you not to give into the temptation to water down what the Bible says so as not to offend people."
Moreover, they make the case that homosexual practice is associated with serious, yet preventable public-health risks, including HIV transmission, and an increase in such practices could "rapidly reverse Uganda's success against HIV/AIDS."
Dr. Warren Throckmorton, associate professor of psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and a strong opponent of the measure, is not convinced. He says the Ugandan pastors "ignore the religious arguments against the bill and attempt to make a weak public health argument."
Both Throckmorton and Rick Warren believe homosexual behavior is a sin, but they call for love and mercy rather than condemnation.
More than 200 of Uganda's religious leaders support strengthening the law against homosexuality. The current debate is on what penalties are appropriate.
After months of uproar from around the globe, the Uganda National Pastors Task Force Against Homosexuality has recommended that the sentence for the offense of aggravated homosexuality be reduced from the death penalty to 20 years imprisonment. The group has also suggested the inclusion of a provision for counseling and rehabilitation to persons experiencing homosexual temptations. But even with that provision, "homosexuality should remain a punishable offense to control its spread," the task force added.
|Rick Warren continues to show he is more 'politician' than 'preacher'
Rick Warren on Museveni, Ssempa and Wagner: "I Know Not the Men"
|For a previous report on Rick Warren's absent mindedness see "Rick Warren pulls a 'Clinton'" and Rick Warren on Prop 8: "I never once even gave an endorsement" both posted here on the Be Alert! Archive page.
BARTHOLOMEW'S NOTES ON RELIGION - By Richard Bartholomew - Posted on December 12, 2009
Rick Warren has issued a statement speaking out against the proposed Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill:
Of course, there are thousands of evil laws enacted around the world and I cannot speak to pastors about every one of them, but I am taking the extraordinary step of speaking to you - the pastors of Uganda and spiritual leaders of your nation - for five reasons:
First, the potential law is unjust, extreme and un-Christian toward homosexuals, requiring the death penalty in some cases. If I am reading the proposed bill correctly, this law would also imprison anyone convicted of homosexual practice.
Second, the law would force pastors to report their pastoral conversations with homosexuals to authorities.
Third, it would have a chilling effect on your ministry to the hurting. As you know, in Africa, it is the churches that are bearing the primary burden of providing care for people infected with HIV/AIDS. If this bill passed, homosexuals who are HIV positive will be reluctant to seek or receive care, comfort and compassion from our churches out of fear of being reported. You and I know that the churches of Uganda are the truly caring communities where people receive hope and help, not condemnation.
Fourth, ALL life, no matter how humble or broken, whether unborn or dying, is precious to God. My wife Kay and I have devoted our lives and our ministry to saving the lives of people, including homosexuals, who are HIV positive. It would be inconsistent to save some lives and wish death on others. We're not just pro-life. We are whole life.
Finally, the freedom to make moral choices, and our right to free expression are gifts endowed by God. Uganda is a democratic country with a remarkable and wise people, and in a democracy everyone has a right to speak up. For these reasons, I urge you, the pastors of Uganda, to speak out against the proposed law...
He goes on to discuss "Key Facts Concerning Recent Media and Blog Reports on Rick Warren's Position on Uganda" with responses to nine questions. He affirms that he is opposed to criminalization of homosexuality, and he deals with a quote that was atttributed to him in the Kampala Monitor in March 2008:
Dr [Rick] Warren said that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. "We shall not tolerate this aspect at all," Dr Warren said.
Warren claims that this was a misquote:
What I said in an interview in Uganda was that there is no civil right to gay marriage guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
In fairness, the wording of the Kampala Monitor does have slightly unusual ring to it - but why wait so long to put the record straight?
Some of Warren's other "Key Facts" are somewhat dubious. In particular:
Are you a friend of the President of Uganda?
No. I've never met him, and never had any kind of communications with him, or with any member of the Ugandan Parliament.
Yes, but Warren has had links with President Yoweri Museveni's wife, First Lady Janet Museveni, who was delegate to a conference at Warren's church. Why is this detail elided, when Warren makes a point of mentioning his lack of association with Ugandan MPs?
Related to this, another question asks:
Did the President of Uganda say he wanted his country to be Purpose Driven?
No, he didn't. That was said by the President of RWANDA, not Uganda, at a national rally in Rwanda in 2005. Years later, the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda made a similar comment so people are confusing Uganda with Rwanda, the country next to Uganda. While we have just begun to train pastors in Uganda, we are very involved in Rwanda, creating a nationwide P.E.A.C.E. plan at the invitation of the churches there. Over 1,000 Saddleback members have served on humanitarian projects in Rwanda.
I noted that back in 2005, when Warren announced that
The President, Paul Kagame, has invited us to help Rwanda become the first 'purpose-driven nation'
However, Bruce Wilson draws attention to the following official press release from 2008:
Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, CA, this weekend launched a national Purpose Driven Living program in Uganda, a unified and focused effort to equip Ugandan leadership with practical tools to live lives of purpose in their homes, businesses, and communities.
This is the second East African country to invite Dr. Warren to bring the well- known Purpose Driven Life and Church leadership training to churches, businesses and government on a national scale. Rwanda adopted the program nationwide in 2005. Over 30,000 American churches - approximately one-tenth of the congregations across the country have used the 40 Days of Purpose emphasis.
...At a press conference and subsequent meeting with organizers upon arrival in the capital city of Kampala, Dr. Warren expressed appreciation to the coalition of national leaders who invited him to return for his fourth visit for a series of public meetings...
...While in Uganda, Dr. Warren met with First Lady Janet Museveni to discuss the PEACE Plan, an aggressive and progressive vision to promote reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick and educate the next generation. He also addressed students at Uganda Christian University...
The press release clearly infers that Warren intends Uganda to follow the Rwanda model, and that he enjoys governmental support for his efforts. Now that Uganda is on a downward spiral with a president suffering from advancing "big man" syndrome (e.g. see here) and an increasingly debased civil society, it looks as though Warren is backpeddling.
Is Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa an associate who represents you?
Not at all. At each of our Global Summits on AIDS (on World AIDS Day) we've invited speakers from a wide spectrum of religions, beliefs, political views, and health care expertise. We've had believers and atheists, liberals and conservatives, gays and straights. Ssempa was just one of over 200 speakers we've invited. At each Summit we make it clear that no speaker represents us, and that we don't control, endorse, or agree with all that is said. Our desire is to encourage everyone to work together in ending AIDS and caring for those infected and affected. Ssempa was one of many speakers in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, when we learned that Ssempa's beliefs and actions were vastly different than ours, we disassociated ourselves from him.
Warren's repudiation of Ssempa was publicised last month. But Ssempa was not just one of 200 speakers; as Max Blumenthal reported in January:
When Warren unveiled his global AIDS initiative at a 2005 conference at his Saddleback Church, he cast Ssempa as his indispensable sidekick, assigning him to lead a breakout session on abstinence-only education as well as a seminar on AIDS prevention. Later, Ssempa delivered a keynote address, a speech so stirring it "had the audience on the edge of its seats," according to Warren's public relations agency. A year later, Ssempa returned to Saddleback Church to lead another seminar on AIDS. By this time, his bond with the Warrens had grown almost familial. "You are my brother, Martin, and I love you," Rick Warren's wife, Kay, said to Ssempa from the stage. Her voice trembled with emotion as she spoke and tears ran down her cheeks. ... (Continued ...)Read Full Report
'Purpose Driven' Down the Drain
Magazine by a Best-Selling Minister Closes
NEW YORK TIMES [NYTimes Group/Sulzberger] - By Richard Pérez-Peña - November 4, 2009
Less than a year after starting a hybrid magazine and paid membership organization, the Rev. Rick Warren and the Reader's Digest Association said Wednesday that they were pulling the plug.
Their plan was to capitalize on Mr. Warren's best-selling books, like "The Purpose Driven Life," to create a group patterned on his calls to Christian evangelism and charitable works.
They sold $29 annual memberships to Purpose Driven Connection, built around local chapters and online social networking tools. Members received a quarterly magazine of the same name - edited by Mr. Warren - DVDs and study guides. The magazine were also sold through retailers.
But their timing could not have been worse; the project began near the worst of the financial crisis, in the depths of the recession.
"The numbers for the membership were quite disappointing," said William K. Adler, a spokesman for the Reader's Digest Association. The partners declined to release sales figures for the memberships or the magazine.
They plan to keep operating the organization's Web site, purposedriven.com, which has been free. ...
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Free HIV tests, $1 tacos at Saddleback Church
|THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER [Freedom Communications/Providence Equity Partners LLC.] - By Erika I. Ritchie - November 30, 2009
LAKE FOREST - Pastor Rick Warren with his wife, Kay, on Tuesday will host "An Evening of Hope" to commemorate World AIDS Day.
Beginning at 10 a.m., free AIDS testing will be offered leading up to the 7 p.m. program. The evening event will include speakers, prayer, testimonies and music.
A featured speaker will be Lisa Beyer, vice president of communications at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Beyer joined the initiative in 2007.
She is a former assistant managing editor of Time magazine and has worked as a foreign correspondent in Asia and the Middle East, and as a magazine editor focusing on politics and global affairs.
The event will be held in the Refinery Auditorium. Participants attending can come early for $1 tacos, coffee and desserts.
On Sunday on TV's "Meet the Press" Pastor Warren said people mischaracterized his role in last year's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman in California.
"People on both sides tried to make me the campaign leader," Warren told David Gregory. "I only mentioned it one time. I mentioned it to my own congregation. Well, that was dumb because it immediately went everywhere and then all of a sudden it looked like I was the big campaigner."
Saddleback Church is at 1 Saddleback Parkway, Lake Forest. See kaywarren.com/pages/hiv
You'll be happier without hope
|The benefits of positive thinking have been overrated
LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH [Barclay] - By Jemima Lewis - November 7, 2009
There are two basic attitudes to adversity, exemplified by Nietzsche and Christopher Reeve. When the Superman actor was left paralysed from the neck down, he refused to despair. "Once you choose hope," he insisted, "anything's possible." He died nine years later, still a quadriplegic. The philosopher, a syphilitic and part-time psychotic, preferred to face the future with cold realism. "Hope is the worst of evils," he opined, "for it prolongs the torments of man." He, too, died in his fifties, paralysed by a series of strokes.
The value of positive thinking has become so embedded in popular culture that to doubt it can make you seem a killjoy. Pessimism is seen as needlessly defeatist - even dangerous. But a new survey suggests that the reverse may be true. Of a group of Americans who had undergone colon surgery, half were told that their intestines could eventually be reconnected; the rest that they would need a colostomy bag for the rest of their lives. Those given the bad news - and the benefit of certainty - proved far happier over the next six months than those still hoping for surgery.
"There can be a dark side to hope," say the researchers - confirming, a century later, what Nietzsche could see even from the lunatic asylum.
Hope that is pinned on humanist philosophy, such as positive thinking, is a path which leads to despair.Hope in God is a durable foundation, providing a vantage point above and beyond the changing circumstances of life.
'Hope in God' (Psalm43:5) Hope like this is pinned on certainty; hope like this will never bring disappointment and will never lead to despair.'Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.' (Rom15:13)
|Come to church - win a cash prize?|
CHICAGO TRIBUNE [Tribune Company] - By Lolly Bowean - November 2, 2009 |
At Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, the congregation can get more than just prayer at the Sunday worship services.
If a lucky -- or "blessed and highly favored" -- churchgoer is in the right seat, they can also receive a cash prize.
At each of the three Sunday services, the Rev. Dan Willis pulls a number of one seat from a bag and the worshiper in that seat wins a cash prize. Two of the churchgoers win $250 and the third gets $500. The church gives away $1,000 each Sunday, Willis said.
The cash prize is part of Willis' recent focus on helping his congregation pay bills and begin a debt-free life, he said.
"We've had soooo many of our people displaced from jobs, facing foreclosure," he said. "When people's faith was high, their debt was down. When their faith was down, their debt was high. I realized the two are connected."
Willis concedes the cash prize is a gimmick to fill the pews. But he's unapologetic about the plan, because it's working. On a typical Sunday, his church draws about 1,600 people to its three Sunday services. But since the money giveaway started, about five weeks ago, the congregation has grown to about 2,500 each week, he said. The money for the giveaway comes from the church offering. Lighthouse is a non-denominational church.
"If I can get someone in here and teach them and give them money, that's what I'm going to do," he said.
As part of the lessons, Willis set up a shredder near the pulpit to encourage church members to shred their credit cards and commit to stop spending. He talks about budgeting, tackling past-due bills and saving. He encourages the prize winners to use the money to pay down their bills, rather than splurge on new items. One Sunday, he gave away 15 savings accounts with $25 already in them. And he had bank representatives at the service so church members could set up accounts.
"The Bible says even an ant stores up in the summer so it can live in the winter," Willis said. "Even an ant can teach us. Even an ant knows how to save. We, with intellect, don't know how to do it. When people see that in Scripture, it takes on a whole different level."
Church sermons include time, place for congregants to get tattoos
|THE SEATTLE TIMES [Seattle Times Co.] - By Nick Perry - November 28, 2009
SEATTLE | The sight of a woman being tattooed live on the altar accompanied by the sound of a buzzing ink gun provided a startling backdrop to Sunday's evangelical sermon.
Your parents' church service this was not. In the drive to stay relevant, the Gold Creek Community Church has been hosting a series called 'Permanent Ink' that featured Sunday's live-tattoo finale.
The Mill Creek, Wash., church is not exactly staid - booming 20-minute rock sets launch regular sermons - yet the pastors acknowledge this series was pushing societal norms.
'We've said from the start that we are not advocating tattoos - nor discouraging them,' said pastor Larry Ehoff.
'We think of it as amoral. It's neither immoral nor moral, it's just the choice of a person.'
Ehoff said the church is telling the same story of Jesus as always, it's just finding different ways to tell it.
Sharon Snell was one of several congregants who volunteered to be tattooed Sunday. At the noon service, she got on stage and faced away from about 150 parishioners while tattoo artist Matt Sawdon worked on the image of a police shield on her lower back.
It was Snell's third tattoo and represents her husband's work as an Everett, Wash., police officer. Snell said last month's shooting death of Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton forced her to confront the fragility of life and the dangers inherent in her husband's job.
'Anything can happen at any time,' Snell said. 'Him being an officer is a big part of my life and of who I am.'
As Snell's tattoo took shape, pastor Dan Kellogg told the congregation that permanent markings, both good and evil, are mentioned in the Bible. The most famous symbol, he said, is '666,' the sign of the devil.
But there's also mention in the Bible of markings on Jesus, saying he is the king of kings and lord of lords, Kellogg said.
Another congregant who volunteered, Erica Armendariz, was getting work done on an arm tattoo she calls her 'faith sleeve.'
'Surprisingly, I was not nervous to get up on stage,' she said, adding that the tattoo process, which in her case stretched through two sermons, was getting painful toward the end.
Tattoo artist Matt Sawdon said he'd never tattooed anyone at church before. Aside from the limited time he had during each sermon, he said, it wasn't much different from a normal day's work.
Last week, as part of the Permanent Ink series, a member of the church had a tattoo of Texas removed.
Because the equipment was too cumbersome to transport, parishioners watched a video of the process.
The man now lives in Washington, and he doesn't see much need for the Lone Star State anymore.
Gone to the dogs: LA church starts pet service
|ASSOCIATED PRESS - By Gillian Flaccus - November 4, 2009
LOS ANGELES - When the Rev. Tom Eggebeen took over as interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church three years ago, he looked around and knew it needed a jump start.
Most of his worshippers, though devoted, were in their 60s, attendance had bottomed out and the once-vibrant church was fading as a community touchstone in its bustling neighborhood.
So Eggebeen came up with a hair-raising idea: He would turn God's house into a doghouse by offering a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats. He hopes it will reinvigorate the church's connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and, possibly, attract new worshippers who are as crazy about God as they are about their four-legged friends.
Before the first Canines at Covenant service last Sunday, Eggebeen said many Christians love their pets as much as human family members and grieve just as deeply when they suffer - but churches have been slow to recognize that love as the work of God.
"The Bible says of God only two things in terms of an 'is': That God is light and God is love. And wherever there's love, there's God in some fashion," said Eggebeen, himself a dog lover. "And when we love a dog and a dog loves us, that's a part of God and God is a part of that. So we honor that."
The weekly dog service at Covenant Presbyterian is part of a growing trend among churches nationwide to address the spirituality of pets and the deeply felt bonds that owners form with their animals.
Traditionally, conventional Christians believe that only humans have redeemable souls, said Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
But a growing number of congregations from Massachusetts to Texas to California are challenging that assertion with regular pet blessings and, increasingly, pet-centric services, said Hobgood-Oster, who studies the role of animals in Christian tradition.
She recently did a survey that found more than 500 blessings for animals at churches nationwide and has heard of a half-dozen congregations holding worship services like Eggebeen's, including one in a Boston suburb called Woof 'n Worship.
"It's the changing family structure, where pets are really central and religious communities are starting to recognize that people need various kinds of rituals that include their pets," she said. "More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them to have some kind of soul." ...
But as Eggebeen stepped to the front and the piano struck up the hymn "GoD and DoG," one by one the pooches lay down, chins on paws, and listened. Eggebeen took prayer requests for Mr. Boobie (healing of the knees) and Hunter (had a stroke) and then called out the names of beloved pets past and present (Quiche, Tiger, Timmy, Baby Angel and Spunky) before launching into the Lord's Prayer.
At the offering, ushers stepped over tangled leashes and yawning canines to collect donations and hand out doggie treats shaped like miniature bones in a rainbow of colors. ...
On the Net:
Covenant Presbyterian Church: http://www.covla.org
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|Are church leaders affirming Allah?|
WORLDNETDAILY - By Joe Schimmel - August 28, 2009|
Has anyone noticed how hundreds of professing Christian leaders are compromising their faith by uniting with Muslims? Could it be that we are witnessing the formation of the prophesied one-world religion under the Antichrist? (Revelation 13:1-18)
For example, Brian McLaren, a prominent Emerging Church leader, announced plans to celebrate the Islamic holiday Ramadan, commemorating Muhammad's reception of the Quran. On the Fourth of July, when most Americans were celebrating the birth of our nation, Rick Warren, "America's Pastor," addressed the Islamic Society of North America, which, the Department of Justice categorized two years ago as a co-conspirator in financing a foreign terrorist group!
Another Emerging Church leader, Tony Campolo, a proponent of the so-called "evangelical left" claimed that "even if" Muslims "don't convert, they are God's people." Campolo further declared, "A theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam." ("Speaking My Mind," page 149). Campolo, like McLaren and Warren, has a habit of compromising biblical truth to forge unholy alliances with sworn enemies of the Gospel. Campolo admitted, "Consequently, anyone who accuses me of violating the biblical message is correct!" ("A Reasonable Faith," page 190)
Even more chilling is the fact that over 300 prominent Christian leaders signed a letter issued by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture claiming that world peace is dependent on Muslims and Christians recognizing "Allah" and "Yahweh" as the same God. This letter, titled "Loving God and Neighbor Together," was written in response to a signed document by 138 Muslim leaders titled "A Common Word Between Us and You." McLaren, Warren, Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels were just several of the signatories to this outright betrayal of Christ!
Furthermore, both of these documents affirmed Muhammed as a "Prophet" of God and declared that world peace was dependant on mutual affirmation of the "unity" of God. Dr. William Lane Craig, a leading Christian apologist and philosopher, correctly stated that by signing this document, Rick Warren and others were, in effect, signing up to become Muslims! This is because an affirmation of Allah as God is a denial of the Triune God revealed in Holy Scripture. Moreover, the Quran denies that Jesus is the Son of God no less than nine times.
The Islamic "Common Word" document, in effect, calls on Christians to affirm the Islamic understanding of the unity of God as a precondition to achieving world peace. Part and parcel of implementing Shariah law around the world is the imposition of the worship of Allah worldwide:
Believe in Allah and say not "Trinity." Cease! It is better for you! Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from his transcendent majesty that he should have a son. (Quran, Sura 4:171)
Incredibly, the very title of the Muslim document, "A Common Word Between Us and You," is actually taken from a Quranic verse that calls for Christian's ("people of the book") to deny the Trinity (so-called "partners") and to submit to Allah as the one true God:
O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. (Quran, Sura 3:64)
Could it be that this "Common Word" document is part of a master deception? Islamic scholars teach that Muslims may engage in "taqiyya," which holds that Muslims may lie to unbelievers to defeat them. After all, the Quran states that "Allah is the best of schemers" (Quran 3:54), and Muhammad used deception when he signed a 10-year treaty with the Meccans while preparing for their defeat just two years later, executing many who had given him their misguided trust (Quran 9:3).
The "Common Word" document was issued from the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought of Jordan. This same Institute has posted a number of fatwas condemning Christians to death for leaving Islam. So much for peace and tolerance! The Islamic concept of peace is tied to submission to Allah. However, God forewarned that the world would be saying "peace and safety" and given over to a "strong delusion" in the last days prior to Christ's return (1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). This is very significant because the Bible states that the last days' delusion will revolve around the spirit of the Antichrist, identified in Scripture as denial of the Father and the Son! (1 John 2:18-22; 4:1-4)
Joe Schimmel is senior pastor of Blessed Hope Chapel in Southern California and president of the apologetic ministry Good Fight Ministries, a Christian outreach exposing apostasy in pop culture and media. He is best known for "They Sold Their Souls for Rock n Roll," which exposes the satanic influences behind much of yesterday and today's popular music and how it is negatively influencing our youth. Pastor Schimmel recently partnered with award-winning director Christian J. Pinto to release "The Kinsey Syndrome," a documentary showing how "The Kinsey Reports" have been used to change the laws concerning sex crimes in America.
Should Christians Fast During Ramadan With Muslims?
|Church leaders and observers weigh in on a current debate.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY [CTI Publications] - Compiled by Ruth Moon - October 26, 2009
"I would say it's absolutely appropriate, particularly if one does it for spiritual reasons, combining it with prayer and strengthening your discipline and submission to God. If there are side benefits, like showing some solidarity with your Muslim friends, that's fine too. It's best not to be bragging about it. (But) it has to be a personal decision."
Donald Wagner, co-founder, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
"The idea of Ramadan and the feast of Eid is Muslims are asking that they would encounter God more. What that means to them varies from place to place and person to person, I'm sure, and Islam has so many different manifestations, that varies dramatically across the globe. But still-that's something we can agree with, that we pray and get to know God more."
Lynn Green, international chairman, Youth With a Mission
"There's such fragmentation between the Christian community and the Muslim community that it makes sense to me that we participate in something that is both inherently Christian and, for Muslims, inherently Islamic, to build bridges of peace."
Ben Ries, pastor, Sterling Drive Church of Christ, Bellingham, Wash.
"It is not appropriate to fast alongside Muslims. I wouldn't make a point, if I were in a heavily Muslim state where everybody is fasting during the day, of fixing a hot dog and walking outside and eating it ... but to observe Ramadan along with your Muslim neighbors and friends, letting them know that you're observing Ramadan as an act of some sort of religious or spiritual solidarity, is simply a fundamental compromise. They're observing Ramadan in the service of a false God and a false gospel, and we shouldn't be trying to express our solidarity with that."
Douglas Wilson, senior pastor, Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho, and senior fellow of theology, New St. Andrews College
For full list of complied views see here
Lesbian elected an assistant bishop in Los Angeles
Episcopal Church Tensions Stirred
|THE WALL STREET JOURNAL [News Corporation/Murdoch] - By Stephanie Simon - December 7, 2009
The breach between conservative and liberal Episcopalians widened as a lesbian was elected an assistant bishop in Los Angeles, drawing fire from Anglicans world-wide.
The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55 years old, was elected late Saturday on a seventh ballot, after several votes ended in deadlocks. Open about her sexual orientation since her seminary days, Canon Glasspool has been with the woman she calls her life partner since 1988.
She is in line to become the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, after the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, who took office in New Hampshire in 2004.
The Episcopal Church, with about two million members, is the U.S. branch of the world-wide Anglican Communion, which has about 80 million members.
Bishop Robinson's election raised tensions between the U.S. church and its counterparts around the world, especially in Africa and South America, where church leaders expressed concern that the Americans were pursuing a liberal social agenda in defiance of traditional Christian teachings on homosexuality.
To try to hold the communion together, the Episcopal Church agreed to stop ordaining gay bishops. But at its national convention last summer, the church voted to reverse that ban, leading to Canon Glasspool's election.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the world-wide Anglican communion, issued a statement saying Canon Glasspool's election "raises very serious questions" about the Episcopal Church's role in the Anglican Communion. He called on American Episcopalians to refrain from provocative acts. Maintaining a "period of gracious restraint," he said, is vital "if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."
His concern was echoed by Father John Spencer, vicar general of a diocese in Quincy, Ill., that refuses to recognize the authority of the U.S. Episcopal Church because of its stance on issues such as the ordination of gays. That diocese is one of several in the U.S. that have broken away from the national Episcopal church and aligned instead with more conservative Anglican provinces overseas.
Father Spencer said the American Episcopal leadership seems bent on making political statements "rather than pursuing Christian unity with the rest of the church." ...
Read Full Report
|Sweden's first lesbian bishop consecrated in Uppsala|
THE LOCAL (Sweden) - By AFP & The Local - November 9, 2009
The Church of Sweden on Sunday ordained a female pastor as the country's first openly homosexual bishop, just weeks after approving gay marriages.
Eva Brunne, 55, was consecrated as the Bishop of Stockholm in a ceremony at Uppsala cathedral, just north of the Swedish capital, the Church of Sweden said in a statement.
Along with Brunne, another female pastor, Tuulikki Koivunen Bylund, was ordained to take over as Bishop of Härnösand in northern Sweden.
The ceremony marked the first time in the history of the Swedish church that two women had been consecrated as bishops at the same time.
Brunne is in a civil union partnership with another woman. Together they are the guardians of a three-year-old child.
The Church of Sweden, which was the state church until 2000, had backed the parliament's adoption of the gay marriage law, which took effect on May 1. But its synod only approved church weddings on October 22.
Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children, becomes one of the first countries in the world to allow gays to marry in a major Church.
Around three-quarters of Swedes are members of the Lutheran Church.
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