Category Archives: Christianity

Rule by fear or rule by law?

“The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist.”

– Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of “an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.”

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.

According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of “all removable aliens” and “potential terrorists.”

Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of “new programs” require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of people?

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies,” gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to “a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order.”

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of “terrorist” organizations, or who speaks out against the government’s policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure “continuity of government” in the event of what the document vaguely calls a “catastrophic emergency.” Should the president determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to do whatever he deems necessary to ensure “continuity of government.” This could include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD-51.

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way to expand the domestic “war on terror.” Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to “examine and report upon the facts and causes” of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, then make legislative recommendations on combatting it.

According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a native brand of terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping investigative power to combat it.

A clue as to where Harman’s commission might be aiming is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who “engage in sit-ins, civil disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights” as terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace demonstrators, Second Amendment rights supporters … the list goes on and on. According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the names of roughly 775,000 “terror suspects” with the number increasing by 20,000 per month.

What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make contingency plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens?

The Constitution does not allow the executive to have unchecked power under any circumstances. The people must not allow the president to use the war on terrorism to rule by fear instead of by law.

Lewis Seiler is the president of Voice of the Environment, Inc. Dan Hamburg, a former congressman, is executive director.

This article appeared on page B – 7 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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The Voice of the Martyrs — November – Part 3

NORTH KOREA

Christians Arrested, Whereabouts Unknown – VOM Sources
In September, the National Security Service of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the arrest of several “foreign spies” and “native citizens working for a foreign intelligence service.” VOM sources say those arrested are Christians and not spies. VOM sources have identified the following nine Christians who have disappeared and are believed to have been arrested by government authorities: Mr. Chul Huh (34), Mr. Chun-Il Jang (39), Mr. Myung-Chul Kim (36), Ms. Young-Su Jin (32), Mr. Nam-Suk Kang (48), Mr. San-Ho Kang (36), Mr. Suk-Chun Suh (29), Ms. Mi-Hae Park (30) and Ms. Young-Yae Lee (37). The whereabouts of these individuals is unknown. It is possible they have already been tried and executed. Pray the loved ones of those arrested will find peace in the fact that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose. Pray that North Korea’s leaders will come to repentance and faith in Christ. Romans 8:28, Psalm 91

 EGYPT

More Christians Jailed – Compass Direct News
Three Christian activists with the Toronto-based Middle East Christian Association have been jailed in Egypt. According to a Compass Direct News report, Wagih Yaob and Victor George were taken from their homes in the early hours of November 10, while lawyer Mamdouh Azmy was arrested at his law office later that afternoon. The police reportedly treated Yaob badly and confiscated both Yaob and George’s personal belongings, including a laptop. After being interrogated at a state prosecutor’s office in New Cairo, Yaob and George were given 15-day detentions and were accused of defaming Islam and destroying the reputation of Egypt. They are being held at Cairo’s Tora prison. Later, Azmy was transferred to a Cairo prison. Pray for the release of these believers. Pray the Holy Spirit will encourage them and their families during this difficult time. Ask that their testimony will draw nonbelievers into fellowship with Christ. 2 Timothy 1:7, Psalm 23

INDIA

Christians Beaten by Militants – VOM Sources
On November 4, six Christians, including Pastor Vishnu Barad and his wife, were beaten by Hindu militants in the Thane district of Maharastra. The believers were reportedly targeted for attending prayer meetings in the area. Pastor Barad was detained when he went to the local police station to register a complaint against the militants. On November 10, a group of approximately 50 Hindu militants attacked Pastor P.C. Nayak of the Believers Church in the city of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India, local villagers called Pastor Nayak to a meeting regarding the construction of a church building. When he arrived at the construction site the militants beat him. He was hospitalized with internal injuries. Pray that Pastor Barad will be released. Pray for healing for those injured in these attacks. Pray Christians in India will maintain the attitude of Christ and respond to their persecutors with love and grace. Isaiah 26:3, Joshua 1:9

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War Against Christianity In Schools

Possibly the most sinister battlefield in the war on Christianity takes place in the classroom. The Ten Commandments have been prohibited on school bulletin boards and most forms of prayer have been declared unconstitutional in the nation’s schools, even that which is student initiated.

Atheists and others who hate God despises Christians who help others come to a saving knowledge of Christ. They are determined to battle those who would help immature Christians — particularly Christian children — grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Increasingly, our children are discriminated against for trying to present their Christian convictions in school.

Dozens of Albertville Alabama middle school students were suspended for two-days for walking out of class to protest a federal court ruling that bans school prayer. In 1997 U.S. District Court Judge Ira DeMent struck down a law that required schools to allow voluntary student-initiated prayers at school events, saying it created excessive state entanglement in religion. He ordered the end to school-sponsored religious activities, such as prayers during morning announcements and at school events even though it isn’t forced on students.

In 1997, a high school student in Florida was suspended for handing out religious literature before and after – but not during – school hours. Two high school students in Texas were told by their principal they could not wear rosaries. The Principal claimed that they were symbols of gang activity, even though the boys were not involved in any gang.

In 2002, music teachers in Michigan, Maryland, and Virginia didn’t allow students to perform traditional carols like “Silent Night” and “The First Noel” during Chrismas. A New Jersey public school banned the Charles Dickens play, “A Christmas Carol” because of its spiritual overtones and message of redemption.

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The Inside story on the war against Christianity – Part 2

Topping the list of countries which have mounted a campaign against Christians are China and Sudan followed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Burma, Greece, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. (Washington Watch, May 1998). Increasing persecution is also found in Cuba, Laos, and North Korea.

Many Islamic-dominated nations have adopted a fanatical, militant doctrine of persecution against all “infidels.”

The militant Islamic Government of Sudan, for example, is waging a self-described religious war against Christian, non-Muslim, and moderate Muslim persons by using torture, starvation, enslavement, and murder. In Pakistan, the government has declared those that who “insult” Mohammed will be put to death. In Communist Laos more than 250 pastors and Christian workers have been arrested; more than 60 churches and Christian institutions have been shut down; and the government has forced many thousands of believers to sign documents to “renounce” their faith and belief in Christianity.

In Saudi Arabia there is no religious freedom. Apostasy is punishable by death. There are no public worship services for non-Muslims. Anyone who does mission work or converts Muslims faces expulsion, jail, or execution.

In countries near and far, people are being persecuted simply because of their faith. Hundreds of men and women are in prison serving sentences that range from a few months to life. They are not criminals who have robbed or murdered other citizens but Christians who were put on trial for their faith in Christ and found guilty. Christians are beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and murdered by those who are hostile to their faith in Jesus Christ.

Never before in American history have Christians experienced being hated for following Jesus Christ as they are today.

Here in America the persecution of Christians has not yet reached the feverish pitch as in other parts of the world. There is still a Constitution that protects them and allows them to freely practice their faith. But, broiling beneath the surface, the same hatred of God that exists in other parts of the world is festering in all our institutions. Slowly, methodically, and incrementally the anti-God forces are working to remove that Constitutional barrier.

It is important to recognize that those who are working for the dissolution of our society have a spiritual agenda. They are not merely attempting to dismantle the historic cultural values of this nation and move us toward a homogenized world. They also want to destroy Christianity and Bible-based religion. It is a clear part of their agenda, and they have already moved a long way in that direction.

In America it is called ‘secularism’ and is becoming visible in all walks of life and in all our institutions. Numerous legislative and legal battles which I’ll discuss below attest to the fact that religious warfare is taking place.

 

 

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The Inside story on the war against Christianity

When Jordanian Khalid Saad abandoned Islam and became a Christian, his family set out to kill him. But he escaped repeated attempts on his life, held up in prayer by thousands of Christians around the world who learned of his needs through the newsletter of Voice of the Martyrs.

In Saad’s situation, those prayers carried him through an assassination attempt that left 12 bullet holes in his car, several hit-and-run attacks, and an assault by a taxi driver who drove into him, knocked him down, and ran over his arm.

As the battle over the persecution of Christians worldwide rages – estimates are that 200 million Christians around the globe are subject at any time to punishments up to and including death simply for believing – so does the need for information for those who are not yet on the more violent front lines,

That’s where the Voice of the Martyrs newsletter, available through an online signup process, becomes important.

“Because we are so free and so comfortable, a lot of us don’t ask about how it is for Christians in the rest of the world. We’ve never been reminded, don’t think about it, and sad to say in some cases, we don’t care,”

Unlike the popular contemporary concept that the persecution of Christians happened in biblical times and then ended, he said, such attacks now are escalating in dozens of nations around the world.

But before supporters can get involved in the battles over steadfastness in the faith, they have to understand what is developing, Nettleton said.

“One of our purposes is to be a wake-up call to the American church, and say, ‘Here’s what reality is for our spiritual brothers and sisters in restricted nations,'” he said of the newsletter.

The Christian ministry mails out monthly updates, but its instant information channel is through the e-mail notifications, where Christians can learn about the situations that have developed, and then learn what they can do to help.

In America, the persecution often is in the derogatory descriptions used by those who oppose Christianity – “Bible-thumpers,” “right-wingers,” etc. But Nettleton said, that in other nations, Christians simply cannot make the assumption they’ll go to church on Sunday and not worry.

“They aren’t 100 percent certain their pastor will be out of jail on Sunday to preach the sermon,” Nettleton said. “One of the important things that VOM does is call the American church to be aware and to be involved. We can pray for them, and in some cases write a letter to someone in prison. What we want to tell the American church, No. 1, is that this is going on.”

Secondly, he said, involvement is important. “If you don’t know, there’s nothing you can do,” he said. “Then there are two responses. Once you do know, you can say, ‘I don’t like that, that’s awful. I don’t want to hear anymore.'”

“On the other side, when they understand what’s going on, that this is our spiritual family, this is happening to our spiritual brothers and sisters, the overwhelming responses is, ‘What can I do?'” he said.

The ministry has multiple opportunities for involvement. Prayer is the first component, but in actual hands-on categories there are programs to collect coats and ship them to needy people in Russia, special blanket-and-basics “action packs” that are going to Sudan and Pakistan, a program to write letters to Christians in prison, and the organization’s Bibles Unbound program, through which American Christians can send individual copies of the Bible into restricted nations.

It ends up being a circle, he said. Prayer is followed by awareness, which is followed by action, and then a return to prayer.

“When people feel that connection, the result is that you don’t have to be reminded to pray; it comes naturally,” he said.

The newsletter gives the information, he said, that first challenges a person to consider their own beliefs. “Your faith is going to be challenged when you read the stories and see the pictures, and understand what people in restricted nations are going through,” he said. “The natural response is to look inward in your own life, and say, ‘Wow, is my faith strong enough to go through that?'”

“There’s definitely a need for education [about persecution] within the American church, what it means, what it involves, how people are overcoming it,” Nettleton said.

“It is a little hard to grasp for us here in America. We can all understand if someone is killed. We know what that means. But when kids are not allowed to go to school [because they are Christian,] that’s a little more subtle.”

The newsletter also provides information that allows Christians to be educated about the different levels of persecution. In Pakistan, for example, one of the VOM projects involves job training for Christians, because Muslims there often won’t consider employing a Christian.

But he said there are blessings, too, from persecution, and readers also share in that joy. For example, it has happened that a church is raided and closed down, and the congregation breaks up into smaller groups. Many times there will end up being more people attending than when the group met in a building.

“God can use [persecution] to help to grow the church,” Nettleton said. “That’s the layer beneath the surface.”

Voice of the Martyrs is a non-profit, interdenominational ministry working worldwide to help Christians who are persecuted for their faith, and to educate the world about that persecution. Its headquarters are in Bartlesville, Okla., and it has 30 affiliated international offices.

It was launched by the late Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, who started smuggling Russian Gospels into Russia in 1947, just months before Richard was abducted and imprisoned in Romania where he was tortured for his refusal to recant Christianity.

He eventually was released in 1964 and the next year he testified about the persecution of Christians before the U.S. Senate’s Internal Security Subcommittee, stripping to the waist to show the deep torture wound scars on his body.

The group that later was renamed The Voice of the Martyrs was organized in 1967, when his book, “Tortured for Christ,” was released.

 

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A Muslim Letter To Christians.

Oct. 11, 2007 – Getting religious leaders to agree on anything is notoriously difficult. So this morning’s announcement—that 138 of the world’s most powerful Muslim clerics, scholars and intellectuals from all branches of Islam (Sunni and Shia, Salafi and Sufi, liberal and conservative) had come together to write a letter to the world’s Christian leaders—is being hailed as something of a miracle.

n a display of unprecedented unity, the letter—which calls for peace between the world’s Christians and Muslims—is signed by no fewer than 19 current and former grand ayatollahs and grand muftis from countries as diverse as Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq. It is addressed to Christianity’s most powerful leaders, including the pope, the archbishop of Canterbury and the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, and, in 15 pages laced with Qur’anic and Biblical scriptures, argues that the most fundamental tenets of Islam and Christianity are identical: love of one (and the same) God, and love of one’s neighbor.

On this basis, the letter, entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” reasons that harmony between the two religions is not only necessary for world peace, it is natural. “As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them—so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes … Our very eternal souls are all at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace,” the letter reads. “It’s an astonishing achievement of solidarity,” says David Ford, director of the Cambridge University’s Interfaith Program. “I hope it will be able to set the right key note for relations between Muslims and Christians in the 21st century, which have been lacking since September 11.”

One profound obstacle to establishing positive relations among mainstream Muslim and Christian groups, argues Ford, has been the lack of a single, authoritative Muslim voice to participate in such a dialogue. This letter changes that. “It proves that Islam can have an unambiguous, unified voice,” says Aref Ali Nayed, a leading Islamic scholar and one of the letter’s authors.

 Getting the letter written was no mean feat. Highly placed and extremely well-connected leaders at Jordan’s Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman have been working for more than three years to make it happen. The institute won’t say who was the driving force behind the effort—if indeed it was any single person—because that would undermine its collaborative nature. But Nayed, whom experts believe was one of the key draftsmen, says that the country of Jordan and its leaders played a very important role. “Jordan is the Switzerland of the Middle East,” Nayed says. The Royal Institute was responsible for the widely read Open Letter to the Pope following his controversial speech last year, which was signed by 38 high-level Muslim leaders.

 

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